Howdyshell: Blended parenting, not gentle parenting

My wife and I have a combined school teaching experience of 48 years. I have a Master’s in math education and a doctorate in educational supervision and organization. I loved teaching in my early years, and so did my wife. But things got progressively worse discipline-wise — to the point that both of us were not unhappy to retire! More and more, parents began to see teachers were the blame for most of the classroom problems. Now, I personally believe that the removal of God from society’s lives is the real basis of this crisis. However, I’m not going to talk about this foundation right now. I do want to discuss the parenting basis as another root here.

Let’s examine gentle parenting first. This form of parenting suggests that:

1) Children are basically good and, given the right guidance, they can act as equal participants in child impactful decision-making with their parents.

2) It is scientifically, evidenced-based.

3) It leads to happier and more confident children.

4) It implants an empathy that results in children who are more respectful of others.

5) It builds child worth through added independence for children.

6) It says that discipline means “to teach,” not brow beat your children — referring to spanking.

7) Children from this parenting do better in school.

8) Children from this parenting are less likely to show violence and both eating and emotional disorders.

Something of a positive nature can be said for these eight premises. However, #1 above has been found to be at least partially erroneous! As this crumbles, so do some aspects of the remaining seven points.

The following is a summary of parenting styles my experience and education has led me to believe. The “Blended Style” is my preferred mode:

Children are not so much basically good (and we love those little rascals) as they are basically self-minded. This tends to separate parents and children into categories of discipliners and disciplinees. Adults have to assume a leadership in which children can only be co-equals on an age-specific basis.

With #1 crumbling for at least younger children, I also believe #2 is suspect. Coming from a scientific background myself, I would suggest that we be very careful how we throw around the notion of scientifically based.

As to items #3, #4, and #5, I regard them as related. These suggest that children are happier, more confident, more respectful, and more independent later on when raised with gentle parenting.

I believe that some research shows that “blended parenting” (related to Free Range Parenting, Skenazy, 2008), not “gentle parenting,” leads to happier, more confident, more respectful, and more independent development of children. This includes touching, rocking, singing, reading to kids for 20 minutes or so daily, fostering independent “little artist” time, and seeing parents hugging each other as essential nourishment for children’s maturity. But punishment and adult supervision of children may very well be factors largely separating gentle and blended styles of parenting.

Punishment for children varies as necessary for the child’s growth. Spanking (condemned by American Academy of Pediatrics) should not be the first line of dealing with children’s disobedience, but tempered, unharmful spanking (be very careful here) may be in order for more resistant behavior. Polite, light but firm spanking is not detrimental, I have found, and should not be disqualified for some children. Chances are, a very few spankings will suffice. Of course, only a stern look is sufficient for some.

The notion of present day over-scheduling of student activities (hyper/hovering parenting of all children’s non-school-time from piano lessons to sports activities) seems to deprive a child’s progression toward independence and creative evolvement. More free, non-adult supervised play time, is probably more important than so much scheduling of activities.

There is no one best form of parenting (Professor Douglas Bernstein, NIT Teaching Psychology, 2012). But “blended parenting,” from my educational experience, most likely will lead to emotional and enriched maturation.

Now, I can add, is the time to examine Christ-centered parenting — this is for a later time!

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