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Are We Taking Gentle Parenting Too Far?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m not a fan of spanking. It’s not part of how I choose to or want to parent. I don’t take issue with friends who choose to spank. Everyone has to make the right choice for their own family.

There are many aspects of gentle or peaceful parenting that resonate with me. I like to (try to) slow down and discuss things with my kids, understand their point of view, talk things out, etc.
As I am around more parents and families I see a gentle aspect to parenting gaining ground. I feel, for the most part, this can be very positive. I think we need less yelling, less anger and more understanding and patience. But I have begun to wonder…
are we taking this too far?

I’ve heard of many parents who won’t say the word “no” to their child. They find it to be too negative (um…duh?) and is somehow damaging to the child. But life is full of NOs and how are we preparing our kids for that reality if they never hear that word. And honestly, I have a kid who feels everything is merely in the negotiation stage if you haven’t said “no”. Sometimes we need to hear “no”.

Another recent discovery is not telling a child they are doing something wrong but rather trying to guide them to do it the right way but by their own choice. I’ll wait a minute to let you get your head around that…. Now, I’m all for freedom of expression with coloring and pretending blocks are cars, that sort of thing. But if a child is putting their sunglasses on upside down and keeps fidgeting with them because they feel funny, it is ok to say, “You have them on wrong. They go like this.” But what I was recently told was “I try not to tell him he is doing something wrong but rather explain that perhaps he would be more comfortable if he changed something.”

I really have a hard time believing that telling my kid that she did something wrong, something that has a definitive right and wrong way, is going to permanently scar her and make her never share feelings, trust others or be creative. And when my kid is an adult and her boss tells her she has done something wrong, if we have shielded her from this concept her whole life, will she then be confused, hurt and upset? Will she understand how to handle the situation?

One last aspect of gentle parenting I have read about is this idea that we shouldn’t impose our desire and need for cleanliness and order onto kids. That that is our choice on how we want to live and our kids may not be that type of person and it isn’t fair to impose our feelings and beliefs on them (and make them clean or give them consequences for not keep rooms tidy). This seems insane to me. I wish someone had imposed some cleanliness on me as a child. I have struggled as an adult to get myself in a routine of cleaning and organization. We can’t simply allow our children to live in filth because we don’t want to impose our beliefs and will on them.

We need to remember in all of this parenting business that we are ultimately raising adults who need to be a functioning part of society. I fail to see the logic in the idea that guiding them, teaching them and giving them boundaries and rules (and even “no”) based on our life experience and personal beliefs is ruining them for life and that leaving them to rule the house and their lives based on their whims will lead to far greater success and joy in life.

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2 Comments

Why Kids Need Consequences

I tend to hover right in the middle of “peaceful parenting” groups and “typical parenting” groups. I’ve always been a middle of the road kind of gal, but that’s another post completely.

I love many aspects of the peaceful, or gentle, parenting community. I’m not one for spanking and I find yelling to be aggressive and counter productive (yet I still slip into it sometimes). But there is one trend that is gaining momentum that I can’t get on board with.
No consequences.
There are a multitude of parents who feel that it is damaging, isolating, or dangerous to the psyche of a child to give consequences. They can even show you books to support this idea. But, you can find a book to support ANY idea, trust me.
The idea is that kids will be more emotionally connected and intact as they grow if you do not ever give consequences for their actions and merely take time to discuss what happened and what should be done instead.
I find immense value in talking to our children. I have been speaking to my four children since birth and we frequently discuss how to handle situations, especially after a mistake is made.
But discussion is not a substitute for consequence. Particularly in repeat offenses. If your kid continually breaks a rule no matter how much you explain the value of the rule and the potential danger of breaking it, talking is NOT helping. By all means, continue explaining the what and the why – but there needs to be consequence.
A child who does something he shouldn’t because he finds it funny and sees no actual harm take place will see no reason to stop what he is doing if he simply gets told that he shouldn’t do that and suffers no repercussion whatsoever.
Why would he stop? Not one thing happens to him and it greatly amuses him.
The extension of this is the reality we are teaching our children. We are not just raising kids, we are raising adults. The foundation we lay has a great impact on their expectations of life as they enter the “real world” of adulthood.
A child raised without ever having consequence, and only being talked to about what she did, is in for quite a shock when she grows up.
Life has consequences.
If you fail to turn in a report at work your boss may sit you down and reprimand you (doubtfully in a gentle, loving way), but keep it up and you better believe you’ll be fired.
Have too many drinks and decide to get behind the wheel of a car? There is no amount of talking to take away from taking a life.
The world is full of consequences for our actions. You can choose what consequences look like in your family, but please, use them. Otherwise, you set your child up for a serious crash and burn once they leave home.