The Centre for Social Justice (CJS), a think tank set up by the Government, recently found that 62 per cent of teenagers sitting their GCSEs own a smartphone, compared to only 57 per cent who are still living with both parents.
While there is much opining, moralising and ideologising that could be done and is being done in response to such a headline-grabbing stat, this is reality. And worrying though the impact of separation on children is; I find neither the statistic nor the reality itself particularly shocking. Despite what we might be led to believe, historically, family configuration and living arrangements have never been wholly static and neither have they always been ‘traditional’.
The Government however, thinks it has a solution to halt the rise of separation and family breakdown: fatherhood classes. These classes will reportedly prepare men for “the likely impact having a baby will have on their relationship” and provide them the “relationship and communication skills, to recognise potential flashpoints and where to go for further support”.
Many relationship specialists will attest that in some cases children can add as much strain as they do joy to a couple relationship, and very often their arrival is a difficult turning point for some couples. So gaining insight and improving communication skills to deal with this can only be a good thing right?
Yes, except men aren’t having a relationship with themselves, and therefore, attending such classes in isolation from their partner makes no sense at all and worse, appears to automatically allocate blame.
While some women may appear better equipped to deal with the arrival of a whole new set of needs in their lives, in the form of an infant, my experience is that they are no better or worse than men at dealing with the impact on their relationship.
Top marks to the Government for realising the significance having children can have on couple relationships and top marks for trying to provide insight and skills to assist in dealing with related problems but if they want parents to stay together they need to help both parents understand and maintain their relationship.