When my parents split, I was told 11 was a bad age. Maybe it’s true | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

Yes, divorce happens, you just get on with it. But there can be scars, as new research indicates, and children need support

I was 11 when my parents separated. A “bad age”, people sometimes say, in that sagacious tone, when the topic comes up. It rarely does any more, because to have divorced parents is unexceptional these days.

A “broken home” (file this term in the glossary along with “bad age” and “child of divorce”) leaves an indelible mark on a person, we are told. Yet alongside the many false assumptions peddled about the impact of absent or single parents on childhood, there are also pieces of research about divorce that are worthy of our attention. The latest, from the Institute of Education, suggests that parental separation is more likely to harm the mental health of children if they are aged at least seven when the split occurs. It looked at 6,245 children and young people in the UK and found that minors aged between seven and 14 at the time of the split exhibited a 16% rise in emotional problems such as anxiety and depressive symptoms and an 8% increase in conduct disorders.

Continue reading…