These days I surround myself and my children with families who strive for peace, respect, and gentleness. I am fortunate in that I have some incredible, beautiful friends – friends whom I can relax with and who my children are safe with. But, it was not always like this! When I became a parent and began leaning more and more toward radical ways of child rearing, I encountered angry opposition and constant hostility.
My extended family were criticising me every chance they got, and undermining my choices whenever they could. They took it personally that I aimed for gentleness, as though I was criticising the way I myself had been raised. They had raised me in very harsh and controlling ways, and it was true that I wanted better for my own children. However this was never spoken about; yet their impulse reaction seemed to be aggression to the different ways I was treating my children. In-laws were worried that gentleness wouldn’t help my children to thrive. Friends were “concerned”, and seemed to equate gentleness with neglect or laziness, or incompetence. Other parents I knew were regularly very harsh with their learning children, and over time I began to seek new circles for my children to thrive within.
I think it is really important for children to have accepting and loving people in their lives. All children deserve that.
And for all the reasons that Gentle Parenting “works”; I choose it for my children simply because I believe they deserve it.
They deserve respect.
They deserve bodily autonomy.
They deserve to learn in ways that suit them.
They deserve to be nurtured and cared for and loved with wholeness, and they deserve to feel worthy and loveable.
They deserve carers who understand their development and who understand child development.
They deserve to live free of punishment and harm.
So, although I could tell you all about my free, strong, resilient, creative children who are doing amazing things without punishments and coerced learning – I won’t.
Instead, I will tell you that children deserve to be safe and nurtured and cared for kindly- for no reason at all. And Gentle Parenting sees that children are human beings, with human rights (the same human rights that adults have). Gentle Parenting respects a child’s unique developmental trajectory, and unique learning and play needs. Gentle Parenting is the only way to parent that promotes peace, because force and punishment is innately violent. There is no way to control and punish children that is peaceful.
People tell me they “don’t know how” I do what I do. Or they tell me I am “incredible”. I want to assure you that I am not! There is nothing special about me; at least, not in this way that it is seen as having a super power to be compassionate toward children. I believe that my children deserve to live in a peaceful home. When you believe that deeply, when you truly believe that and don’t make excuses about why peace isn’t needed or attainable – there is always learning going on for you, the parent or carer. Always. Once you see that peace is a human right; it is not so difficult to work toward that. You may not be perfect, but you will be wonderfully and lovingly imperfect -and your children will be wonderfully and lovingly imperfect too.
So I am encouraging you, if these words resonate with you – take the next step! If you want to live and love more peacefully, you can! Please know that there are many of us out there aiming for compassion every day and in every situation. We still stuff up, a lot. But we believe that our kids deserve peace, and so we keep trying. You can do that too.