Parenting

 

Mindful parenting…respectful parenting…gentle parenting…peaceful parenting…

These are all terms I’ve used (and used interchangeably) to describe my parenting here on my blog. Though I’ve yet to settle on the phrase that I think is best, my belief in its importance has never wavered. The words may be vague, but the concept is not. This type of parenting is not a “method” so much as it is a way of treating people. And the first thing we need to understand is that children are people.

Seems kind of obvious, right? I mean, if they’re not people, what else would they be? Yet mainstream parenting advice would have us treating our children in decidedly inhuman ways, and doing things to our children that we would never even consider doing to a spouse, or a sibling, or a friend. From ignoring an infant’s cries and withholding attention; to disciplining with physicality and harsh punishments; to parenting with force, coercion and control… this is not the way we’d treat anyone else we loved. Why would do it to our kids?

My parenting philosophy is really quite simple (not always easy, but simple). I strive to treat my children the way I myself would like to be treated. I’ve consciously chosen to opt out of the authoritarian, from-the-top down, “because I’m the parent and I said so” paradigm, in favor of one of partnership and mutual respect. I think far too many parents unfairly demand respect from their children, without actually showing them any respect themselves. It doesn’t work that way.

For those who find my parenting to be unbiblical (and indeed, my biggest critics tend to be my fellow Christians), I want to say first and foremost that the Bible is about love: love for God, and love for other people. If we’re commanded to treat others – in fact all people – with love, and kindness, and grace, and respect, is there a better place to start than with our own children?

I believe in not sweating the small stuff when it comes to our kids.

I believe in saying yes.

I believe that children are fruit, not baked goods.

I believe that our kids are communicating with us, not trying to manipulate us.

I believe in gentle, positive parenting.

I believe in not picking my battles.

I believe in parenting without spanking and other forms of punishment.  I believe in redefining how we use the word discipline.   And have I mentioned how I feel about spanking?

And finally, I believe in keeping a sense of humor. Because sometimes life with kids is just really really, funny.


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  1. Carma

    Jen, this is so YES. And that’s from a fellow Christian.

    1. jen

      Thanks, Carma. I’m so thankful to have the support of those of you out there who get it.

  2. Michele Kendzie

    Can I steal your words for my blog?  Just kidding!  You just wrote so much of what I believe and wrote it so well.  I also love that photo at the top of this page!

    1. pathlesstaken

       Thanks you! :)

  3. Shalonne Halstead

    Hi, I found your blog recently and a lot of your ideas on parenting are ones I agree with and have tried, but I always end up having to be more authoritive than I like. Yes, I’m still much more laid back than most parents I know. But, there seems to be so many safety issues or issues involving other people where I have to torn into an enforcer. For example, even though we have a very gentle household, and I’ve never hit or spanked my children, my oldest (4) still is constantly hitting my youngest (2) when he gets angry with her. I don’t know what else to do but to physically remove and keep him from her over and over again. It’s not working, but I don’t know what else to try. I’ve explained why he shouldn’t hit her, I’ve explained that he should be treating her as he wants to be treated. He just doesn’t seem to have the necessary impusle control. In situations like this, how do I not “be the parent?” I’d love ideas as it’s so frustrating to want to be a gentle parent with a child who’s not so gentle.

    1. pathlesstaken

      Hi Shalonne, well first I have to say that you *always* have to “be the parent.” :)  If you’re not being the parent, especially when it comes to safety issues, then you’re being a PERMISSIVE parent, which is a very, very different thing than being a gentle/peaceful parent.   So you’re absolutely right in wanting to intervene!  You need to keep your youngest safe, so gently stopping the hitting is a non-negotiable.  First, I’d recommend really trying to investigate WHY it keeps happening.  Is he feeling jealous?  Overtired?  Wanting more of your attention?  Etc.  Once you figure that part out, you’ll be able to meet the need and resolve it more quickly.  Second:  Empathize, empathize, empathize.  Tell him you understand how he feels, you don’t blame him for being angry, he must be feeling pretty bad, etc…. but that you can’t let him hit his sister, because hitting hurts.  Hold his hands in yours, have him sit on your lap, etc;  whatever you need to do to keep him away from your daughter.  You can also redirect by trying some of the ideas here http://www.jennifermcgrail.com/2011/10/52-ways-to-have-a-time-in/ and otherwise, just stay very patient and consistent.  He WILL stop hitting.  <3

  4. Shan Jeniah Burton

    Something I’ve been noticing about the way many avowed Christians behave, online, and in their lives, is that it seems to be focused on attempting to require everyone to live by the standards they have chosen as a part of their faith.  

    I’ve seen a fair amount of hatred, cruelty, and intolerance lobbed in all sorts of directions in the name of Christianity.And I’ve often wondered what Jesus would have to say about that.But this - This goes beyond Christianity to what lies beneath.It’s Christlike.And so lovely. <3

    1. pathlesstaken

      Thank you, Shan.  And I agree, sadly I see a LOT of bullying and unkind behavior under the name of Christianity.  Always makes me think of the Ghandhi quote, “I like your Christ.  I do not like your Christians.” No one get it 100% right 100% of the time, but if I profess to be a Christian, I want to to aspire to be more like Christ, which at its core is simply to love others.

  5. Anon

    Two thumbs up =)

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