The difference between reactive and proactive parenting

The challenges of parenting can seem insurmountable at times. Simply knowing when to say “no” to your kids can be difficult, let alone all the other seemingly impossible decisions you are faced with on a daily basis. When two parents are involved in each with the daily decisions, it’s difficult, confusing and emotional. It’s doubly trying when you’re divorced, and you may often question what your motives are when you make your decisions about parenting time, visitation and child custody.

Some divorced parents in Colorado and across the country may wonder if they are reacting to their former spouses when they make a parenting decision. For example, one expert says that there is a difference between “reactive” and “proactive” parenting. Reactive parenting doesn’t involve much thought – you simply act first without giving much thought about the consequences. You might make plans about summer vacation without considering what your child wants simply because it might be easier on you or harder on your ex-spouse.

Proactive parenting is carefully considering all parties involved before making decisions. For example, when making summer vacation plans, you consider what your child wants, as well as what you want and what your ex-spouse wants. You can hopefully come to an arrangement that is mutually beneficial to everyone involved.

While proactive parenting doesn’t mean that your child will always get their way, it does mean that you consider what will provide your child with a more positive and happier future. It’s making choices without trying to keep your ex out of the picture or making excuses for rude or uncooperative behavior. It’s being considerate and aware of others. Your child will also learn from watching your behavior, and that makes you a better parent in the long run.

Source:, “After Divorce: The Value of Proactive vs. Reactive Parenting” Rosalind Sedacca, Oct. 01, 2013


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