November 11, 2021
What is “gentle parenting”? That question prompted me to do some online research in the course of which I discovered that “gentle parenting” is every bit as dumb as any other post-1960s school of parenting.
First, say the people who originally came up with said dumbness, when a child misbehaves, gentle parents don’t punish. They talk, explain, and reason (all of which falls on dry ground when the recipient is a child, as people with commonsense don’t need to be told). Obviously, the gentle parenting folks believe punishment is bad. Is it? Not at all. A consistent body of research even finds that children who are occasionally spanked score higher on measures of well-being than children who have never been spanked. Punishing misbehavior, especially that of the sociopathic sort, is nothing more than a way of putting an exclamation point at the end of “You are the responsible party here!”
Mental health professionals began demonizing punishment in the late 1960s. They’ve enjoyed reasonable success, by the way. Nonetheless, since then, the mental health of America’s kids has deteriorated by a factor of 10. The people who thought up the dumbness of gentle parenting cannot explain how it is that less punishment leads to worse mental health.
Second, the people who originally snatched GP out of thin air say they believe in boundaries but they really don’t. As an example, consider the psychologist mom in Iowa who (a) claims to practice and promote GP and (b) is proud of never telling her child, currently a toddler, “no.” She even tells his preschool teachers that she doesn’t want them saying “no” to him. She believes that there is something about blending “en” and “oh” that causes a child psychic distress. In fact, “no” is the first and most important of all boundaries. A child who learns to accept “no” is on his way to emotional resilience and, therefore, good mental health.
Third, as clearly stated on one of their websites, when all is said and done, GP is about understanding your child’s feelings: “Unlike permissive parenting, gentle parenting is not based on a lack of discipline for children, which is sometimes misinterpreted. Instead, gentle parenting means understanding a child's feelings at the moment and responding accordingly in a way that is beneficial to the child's emotional well-being.” What, pray tell, is there to understand about a child’s feelings? Children are self-centered and self-serving and have no tolerance for frustration. So, when they don’t get their way, they emote in various antisocial ways. Why does that require “understanding”? Children do not need people who understand their feelings as much as they need people who insist that they control their feelings.
Besides, women think they understand other people’s feelings. Men, generally speaking, do not make that claim. Men, generally speaking, believe that feelings only complicate things. What this adds to is that gentle parenting is nothing more than one more school of parenting that diminishes the value that men bring to the raising of children and causes mothers to believe they are de facto single parents, in which case, no wonder they experience so much stress in the process of managing a child to emancipation.
Copyright 2021, John K. Rosemond