It can be challenging to remain calm and level-headed when co-parenting with someone you don’t see eye-to-eye with. It’s important to remember that there is a difference between reacting and responding. Reacting is when you let your emotions take over and say or do something that you may regret later. On the other hand, responding is when you take a step back, take a deep breath, and think about the situation before taking action.

But what does it take to prevent a reaction?

A pause. Yes, at minimum, a 90-second pause. In the heat of the moment, it can be difficult to remember to respond rather than react, but it’s essential to try.

A good long pause allows you to:

  • Take a deep breath.
  • Figure out how you feel.
  • Think through the consequences.
  • Respond strategically instead of emotionally.

You want to send your immediate, automatic reactions into a holding tank so you can review them when you’ve calmed down. It may be that you need longer than 90 seconds, which is entirely ok. Using 90 seconds as a guide sets a trip wire that gives you enough space to decide if you need longer before responding.

Responding vs reacting is key in difficult co-parenting dynamics.