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Thread: Share Your Gentle Parenting Journey

  1. #1

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    Default Share Your Gentle Parenting Journey

    Given recent discussions, I thought we could create this sticky post so we can all share the ins and outs of what led us to Gentle Parenting. You can be as long and as detailed as you like, on what happened before, during and after your decisions to follow your heart. What differences did you notice? What wasn't working which led you to try something different?



    I'll post my story soon when I have more time, but feel free to start posting!
    Kelly xx

    Creator of BellyBelly.com.au, doula, writer and mother of three amazing children
    Author of Want To Be A Doula? Everything You Need To Know
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  2. #2

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    I bought a heap of parenting books before I had Olivia and read them all, with no idea about what type of parent I would turn out to be.

    As soon as I had Olivia, all of the books just sat on the shelf gathering dust and I felt so much more comfortable following her lead and going on my gut maternal instinct.

    My mother came to stay with us when Olivia was 3 months old, and through that experience I realised that what Andrew and I were doing was very much along the lines of gentle parenting. I went back and read a lot of the books, and with the benefit of experience I realised that we had adopted gentle parenting in comparison to anything else, and that it felt right and good for us.

    I do love routine and so adopt an approach to try and help the children into nice grooves, so that the day has a bit of a pattern, but I don't clock-watch, and I follow both of their leads, adn we are all happy.

  3. #3
    Melinda Guest

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    We are very much the same here too, Lucy.

    We don't clock-watch but certainly pick up the cues from Jacob which do tend to occur at similar times during the day! He is a creature of habit like me and does benefit from some predictability and routine (I mentioned sleep cues and how we need to be consistent with our sleep routine in the Comforted Sleeping thread).

    I find that he needs to have some quiet time at home every day otherwise he gets very upset. If we're having a busy day, I simply must give him that space to himself otherwise he's very cranky indeed. So at all costs, we try to ensure he has that 'home time' to do as he chooses.

    But I find following his lead and supporting him in that seems to have boosted his self-confidence. I think that it's been hard work though, to learn what the cues are and what things your baby responds well to (i.e. settling techniques etc), but well worth it in the long run.

  4. #4
    Lee-Ann Guest

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    Here is how my journey started with gentle parenting.

    With DD1 I went with the advice I was given.... I had no clue and did everything against my own instincts, such as control crying, little smacks on the hand for being naughty etc which, was so heartbreaking for me as I was going against everything I felt in my heart, to me it was unkind and I felt like I was doing something so wrong. Anyway when I fell pg with DD2 and when DD1 was 15 months old I decided to ignore every piece of advice I was given and go with how I felt and what I felt my children were telling me. When DD2 was born I carried her around on my chest and then hip for the first 12 months. I never let her cry herself to sleep or anything like that, no smacks etc. If she wanted me to carry her, up to 18 months old, I would (she then became Miss Independent, no mummy she can do it herself thank you!). I had people telling me I'd make a rod for my own back, that I should let her cry, not pick her up etc but I proved them all wrong. I didn't realise that my method of parenting was classified as "gentle" and I'm thrilled that there are other people out there that do the same as me.

    I feel a lot closer to my daughters due to me being more sensitive to their needs. I feel I have developed a sense of total trust and understanding. Although I wish I had of started gentle parenting with DD1 from birth as I feel some of her emotional issues could be partly due to the fact that I didn’t give her what she needed when she was a little baby, yet with DD2 who experienced gentle parenting from birth she is very secure emotionally, some might say a coincidence but to me I believe it's due to how I parented her from birth. I’ve done a lot of work to reassure DD1 and nurture her emotions as she is sensitive and feel I've been able to rectify a lot and hopefully make her feel secure. Seeing and feeling the closeness & bond I have with my daughters reassures me that gentle parenting, even now with them being older, is the key.

    With Regan, I don't let her cry herself to sleep although there have been times when I've been holding her and she won't stop crying that I think maybe she wants to be put down and I put her down and she'll stop crying and either lay quietly in her bed/rocker or have a little snooze, but if I put her down and she starts crying more I will pick her back up again and do whatever it takes to settle her and now I feel I’m very in tune with what she needs and I can settle her a lot quicker now. I take my direction from her although it's not always easy but I do find in the end I eventually get it right. It's a new journey with every child and every stage and I really feel that I'm doing what's right for me and my children.

    I believe using gentle parenting has developed a stronger bond and total trust with my older daughters I feel they are very secure and confident within themselves. I feel so close to them and we have a good understanding of one another. So of course I'm positive I will have the same relationship with Regan.

  5. #5

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    Hard to know where to start. I really did not have much idea on parenting style at all, all I knew was that I did not agree with controlling and was never going to co-sleep. Well one thing has changed I now co-sleep most of the time.

