Chief Rabbi Sacks has expressed concern about the divide between children from two-parent families and those who grow up without “the support and presence of their natural fathers”. He made his comments during a Lords debate about child development.
In a rare intervention in a parliamentary debate, convened in the wake of the Rochdale child abuse scandal, Lord Sacks called on lawmakers to address “the deepening and dangerous social divide between two cultures”. He suggested that children who did not have the gift of growing up “in stable, loving association with the two parents who brought them into being” could be disadvantaged later in life.
“The depth of this divide has been hidden from public attention by a perfectly honourable desire not to sound judgmental; not to condemn any freely chosen way of life; and not to add further to the immense burdens of being a single parent”.
But Lord Sacks added that there was “a price to be paid for silence” and urged the government to do more to help children develop the skills to become “loving, caring and responsible parents”.
Deborah Levy, a family lawyer who gives legal advice to Singular Challenge, Jewish Care’s divorce support group, said the chief rabbi could have been more constructive and supportive in his comments about single parents.
“The manner in which divorce is handled is the key and if the parents are at war, it’s going to have a very destabilising effect. But if they are able to get on, children can thrive, notwithstanding their parents’ separation,” she said. “A single-parent household doesn’t mean that parents can’t work together for the benefit of the children.”