What is “gentleparenting”? I really didn’t know. But, even as old as I am, I’m always willing to learn something that may help my family.
They say, you’ll know it when you see it. I saw “gentleparenting” in person. Heard it really. Or didn’t. Because when the mama spoke to one of her four little ones, her voice was so soft and so kind it was difficult for anyone else to hear what she was saying. She definitely was instructing them. It was definitely not a whisper. Not that soft. Just very kind. And calm. And guess what? The children talked back to her in the same manner.
I’m not sure how this mom, whom I have known since she herself was a baby, adapted this style of parenting. How she decided this would be good stuff for her family. But I do know it looked to be just about perfect.
I sat with her and her four children (all under six) and two other adults. In a restaurant. For almost two hours. Not one child ever whined. (Did I mention her youngest is 8 months old?) Not one child ever got up and ran around – or even walked around – except for a few steps from their seat to a sibling’s (did I mention two of them were boys?). Not one even tried to become the center of attention (did I mention one was a pretty, precious little girl in a ballet costume?)
I do not know how she did that. I do not know exactly what she had to do to get her four all-under-six-year-old kids to behave so beautifully. But I do know this.
It did not just happen. That behavior had been practiced before our lunch date.
As a parenting educator, I know what it takes to manage children, to teach them and train them and basically to socialize babies and pre-schoolers. This gentle mama had taught her children (at some other time) how to sit still, to not demand attention, not to fuss, not to fight, not to get up out of their chairs, not to whine.
I suspect this home-schooling mom who spends a unique amount of time with her three beautiful sons and daughter had spoken firmly but kindly, caringly, and gently to them at home with them so many times that being in a very public setting was just the place to show up all that home preparation and training to work. It they had been on a stage, I would have applauded.
One of the nicest parts of observing this training style: I saw how gentle parenting produced gentle children. That was excellent parenting.
We never stop being a Mom. Our job goes on as long as we’re in this world. There is always, always something to learn.