Recently I watched a documentary published by BBC entitled Mum and Dad are Splitting Up, it aired on BBC 2 at 9pm on Thursday the 5th of September. Documentary film maker Olly Lambert, twenty six years after finding out his parents were splitting up, decided to investigate what he believes is an overlooked element of 21st Century family life. Olly Lambert spoke to the Guardian in regard to his documentary stating that he remembers the day his parents split vividly. “When it was over, my dad took my sister and me into the garden, and said he and my mum hadn’t been getting on very well lately and had decided to separate. I remember bursting into tears and running off to my friend’s house just to get away. It felt like a collapse of everything I had known, everything I knew I could rely on …” The documentary focuses on life after divorce and the children struggling to cope with it.
For children divorce can be stressful, confusing, and generally upsetting. Children can feel a range of emotions from anger and uncertainty to depression and low self-esteem. The Office of National Statistics states that “almost half (49%) of couples divorcing in 2011 had at least one child aged under 16 living in the family. There were 100,760 children aged under 16 who were in families where the parents divorced in 2011. Over a fifth (21%) of the children in 2011 were under five and 64% were under 11.” The documentary shines a light on the experience of those children; something some may argue is forgotten as the parents row over who gets to keep what and when each parent can see the child.
Edward Allport-Bryson, 21, a child featured on the documentary states that while he believed his mother did the right thing by throwing his father out, his father admits to being drunk, violent and abusive, he also states that ‘you need a dad, an actual figure in the chain of life.’ Edward tells the documentary how growing up without a father severely affected his behaviour both in and out of school. Edward is not the only one. Another child, Daisy, states that she just wanted to know why her parents split up.
In an age where divorce seems to be the norm it appears to be the children that suffer the most. The Help Guide, a non-profit resources gives some excellent advice on how parents can help their children through their divorce and the years that follow (http://www.helpguide.org/mental/children_divorce.htm). It is not possible to completely shelter a child from divorce but it is possible to hold their hand and explain what is actually happening.
The Guardian article that discusses the documentary can be found at: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/aug/31/children-divorce-separated-documentary-olly-lambert
Whilst the documentary is not currently available on BBC iPlayer there is a BBC page covering the documentary, which can be found at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01g1djh
Photo by Southworth Sailor via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.