New research into family instability– response from OnePlusOne

28 November 2014

A new study released by the Institute of Education today (Friday 28 November) has found that nearly four in every ten children born at the turn of the century lived through at least one change in their parents’ relationship status in their first 11 years – up from one in ten in 1969. Researchers found that 21 per cent had experienced one change in their household make-up, mostly due to their parents’ partnerships breaking down or new ones forming.

Commenting on the findings, Penny Mansfield, Director of relationships charity OnePlusOne said:

‘Some might be surprised that despite the apparent instability of modern family life, three quarters of the children in the study reported being ‘completely happy’ with their families.

‘It is not inevitable that children will suffer long term harm from the breakup of their parents’ relationship. In fact, if there are good relations between the parents, most are able to adjust to new family situations after an initial period of unhappiness and instability.

‘Further policies and services that support parents to reduce the negative impact that their separation has on their children, for example by learning effective co-parenting skills, could make a real difference to our young people.

‘But it is also important for parents experiencing relationship problems to be able to access support to strengthen their relationship early, that way relationship breakdown and its negative consequences for children can be prevented.’


For further information call the OnePlusOne press office on 020 7553 9535 or email
Notes to editors:

  • Free online DIY support and courses that help separating parents plan for and co-parent in the future are available via OnePlusOne at
  • OnePlusOne has also developed a free online resource that helps separating parents create a parenting plan
  • OnePlusOne is an evidence-based charity that has been researching what makes couple relationships work or fall apart for more than 40 years. It uses the latest evidence to create services to help people to resolve their relationship difficulties themselves. The effects of family breakdown can leave children with a legacy that continues the cycle into the next generation, and the one after that. Evidence suggests that helping people develop relationship skills such as how to argue better, how to communicate effectively and how to manage stressful changes and times of change can be very effective forms of early intervention.