Many of my most profound moments of learning as a parent have come from reflecting on times when I would have done better replacing my emotional reaction with a measured response.
They came from times when our first child was hungry/sleepy/tired/sick and inevitably irrational. Faced with ten of these situations in 2018, I would react with impatience in every five. After a lot of reflection on my tendencies to respond to fire with fire (instead of using water) and on lessons I took away from Marshall Rosenberg’s “Non Violent Communication,” I think my hit rate on responding instead of reacting has increased to 8/10 in 2019.
That’s still two situations out of every ten that I’d love to avoid. And, as I head into the final 6 weeks of the year, I’m hoping to continue strengthening my response muscles at every opportunity.
I expect the impact of response training to continue to be far reaching. It continues to bring to light the many situations outside of interacting with our older child where I would do well to avoid unnecessary reactions.
But, it also continues to be hard. It is tempting to give in to impatience as an excuse, tempting to emotionally react quickly, and tempting to always attempt to have the last word.
Replacing reactions with response is among the most challenging skills I’ve had to learn. I thought I had made significant progress (and I had compared to my previous low standards) until I became a parent. So, I’m grateful to this experience for revealing just how much more work there is to be done.
Here’s to making more progress in the coming month by making the most of this intense training regime.