Where There Is a High Level of Conflict That Cannot Be Resolved, or an Abusive Relationship, the Child Would Obviously Be Better Served If the Parents Separate; Archbishop Morgan Issues Stark Warning on Parenting
PARENTS should base decisions on whether to separate on the welfare of their children, Wales' most senior Anglican clergyman said yesterday.
Speaking at a two-day meeting of the governing body of the Church in Wales, Archbishop Dr Barry Morgan said mothers and fathers should not stay together at "all costs", claiming instead that levels of abuse and conflict between couples were more damaging than separation.
In a stark warning over the state of parenting in modern Wales, Dr Morgan told the gathering in Llandudno that mothers and fathers frequently fail to recognise the sacrifices that child-rearing demands, and often refuse to recognise that parenthood comes at a price in terms of their personal lives and careers.
The church leader claimed: "I am not saying that a woman's place is in the home.
"Fathers are no less important in a child's life... Nor am I saying that parents must stay together at all costs.
"Where there is a high level of conflict that cannot be resolved, or an abusive relationship, the child would obviously be better served if the parents separate." He added: "All relationships go through strains and some will break down, but we need a culture where parents consider whether it is in the best interests of the child to stay together and we need high-quality counselling and support services readily available to help them do so." He went on to stress that it is the responsibility of both parents to care for their children, and that they should do everything they could to prevent family breakdown.
Last night, the outspoken cleric's comments met with support from children's groups and psychologists.
Tony Ivens, Fatherhood Development Officer with the children's services umbrella body Children in Wales, said: "I think a lot of what he's said has been mentioned before, as part of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
"Both parents have responsibilities, and even after a separation, the Convention sets out that a child has the right to see both his or her mother and father." However, Mr Ivens added that Dr Morgan may not have gone far enough.
Mr Ivens said: "I broadly agree with the comments Dr Morgan has made and I am pleased that he has recognised the role of the father.
"However, what we also need to see is the Government to be called on for a greater number of initiatives to support the role of the family in society.
"Most parents mange to raise their children well and others do so 95% of the time.
When they have a blip, we need to make sure support is available for them, and at that exact time." Dr Jane Prince, an expert in child identity from the University of Glamorgan, said that she too was pleased the church leader had chosen to speak openly about the impact of family life on children's development.
"He is talking about the need the need for parents to be involved and
the importance of respect and values on their lives," she said.
"What children really need is to be respected and valued, to have support and a consistent figure to turn to.
"This can come regardless of whether parents stay together, and having it is what makes a child feel secure. …