Going From Punitive to Peaceful Parenting
Transition is always the hardest process. When you want to lose weight, it’s easier to stay the same or maintain when you get there. When you are an expert in your career field, it’s always easier than the process to get there. The truth is that transition is messy. It’s hard. And you are dealing with real people and personalities and unexpected emotions that arise in the process when you are trying to let go of punitive parenting ideologies and habits and replacing them with evidence-based and Christlike parenting. So breathe.
Welcome to the journey. Welcome to the side of motherhood where you aren’t just going to do what your parents did because you know in your heart all the ways that it harmed you. Welcome to the side of things where you welcome change, even if it’s scary or hard.
Recognize Your Progress
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your new choice of parenting approach. You have a lot to unpack and you will have a lot of feelings about the process on the way. You will be triggered. You will get angry. You will yell. And that’s okay as long as you are making progress.
We can’t expect to suddenly be a calm and peaceful parent if all we’ve had is frustration boiling beneath the surface for so long. So recognize your progress.
Progress might look like:
- Sending your child to their room for a few minutes instead of spanking them.
- Yelling only twice in a day instead of once an hour.
- Recognizing that you feel overwhelmed and triggered by a behavior before you say or do anything.
- Letting your child finish their tantrum before you even try to correct the behavior.
- Telling your child you’re sorry for yelling and asking their forgiveness.
- Hearing your child tell you no and not telling them, “you don’t get to tell me no.
You Might End Up Too Permissive (Temporarily) – And That’s Okay
While these are not where you want to be in the end as a parent, they are part of the messy middle. You might find that you lean more permissive than you would like while you get your bearings. Give yourself a TON of grace in this season. You may have given up screaming, spanking, and threatening your kids, and now you feel like your tool belt is empty.
It’s okay to lean a little too permissive as you work to rebuild connection, rebuild trust, lay a new foundation, figure out healthy boundaries, and manage all your complex emotions in the process. Parenting with peace, respect, and gentleness is a process but it reflects the love of Christ in ways that you can’t even imagine. And I don’t get it right all the time. I still snap at my kids on occasion. I still struggle with holding the right boundaries and figuring out how to get cooperation from them. No one on this path is perfect.
But I am in community with other moms on this journey who want to use similar approaches and we share about our struggles and get input and ideas from what has worked for others. And this has made all of the difference in the world. One day you will look around and notice there is more peace in your home. There is more joy. And that you are showing up as the kind of parent you want to be and maybe you wish you had had.
Parenting is a beautiful thing. Being a mother is the amazing joy I didn’t know I would ever experience. And I am thankful for this journey. The hard, the wonderful, the scary, the difficult, and the good. I am thankful that I am not alone on this path.