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How I became a gentle parenting revolutionary

How I became a gentle parenting revolutionary

Set your children free to be themselves, and you’ll set yourself free too.

We’ve worked hard to make our home a sanctuary of love and acceptance, rather than a battleground of silence and suppression.

I grew up in a household where children were expected to be seen and not heard. Expressing myself sometimes felt like navigating a minefield.

Raised by a grandmother and mother who valued discipline over dialogue, I learned to suppress my emotions and stifle my voice.

But as I embarked on my own journey of parenthood, I realised that raising my son would be an opportunity for healing and growth, not just for him, but for myself.

I understand now that my caregivers were products of their own traumas and societal norms. Where oppression was rampant, emotional expression often took a back seat to survival.

Despite their best intentions, their strictness sometimes left me feeling unheard and unseen, a sentiment that lingered well into adulthood.

Before our son entered the world, his father and I chose to break the cycle of silence and fear-based discipline. We committed ourselves to creating a home environment where open communication and mutual respect were prioritised.

It’s called “gentle parenting”, a method that breaks with the authoritative traditions of the past in favour of empathy, respect, and understanding.

Instead of resorting to corporal punishment, we opted for dialogue and understanding, giving our son the platform to express himself freely.

By fostering open communication, we empower our son to navigate his emotions and articulate his thoughts effectively.

Of course, this approach hasn’t come without its challenges: the high-pitched back-chatting, the testing of boundaries, the constant refrain of “why?”

But each interaction has been an opportunity for growth. Instead of reacting with anger or punishment, we engage our son in dialogue, helping him understand the importance of respectful communication.

Although his quest for independence and development can be overwhelming and lacking in finesse, I’m often amused by his reasoning capacity and headstrong nature. Unlike his mom, he’s not going to be anyone’s walkover.

Through the lens of parenthood, I’ve come to appreciate the nuances of emotional expression. Witnessing my son’s unabashed joy, anger, and sadness has been a reminder of the beauty in vulnerability.

In his laughter, I hear echoes of my childhood innocence. In his tears, I see reflections of my unshed grief.

Ironically, the stern mother who raised me has aged gracefully into a gentle grandmother. As you can imagine, I’ve had to find creative ways to affirm my role as his mother and primary caregiver, without hurting her feelings.

But perhaps the most profound aspect of this journey has been the healing it has brought to my inner child. In nurturing my son’s emotional well-being, I’ve found solace and validation for the parts of myself that were silenced.

Each conversation, each shared laugh, is a small act of defiance against the narratives of my past.

As his father and I navigate the ups and downs of parenthood, we’re learning alongside our son, discovering the healing power of empathy and understanding.

We’ve worked hard to make our home a sanctuary of love and acceptance, rather than a battleground of silence and suppression.

In giving our son the gift of expression, we’ve given ourselves permission to heal. It’s a lifelong process. And it all begins with a single conversation and a willingness to listen.

Poppy Louw

Change expert, Poppy Louw, believes that the big change equals big opportunity.

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