    I was a mess when bub's arrived, I was exhausted and depressed. I was to easily influenced by the MCHN's and watching way to much Baby Whisperer and beginning to feel like a bad accidental parent. Everything I was doing was going against what I was hearing so I decided to to something about it. I tried to stop feeding bubs to sleep. It was heart breaking I would hold her, pat and shush, like I saw on the Baby whisperer, whilst she cried terribly (I still cry myself when I remember it). All under the delusion that is was not controlled crying (I now know it was a form of it) and that her feeding to sleep was a bad, bad thing. Many a time I would give in and feed her.

    Finally I posted on BB about my "problem". Replies from Kelly, Pinky and some other wonderful BB gals made me realise I was listening to the "should brigade" too much and not to myself and Maggie.

    I am glad there is such a thing as Gentle Parenting. I do remember reading about the different parenting styles. I my heart I knew I was not a conventional parent, but the way attachment parenting was described, I thought it was a bit too extreme for me.

    Still have a long way to go, it can be very hard at times, but at least I have BB to help me through it. That reminds me, I should really sell my Baby Whisperer books, they have become dust collectors.

  6. #6

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    I am not really sure where it come from but it is just where we have ended up? Does that make sense? I think that from reading/hgearing about certain aspects of others journeys, like controlled crying and smacking and waking a sleeping baby and having them in a stricy routine from birth just seemed so wrong to me.

    I think it is just how DH and I are naturally and as such it has led us to the gentle parenting.

  7. #7
    Debbie Lee Guest

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    I'm really trying to adopt some of the gentle parenting methods as I go. Gabby is only 10 months old so I know the best is yet to come as far as challenges are concerned.
    My Mother was always big on discipline and that involved smacking (and, unfortunately it went further than that sometimes). It's going to be a real challenge for me to kind of undo the way I was brought up. We were taught to respect our elders but I think a little too much. I feel I never really questioned an adult (and I still sometimes don't) out of "respect" just because they were older than me. I was always told I didn't ask enough questions at school and I think it's because I thought it would be rude to do, iykwim?
    I am still a firm believer in "no" meaning "no" (and not confusing the child by sending mixed messages) but I want to try and "listen" to Gabby more than I was listened to as a child.
    Like I said, it's going to be a challenge - especially in the heat of the moment because I have a pretty short temper - but thank goodness for BB! When I have a problem, I can ask the advice of you gorgeous people!

  8. #8
    *Yvette* Guest

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    I think we practice gentle parenting but I'm not sure because we don't really follow any specific policy about anything really. I'm sure some aspects of our approach would fit in though.

    I just do what seems to work best and make sense, which happens to be breast on demand & the general belief that you can't spoil a little baby - it's just not possible because they just naturally trust you to take care of them and their needs are simple, love and milk and a clean bum and being comfortable and sleep and not getting bored and being safe.

    I don't deliberately share my bed with the kids, I prefer them in their own bed, but when they're little I often fall asleep myself whilst breastfeeding in the night, so I will often wake up with a baby next to me. I find having them in my room makes sense for as long as they're needing to be fed overnight.

    I have read some books which I bought when pregnant with my first child, and found that my favourites which I always go back to are those that offer common sense based on experience and don't dictate.

    I do find that most of what I read that's labelled "gentle parenting" or "attachment parenting" reminds me of the ideas in a very old book written in the 70s by an anthropologist, Jean Leidloff called The Continuum Concept. Not that it dictates any particular behaviour or that I'd follow any of what she's observed literally, but it's a favourite book of mine which I've read again with each pregnancy and I'd have to say it influences me a lot.

  9. #9

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    I suppose what Dh and I do is a combination of parenting styles. We always knew what we wouldn't do with kids as friends of ours had a daughter that was (and still is) horrendous in every aspect - sleeping, eating, behaviour etc, so we decided that we needed to set boundries for our children and to discipline them if the situation warranted it.

    We used controlled crying, but it was always more of a whimper than a cry, and if they did cry, they were not left for too long before given comfort. We never initially set routines, things just fell into place after a while and Lindsay just started doing things at the same time every day. We have always followed their leads for hunger and sleep.

    We do both strongly believe in children being taught to respect their elders and be disciplined if misbehaving. I was brought up by a father who was in the army, and thus used 'penants' punishment where we were all punished for one childs behaviour and a mother who never disciplined. Even now my Mum tells me I am too hard on the kids.

    Parenting style is really individual and I don't think anyone should be criticised for their parenting beliefs, so long as it works for you and your children.

