My Parenting Method - Gentle but not permissive
Before getting into my current parenting method, I wanted to talk about how I was raised and what kind of pushed me towards the path I'm on today.
I wouldn't say my childhood was bad. I had a lot of opportunities; my parents allowed me to do anything I was interested in and supported me in most decisions I made when it came to activities for school or personal interests like acting and modeling. I remember them paying for everything I could possibly need for my sports activities, my acting classes, taking me out of the state for casting calls, etc.
I think the only thing I was missing from my childhood was better communication with my parents. I never felt like I could be completely open with my parents in fear that they would get mad or be disappointed in me. I had friends who told their parents everything and had great relationships with them, and I found myself being jealous of that closeness at times.
Having my First Kid
When I had my first child, I was getting out of a bad relationship and moved back in with my parents. I knew nothing about parenting and let my mom help as much as possible, but as my son got older, I realized that I am not doing something I am comfortable with by treating my son the way my parents treated me. I never wanted him to feel like I would be angry or disappointed in him if he said something I didn't like or agree with. I also didn't want him to be scared to make a mistake in fear that I would lash out.
There was one instance in particular where I started to get angry with him because I told him to clean his room before watching tv, and he asked "why?" So, I started to raise my voice and my mom suggested that he needed to be spanked and said, "you'll do it because she told you to do it." My son immediately started crying and he said, "I don't know why you want to hit me because I don't know why I have to something before watching tv instead of after." Him saying that nearly knocked the air out of me because I remember my parents always using the "because I said so" language when I just wanted a real answer to a question.
At that moment I questioned myself on my parenting style. He was about 3 or 4 years old, and I knew I didn't want to spank him, and I knew I didn't want to raise my voice anymore, I just didn't know what to do from where I was currently at.
The way my journey started was to stop and tell myself, "How would I want to be treated in this situation?" I would take the time to explain things to him and I stopped spanking him. I basically started with the thought of "if I wouldn't treat a stranger like this, why would I treat my child like this." I've always been kind and patient with others, I've always been understanding that sometimes people have bad days, so I applied that thinking to my personal life as well.
Intro to Gentle Parenting
So, I had been doing my own thing and making my own way for years before I stumbled across a TikTok about gentle parenting. I can't remember the creators name, but it was amazing how she handled a melt down with her toddler and how calm she stayed, and it warmed my heart to see.
After finding the one TikTok, I basically found a whole community of "gentle parents" and decided to check Facebook for any Gentle Parenting pages since I use FB more than TikTok, and sure enough, there were multiple pages for this community. I started to just immerse myself in reading all the comments and suggestions on how to handle situations that I found myself in 100 times before.
Gentle Parenting vs Permissive Parenting
Treating your child with respect
Allowing your child to have feelings
Giving punishments that fit the crime
Being open to listening to your child's needs being open to communication without judgement
Letting your child make independent decisions, within reason.
Letting your kid act out, say bad words, break things, etc. with zero repercussions
Being fearful that you can't discipline your child because you don't want to make them upset.
Feeling like you are not the boss of your own house
Being bullied by your child because you don't want to make waves
There are probably hundreds of comparisons, but for some people it is a very fine line between gentle and permissive and it can be very easy for people to fall into permissive parenting thinking that its "gentle."
I am on year 6 of gentle parenting. My oldest child is 10 years old and my youngest is 9 months old. My 10-year-old is such a kind and loving kid who loves to help out around the house and who feels comfortable talking to me about his feelings and is able to walk me through his thought process of things I don't fully understand. Some of the things he shares with me are things I could never imagine sharing with my parents at his age and I am so glad that he trusts me, but he also respects me as his parent. I know that every kid is different, but I'm already seeing the benefit in my toddler as well; instead of throwing tantrums, he talks through his feelings and is able to communicate to me when he is upset, and we figure out a way to resolve whatever he is going through.
The benefit is not only for the child, but for the parents as well. I rarely feel stressed because just like my kids, I am able to let them know when I am having a hard day and they understand that sometimes I just need a second to myself and they respect boundaries and try to help me when I'm not having a great day. I also remember feeling terrible and crying myself to sleep any time I had to raise my voice or spank my oldest son before I knew any better. It was the worst feeling in the world to see this tiny human that you love so much be hurt by your words and actions. Don't get me wrong, sometimes I do have to raise my voice (not scream) to get their attention, but I always make sure they understand why I raised my voice.
Overall, the goal is to raise kids that are well behaved, happy and independent and I feel like gentle parenting is an amazing option for those who want to try it out! If you stay consistent, both you and your children will end up with better relationships and you will have a son/daughter who is able to function and manage their emotions as they get older.