What is Gentle Parenting and What are the Pros and Cons?


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In this article, you will be able to learn What is Gentle Parenting? What are the Pros and Cons of this parenting method? Comparison with other parenting styles and much more!

If you want to know if this parenting style is something that you should try, read until the end and learn if Gentle Parenting would fit your family!

Main points that we will cover:

  • Definition of gentle parenting method
  • Why gentle parenting needs respect?
  • What is the connection between gentle parenting and empathy?
  • Mindfulness in gentle parenting? Is this a joke?
  • Boundaries – the central aspect of gentle parenting
  • Comparison between parenting styles
  • Gentle parenting vs Attachment parenting
  • Gentle parenting vs Permissive parenting
  • Gentle parenting vs Authoritarian parenting
  • Gentle parenting vs Authoritative parenting
  • Conclusion about Pros and Cons of Gentle Parenting

Time to Read: Around 6 mins

*Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.

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Definition of gentle parenting method

According to some sources, Gentle parenting is not a scientifically proven method but more like a new style of parenting that has been more famous lately. According to other sources, this is a scientifically proven method with great results for kids and parents. We cannot say that it is good or bad. Every family is different, and every culture is different. If you have fun “fighting” with pillows every evening with the children, this might be unacceptable for other families.

Let`s define gently or gentle first. This means to be in a mild, kind, or tender manner. Gentle parenting is a method that helps you to be a kind and tender parent that focuses on four primary areas of child rearing.

  • Respect
  • Empathy
  • Mindfulness
  • Boundaries

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*Related: What does the bible say about parenting?

Why gentle parenting needs respect?

If you want to be a person who is highly appreciated and respected, you must earn that. The same goes for the family. How can you ask for respect and care from your children if you do not give an example?

“In everything, then, do to others as you would have them do to you.”   Matthew 7:12

Gentle parenting looks at this topic from a different angle. The parents must gain respect through acknowledging the children's feelings and personalities. Only through respect, you will be able to reach the heart of the child and build a solid foundation for your relationship.

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What is the connection between gentle parenting and empathy?

Gentle parenting focuses on building a real and strong connection between the children and the parents. The lack of a good relationship can cause severe damage to children`s life. I will give a simple example of lack of connection:

In the prison, on the mother's day, all prisoners were allowed to call their mothers. When the day came, you could see tens of prisoners going and making calls with their loving moms. The same possibility has been given for father`s day. Do you know what happened? Not a single call was made.

Empathy in parenting is critical. According to this method, understanding and motivating your children to express their emotions and feelings while acknowledging them is extremely important. If you want a great relationship with your kids in the teenage years, you must work for this while they are toddlers!

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*Related: The ultimate new mom care package: The best gifts for new moms!

Mindfulness in gentle parenting? Is this a joke?

No. Mindfulness is one of the main pillars in this parenting style. Some call it “Understanding”, but we have chosen a different name.

Explained in one sentence – Mindful parents are cautious for their own thoughts and actions as much as they are caring for the kid's feelings and actions. Very often, the problems are caused by the parents, not by the children.

You, as a parent, must understand that your actions will influence the children for the rest of their life. One of the main tasks of every psychologist who has a new client is understanding their childhood traumas.

If you hve the habit to shout and / or punish, think for a second – was this what you have experienced with your parents? The chances are that your parents have been doing the same actions towards you.

If you think that you are a mindful parent, you might be interested to read How to create mindful moments for kids? And we can recommend some interesting ideas about Creative Kids Activities At Home for mindful parents.

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Boundaries – the central aspect of gentle parenting

Did you know that making choices and decisions might stress your child? If you want to see happy children, you must be able to set boundaries. Those boundaries will give great freedom to the child. The mindful parent is able to set wise and smart boundaries.

In gentle parenting, you must be between an authoritarian parent and a permissive parent. You cannot say “No” to everything and you do not have to, but you cannot allow everything. Everything in our life has consequences and children must learn that rules are set for their good.