  10. #10
    Janet Guest

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    When I was pregnant with my son, my MW just assumed that since I liked evidence based birth, I would also choose evidence based parenting. And I did! The more I read about how babies and children function, emotionally and physically, and how important physical contact is for them, there seemed no other logical way. So I parent in a way which is appropriate to my son's age and abilities, guided by his innate knowledge of himself and his ability to guide us to support him.

    I breastfeed because the benefits to mothers and babies are clearly shown through years of research and study. I cosleep because as with breastfeeding, it enhances physical and emotional health both for parents and children. I wore him in a sling because after spending all that time inside me it just didn't seem right to keep him at arm's length. He has never been, and will never be, left to cry. If you breastfeed and cosleep, and understand how babies brains are wired for sleep, you don't perceive night waking as a problem but as a normal part of their growth. But waking to feed a child who is in the next room would have had me dead in a few months so to sustain him and our breastfeeding relationship, he's been in my bed since the day he was born. He woke every 2 hours all night to be fed until he was 10 months old. Except when he was teething or growing and then it was hourly LOL. He'll move out when he's ready! I treat him with respect and we have a no smacking policy in our home. We made every effort to create a "yes" environment so when he was exploring his surroundings, he couldn't injure himself and we never had to try and teach him stuff he wasn't able to understand, such as why electrical leads are out of bounds but toys are ok. He doesn't get the difference LOL. We talk a lot about being gentle now that he's older and beginning to understand more but we don't shame him for being a 2 year old, and we don't meet physical behaviour with physical threats. I've never understood how hitting is supposed to teach children not to hit. So I'm a socalled gentle parent now living with a 2 year old who's learning to push boundaries, and who has emotional meltdowns more than twice a day LOL. It's ok though because I know it's a normal part of his development, he's learning about strong emotions and what to do with them. We just support him through his tanties and he comes out the other side smiling again even if I'm a little deafer...

    I feel when I parent that I'm not just parenting a child, I'm helping grow a future adult who with my help and support will be emotionally functional. I also feel great hope about this from seeing the results of older children around me who are similarly parented. I haven't found parenting to be the difficult and unrewarding task that so many people seem to find and I firmly believe that it's because we don't fight his biology, we nurture it. Much easier to understand and accept, say night waking, than to somehow force your child to sleep in a way that is unnatural and unhealthy for them. Parenting doesn't stop when the sun goes down

  11. #11

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    When dd1 was a week old, silly us, first time parents, had her up till 10 thinking she'd sleep longer! Doh! Exhausted baby and parents! A helpful soul said,"the first mistake you've made is you've got her in the bed with you." Well, I eventually figured out that our babies like to be sleeping (except for bf) pretty much 7 pm - 7 am til about age 3 - but I never did take that advice and our babies shared our bed until they were at least 6 months old.

    But then, later, while our dd was learning about sleeping at night, in her own sweet time like babies do, someone else helpfully supplied us with a copy of 'Babywise'.

    Now if you really want to see steam out of my ears and froth from my mouth, just get me started on that.

    But I am ashamed to say that even though I revolted at the premise of the book, at that time, I was impressionable enough that some of it *stuck*. And my baby was the guinea pig. (I've since apologised to her.) I left her to 'cry it out' a few times. (Cringe, blush of shame). Then we threw out the book (and kept the baby hah hah). Since then, I have collided with a plethora of authoritarian, violence promoting, legalistic, formulaic parenting books but Babywise sure inoculated us against falling for any more of the same ilk.

    We stumbled along trying to trust our instinct against the tide of our upbringings and the popular doctrine surrounding us until we came across The Baby Book by Sear & Sears and found out that what we were trying to do by instinct had a name: attatchment parenting.

    To be honest we are not 'there' yet. When I see parents who are truly practicing gentle parenting, I feel ashamed and realise so many of our ways are still impatient, dictatorial, abusive and insensitive. We agree with having clear and consistent boundaries, but those can be gently set and maintained. Chatting to dh the other day we realised that when we yell, it's because of a failure to gently, calmly teach & train on our part. We yell out of frustration because we know we haven't taken the time to effectively communicate with our kids.

    Compared to where we were we've come a long way and parted company with a lot of people who believed they were Right - and we hope to continue to grow. It's good to surround ourselves with people setting a compassionate example - (we know where we WANT to be) - even though sometimes it's confronting as we have to once again dismantle an assumed belief or value from childhood or society around us.

