By Marnita Coleman | The Afro | Word In Black
(WIB) – Raising children is a monumental task.
Parenting style influences the home and can impact families and communities for generations– long after a mother or father has passed.
Parents are often recalibrating their techniques to fit the concerns of their children. What’s interesting is parenting styles vary from too strict to too relaxed. Desiring an intermediate approach, many are now choosing gentle parenting, an evidence-based way to raise happy, confident children.
Gentle parenting is no more than positive parenting rebranded for today’s families. It emphasizes fundamental components such as empathy, respect, understanding, and boundaries. These areas are instituted with regard to your child’s intellect and age-appropriate development. For instance, instead of making demands, parents are gently and considerately allowing their children unique options by showing them respect, understanding, and protecting their boundaries.
“I used to hate having my activities interrupted and being called to immediate attention by my parents who didn’t seem to care that I was busy doing something. I felt so violated, that when I became a parent, I vowed never to do that. I respected my kids’ space and permitted them a moment or two to respond to my calling. I’d wait patiently, as long as they acknowledged they heard me,” stated Hadassah Teeh, a gentle parenting practitioner from West Baltimore.
A passage from the Bible suggests agreement with gentle parenting. Parents are rebuked for harsh parenting styles, and instructed to model positive traits so their children will learn from them and follow the ways of the Lord.
I do think gentle parenting is effective. The only issue is that within the Black community, there are so many different traumas that are sometimes associated with parenting.AMBER DORTCH A LICENSED MASTER SOCIAL WORKER
Ephesians 6:4, the Amplified Version, states, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Chiming in is Amber Dortch, a licensed master social worker (LMSW), and school-based therapist, who also believes gentle parenting could be effective. However, she cautions against wearing rose-colored glasses when applying its parenting-style tenets in the Black community.
“I do think gentle parenting is effective. The only issue is that within the Black community, there are so many different traumas that are sometimes associated with parenting,” Dortch stated. “Not just the traumas from the children, but the traumas from the parents have to be addressed.”
“Also, I think it needs to be tailored to the socioeconomic status of the parent and what other needs may or may not be met in the home that could lead to risky behaviors, like children running away, children smoking, drinking, having sex everywhere, and not attending school. We have to go back and really assess the needs of the household and then apply gentle parenting skills and interventions as we go.”
The following prophetically encouraging words are found in the lyrics of “Greatest Love of All,” by the late world-renowned singer Whitney Houston:
I believe the children are our future/
Teach them well and let them lead the way/
Show them all the beauty they possess inside/
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier/
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be.
Certainly, gentle parenting will play out differently with each family. “A Beginner’s Guide to Gentle Parenting” will help you with the basics of implementing the process in your home.
Marnita Coleman is an Owings Mills, Md.-based journalist, international music specialist, voice actor, and owner of Sought Out International. She regularly contributes to the AFRO’s #Faithworks Newsletter.
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