Not Parenting and Understanding That Children are People are Two Different Things

Okay. There are lazy parents. There are parents who don’t know what to do so they do nothing. There are parents who just plain don’t feel like dealing, so they don’t. There are parents who are trying to make up for something so they say “yes” to everything in an attempt to do so. None of these are gentle parenting. None of these are Unschooling. None of these acknowledge that children are people. None of these are what this blog advocates for.

not parenting
Not Parenting and Understanding that Children are People are Two Different Things by Jennifer Andersen

I see it now, though. I see where people are coming from when they say “the problem with kids today is that they think they’re special. They think they don’t have to follow the rules.” Those families are out there, but it’s certainly not what I am working toward.

What I am working toward- what I believe- is that children are people. They are entitled to be treated respectfully and with kindness. They are automatically entitled to not being hit because they are breathing. They are automatically entitled to be listened to, their thoughts and preferences considered, and being given a say-so in conversations and decisions because they are people.

I -and the gentle parents I know- do not think that kids should be left without guidance. We do not believe that kids should not have a strong leader in their lives. We do not believe that kids should hear “yes” all the time. Sometimes “no” happens. It just does. I do not strive for my kids to never hear “no”.

I strive toward remembering that children are people with thoughts and preferences. I strive to catch myself before I yell at them simply for being newer on this Earth, or because they have no choice but to depend on me to meet their needs. I strive to not yell at them at all.

I don’t do this for some ideology. I do this because I want to model positive living for them. I want them to be better than me- better at coping, better at listening, better at considering and weighing the words of others before they respond. I want them to be more thoughtful and better problem solvers than I am. I want them to be more confident. I want them to be happier.

Children are People

None of these things can happen if children are treated as subhuman. If they are hit, yelled at, told to shut up or be quiet, and reminded of how generally irritating they are to my life, what sort of adults will they become? What will our relationship look like?

I don’t want my kids to think they are special- not in the way some parents do. I want them to understand that they have important and unique things they can offer the world- just like everyone else. I want them to see their worth from the beginning- not to have to work through the shit I’ve dumped on them to find it later in life.

In my experience, this is vastly different from not parenting. It’s not the same as never saying “no” or teaching my kids that rules don’t apply to them (well, maybe I teach them that *some* rules are made to be broken 😏).

Yes, some parents don’t parent and mask that by calling it child-led living, or Unschooling, or respectful parenting, or gentle parenting, or something else. Heck, we can all “call” it whatever we want. Today I want to clarify that I believe not parenting and understanding that children are people are two different things. It’s not my (or anybody else’s) determination which of these another family is doing. How each of us lives with our kids is up to us. I do think it’s important for all of us that we understand the differences in how we choose to live with our children.

2 Replies to “Not Parenting and Understanding That Children are People are Two Different Things”

  1. I was told once that one of my jobs as a parent was to help my children learn to be ok with no and be able to move on from it. Sitting with them in their disappointment empathetically and then working with them to move on, find something they can do or help them challenge that no in a constructive manner.
    Because in life they are going to hear no and it’s important they don’t get stuck on it.

    • I mean “no” happens, right? It becomes a problem when we artificially manufacture it. Kids know when they are being disrespected, treated in a condescending way, or duped. When our child genuinely experiences “no” of course we will help them work through that feeling! Just like we would a friend or sister.

      I think this is exactly the problem for so many kids- rather than hearing it genuinely, parents power trip and fake a “no” so that kids learn how to hear it- it’s so heartbreaking!

      Thanks for your comment, Kellie. It’s such an important topic.