The world of parenting is shifting. We are leaving behind “traditional” styles of parenting that treat children as property, and embracing the idea that our children are small humans with legitimate human rights. As a society, we are beginning to understand that children need our acceptance, understanding, and guidance to help them develop the inner compass and emotional intelligence. This helps them sail through adolescence and into adulthood as individuals who know how to be in relationship with others, speak up, and set boundaries for themselves. The way we speak to our children is changing. The way we respond to “misbehavior” is changing. We are entering a new parenting paradigm.
This post is the first in a series examining various aspects of the new parenting paradigm. But what does that even mean? Are new ways of parenting just a fad, or is there something deeper going on?
Children’s Rights Movement
The twentieth century brought global awareness to the fact that social inequity is deeply woven into the fabric of our society. Many people were explicitly denied human and civil rights based on the color of their skin, their gender, and their age. The Women’s Rights Movement and the Civil Rights Movement have taken great strides to rectify the visible injustices in our communities, though the work is not over. Alongside these movements, a quieter movement for Children’s Rights evolved. Child labor laws and recognition that children are entitled to protection from abuse and neglect are the obvious outcomes. More subtle and slower to evolve are the changes in dynamics between adults and children. Contemporary children’s rights advocates are working to elevate the image of children, helping them to be seen as capable human beings who are works in progress when it comes to social, emotional, cognitive, and physical skills, just as adults are. For a more detailed look at the history of the Children’s Rights Movement, take a look at this article. The book Seen and Heard, by Ellen Hall, is also a wonderful look at the children’s rights movement and the astonishing capability that children possess.*
Advances in the field of neuroscience are reshaping the way that adults interact with children. We now have evidence of how children’s brains develop, and how they respond to different types of interactions and stimuli. We have access to information that creates the opportunity to parent in a way that supports the development of a healthy brain. This is new territory for parents, and it’s a huge deal. A great resource to begin aligning your parenting with your child’s brain development is Dan Siegel and Tina Bryson’s book, The Whole Brain Child.
The new parenting paradigm is not authoritative or based on control, but it is not lax or permissive. New paradigm parents focus on teaching their children when mistakes are made, not punishing them. New paradigm parents utilize their own problem solving skills to guide their children, and as a result their children become good problem solvers, too. New paradigm parents are thoughtful and considerate in the language they use with their children. This is an exciting time to be a parent because, by engaging in this paradigm shift, you are helping your child become exactly the type of person the world needs right now: empathetic, compassionate, able to solve problems, and capable of developing strong relationships.
Your Choices Matter
The way you show up as a parent matters. The energy you carry, the respect you bring, even the language you choose carries you a step closer to living the new parenting paradigm. Ready to go a little deeper? Sign up for my email list and grab my free cheat sheet, Five Phrases That Will Change the Way You Relate to Your Child.