When I was pregnant with my first, my husband and I started to research all the different parenting options. We made a list of parents we knew growing up who seemed to make the best choices for their kids, kids who had a healthy respect for their parents, kids who hated their parents, etc.
We wanted our kids to feel unconditionally loved, respected, and understood. We wanted to create a dynamic of boundaries and rules that promoted learning, growth, and trust. We didn’t want to use punishment as a teaching tool but appeal to their minds with reason and empathy.
These desires led us to authors L.R. Knost, Daniel J. Siegel M.D., and Tina Payne Bryson PH.D. Siegel and Bryson have written a couple of books together that teach parents how a child’s brain develops and what discipline strategies promote that development. They are wonderful works of science simplified for the everyday parent. Knost writes books that encourage the heart of the parent. She lovingly guides parents to view their child through curiosity and innocence. Her books are beautiful.
Gentle parenting encourages the adults to be understanding, empathetic, and respectful. What kind of kid wouldn’t thrive from that? I’m proud to say that my kids are. Keira is three. She is absolutely full of life. She’s sweet, generous, funny, and just so awesome. Lilah is 15 months and is equally amazing. She’s tiny, chubby, goofy, adores her daddy, and loves her big sister. Keira knows she can tell Daddy and I anything. She knows her voice is respected, her feelings are valued, and that her needs will always be met. Lilah is still learning words but she knows that whether she uses words or squawks, she will be answered (her favorite thing to do is to whisper “out” when she wants out of her highchair and give us about -1 second to respond before she makes crazy howler monkey noises).
Gentle parenting has gotten us through loads of lessons without much drama. I see our relationship becoming everything I want. My little girls bring Daddy and I their hearts and aren’t afraid when it’s ugly. We see Lilah learning to be gentle and communicate with her tiny words(she’s still so much of a baby that what we teach her hasn’t shown up as clearly as with big sister). We see Keira growing in patience and self-control; making kind choices even after her feelings have been hurt; trusting us to know what is best.
How about you? How did you come across your parenting style?