I don’t know where this idea came from that gentle parenting was supposed to be ‘easy’. That we’ve got it all figured out over here. That because we’ve chosen a different way it means our children should behave perfectly, and we should always know how to parent them in any situation. That if your children aren’t perfect, then you’re doing it wrong.
I hear all the time ‘the problem with kids these days is that their parents aren’t tough enough/don’t smack them/want to be their friend/don’t punish them enough’. Apparently if a kid isn’t behaving the way we want them to the answer is the be tougher on them. And if you don’t agree with that, well you brought it on yourself!
I completely disagree! I don’t think the answer to any difficulties you may have with your children is a bit more ‘tough love’. No, I can’t see how putting more distance in your relationship and disconnecting from your children is helpful. The answer, in my opinion, is the opposite. To connect more.
“A child needs your love most when he deserves it least” -Erma Bombeck
The thing is, gentle parenting isn’t supposed to be easy. It doesn’t mean we always have all the answers. It doesn’t mean our children never do the wrong thing. It doesn’t mean they are perfectly behaved. It doesn’t mean they never test our patience.
Not at all. Our children still test us. That’s what they’re supposed to do. And when this happens it doesn’t mean that what we’re doing isn’t working. We don’t need to be told ‘that kid needs a good smack’. Sorry that’s not what we’re about.
What we are about, is the bigger picture. Connectedness over obedience. Relationships over perfect behaviour. Mindfulness and understanding over punishment. A commitment to helping our kids deal with their emotions, making them feel safe, respecting them as people, guiding them through life, protecting boundaries lovingly, and not relying on fear and power to get our message across. Because what we’re aiming for is not momentary compliance, but nurturing a human being.
And that is not easy. Staying calm in the face of big feelings? I don’t know about you but it’s not easy for me! Listening to crying? Nope, not easy either. We didn’t choose to parent this way because we thought it would be easier and we’d bypass all the normal things you have to deal with when you’re raising tiny people. We chose it for the bigger picture.
No, it’s not easy. Parenting isn’t easy a lot of the time, however you choose to do it. But that doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. The fact that you keep trying means you’re doing it right. We keep learning and trying and thinking of the bigger picture. And it is so worth it.