Ask Sarah: What is gentle parenting?


Struggling with tantrums, bedtime boundaries or simply wondering how to raise happy, confident kids? Sarah Rosensweet offers peaceful parenting advice to help families find balance.

Have a question for Sarah? Send us an email at editors@todaysparent.com.

Q: How do I explain to my parents or my spouse why gentle parenting is the way to go? 

A: It can be really hard to parent in a different way when you were raised with conventional parenting and that’s what you see all around you. I’ll share with you my top reasons why peaceful parenting is the way to go. 

Peaceful parenting is a lot of work but it actually makes parenting easier—especially as kids get older

Conventional parenting is a control-based model rather than a relationship-based model. As peaceful parents, we try to take our children’s preferences into account and find win-win solutions rather than being arbitrary or controlling just because we can.

We cultivate a relationship with our kids based on mutual respect and connection. The only way we can truly influence another person is through our relationship with them. 

Think about a boss, teacher or mentor that you respected and cared about and how you wanted to show up for that person. Connection isn’t a magic wand, but it does make kids more likely to cooperate with us. Kids raised with peaceful parenting care about what their parents think.

As our kids grow into teenagers, having a strong and connected relationship makes the teen years much easier. 

This doesn’t mean that kids are in charge or that the family is a democracy. Kids still need limits to be and feel safe. That’s why we say ‘kind, firm limits.’

You can tell your partner and your parents that you are taking the long-term view of parenting. It’s harder in the moment to move away from obedience as a goal but cultivating cooperation is what gives us the long-term ‘win.’

Kids raised with peaceful parenting are more likely to be emotionally resilient

While we try to be flexible with our children, there are times when a kind, firm limit is needed. We need to remind ourselves that it’s okay if they are upset about a necessary limit.

Emotional resilience develops when we experience difficult emotions, make it through, and realize we are okay again. As peaceful parents, we don’t give in or tell kids not to be upset simply to stop the uncomfortable feelings they’re experiencing.

We welcome our child’s feelings. We can offer support and empathy to help them through the tough moments. Over time, our child learns that they can handle hard things. 

Kids raised with peaceful parenting have strong morals

Because they weren’t raised with punishment, they learn to do the right thing when no one is looking because it’s the right thing to do, not because they are worried about being caught or getting in trouble.

No one needs to be made to feel bad to learn. In fact, punishment often gets in the way of learning and growing because it doesn’t get to the root of the problem nor does it address the underlying issues. You can remind your parents or your partner that your kids do want to be ‘good.’ 

If your parents still question your choices? I love this line: “Thank you for your input. I will take that into consideration.” 

If your partner still isn’t on board? Be patient and continue to practice peaceful parenting yourself. Work on your relationship with your partner and lead with empathy and acknowledge their point of view if you disagree.

Again, the only way we can truly influence another person is through our relationship with them. 

Read More from our Ask Sarah Series:

Sarah Rosensweet is a certified peaceful parenting coach, speaker, and educator. She lives in Toronto with her husband and her 15- and 18-year-old kids. Her 22-year-old son has launched.

Peaceful parenting is a non-punitive, connection-based approach that uses firm limits with lots of empathy. Sarah works one-on-one virtually with parents all over the world to help them go from frustrated and overwhelmed to “we’ve got this!”

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