THE trauma felt by children whose parents split up can be cancelled out if they stay with their mother and she can rely on a support network of close friends and family, new research has found.

A survey of single-parent families by a Scottish academic has found that children show less than average evidence of challenging behaviour or emotional problems if their mother has close social ties

Dr Morag Treanor, of the University of Edinburgh, analysed over 3,800 responses to surveys from parents of children aged four and five to gain an understanding of the effect parental break-ups had on children.

She is due to present her findings to the British Sociological Association's annual conference in Glasgow today.

The surveys asked parents about their marital history, their closeness to family and friends and the behavioural and emotional problems of their children, which it rated as an overall score.

Dr Treanor analysed data from the Growing Up in Scotland study, recorded from 2005-2010. In 98per cent of single-parent families studied the mother was the main carer.

She found that children in stable two-parent families had the least behaviour problems, on average. Those in families where the parents had split up recently, or the mother had recently begun living with a new partner, had more difficulties.

The poorer the family, the more behavioural and emotional problems the children had on average.

Single mothers who had strong emotional kinship links, no matter how poor they were, had children with fewer problems.

Dr Treanor said: "For mothers in the lowest income, having strong social ties moderates the negative effect of living in persistently low income," Dr Treanor said."Those with persistently low income and good social ties have children whose wellbeing extends beyond the average for all children."