Friday, January 27, 2017

This is What Gentle Parenting Shows My Child



There's a widely held belief that parents have to threaten, punish, and manipulate their children into submission in order to form them into respectful human beings. I couldn't disagree more. Spanking, time-outs, and contrived consequences  might be able to fix your child's behavior in the moment (probably not really though), but I want to do better than demand blind obedience out of fear. I want to foster a relationship and connection that is built on trust, grace, love, patience, empathy...all the wonderful things my Father in Heaven gives me. See, I know my child watches how I parent him. He's a keen observer (it's his superpower!), so he watches everyone. Including people who parent very differently from me, like I mentioned above. When he watches my parenting, I want him to learn deeper things than obedience. I want him to learn my heart for him. I want him to see the unmistakable gentleness of God in me as I guide him, help him learn, and give him wave after wave of unwavering support. Gentle parenting takes a mind shift. It takes patience. It takes a heck of a lot of grace (for my kiddo and myself). But it's worth it because this is what gentle parenting shows my child: 



I fully respect you. You don't deserve less respect because you're less grown. You deserve full respect because you're a whole person. Having a lot to learn doesn't diminish your right to respect. Every single adult I know has a lot to learn too. Just like adults don't like being talked down to, belittled, embarrassed, or isolated, neither do children. I'll treat you with utmost dignity.

I will take care of you. Taking care of you means your needs are filled--your need for food, shelter, clothes, affection, understanding, and safety. Not only will I never let anyone lay a hand on you to harm you (physically or emotionally), but I'll never lay a hand on you either...unless it's a pat of encouragement on your back.

I'll always love you. I'll love you when you're smiling, when you're crying, and when you act out because an emotion feels so much bigger than you. It doesn't matter if you're having the best day or the worst day or if you tell me you hate me. I love you.

Your emotions aren't bad. Don't stuff them down. Not for me. Not for anyone. Let's look at the tough emotions together. Feel them, understand them, work through them together.

You're worth the time it takes to understand you. What you're going through developmentally, what you're feeling, your thought process, your physical needs. I understand there's a LOT going on behind your behavior, and I'll do my best to investigate or just be with you through it before I jump to conclusions. May I never correct before I attempt to understand.

I will teach you. I will teach you to brush your teeth, apologize, treat people with grace, bake good food, step out of your comfort zone, forgive, write a letter, ride a bike, love yourself. The best way I'll teach you is to show you by example.

I'll set limits for your safety and the safety of others. If you don't understand the limits, I'll explain them. I have no problem with your questions. Here's another learning and connection moment. And if you disagree with the limits after you understand, I'll listen to you. Because your voice matters. To me. To this family. In the world, your voice matters. You may not get your way still, but the door is always open for conversation.

I'll give you freedom. I'll give you the space to grow, play, make mistakes, fall down. I'll give you the space to find out who you are and to work through life in your own timing. I'll give you the space to not need me. And the space between my arms for when you do...any time, any place, kiddo.


The best way to change a harsh world for peace, love, and humanity caring for one another is to gently raise a generation who respects, values, and loves people because they were raised respected, valued, and loved.

Related post: A Mom's Version of 1 Corinthians 13:1-7


If you were encouraged by this, please pin it and pass it on! Want more encouragement for gentle parenting, natural living, and faith? Check out the Her Arms Are Strong Facebook page!

16 comments:

  1. I found this post to be so amazing and spot on. I use to be one of those who would question you until we moved in with my mother-in-law and my in law special need siblings. She chooses to raise her children with the same method as you...even the ones who weren't special. At first I did not understand but as time has gone on and my daughter is turning into a toddler I do understand. Her ways have rubbed off onto me. Of course there are times when my selfishness gets the best of me because I am only human and I feel the stern mommy coming out but I always take a step back and remind myself that I hated the way my parents raised me. SO strict...so many rules...my childhood could have been more enjoyable if they had chose this method. Keep spreading the word love and don't let anyone convince you different!

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    1. A lot of conventional ways of parenting aren't very gentle, and I think it's what a lot of people use because that's all they knew growing up! And we all have moments when we aren't so gentle, but the fact that you try and fail and keep trying will speak volumes to your daughter. You're doing great! I'm so happy your mother-in-law could influence you so positively. Thanks so much for your kind words!

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  2. Hmmmmm, this is interesting and definitely worth a few rereads. I grew up in a Caribbean family and their way of parenting is -- you don't question, you don't talk back and you don't disrespect the parent figure. I am also pretty strict with my kids compared to others, but not as strict like my parents were. I do allow my kids to question my motives and decisions, but once I have explained it to them, that is it. This is not a full time discussion about why and how, but rather you got an explanation, can respond, but we move on. I do see some kids who continue to question their parents, in a rude and very disrespectful tone, that makes me wonder what I would do to my kids in those situations. I understand your point of view, I just know that it may not work for all family dynamics.

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    Ayana Pitterson

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    1. Right, I agree that the parent knows best and gets the final say even if the child disagrees. There definitely need to be boundaries, like, "We're not going to talk about this until you get your way. We're going to talk because I care about what you have to say." I think if children feel heard and respected, they're absolutely capable of and more likely to return that respect. It's so tough to know what we would do in that kind of situation until we're in it, like with the rude and disrespectful tone. Personally, I would strive to keep a respectful tone and say something like, "I want to hear your perspective, but that tone makes it hard for me to listen." And then later, "It's okay if you don't like my decision, but we're going with it." Gentle parenting isn't submissive parenting; it's just giving kids the same respect any person wants. Thanks so much for your thought-provoking comment! I'm also thinking about all this and figuring it out as I go.

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  3. parenting is a journey we all take and learn what works best for us and our children.

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  4. Interesting. I did not grow up with this method. My mother was very strict, no back talking, I got spankings, my answer to my question why? was "because I said so." I have two little ones. I find myself using some of the methods I grew up on and the ones you described. Its a mixture of the two.

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    1. The phrase "because I said so" frustrated me so much as a child! It always felt so dismissive, especially when my goal was understanding, not disobedience. I'm curious how mixing such polarizing methods would work. I'm just figuring out all of this as I go, so I love to hear other perspectives and experiences.

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  5. Yes! Our families question us when we share that we're not going to spank and I wish they would realize how wonderful gentle parenting is!

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    1. It really is! And I'm always so excited to "meet" another gentle parent, so hi!

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  6. This is such a beautiful letter to read early morning here! A perfect example to gentle parenting!

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  7. What a great sentiment! My parents were kind and loving, but I don't think they would be considered gentle parents. It's just the way they were brought up so it was what they knew.

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    1. Thank you! And my parents were the same way. I think a lot of people parent the way they were parented because it's what they know.

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  8. this was a really good read, and i agree with gentle parenting!

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