The Difference Between 'No-Discipline' And Gentle Parenting & Why One Is So Much Worse Than The Other

Destini Ann Davis explains why we should never confuse discipline-free parenting with the gentle parenting trend.

Woman parenting gently, reading and writing with daughter on yellow bed GaudiLab

If you're a parent who uses social media, you've probably come across the latest parenting trend: gentle parenting. If so, you likely have heard that it's the best way to parent kids today. You've likely also heard that gentle parenting is too soft, that we gentle parenting means raising children with no discipline. This, they claim, creates children with no boundaries and major behavior problems. 


But there's a huge difference between gentle parenting and having no discipline. 

On the Open Relationship podcast, host Andrea Miller chats with Destini Ann Davis, a parenting expert and influencer most famous for her gentle parenting insights. She's even a certified gentle parenting coach

Together, they discuss the myths surrounding gentle parenting and why going completely without discipline is a bigger issue than opting for gentler approaches.

The Biggest Difference Between 'No-Discipline' And Gentle Parenting

"So, some people describe your parenting style as 'no discipline,'" says Miller. "Is that accurate?"


"I need to yell it from the rooftops. Absolutely not," says Davis. "I think it's so dangerous to — I mean, that's neglectful parenting," Davis says flabbergasted. 

If parents don't provide any discipline for their child, that's neglectful parenting. And in reality, a parent who raises their child this way falls into the category of permissive parenting.

According to Michigan State University, "Studies have found links between permissive parenting and increased alcohol use among teenagers as well as higher rates of school misconduct and lower levels of academic achievement.

This is because these parents avoid disciplining their children or teaching them how to control their impulses. Instead, these parents coddle their children and rarely set limits.


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Unfortunately, Davis is familiar with this parenting style because she used to be a permissive parent herself. Which is why she gets frustrated when people compare gentle parenting to permissive parenting.

"I take offense," says Davis. "I've done the work, honey, to not be in that space."


She has seen the impact permissive parenting has and agrees wholeheartedly that this parenting style is both dangerous and neglectful.

"It's not a good way to parent and that's not what's going on here," she says. Permissive parenting is not the same as gentle parenting, and it's not the approach she uses to raise her kids. 

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Believe it or not, gentle parents do discipline their kids. However, discipline isn't the main focus of their parenting style. 

Davis explains that when people witness a parenting style that doesn't focus solely on discipline, they often jump to conclusions and assume it's permissive parenting. But that's far from the truth.


Davis continues, "But I think there is space, and it's really important right now for us to be talking about how to have compassion for our kids."

"I don't want to just talk about discipline all day," she continues. Because, let's face it, that's all we ever discuss when it comes to parenting. Instead, she aims to prioritize the emotional aspect of raising her child.

David admits, "The biggest challenge for a lot of parents is the emotional side of it." 


Parents want to rationalize everything, but this creates a lack of emotional connection with their children.

This is why there needs to be a balance in parenting. Yes, discipline is important, but we also need to meet our children's developmental and emotional needs. 

And when we find harmony between the two, that's when we can better reconnect with our children.


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Marielisa Reyes is a writer with a bachelor's in psychology who covers self-help, relationships, career, and family topics.