Responsive Parenting Does Not Come Naturally to Me

Photography: Lion Fox & Co

By Cayla Solomon

I do everything in my power to be a responsive parent. Yet, responsiveness does not come naturally to me. It is not my default. And, it’s likely not yours, either. 

Growing up, my father was of the mindset that children should be seen and not heard. A child’s feelings were secondary to the adult’s, and voicing any form of ‘negative’ emotional expression was disrespectful, resulting in separation-based discipline. Sometimes the threat of physical harm was implied, though never in the presence of my more responsive parent, my mother. 

What I didn’t realise at the time, is that the experiences of my childhood created deep-rooted triggers that have resurfaced in my parenting.

There was a lot of yelling in my childhood home, so yelling triggers me as an adult.

I wasn’t often given the opportunity to forcefully say no, so a standoff with my child triggers me now.

Time outs were the primary form of discipline used when I was a child, so my knee-jerk reaction when I’m frustrated is to close down and walk away.

I know the parent I want to be to my children. I know which elements of the way I was parented I want to bring into my parenting, and which elements require a complete 180.  

Being this version of myself takes effort, intentionality, and a lot of hard work.

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