Spielberg’s latest film shows high cost of divorce

Feb 11, 2023

Writing in The Times (£) on Tuesday, Melanie Phillips reviews director Steven Spielberg’s autobiographical film The Fabelmans, which details the “tragedy” of his parents’ divorce that cast “a baleful shadow over Spielberg and his three younger sisters”. Phillips praises how Spielberg shows the split through the stinging eyes of his younger self. She points out that the film’s clever story shows the “anguish of the film-maker himself more than six decades later”.

Spielberg wanted a family in which mum and dad had stuck together for life. That’s marriage. A child without one of their parents is like a Jurassic Park movie without dinosaurs; the best family structure demands that all the main characters are present.

Phillips cites a recent study that shows that 44% of children born in the early-2000s were not brought up by both parents for their whole childhood; this is more than double the percentage in 1970.

The evidence is clear, in almost every area of life, across demographics and socio-economic divides, children live happier, healthier lives when they are raised by their married mum and dad. Phillips cites ONS statistics which show that children between the ages of five and ten are twice as likely to have mental health issues if their parents cohabit rather than marry, and nearly three times as likely if they are raised by a lone parent.

Cohabitation has increased by 144% since 1996, and although many couples go on to marry after having a child, children whose parents remain in a cohabiting relationship are three times more likely than those with married parents to have seen them separate by the time of their fifth birthday. It is time that society woke up to the impact parental separation has had on the lives of so many children.

At C4M, we know that marriage between one man and one woman for life is the most stable environment for raising children. If we care about children, then marriage should be at the centre of future public policy concerns.

PS: As expected, the Church of England’s General Synod has endorsed the recommendation brought forward by the bishops to allow prayers of blessing for those in same-sex civil marriages. We will bring you more analysis in the coming weeks.