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What do I need to know about gentle parenting as a new parent?


The idea of gentle parenting may seem new to some, as gentle parenting has become viral on social media and spoken about in young parenting circles, but it has actually been around since the 1920s. 

How did “gentle parenting” come about? 

It started with Dr. Alfred Adler in the early 1900s when he introduced parents to the idea that parenting should be done through respect and empathy, with the emphasis also on not indulging or pampering them. In the 1940s, attention was once again given to parenting that treated children with respect. 

When 1980 came, books about “positive parenting” were made famous. In more recent years, young parents’ concept of parenting may have been influenced by Sarah Ockwell-Smith when she introduced “gentle parenting” through a series of parenting books about Gentle Parenting,  Gentle Sleep, Gentle Eating, and Gentle Discipline.  

Young parents parenting in the modern times

A 2024 survey of millennial parents (the generation born between 1981 and 1996) are breaking with tradition by using an alternative approach to the authoritarian parenting style of older generations. 

Here are other takeaways from the survey on 1000 millennial parents:

  • 7 in 10 millennial parents believe that their parenting style is better than older generations’ parenting styles
  • 3 in 4 millennial parents use gentle parenting
  • 8 in 10 millennial parents feel burdened by unrealistic expectations on parents seen on social media
  • 8 in 10 millennial parents believe mental health is an important discussion to have with their children
  • 8 in 10 millennial parents are working, but prioritize their children 

Important points about gentle parenting that new parents need to know

As a new parent, parenting can seem like a giant and overwhelming responsibility. A lot of parents nowadays check parental advice on the Internet and from trusted medical professionals to create their own approach to parenting. If you are considering gentle parenting, here are some things you need to know. 

  • Gentle parenting is often confused with spoiling children due to the lack of boundaries on behavior. But gentle parenting should be a balance between a more flexible and open parenting style and building healthy emotional skills that includes boundaries and limits. This does not mean tolerating all types of unpleasant or harmful behavior and not teaching consequences of actions. 

  • Gentle parenting focuses on teaching the child life skills through open communication, empathy and respect. The goals include building children’s emotional intelligence and positive mental well-being. Parents also say that by treating their children as a unique individual, they can provide guidance, and model desirable behavior, rather than making the child conform through shame and punishment.  

  • Gentle parenting strives to build parent-child connection through empathy and understanding the child’s emotions. Parents who practice gentle parenting work on teaching and modeling how to deal with emotions that influence behavior. 

However, it seems that many young parents are feeling pressured to get gentle parenting perfectly. When parents expect strategies to work well and do not see their desired behavior on children, parents get stressed and frustrated. 

Parents need to remember that parenting is complex as you are raising a unique and complex individual, and “not getting it right” might lead to self-blame and shame. 

Empathy and managing emotions are both helpful, but parent-child connection, emotional intelligence and growth also require other things like discipline, adjustment of parenting styles to adapt as children grow, and sound science. 

So do not stop learning, and find the parenting style that serves you and your child’s needs. 

Consider using and posting to an online job board to find the perfect match to your healthcare professional job openings!

What do I need to know about gentle parenting as a new parent?
Brandon Resasco