The last time I posted something about gentle parenting on my Facebook wall, a few people were very upset because a "sensible" person like me was not supposed to talk about gentle parenting. Why? Because they thought gentle parenting was akin to permissive parenting.
This I think is one of the biggest myths about gentle parenting. Gentle parenting is not permissive parenting, it is not even close. Gentle parenting is actually setting clear boundaries with empathy. We don't punish when something happens that we are not happy about. When my second child was born, I had to tell my older child "Let's touch the baby gently", There was no punishment but an understanding that my two-year-old is a baby himself and I cannot expect him to have impulse control. I as the adult was the responsible person and I model by being gentle with him and keep reminding him to be gentle.
Did it work? Yes. Was it a lot of hard work? Yes. Was it worth it in the end? Definitely yes! If I had threatened my son or shouted at him or hit him, that is exactly what he would have learned, that he can shout, hit, and threaten to problem solve rather than be gentle and calm. We have to unlearn a lot of things we learned while growing up and also stop listening to others who tell us otherwise.
Does gentle parenting take a lot of time? I am not going to lie here, yes, it does take a lot of time and effort. But it is only in the initial stages, especially if we have grown up in an environment where gentle parenting wasn't practiced. But once you set the path right, it becomes easy for the rest of your life. I have spent more time connecting with my children and having fun, than trying to be a referee to their fights. So a little bit of time and effort put in at the early stages actually makes life easier for the rest of your life. In the end, actually, it doesn't take up as much time and effort if you look at the bigger picture.
As a parent, I have been told that I am an overprotective parent or I am helicopter parenting when I stand up for my children. Being a gentle parent does not necessarily mean the parent is being overprotective. What I have found is that when I stand up for my children at a very young age I support them and provide a loving environment for them to grow up, I am actually helping them to stand up for themselves as they grow up and helping them grow up as confident and resilient children.
Only yesterday we were with a group of fellow homeschooling parents with similar parenting ethos and we were talking about how our children don't fight with each other. And I remember my uncle asking me why my children are so calm and don't fight. He wanted to know if his grandchildren (older now) could be changed. My answer has always been yes. It is never too late to start gentle parenting. Well, applying the same principles to your spouse or people around you can change a whole lot of things for your relationships.
Does gentle parenting make your children soft? Not actually. These children stand up for themselves when needed because that is what they have seen you do for yourself and for them. Think about it, Showing empathy requires a great amount of strength and control. If you think gentle parenting helps only the child, I would tell you otherwise. Gentle parenting helps both the parent and the child equally. Who will not want children who are empathetic and kind?
I hope this has helped some of you understand what gentle parenting is. Gentle parenting is about empathy and connection and not about punishments and rewards. It is not overprotective and is not permissive. It is not time-consuming or a lifetime of hard work, because once you set the foundation right, you have set things up for life.
With Love, Ms. Shyamala