7.6 million parents stay together because of their kids

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Authored by News Desk
Posted: Monday, July 13, 2020 - 22:13

New research​ ​from Direct Line Life Insurance reveals 7.6 million parents have stayed in a relationship for longer than they would have liked with their spouse or partner because they have children together. Over a fifth (22 per cent) of parents that would have split up, stayed together for longer because of their kids.

On average, parents are staying in relationships for over half a decade longer (5 years 5 months), than they would have if it wasn’t for their children. There is a clear generational difference, with parents now over the age of 55 believing they stayed in a relationship for nearly seven years longer due to their kids, compared to just over three years for parents currently under the age of 35. It shows how attitudes are changing towards break-ups and relationships where children are involved.

Over a third of parents who stayed together (36 per cent) believed it was better for children to have two parents at home while growing up, so stayed together rather than separating, while almost a quarter (23 per cent) said it was because they thought the negative impact would be greater if they split up while their children were still young. Similar numbers said it was because they wanted to give the relationship a chance (21 percent), they needed help raising their children (21 per cent) or they couldn’t afford to separate (20 percent).

Table one: Reasons why parents stayed in relationships


Percentage Of Parents Who Said This Was Why They Stayed With Their Spouse/Partner

Thought it was better for children to have two parents living at home


Thought it would have a greater negative impact on children if they split up while children were young


Needed help raising children 21%

Wanted to give the relationship a chance


Couldn't afford to separate 20%

Wanted to set a good relationship to my children


Didn't want to admit the relationship hadn't worked


Thought it was easier to be with someone rather than on my own


Having the children in the house distracted us from the issues in the relationship


Worried our children would be bullied at school if their parents had split up


Source: Direct Line Life Insurance 2019

Interestingly, there is a division between men and women on their reasons for staying together. The main reason for men is because they believe it is better for children to have two parents living at home (46 per cent), while for women it is because they cannot afford to separate with the other parent (31 per cent). This highlights the financial challenges many families, and especially women, can face when splitting up as the previous combined household income then needs to stretch across two properties and often cover additional childcare costs too.

For some 4.5 million people (59 per cent) the decision to stay together for their children was mutual, while 3.1 million people (41 per cent) kept their decision to themselves. Over a third (38 per cent) said even their children knew, whether because they were told (18 per cent) or because they had guessed (20 percent).

Jane Morgan, Business Manager at Direct Line Life Insurance, commented: “​ It is interesting to see how many parents would have broken up years earlier if they didn’t have children.​ ​Parents consistently work hard to put the needs of their children above their own, prioritising their children’s happiness above everything. There are a range of couples and marriage counselling options​ a​ vailable to help people work through relationship difficulties and work out how best to deal with the impact on their children if they do decide it is best to separate.

“Protecting their children is the first instinct of all parents and whether they are with their child’s other parent or not, will still want to ensure their children are safe and looked after. Life insurance could offer that added peace of mind that whatever happens, you can still help support your children.”

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