Gentle parenting? Insert eyeroll. At least that’s what I thought when I first heard whispers about this seemingly, saintly parenting-method. I mean come on! Aren’t moms already under enough freaking pressure?
Slowly I’ve come to realize two important truths about gentle parenting, and dang… I’m here for it.
- Gentle parenting is as much about being gentle with yourself as it is about being gentle with your children. Do you occasionally lose your cool and behave in a manner you’re not proud of? Guess what? You’re human and according to gentle parenting the important thing is that you take a deep (drink of mommy juice) breath, get right, and show your kids how to make it right when you mess up.
- Parenting in a gentle manner doesn’t mean no boundaries or consequences. In fact having firm boundaries is one of the core tenets of the gentle parenting movement. What it does mean is that boundaries and consequences are age appropriate and focused on teaching your children to be good humans. It also means that you can stand your ground and still have empathy for your child. After all, you want your kid to learn both that no means no and how to process their emotions in a healthy manner.
What is Gentle Parenting?
Gentle Parenting is based around 4 core values: empathy, respect, understanding, and boundaries. According to an article by Natalia Oliver on GuidepointMontessori.com, “The approach doesn’t follow a strict set of rules. It wasn’t created by a lifestyle or parenting guru, nor does it stem from a celebrity fad. The gentle parenting philosophy includes a wide variety of strategies that may already be familiar to you.”
What does that mean for the f-bomb mom? It means that you don’t have to fit a mold to be a gentle parent. Anyone can look at their priorities as a parent and their own behavior and find ways to change how they interact with their children to work more purposefully towards their parenting goals.
Back in 2016 I was an exhausted mother of 2 under 2 when I wrote, “I think we all need a reminder now and again that behavioral theory calls most importantly for us to change our own behavior before we can change others’ — whether that behavior is throwing our sister’s binky or just failing to follow our own advice. Whether you’re two or 32, you’re not always going to get it right.”
Looking for some simple ways to become a bedazzled, caffeinated, gentle-parenting ninja? Here are just a few strategies I’m using today.
Remember Your Gentle Parenting Goals
There is an image in my mind of the resilient, thoughtful adults I want my children to grow into. This has become my touchstone for parenting decisions and helps me remember that parenting is a long-game.
Prioritize the Relationship
It’s a parent-child relationship. This means that we can’t just rely on biology to bond us. I’m taking the time to listen to my children, to give them autonomy when appropriate and trying to guide rather than dictate as much as I can.
Consequences are Lessons
Have you ever considered the difference between discipline and punishment? Especially in the heat of the moment I have to ask myself, is the focus of my consequence to make my children suffer or to teach them a lesson?
Learn Age-Appropriate Behaviors
I’m trying to take a step back and remember exactly how old my children are. It is super easy to place expectations on them that are simply inappropriate for their development.
Teach and Reteach
I’m being more clear about my expectations in advance. Children need to be taught and retaught what the appropriate way to behave is. It’s unfair to expect something from them that you haven’t specifically shown them how to do.
Is gentle parenting going to suddenly make my children listen and clean their rooms? Nope.
Gentle parenting is about creating a deeper bond with your kids by giving them grace and asking for grace in return. It is laying the foundation for them to someday become the type of adults that use their blinkers, return their shopping carts and call their mother for advice. F-Bomb mom or not, I think we can all agree the world could use a few more of those.