4 Common Myths About Gentle Parenting
If there is one thing I am proud about when it comes to my generation and parenting, it is the commitment to not repeat the same toxic cycles that have been used in previous generations. We know there is quality research out there that shows other methods that have led to happy, healthy children and my peers have not shied away from uncovering it. If you have done any research yourself, a common method that rises to the top is called Gentle Parenting. Unfortunately though – there is a lot of misinformation and misconceptions around what this style of parenting actually is. You may be surprised exactly what this method tries to accomplish and it could be beneficial for your family. Let’s debunk some common myths!
Myth #1: Gentle Parenting is Permissive Parenting
This is a very familiar mindset I have seen floated on multiple parenting sites and forums. It’s probably due to the name itself – “gentle” – maybe sounds like there is never conflict. This, of course, is incorrect and the two are not synonymous. Gentle parenting is based on incorporating respect, empathy, and understanding into everyday interactions through raising children. But that doesn’t mean boundaries and discipline aren’t involved. Which brings me to myth #2…
Myth #2: Gentle Parenting Doesn’t Discipline Children
This is another frustrating myth. Gentle parenting does, in fact, incorporate discipline. Most would agree that teaching boundaries and expectations are a necessity in parenting. However, the discipline and methods might look a little different. For example, many parents will not yell, shame, or instill fear to gain obedience from their children. Instead, they may institute boundaries and will carry out consequences in a more empathetic manner. One good example of this is when a parent is trying to leave the park with their toddler. A popular solution is to threaten to leave without them and walk way, sometimes making the child fearful that they will be abandoned and thus, they respond in the way the parent wishes. However the child is most likely obeying because of fear or fear of abandonment. Instead, a “gentle parenting” method for this is to acknowledge and empathize with the child that they know it’s hard to leave the park because they love it so much and it’s so fun – but they need to be at home for the next part of their day. Then the parent could offer either for them to walk themselves or the parent will pick them up to bring them to the car. If the child still refuses, then the parent can decide to pick them up and bring them to the car. The end result is the same, but the child received empathy and understanding instead of anger and shame.
Myth #3: Gentle Parenting is for the Short-Term
This is not a parenting style that you hope to see results as quickly as possible. Gentle Parenting is for the long-haul. Since it is based on the idea to raise your child with empathy and respect, it is much deeper than a handful of scenarios where your child misbehaves. It is focused on the whole life of raising your child. Just as parents make errors or behave incorrectly, so will your child. What is important is not to fall back on other methods such a shouting/yelling, shaming, or hitting. A phrase you will hear commonly said is “Don’t let your child’s escalation, escalate you.” When your emotions become escalated, that is when parents will resort to other methods they typically are trying to stray from. Consistency is key here. They might not react in the appropriate way the first few times, but over time, your child will learn the boundaries put in place and more importantly – you will be glad you didn’t have to lose your cool to get there.
Myth #4: Gentle Parenting is Easier
Parenting in general is not easy as any parent can attest to. But as mentioned in the previous paragraph, gentle parenting requires constantly and consciously trying to not let your child’s behaviors escalate your temper and actions. In fact, sometimes it can feel easier to shame or yell in order to get your child to act in the preferred way you desire. But while this may solve in the short-term, you could be unconsciously negatively affecting your child’s confidence and security. It is also important to note that those who try to gentle parent will – without a doubt – mess up and act in a way they wish they hadn’t, or that is going against the preferred method. That is okay! We are human! It is going to happen. What is even more important, though, is that we apologize to our children when we do so, so they understand that is not the behavior we want to emulate or praise.
Gentle parenting is a rewarding yet challenging journey. Children thrive in an environment of confidence and security, knowing their parents love them and can be relied upon for support.