Shared Parenting Information Group (SPIG) UK

- promoting responsible shared parenting after separation and divorce -

Children Talk Back: Children's views on family life after divorce

- initial findings of research by University of Leeds

The second Lucy Faithfull Memorial Lecture

National Family Mediation AGM - 26 November 1998 - Church House, London UK

Notes of presentation by Professor Carol Smart

Carol Smart presented a fascinating insight into children's views of family life after divorce - particularly some very positive feedback about shared parenting (which she calls co-parenting)

Presenting initial ideas about research which is still ongoing, she spoke about:

This project which involved 110 children talking frankly about their experiences of divorce was described as in-depth qualitative work

Children's experience of living across two households

The researchers were interested to find out whether children themselves see co-parenting across two households as an acceptable model of care and a workable from of family life; and what they see as its particular demands.

Many of the children had been involved in constructing the arrangements and wanted to be scrupulously fair in the way they divided their lives between their parents.

The children spoke of the need for organising their lives to cope with two homes and there were some factors which were seen as tiresome and frustrating, but in the main they saw no difficulties with the changeovers. Switching lifestyles between the two homes seemed to become automatic - they 'just got on with it'.

Children wanted to be heard and to be part of the discussions about separation. They wanted information and time to reflect and work these through in a safe environment, but they did not necessarily want to make the final decisions.

When the researchers posed scenarios which adults might expect to cause difficulties, the children had few problems in working round them.

Fascinating stuff !

- more to follow

Professor Carol Smart is Director of the Centre for Research on Family, Kinship & Childhood at the Department of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Leeds.

She was assisted in this research by Dr Bren Neale and Dr Amanda Wade

David Cannon

Last updated - 27 November 1998

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