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Mom Calls Out 'Gentle Parenting' Trend & Refuses To Feel Bad About Having 'Feelings Other Than Love' For Her Kids

Photo: Vanessa Loring and William Fortunato / Pexels
Parents with crying babies

A mother on the British parenting forum Mumsnet took to the site’s "Am I Being Unreasonable" (AIBU) thread to air her grievances with the trend of not expressing anger in "gentle parenting."

Gentle parenting, an evidence-based parenting approach, has become an increasingly popular approach in recent years.

Shifting away from traditional authoritative parenting, gentle parenting aims to raise happy kids without using shame, blame, or punishment. 

Interpretations may vary but often what proponents of gentle parenting advocate for online are for parents to repress extreme emotional reactions to their kids' misbehavior and, instead, approach situations calmly in order to create a partnership with kids.

As Mickey Atkins, a social worker, therapist, and mental health advocate, explains below the concept is not new but it has become a popular choice for millennial parents in response to their negative experiences during their own upbringing.

RELATED: Raising Nine Kids Via 'Gentle Parenting' Killed My High Expectations — And Saved My Life

However, one Mumsnet user disagrees with the approach.

“Why is it not ok to show my anger? I mean appropriately and safely, not violent or aggressive,” she writes.

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She believes 'gentle parenting' stops parents from showing children the full range of human emotions.

“How is it ok to tell our kids their feelings are valid but then we have to suppress anything that’s ‘negative.’”

She claimed that she doesn't want to raise a child “who can’t understand that he can’t do whatever he wants without consequences.”

She clarified her own parenting techniques, stating “I prefer the term ‘responsive parenting.’” 

“My kids see when I'm getting angry. They also see how I process and handle it,” the user stated.

The mother noted that anger is a part of the human emotional spectrum, saying that “there are people in this world who will react with anger and [my child] needs to know that.”

Gentle parenting typically discourages anger as a parenting response.

As seen in the video below from popular TikTok creator and gentle parenting advocate, Laura Love, the things that might make parents angry should, instead, be used as a learning experience.

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Gentle parenting teaches parents to replace anger with a conversation with their children about their needs. 

However, the mother who wrote to Mumsnet disagrees with this repression of emotion.

She went on to say that she makes sure to take time for herself in order to check her emotions while parenting.

She doesn’t hesitate to be alone “If I need a few minutes to myself to help calm myself down… if I need to kind of check in with myself about why something is bothering me.”

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She gets angry at her kids but considers it a valuable lesson.

Sometimes, she does get angry with her children, turning her emotional reaction into an example of how her kids can navigate their own emotions.

“These are all important lessons for them as they learn how to process and handle their own emotions in a healthy way,” she says.

When she gets angry, her children witness that she feels “bad for doing it and learn how to make amends with others when they mess up.” 

The mom stated that “the reality is at some point, parents will get angry with their kids.”

She claimed that “some annoyance is normal” when you’re “absolutely tired of your toddler whining all day for the 27th day in a row with no relief.”

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The jury is still out on whether 'gentle parenting' is effective or not.

Some users agreed with her, believing that “these ‘gentle parenting’ kids are in for a shock when they get out in the real world.”

Others took a more nuanced view, believing that children “have to see and experience negative emotions and learn from the adults around them how to find ways of dealing” with those negative emotions.

Even on TikTok, parents who once used a gentle parenting approach while raising their kids have been taking a step back.

TikTok user and mother, Sharon Johnson, says she “broke up” with gentle parenting a year ago after spending 12 years “parenting with fear” that she would traumatize her children if she didn’t follow the approach.

   

   

Johnson said that gentle parenting is often presented in a way that makes parents feel guilty and anxious, and forces them to question all of their parenting decisions.

“Now I parent with full confidence that I love my children and that they know that and that I am trying my best and I can’t give any more than that,” she says.

The ways in which people choose to parent their children are complex, but parents shouldn’t feel guilty for having anger towards their children, as it’s a natural human emotion.

Rather, it's how parents handle that anger that shows their children how to navigate their own difficult emotions.

RELATED: How Gentle Parenting Changed My Life

Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers celebrity gossip, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.

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