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  • Cheryl Duffy

Do you react or respond ?


Do you react or respond ?


You may think reacting is the same as responding but it can have totally different outcomes.

A reaction is instant. It’s driven unconsciously “without thinking” by our beliefs, biases, and prejudices. A reaction occurs in the moment and doesn’t consider long term effects of what you say or do. A reaction is based on survival as a defence mechanism often with the outcome you regret later.

A response takes longer after careful thought based on information from both the conscious mind and unconscious mind. A response will assess the impact to both you and those around you. It weighs up the long term effects and aligns with your core values.


A reaction and a response may look exactly alike but the results can be completely different.


For example, your ex advises that he can’t pick up the children from school today due to a crisis at work.


You may REACT, saying it is his week and his responsibility to pick them up and he is letting the children down not being there when needed. The outcome could escalate into an argument as the ex is already stressed with the work issue and doesn’t see why the mum can’t pick up the kids in this instance for the kids’ sake. After all, if they were still married they both would have immediately supported each other in the parenting roles sharing the responsibility to take care of the children’s needs to ensure they were safely collected. Both parents are stressed, angry, and anxious which overflows onto the children who feel caught in the middle of the conflict like they are a burden causing upset to their parents.


Alternatively, you may RESPOND, by understanding he has an emergency at work and he is usually able to pick them up on his week of shared custody so I will go and pick them up as the kids need me to. He can collect them from my place on his way home from work. The kids are safe, fed, bathed and relaxed watching TV until Dad arrives to collect them.

Life is less stressful, with less conflict and anxiety when we take the time to RESPOND rather than REACT. A win/win for ALL.

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