In the last 30 years a revolution in marriage and family life has overtaken Western civilisation. This has not gone unnoticed. As the revolution and its consequences have gathered pace, an avalanche of social and economic studies has documented the changes and commented on them. In the popular media, the transformations of law, custom and conduct have been keenly noted and reams of opinion published on what they mean and whether or not they should be welcomed or resisted. For many, perhaps most, they have been welcomed as expansions of individual liberty and the loosening of legal bonds and informal constraints in matters of marriage, sexual behaviour and gendered roles which, for generations, have defined family life, the relations between the sexes and ‘appropriate’ male and female conduct. Nevertheless, as the new freedoms were celebrated and lived, some began to notice that all was not well with increasing numbers of children. As family life became less stable in the face of more divorce and more ex-nuptial parenting, the effects upon children became objects of serious study by psychologists and sociologists. By the 1980s and 1990s, it was clear that the care and effective socialisation of a great many children were at risk.