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 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
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