A friend of mine shared an experience she had recently during an online discussion regarding a little girl with strawberry-blonde spiral curls. The circumstances were that competing caregivers had different aims over her hair. One set wanted to straighten her hair. The other wanted to preserve her natural curl pattern. After the post received many, many comments, my friend noticed a glaring problem. Everyone had an opinion on what the caregivers should do and how to work things out. However, no one expressed any concern about what the child thought. No one wondered what the little girl preferred or why. No one considered how this battle among the adults might be impacting the child.
No one thought. Children continue to be viewed as spectators of their lives. We prioritize adults and their opinions about children. I wonder how many of us have conversations about our children in front of them. I know I have done it. I have to catch myself. It’s so natural! Children communicate differently and have different priorities. In some ways, it’s like kids and adults are in parallel universes, encountering each other on occasions that warrant communication. But, that’s not the whole truth. We are obviously in the same universe together. The problem we have is that adults tend to steamroll forward to our goals. We have to remind ourselves to pause and check-in with our kids.
I try to make it a priority in my life to include my children rather than simply existing in the same space they are. I use physical touch and affection to connect to the extent of their comfort levels. If I’m discussing something that affects my kids, I seek to involve them in the decision-making process. And, really, it’s not easy. I have to be the one to initiate the interaction most of the time. I have to slow down and get outside my own mind to remember that they probably need a check-in. Considering the fact that I live life as an intentional, gentle parent, it shouldn’t be this challenging! But, it is. If you’re like me, I get it.
I think it’s always important for us to remember the kids whether we’re moving through our own lives and trying to connect with them or when we’re in a position of influence and have the opportunity to interject a comment in a conversation with strangers. Every time we remember the kids, we change a little and we change our culture a little. I think about how limited resources around gentle parenting were just a few years ago. The past decade has seen a huge surge of podcasts, books, blogs, and the like. And, while there have been incredible works in the field for more than 30 years, gentle parenting wasn’t really mainstream.
Today, there are entire articles on major media outlets about us! If you enjoy TikTok, you might have come across the proliferation of gentle parenting influencers on the app, teaching both newer and older generations of parents how to do better, be better. So, yes, please, remember the kids however that may look in your life. It makes a difference for you, for them, and for all of us.