New research paper about emotional readiness
November 12, 2020

Ending a long-term relationship can be tough, especially when there are children involved. The process of separation can often result in increased conflict as parents struggle to make arrangements to care for their children.

Previous research has shown that dispute resolution works best when separating parents demonstrate 'emotional readiness' to engage with it.

It can take as long as two years for the emotional distress of a breakup to subside and before this point is reached, many parents find themselves in conflict with their ex-partner. This can cause long-term harm to the wellbeing of children caught in the crossfire.

As part of its commitment to helping to reduce parental conflict and provide relationship support when and where it is needed, we worked with researchers from the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University to develop and test a way of measuring emotional readiness following the breakdown of a relationship. 

Called the Emotional Adaptation to Relationship Dissolution Assessment scale (EARDA), the full research has been published in the research journal PLOS ONE.

Penny Mansfield CBE, our own co-director here at OnePlusOne said:

“Whether a parent is the leaver or the left, emotions run high at separation – anger, guilt, fear, sadness and shame are just a few of the commonly experienced feelings. It can be difficult to make even simple day-to-day decisions, let alone the bigger ones about where to live, and how to share childcare. Distressed parents are distracted parents.

The development of a simple and reliable scale to assess emotional readiness will help parents, and the practitioners who support them, to work out the right level of support for their needs, and crucially for their children.”

And our own lead researcher Shannon Hirst said: 

“Parenting apart isn’t easy, and we hope that our work to increase the understanding of how a parent’s emotional readiness impacts their ability to co-parent will bridge the gap and make it easier to identify the different levels of support that may be needed during the process of separation and beyond.”

Abi Millings, lead author of the report and senior research fellow at Sheffield Hallam University said: 

“One of the most exciting features of this work is that we found considerable agreement between our brief scale and the expert opinion of qualified mediators. It suggests that our questions are tapping into something really meaningful, and something that is more predictive of co-parenting than simply asking, ‘How ready are you to make childcare arrangements with your ex?’”

The full research paper is now available via the PLOS ONE website.