Written by Dr Angharad Rudkin

Child Clinical Psychologist at University of Southhampton

Angharad is an experienced Clinical Psychologist working with children and families. She supports OnlyMums & OnlyDads in delivering accessible summaries of key research around families and the effects of separation and divorce on children and those who care for them.

Humans have developed various ways of adapting to change, but it still takes up a lot of energy, resources and time. When an unexpected, traumatic event occurs such as being told that your partner is leaving, your body and brain responds with fight, flight response or freeze response. During these responses, the brain ensures that you are in optimum survival mode. It shuts off certain aspects of functioning and heightens others, with adrenaline cortisol surging through the body. To counteract this natural physiological reaction, you need to stay as calm and relaxed as possible. Now is not the time to make any major decisions and you will need all the support from family and friends you can. Once you start to feel safe and contained, your brain will stop sending alarm signals. Having recovered from the acute stress, you can take small steps in thinking about the future, planning and making decisions. As with any loss, you will move through stages of different feelings – numbness, anger, depression, acceptance. There are no time limits, so trust that you will work your way through these stages at your own pace.

 

Additional Resources

Recommended books for parents going through separation and divorce.

You maybe interested to read Dr Angharad Rudkin’s article ‘What Does It Mean To Put Your Children First”

You may also find our Useful Links page helpful

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