Challenges to Responsive Care


Typical challenges that parents may experience:

    -   Ongoing depression and/or anxiety- this can be a major problem in being responsive to your children. This can be complicated further if alcohol or substance abuse is an issue.


     -  Holding inaccurate beliefs about what works best for raising children- For better or for worse, your parents were your teachers on how to raise children. For example, did they typically respond to those experiences you found distressing or traumatic with with sensitive support or neglect or criticism. The interactions you experienced with your parents can have a direct impact on how you typically respond to your children.  Not understanding or resolving trauma you may have experienced as a child can seriously challenge your ability to sensitively and accurately respond to your child. Highly charged emotional situations with your children can trigger responses that are harmful to forming a trusting relationship. Understanding the triggers to these emotions is critical.

The following articles may help you understand what's going on. You might also check out programs that were designed to help parents struggling with raising children.

This is an animated overview of challenges to responsive parenting produced by Circle of Security International entitled Being-With and Shark Music


Here are some additional articles and programs that may help if you think this is happening in the relationship with your children:

Overview of the Effect of Neglect

from the Center for the Developing Child- Harvard University

Emotional Neglect

Science Direct

How to Break the Cycle of Trauma

Your Parenting MoJo- Research-based ideas to help kids thrive

Reenactment as a Response to Trauma

Lakeside Therapeutic Education

A Helpful Way to Conceptualize and Understand Reenactments

Michael S. Levy, Ph.D.

The Effects of Childhood Trauma on Relationships

Glynis Sherwood

Child Abuse and Neglect: How We Reenact What We Experienced

Roland Bal

The Childhood Adversity Narratives

Frank Putnam, MD, UNC at Chapel Hill, NC
William Harris, PhD, Children’s Research and Education Institute

& New School for Social Research, NYC, NY

Alicia Lieberman, PhD, UCSF, San Francisco, CA

Karen Putnam, PhD, UNC at Chapel Hill, NC

Lisa Amaya-Jackson, MD, Duke University, Durham, NC 

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): How They Affect Health and Well-being

From Roots through Recovery

Childhood `toxic stress’ leads to parenting challenges later on

Lisa Rapaport- Reuters

What is Psychological Abuse of Children

Samantha Gluck- HealthyPlace

Child Abuse and Neglect Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Managing Your Own Emotions: The Key to Positive, Effective Parenting

from Zero to Three

How to Tame Your Triggers Around Your Kids

Jen Lumanlan- lifehacker Parenting


Unconscious Beliefs: What you learned before becoming a parent may be hurting your relationship with your children

from Parenting for Social Change

The One Subject You Really Need to Study: Your Own Childhood


Why We're All Messed Up By Our Childhoods

The School of Life

Does Your Own Childhood Affect Your Parenting?

Laura Markham Ph.D.

Parents’ Attitudes and Beliefs: Their Impact on Children’s Development 

from the Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development


Harsh, Critical Parenting May Lead to Anxiety Disorder Symptoms

from Scientific American

If Parents are the Helicopters, Then Schools are their Rotors

Jessica Borelli, Ph.D. in the Huffington Post

Anxiety and Depression

from the Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development

How Parents' Stress Can Hurt A Child, From The Inside Out

from Forbes


A Focus on Parental Depression

from The National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement 


Parental Depression

from Child Trends


How Depression Affects Your Family

from Parents