I am trying so hard to be a ‘gentle parent’ but the truth is, it isn’t easy. Gentle parenting is a beautiful and tender approach in raising compassionate and empathetic children. And while it sounds sweet and revolutionary, following the parenting style in reality is hard at times.
It is hard because how I was parented is different from how I would like to parent my child—so I am constantly learning and unlearning.
It is hard because I come from a household where voices were raised in times of disagreement and discipline—and as a result I was unconsciously taught to bottle up my emotions rather than find a safe place to thoroughly process through them.
It is hard because from adolescence, I didn’t feel a sense of emotional safety within my parents—not until I became an adult and we navigated through tough childhood traumas.
It is hard because sometimes, I unintentionally reflect the way that I was raised—parenting out of my own emotions, triggers and traumas rather than making informed emotional decisions for my child.
It is hard because most days, I am not even gentle with myself—and becoming a mother has exposed my lack of patience and grace.
But even through the hardships, I am learning. And I am trying.
I want love, light and softness be the foundation of his upbringing.
Becoming a mother has shown me that unconditional love and patience is a daily practice. I remind myself that in this season, everything is new for my child. The simple and mundane things are exciting for him. And the world isn’t shrinking to accommodate his littleness—he is hastening to grasp the magnitude of everything around him.
And all he needs is my patience in these moments.
As he is learning right from wrong. As he is figuring out how to process, understand and communicate his emotions. As he is familiarizing himself with so much unknown.
And so gentle parenting is my approach. As his mother, I am one of the main roadmaps to my child's comprehension of this thing called life. I am his guide. I am not perfect—nor do I try to be. And I understand that he is not perfect either. This idea of perfection is debilitating—neither allowing us to ebb and flow or allowing us to exist as we truly are.
Flawed. Imperfect. Growing. In a constant cycle of learning and unlearning.
Right now, my son is at a place where he doesn’t fully understand how to regulate his emotions or his behaviors. He’s at a place where he doesn’t fully understand my responses to his emotions and behaviors.
So I am trying my best to be more patient with him. Because I want love, light and softness be the foundation of his upbringing. I want him to have room to unfold—and feel safe and supported in doing so. Even when his emotions are heavy. Even when he reacts negatively. Even when he makes mistakes.
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And I admit that it gets hard at time. But when gentle parenting doesn't seem doable, I lean on conscious parenting to remind me why I'm cognizant of how I'm raising my child. Conscious parenting calls for me to look inward as a way of parenting outwardly. Mindfulness lies at the core of this approach. I work through understanding my behaviors, traumas, triggers and emotions as a way to inherently make informed decisions on how I raise my child.
To be gentle and patient with my child, I must first be gentle and patient with myself. I must understand that some days will be harder than others. Some days, I'll feel more tested. More stretched thin. More overwhelmed. But everyday, it's my persistency that matters.
Gentle parenting isn’t something that I am doing for fun or because it's a trending topic amongst parents. It’s something that I’ve grown dedicated to—even through its hardships. I have a load of generational curses that I am carrying and unpacking and the world already has so much trauma to give. I want to be my child’s emotional safety. His soft landing. Not another wound that he spends so much of his life trying to heal.
Gentle parenting isn't easy, but nothing about being a mother truly is. I want to give my son grace as he learns how to understand his emotions—the same way he gives me grace as I am learning to understand mine. And the grace that I find in gentle parenting is realizing that my child is human—with human emotions, tendencies and needs. Just like me.
So I meet him with love, compassion and understanding.
I may not always get it right. There are days when his tantrums are more than I can bear. There are days when I am overstimulated and overwhelmed. There are days when I just don’t feel like I have anything left of myself to give. But on all of those days, I am learning to make room for grace and patience—not only for my child, but for myself as well.