The dual demands of work and childcare placed on parents mean that family life is suffering, a survey suggests.
The report says children like their families to spend time together
Most of those questioned - 61% - said parents do not get enough time to spend with their children.
Nearly half - 48% - said they had to put their career first even if it affected their family relationships.
The survey, which saw 1,148 adults questioned, was commissioned by The Children's Society and is part of the charity's Good Childhood Inquiry.
The inquiry, which includes research around the themes of friends, family, learning, lifestyle, health and values, will publish its final report in the autumn of 2008.
The survey found that 48% of participants did not believe that a pre-school child was likely to suffer if his or her mother went out to work, but 37% disagreed with this statement.
Two-thirds of respondents - 67% - said they did not believe parents should stay together when they did not get along, even if there were children in the family.
And according to the children who contributed to the inquiry, a happy home life was one in which a family spent time together.
Bob Reitemeier, chief executive of The Children's Society said: "Family is hugely important in the lives of all children yet modern society appears to be pulling them apart.
"Only by taking a closer look at how a child's need for family can be met in the context of the 21st century can we ensure a good childhood for all children.
"Without this fresh perspective and a better understanding of how to support families, we risk damaging the successful growth and development of future generations."
Kathleen Kiernan, of the University of York, is also a member of the inquiry panel.
She said: "Family life is changing with rising rates of parental separation, more working parents and different parenting styles.
"We know these factors affect children's lives and that when children feel loved and secure they build up resilience to life's challenges."