Gentle Parenting: why and how I chose it.

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Gentle parenting. Visible child parenting. Peaceful parenting. Attuned parenting. Relational parenting. Respectful parenting. All these phrases may describe your parenting style — even if you've never heard of any of them.

You might be like me: I grew up with authoritarian parents. Command, control, harsh over-parenting. Having worked hard to shed the trauma from that, I vowed to not raise a child that way.

The children of authoritarian parents often become permissive parents. That seemed as damaging to me as authoritarian parenting. Never saying no. Giving a child complete freedom. Being their "friend." Under-parenting.

Aiming for a place between those opposites, I set out to treat my child as a human being first. One with whom I intend to have a life-long, loving relationship. So I respect her, and I prioritize our connection and relationship.

Because my life experience didn't equip me with an understanding of how to be the sort of parent I wanted to be, I spent the first few months of my daughter's life reaching out on Twitter and Facebook for advice and information on everything from breastfeeding to baby-wearing. Social media became the core of my personal parenting journey.

As my daughter got older and my questions turned more to tantrums and teaching, I began to feel that I was just a weirdo. I didn't see my perspective reflected in many of those conversations on social media.

Fortunately, I began to spot the quiet voices of sanity peeking in here and there. My people. The ones who seek to cultivate, not control. To discuss, not demand. To teach their children to manage their feelings instead of denying them. Gentle, relational, conscious parents.

Since joining the team at Pinwheel, I have found and gathered a whole world of people and resources around this kind of parenting journey, particularly as it relates to kids and technology.

It turns out that both authoritarian and permissive parenting produce particularly poor outcomes in a technology-saturated childhood. Access to technology is too easy to come by, and is filled with too many variables for kids to do well with rules they don't understand or with no guidance at all.

Kids who come to their parents for guidance and support, and can trust that they will be loved no matter what, fare the best overall. 

If you are wanting to understand more about building a good relationship with your children, these are three books that I recommend most highly: