The constant debate has shaken parents to their core on a topic that has truly never been discussed in this light before. Which is Gentle Parenting is privileged parenting.
Yes, I said it! and it’s very true. As a retired educator of more than 10+ years and certified adult and child psychologist with a focus on development and neuroscience let me just say! Parenting is not for your kids. It’s called parenting for a reason – to focus on yourself! What comes from it is a healthy, cognitive
Gentle parenting is not easy. It is arguably the most difficult parenting style to practice. This makes sense it involves cognizance of your triggers and how to manage the emotions that may arise when you encounter one of them. You have to be the leader in your home and teach your children how to manage their own feelings while guiding their behaviours. It involves patience, determination, and sometimes a bit of silliness. But there are a few things that may make this parenting style more difficult to practice. Hence why I said parenting is all about you. Not your kids.
Parenting is difficult enough even with multiple sets of hands caring for little ones. But to even imagine never having assistance or a break and then being criticized for your child-rearing when you’re mentally, physically, and emotionally burnt out sounds like the suckiest thing in the world. Having a partner in your parenting journey is not a privilege that’s afforded to everyone. I was raised by a single mother and to this day, dealing with our daughter, I wonder how on earth she did it all. And with two other children! Being an immigrant, learning a new language and being separated from her family. She deserves a medal of honour. So yes, gentle parenting is easier when you have a dependable partner you can tag in when you’re feeling tapped out so you can emotionally regulate, breathe, get a drink, and collect yourself before returning to your child(ren). However, if you can’t get that break or moment to yourself and you’re just in survival mode doing your best, it can be difficult to pour love and patience into your children if you’re running on empty yourself.
Lack of Resources and a struggle to find basic necessities
With or without children, life is stressful. And children don’t often understand many of the stresses that adults have on their shoulders. Listen, that’s okay, they’re not supposed to. However, if you’re struggling to make ends meet, some of the stress you’re feeling may spill over into how you deal with your kids. But they don’t understand that mommy or daddy yelled at them about leaving the faucet running because the water bill is past due and way too expensive. Or that the spaghetti you’ve had to reheat or noodles you had to make cost you little to nothing and affording anything else is too difficult to even think about, and they don’t want to eat at all. They can’t make the connection that you’re not exploding at them, you’re just stressed and overwhelmed, they can only handle how your reactions make them feel. Solution? One of the best ways to teach your children how to manage their stress is to manage yours without letting your emotions spill onto the people around you. Let them know in an age-appropriate way how to be conservative about the resources they have. And try, to the best of your ability, to keep your stress away from them.
Some mental illnesses can make normal childhood behaviour triggering. Tantrums, defiance, or even excessive sounds can be extremely difficult to process if you struggle with your own mental health. I can definitely empathise with parents who are going through struggles with mental health while trying to raise children. It’s hard to not attack those around you when you’re under attack by your mind constantly. Just remember, we are responsible for our own mental health. We have to take care of ourselves so that we can take care of our babies.
To the parents out there, if you are someone who is able to use authoritative parenting with relative ease, amazing. But let’s stop judging people who may struggle a little. Parenting is difficult enough without feeling like those who should understand what you’re going through and be in your corner, aren’t. Recognize your privilege and check your ego.