What is Gentle Parenting?
Gentle Parenting is parenting with empathy, respect, understanding and boundaries.
Parenting with your child’s feelings in mind as much as possible. Using empathy to gain insight into your child’s behaviour and to decide what action you should take in response. The key here really is thinking “would I like it if somebody did this to me?” if the answer is “no”, then why would you do it to your child?
Respecting your child as much as you would respect an adult. Respecting their likes and dislikes, their individual differences and their opinions and thoughts. Children are real people – just like us. If we want them to respect us, then we need to respect them.
Aiming to understand our children’s behaviour and communication. Importantly understanding what is normal for the child at any given age, physiologically and psychologically speaking and resetting your parenting expectations based upon these norms. Gentle Parenting is also about understanding others and not being judgemental of their parenting choices, even if they differ from your own.
Gentle Parenting is not permissive parenting. Children do not always ‘get their own way’, parents do not say ‘yes’ all of the time. In fact often they can be more strict, with more boundaries in place than others. There is no point in having boundaries however if you do not consistently enforce them. These limits give children a sense of security and they are vital.
These are the four corners of Gentle Parenting.
There are no rules to follow, no ‘how to’ lists and no exclusions.
It doesn’t matter if you bottle feed, give birth by elective C-Section, use a buggy and your child sleeps in a cot in their own room. Just as it doesn’t make you a ‘gentle parent’ if you breastfeed until 3 years, homebirth, babywear and bedshare. These ‘tools’ are irrelevant, they don’t define the conscious actions and thoughts behind your parenting.
Your age, gender, social class, education level, hobbies, green credentials and how you chose to keep your child healthy (vaccinate or not, conventional medicine or complementary) are also irrelevant, they too do not define the thoughts behind your actions.
It is not about how you wean your baby, or what type of education you chose. It is not new, it is not trendy. Gentle parents come from all walks of life, all ages, all ethnicities and most don’t even realise that their style of parenting would fall under this banner, it’s just the way they have always been.
Gentle Parenting is a way of being, it is a mindset, not a label or a rule book.