Recent 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 long-term academic achievement.
"The study shows what many have long suspected - family factors exert a real influence on children's emotional and behavioural problems, as well as their academic achievement," said Dr Gordon Harold, of the University's School of Psychology, the Director of the study.
"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", he said.
Dr Harold and his team were funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and The British Academy to undertake the study over five years.
Their tasks were to assess the long-term impact of inter-parental conflict and parent-child relationships on children's emotional, behavioural and academic development between ages 11 and 16 years (school years 7-11); and to develop a parent education programme aimed at alleviating the negative effects of inter-parental conflict on children.
Findings from this study have been employed by the Welsh Assembly Government in their recently launched Parenting Action Plan; a consultation document aimed at helping mothers, fathers and carers with raising children in Wales (see http://www.wales.gov.uk).