One more thing that has to be mentioned here is that Gentle parenting requires a lot of work. As one of the biggest supporters of this method Sarah Ockwell-Smith says this is not “lazy parenting”.  If you are interested, you can check her article on What is ‘Gentle Parenting’ and how is it different to ‘Mainstream Parenting’? and check her book on the topic.

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Comparison between parenting styles

As there are other styles of parenting that you can be misled by and think that these are the same, we would like to show the main differences between some famous methods.

*Easy home-made fruit birthday cake recipe for 1st baby birthday

Gentle parenting vs Attachment parenting

Attachment parenting comes out of the attachment theory. Because of the change through the years, you can read different things about it on the web.

“Attachment theory is a psychological, evolutionary and ethological theory concerning relationships between humans. The most important tenet is that young children need to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver for normal social and emotional development. The theory was formulated by psychiatrist and psychoanalyst John Bowlby.”

Wikipedia: Attachment theory

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Attachment parenting focuses a lot on the physical connection. Examples are baby feeding as much as you can, skin-to-skin contact, carrying babies on your body with the help of baby carriers (so-called ‘slings’).

While there are many everyday things like positive discipline or trying to provide constant love to the young ones, physical touch and connection are not something that gentle parenting focuses on.

Gentle parenting vs Permissive parenting

As you already know, one of the main pillars in the gentle parenting style is boundaries. Permissive parenting and boundaries are not two things that usually go together.

In permissive parenting, the children are allowed to choose everything and they do not have many responsibilities. The main difference is that in permissive parenting, the parent often loses his/her position as a parent and is just looked like a friend who often uses bribery such as gifts and toys.

*RelatedNeglectful Parenting and The Role of the Father. 7 Bad Parenting Traits.

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Gentle parenting vs Authoritarian parenting

This comparison is like the comparison between black and white. Authoritarian parenting is everything else but gentle. This “warrior” parenting style is characterized by a high-demand system from parents to children. Parents require, put high levels of expectations and include firm boundaries and punishments. This means that the demands are high, but responsiveness and feedback are low.

For us, parenting styles that do not come out of a loving mindset will not work as efficiently as those led by a system of rules without a heart full of love. Only a loving parent can set boundaries and punish the child for its good.

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Gentle parenting vs Authoritative parenting

Here the situation is entirely different than the previous case. Let`s see what do we know about authoritative parenting.

Diane Baumrind defined this style in 1966. If you are doing the following things, you most probably are an authoritative parent:

  • You encourage your children
  • You have a high demand for your children
  • You give constant feedback and have a strong relationship with the children
  • You respect the children and motivate them to express emotions
  • You set boundaries because you love your children

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If you compare the gentle and the authoritative styles, you will see a significant connection between both. Some specialists even claim that gentle is the same as authoritative is. 

If you are interested to know how recommended authoritative parenting is, you can also read more about Which parenting style is most encouraged in modern America?

Another great book on the topic is Gentle Discipline: Using Emotional Connection--Not Punishment--to Raise Confident, Capable Kids.

Conclusion about Pros and Cons of Gentle Parenting

After learning so many new phrases (or not) and learning so many things about the different styles, it still may be difficult for some parents to define if this is a good parenting method or maybe not so much.

Main pros:

  • You show respect, love and empathy
  • You encourage emotional expression
  • You set boundaries
  • You help the child grow with the feeling of comfort and safety

Main Cons:

  • This is a time-consuming method
  • The method is very similar to attachment parenting
  • This method cannot be used if you have 2 hours a day with your child
  • The parent might have discipline problems

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Thank you for reading this article! We can leave the conclusion to you. The most important for us is to see that our children grow as people with strong characters, healthy emotions and psyche while keeping the command “Respect your parents”. This can be achieved only when love, respect and boundaries have been part of parenting.

If you have liked this article or think it might help somebody else, please share it with your friends!

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