  12. #12

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    Ugh! Babywise was the beginning of my journey to gentle parenting!
    I read it, thought it had some currency, and DP and I decided that separating baby and us was the best way to go. I was not even pregnant. Fast forward, I'm preggers, studying summer semester of my psych course, first year subject. Attachment assignment. Much reading through journals. NO WAY was I going to be using ANYTHING from that damn book! I found article upon article, website upon website slamming the 'credentials' of the author of that book. I felt almost physically sick about having given that book any credit.
    So, through my readings for attachment styles, attachment parenting became my new 'thing'. I read Sears' website, and then did my HypnoBirthing course (which, paradoxically, I had always intended to do, despite having subscribed to baby separation ideas!). Bang. I was finally cast on my way to gentle parenting, as well as the gentle birth that I wanted.
    I came to BB looking for support for gentle birthing, and ended up finding a nice little place that supports everything gentle about parenting as well.
    Never looked back. I can easily shrug off comments about rods for my back etc, because I can see and feel this fantastic spirit in my child that I nurture, instead of try to suppress. And I've got a fantastic kidlet

  13. #13

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    Awesome Mayaness. I can so relate. I read those website warning against BW too. AP worked beautifully for us. We believed that keeping them close while they were little would help them feel secure and they would be confident to be independent later. Well, it worked. We did all the AP stuff when they were infants. They are now 9, 7 and 4. All three are excellent sleepers. All three are active, independant and confident. I happily recommend AP to anyone. It's natural, it's instinctive, it's convenient, and it works.

  14. #14
    paradise lost Guest

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    I'm not sure if i'm a "gentle" parent.... I don't smack because i think it is disrespectful to hit people and if i don't respect my DD how can i expect her to respect me? I didn't do CC because it felt cruel and if it feels cruel then it is cruel IMO, following our internal moral compass is the most important thing.

    Having said that i DO have strict routines (not with BFing or anything, that was as and when DD wanted it) with some things. Bedtime, naptime, mealtimes are delineated and inter-related so there is a rythmic flow to our days. DD seems to respond well to this and finds chaos unsettling (i don't know if i decided to have routines because she's this way or if my routines made her this way..) and i find we have more fun times when everyone knows what's happening next.

    I am a strict mum, if i say no i mean it, but i encourage discussion, even now when DD cannot talk, i explain to her WHY mumma said no, and then offer alternative activities. Again, just now, she responds well. I try to be firm but fun, strict on key issues but honest and flexible about less important things. I never ignore her. Bedtime is bedtime and there is no getting up again, but i go to her if she needs me in the night and i always have (she co-slept when i BFed and i moved her into her own cot and room at 6months, mainly because DP was staying occasionally and i wanted to keep them apart until i was sure of him. Having already known him for 5 years i knew he was a wonderful man but i thought if me and him were going to be together forever there was no rush for her to be co-sleeping with him, and if we weren't going to be together forever there was no NEED for her to know him. A year on they are getting to know and love one another and it's beautiful to see she knows who Dada AND who DP is, without confusion) and, perhaps consequently, perhaps not, she doesn't usually need me in the night. If she does something i don't like (ripping up books, emptying couscous onto the kitchen floor) i will tell her "THAT was naughty" but not "YOU are naughty", and as soon as i've made my point we clear up and make up and go do something fun. We bear no grudges in this house.

    I want to raise her with the capacity to be happy and i think this revolves around self-worth. If i can show her what a wonderful, valuable person she is, she will be able to look for that in others, and, with luck, find it.

    Bx

    ETA - i don't read books, i only read my baby

  15. #15

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    Hate to break it to you, Hoobley, but you are an Attachment Parent But, no, you don't have to call yourself anything. I use the term only very rarely, if someone asks specifically what orientation I have for parenting (which is next to never).
    AP does NOT mean that you are a Laissez Affair parent, where anything goes. In fact, AP kids tend to have more awareness of social mores because they are not separated from their parents and their daily, social interactions
    Gentle Parenting is not, by any means 'no parenting'. It is absolutely about respect for yourself and your kids

  16. #16
    paradise lost Guest

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    Cool, i'm not against being any particular kind of parent, i just haven;t read anything to tell me what i am. I guess the only person i know who shouts about her AP is actually doing Consensual Living, which i guess is ok if you feel it works for you but to me it doesn't look like something i could cope with.

    Bx

  17. #17

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    Hoobley, I'm the same I tend not to label my parenting, but I guess it speaks for itself.

  18. #18

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    Bec I consider myself a gentle parent and I think you and I parent very similarly I always thought AP referred to co-sleeping/extended bfeeding/sling wearing... looks like I have lots to learn LOL!

    I do what I do with regards to routines and strictness because I believe it to be better for my children in the long term. But like you I always encourage discussion, and we have rules in our house that apply to all. So for example if Paris has a certain boundary then that boundary applies to me too (unless its something like alcohol, or another boundary that specifically relates to a child.)

    *hugs*
    Cailin

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