Byline: By Jenny Rees Western Mail
It may be something as small as a spat about the washing-up, but the full effect that parental squabbles have on their children is revealed today.
The arguments children witness in the home can have a direct effect on their lives, and their schooling, says new Welsh research.
Even the everyday arguments between mum and dad can have a detrimental effect on a child's future, according to Dr Gordon Harold, of Cardiff University's School of Psychology.
'What's happening in the home between parents is having an effect on children's general wellbeing,' he said.
'In particular, children living in a family environment marked by frequent, intense and poorly resolved conflicts between parents are at greater risk for deficits in academic achievement than children living in more positive family environments.
'These are not families in distress or going through divorce or separation, or experiencing academic or behavioural problems, they are people in the general community. These are everyday families with everyday difficulties.
'Conflict in families is perfectly normal and natural and not a bad thing. When handled well children learn very positive lessons, but when handled badly it may lead to poor relationships and academic problems.'
Dr Harold explained that parents often don't realise children are picking up on a problem.
'What parents think and what a child perceives can be quite different. Parents think they don't argue but the child thinks they don't talk so they are not happy.
'We asked families in the community to reflect on positive and negative events in their relationship for six weeks, the really innocuous events and the things they usually argue about and reflect on how it made them feel, how it made their spouse feel and how it might make their children feel and then asked them what lessons they might pass on to others.
'They told us they couldn't believe how the simplest of things transfer to their family.'
The findings from the South Wales Family Study suggest that the quality of relations between parents not only affects children's long-term emotional and behavioural development but also affects their academic achievement, as the research focused on Key Stage Three results for children in 500 families in Mid and South Wales.
Dr Harold said, 'These children were 11 and had just made the transition to secondary school, as well as the important change in their lives, puberty. …