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Displeased black mother talking to her son in the kitchen.

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As a mother, I always knew raising my child would come with its own unique set of challenges. Among them, is choosing a parenting style that would personify the type of other I wanted to be. When I stumbled upon the concept of “gentle parenting,” I was intrigued. A parenting style that prioritizes respect, empathy, and communication spoke to me and how I wanted to raise my child.

However, I quickly discovered, gentle parenting is not as easy as it sounds. It takes a lot of patience, emotional intelligence, and self-control as parents. It involves looking at our children as individuals with their own thoughts and feelings, and not as mini-versions of ourselves.

Miss Lissa

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As a Black woman, gentle parenting means detaching from generational practices that were passed down. Gentle parenting means avoiding physical punishment and instead practicing positive reinforcement and time-ins. It means explaining the consequences instead of punishing them for their mistakes. It means encouraging emotional expression and communication instead of encouraging children to repress their feelings.

But how do we balance this approach with teaching our children the harsh realities of the world we live in? We live in a society where our children are often viewed with suspicion, fear, and a threat. We have to navigate the waters of teaching our children to be kind, empathetic, and respectful while ensuring they understand the realities and dangers of racism.

How do we protect our children while also preparing them for a society that will not always treat them with the same gentleness and love that we do?

It’s a tough balance to find, but it’s not impossible. It involves having difficult and uncomfortable conversations with our children about racism and discrimination. It involves modeling empathy and kindness towards everyone, regardless of their race, gender, or beliefs. It involves being aware of our own prejudices and biases and doing the work to unlearn them.

Above all, it involves loving our children unconditionally and raising them to be emotionally intelligent, empathetic, and confident adults who can take on the world with the same gentleness and love that we have tried to instill in them.

Yes, gentle parenting is hard, especially for Black parents. But the rewards – raising confident, respectful, and emotionally intelligent children – are worth it. So let’s continue to practice gentle parenting while also recognizing the unique challenges we face as black parents in a society that does not always treat our children with the same respect and love that we do.


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