Parenting with Toka: Making the Commitment to Respond to Conflict

posted by Manju Jain, April 07, 2019

Parenting your child can be a tough balancing act. How much is too much? What about their freedom? This mom has a wonderful way to differentiate between a reaction and a response to a child’s behavior. Read on!

A powerful reflection these days for me, as a mother of two, is the difference between a reaction and a response. Many a time I am so triggered by what my child is saying about me that I build up a defense and react, instead of just hearing her experience of me as a mother.

Parenting your child: Why do we react?

My daughter’s perception of me doesn’t have to make me a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ mother. This is where most of us mothers judge ourselves too harshly, I think. Parenting your child isn’t an easy process.

How my daughter sees my parenting is her own experience and I don’t have to justify it. But I can learn about myself through her experience, and respond in an appropriate way, rather than judging myself as a mother (in terms of success or failure).

What is the difference between a reaction and a response?

Reacting means noticing only the superficial elements of a problem. Responding is to address the actual issue at hand. It is fascinating to watch what children think of us or themselves in certain situations.

These opportunities are invaluable for my learning and growth. Am I willing to listen without judging myself or my child, and instead develop curiosity about who I am? Making this commitment is critical in these moments of disagreement or conflict.

The work of Carl Rogers, Haim Ginot, Thomas Gordon, Kabat-Zin, Kristin Neff and Brene Brown has facilitated this process for me. I am looking forward to sharing these ideas with mothers who are also reflecting on these matters.

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