Parenting is hard.
Everyone says that parenting is hard but seriously I couldn’t have imagined parenting would have ever been this difficult. When I was pregnant with my twins I read every book I could get hands on regarding gentle parenting. I thought I had a good handle on how my chosen style would be reflected in my parenting choices.
So naive. So embarrassing. And for ONE MAJOR reason.
I had made parenting all about me.
Even before my children were born, I began to create these ideas about what kind of mother I would be. I painted pictures in head about how I would handle sleeping, crying, scheduling, sibling arguing and rivalry. I painted these pictures around how I would respond as a mother.
It wasn’t until I had reached my breaking point, was overtired and burnt out, internally screaming “why are they not fitting into these little molds I have created?!” that I realized where I had gone wrong.
Parenting is not about the parent.
I had been trying to get my children to respond to my parenting style instead of parenting to my children’s individual needs.
Positive and gentle parenting fit into my values and philosophies but I had made parenting all about myself. I modelled the behaviour I wanted to see in my kids. I kept my voice calm and almost never yelled. We hugged and played and talked it out…and while this alone worked magic with my son, I was beyond my frustrated that my daughter and I were still constantly at odds with each other.
Why wasn’t she responding to me?!
The moment I asked myself that question, my whole outlook changed. I realized it wasn’t my daughter’s job to respond to me. She is the child after all. Rather, it is my job as her mother to respond to her, and what she needs from me in the moment. I needed to realize that the same parenting techniques that worked so well with her brother, had to be adjusted to work for her personality.
What I began to do differently:
I changed my tone.
While a soft and gentle voice works really well with my son, my daughter needs me to be more firm and have more strength in my voice. She needs to know though my tone that while we discuss things, mommy makes final decisions and is in charge.
My daughter plays an active role in her discipline.
My son needs very few consequences. He responds very well to empathy and communication. My daughter on the other hand…she’s a little more strong-willed. I realized that her strong-willed and energetic personality needed to have more control over her disciple and she needs to have an active role in how she is parented. So now I allow her to help choose what her consequences will be. For example, if there is yelling and fussing as we head into Quiet Time I outline that if the behaviour continues a toy from her room will spend Quiet Time with mommy downstairs, but I allow her to choose which toy it will be. If the consequence is followed out later on, I give the opportunity for her to earn back her toy through discussion before the toy actually leaves the room.
I stopped being permissive.
With my son, I can get away with being a little permissive. I can let some behaviour slide and it won’t cause an issue. I have learned I cannot do the same with my daughter. By doing so, I was subconsciously allowing my daughter to take a leadership role to avoid conflict. I needed to let my daughter see and learn that I won’t get flustered by conflict. I needed to learn that I can be kind and loving even when in conflict with my daughter. Most importantly, I needed to learn that some turbulence with my daughter was not damaging to her or our relationship, in fact, it makes our relationship stronger.
I stopped placing expectations on my children.
My 3-year-old twins are polar opposites. By parenting my children exactly the same, I was subconsciously comparing them and painting them with the same brush. Because my son responded so well to traditional gentle parenting, I found myself lacking patience with my daughter. The moment I stopped expecting my children to respond a certain way to my parenting, the more patience I had and the happier everyone became.
Want to read more on gentle parenting? Here are some great articles:
What are your thoughts? Share with me in the comments!