What is gentle parenting?

And why is everyone talking about it?

What type of parent are you? Nothing like starting off the week with a bang (and a big question)! Let’s dive into the latest parenting trend…and learn how it got so popular so fast. 🔍


What Is Gentle Parenting?

Laura Dern as Marmee March via Wilson Webb/Sony Pictures

When it comes to defining our parenting styles, we’re all just doing our best to pluck out the good parenting tips from Regina George’s mom, Marmee March, and Danny Tanner…right?

Lately, though, the internet has become fascinated with classifying parenting styles—the helicopter parent, the jellyfish parent, the free range parent. One parenting style in particular has drawn equal praise and criticism: gentle parenting.

So what is gentle parenting? By the time you reach the bottom of this newsletter in a couple minutes, you’ll be armed with more information about a parenting trend that might—or might not!—be for you. Let’s learn!

The 411 on gentle parenting

What is it? According to psychologist Dr. Dan Peters, gentle parenting is a form of positivity-focused parenting that emphasizes understanding a child’s behavior through…

  • Empathy and respect

  • Giving choices versus commands

  • Responding in a way that considers a child’s intellectual and developmental levels

It rests on two big ideas: 1) that emotional needs matter as much as behavioral expectations in any given parenting dilemma and 2) that parents can support their children through big feelings while championing boundaries, respect, and empathy.

And some people dig it. Gentle parenting has gained popularity over the last decade, especially with millennials looking for an alternative to the more rigid parenting styles of the past. But…it’s not for everyone!

So that’s the theory…but what does gentle parenting look like in practice?

Gentle parenting IRL

Separating the action from the person. When you spilled milk as a kid, you might have heard something along the lines of “Look what you did! Go to your room!”

With gentle parenting, it might go more like this: “I see your milk spilled. Please grab a towel and help me clean it up.”

Gentle parenting eliminates personal or emotional attacks and focuses on what is rationally in front of us: spilled milk. (And we all know not to cry over spilled milk—unless it’s freshly pumped.) It prioritizes communicating natural consequences instead of doling out unrelated punishments.

Becoming a (super) model. Ever stubbed your toe and muttered a certain four-letter word…then heard that same word come out of your toddler’s mouth later that day? Yeah, kids are paying attention to the behaviors modeled by adults in their lives.

Gentle parenting encourages adults to communicate how they view their responsibilities, actions, standards, and consequences so little brains can soak up the good.

Example? “Uh oh. I forgot to clean up my snack on the coffee table the dog got into it. I will sort the mess and remember to clean up right away next time so this doesn’t happen again.”

Embracing encouragement and validation. Everyone likes knowing that someone important in their life has not only heard but also listened. That’s a core philosophy of gentle parenting.

Imagine this scenario: Your daughter breaks down because she can’t find the charger for her new tablet (actual occurrence in my home last night). Gentle parenting would replace the knee-jerk “you’re fine” reaction with something like…

“You’re feeling upset because you can’t find your charger and you really want to use your tablet today. I understand it’s frustrating when you can’t find things! After dinner, I can help you find it.”

So…what do you think? Are you into gentle parenting? Do you prefer a different approach? Maybe there’s a hybrid parenting style you like best? Hit reply! We’d love to hear your take.

Have it your way. Imagine if it weren’t your mother-in-law nitpicking your parenting style but instead the paparazzi? Props to these celebs who’ve chosen unconventional parenting styles anyway. Nothing is chicer than listening to your gut.

Let’s hear it for the dads. We talk a lot about mom guilt, but what about dad guilt? These dads share what they’d do differently with a do-over.

Gotta get away. I’m writing this from the skies en route to a way overdue mini getaway. January and February are the *ideal* time to daydream about your next adventure. I love Destination Inspiration on TikTok for just that.

You’re a parenting innovator. Never forget it! There’s no right or wrong way to raise kiddos as long as you lead with love and follow your intuition. Have a great week!