I have followed a few articles here and there on gentle parenting and I really love the ethos, being gentle on my child while still instilling discipline and future confidence. I have tried hard to put the theory into practice from those few articles but there are definitely those days where I find it too difficult to stay calm, when I find myself losing it and feeling like I’m getting nowhere. I was not really seeing any results with my strong willed toddler. So, instead of being inconsistent and filling in the gaps with my own ideas, I thought I would give the book a proper read to see what I was missing and could do better.
As with all these parenting books I found there was some useful advice and some that was more unrealistic. At the start of the book there is practical baby advice which probably would have helped me greatly the first time round. With my second only 2 months away now I will definitely be putting these to practice. There is some especially good advice about using your instincts, even against professional advice, if it doesn’t sit right with you. I definitely suffered from some bad health visitor advice just after my son was born, which I just accepted at the time even though it didn’t feel right.
The book talks about having your ‘tribe’ in place or building one if you don’t have one. I have read several articles on this and think the concept is great. However, I didn’t have my family around me and my friends were all in London while I had moved out to Suffolk and I suffered for that. Joining the baby classes was great and did make a difference just to get me out of the house but I only made a couple of good friends out of it as I am painfully shy in these situations! Those friends are worth so much to me though, even in such a short space of time.
Connection is mentioned a lot in the book and I’m a big believer in this and it is one of the key parts of the Live Laugh Giraffe philosophy. I often find that if my little one is really having a bad week it’s more the lack of time I’m giving them rather than they are doing anything ‘wrong’. The book makes the point that it is us as parents getting frustrated with children’s behaviour as it doesn’t ‘suit’ us. I have really recognised this to be true. For example, if I am late for something I get annoyed with my son if he doesn’t want to get his shoes on quickly or won’t get in the car but actually it’s because I’m late that I am bothered, not because he is actually being ‘bad’.
The section about how other people may feel about gentle parenting is an interesting one too. I do feel like the older generation especially find my way of parenting strange. I often feel like they disapprove if they think I am letting my child get away with things that they wouldn’t have ‘in their day’. I handle things differently in that, rather than having a go at my child, I try and find out what’s wrong. I guess it’s an alien way to that generation where punishment was more strict. At the end of the day, I know I am doing the right thing and the science of it all backs me up but I don’t think that people will necessarily come round to my way of thinking. That’s all fine, I believe that each person should parent as they see fit, but I do feel a bit nervous about my children being left with people that think that shouting and constant no’s are the way to treat a child, or even worse the naughty step!
The last chapter of the book is a difficult one. What it boils down to, and we hear this a lot in articles, is that you have to be gentle on yourself to be a gentle parent. But this really is easier said than done. With a husband who works hard and I often don’t see from Sunday to Friday night and family over 2 hours drive away it’s hard to get the down time for myself. I know I should rely on kind offers from friends more often but worry that my son will be difficult for them (he’s a sensitive soul!) and that’ll be the end of that!
In fairness, the book is a bit on the preachy side as I find all these parenting advice articles/books are. There are some bits you have to take with a pinch of salt like all advice. At the end of the day it’s best to do what works for you. For me it is a decent guideline but I expect most people would find it impossible to follow to the letter. That said, I have changed a few things here and there and have had a few comments about my son’s good behaviour, which is really pleasing. I do pretty well anyway despite my off days which we all have.
The one big difference I have taken away is if he is acting up a bit more I do try and spend more time trying to get the connection back. Each morning now I try and play with him for 5 mins before we start the day, even if just a little tickle fight, just to get that morning reconnect. Some days easier than others but it start the day on a positive!
Do any of you follow the gentle parenting style? What methods have you found that work well for you? Do you think gentle parenting is a nonsense? We would love to hear your views on this in our comments below.
If you are interesting in reading the book to understand it better here’s the link for you.
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