This post is part of the 30 Days Towards Connected Parenting series.
As a new parent, I felt an unspoken pressure. It grew as my child grew and it made me uncomfortable. This pressure came in many forms but the underlying thought was that as the parent, I had to be The Boss.
Society expects parents to control their children, you’re expected to be in charge lest your children become wild brats. The typical ways this is achieved is through punishments (spanking, yelling at, giving time outs, removing possessions or ‘privileges’, & shaming), and rewards (praising, sticker charts, bribery, getting possessions or ‘privileges’).
More often than not, this pressure isn’t explicit. It’s implied with a raised eyebrow when a child is noisy in public or said in many little ways which say “Are you OK with that?” In many ‘subtle’ ways, our society says you as a parent are superior, your job is to raise them ‘right’ and by right they mean quiet and obedient. But if you’re a quiet, obedient adult – you’re boring and no one wants to be around you.
“Unconditional parents want to know how to do something other than threaten and punish. They don’t see their relationship with their children as adversarial, so their goal is to avoid battles, not win them.” ― Alfie Kohn
Moreover, it’s reinforced by the popular culture to belittle children. So we as gentle parents are shamed for aiming higher. We’re called names for not punishing them, actively trying alternatives and treating our children with respect. I don’t want to be seen as a ‘good parent’ by a society that thinks so little of children. And I assume you’re similar since you’re reading this.
I say we need to release this pressure and embrace the power in working WITH children. Parenting is honestly so much easier when it’s not seen as a battle. When we realise that discipline does not equal punishment, the resulting relationship is so much more peaceful and enjoyable.
You can be a great parent and be gentle. You can be a great parent and be your child’s friend. You can be a great parent without mainstream techniques. In fact, I think you can be a great parent because of these things!
I have been asked how I handle these external pressures and judgement. I think that the key is finding the power in knowing what you’re doing feels right to you. When you’re confident in your choices; it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.
Sure, I explain why and how I do things if people are genuinely interested – but I see no need to defend myself or get into arguments about it. Let people know it’s not up for debate.
It’s understandable to have fears then when straying from the norm. Especially when many assume that parenting respectfully means passive parenting. But we know that connected parenting isn’t passive. Connected parenting takes work! It’s about mindfulness, cultivating a relationship based on mutual respect and trust. It’s about guidance and helping little people understand the world around them.
Ultimately, I feel it’s important to take back your power and release the pressures set on parents by society. Let go of the judgement, get rid of the expectations that don’t align with what you feel is right and do what is going to cultivate a more connected relationship with your children.
What is your biggest pressure either implied or otherwise? Voice it below and begin to let it go!