Posted in musings

on giving advice

The longer I parent, the more radical my parenting style and ideals seem to become. I’ve been heavily influenced by the concepts of respectful and trustful parenting, to the point where I’m leaning towards unschooling and trying to lead as a guide and experienced companion instead of attempting to direct and control my children. My emphasis is on connection and understanding, and I’ve put down some hard lines for myself on the topic of punishment. And I’m far from perfect in my implementation of these ideals, but I really do think they are best for children.

The awkward moments come when a friend will post a general plea for advice on Facebook. How do I advocate for respectful parenting and try to point out the child’s needs and perspective without sounding judgmental of a person who I know loves and sacrifices incredibly for her children? Worse still, what do I say when other friends are framing developmental struggles as sin and normalizing spanking? Diplomacy is hard when it comes to things I believe strongly…

One thought that’s been helpful for me lately comes from the Catholic side of the aisle: the concept of an age of reason, below which children (though still imperfect and marred by the human condition of original sin) are not culpable of sin because they lack the capacity to understand or control themselves for simple developmental reasons. It helps to see one’s child as a learning, growing, incomplete being instead of a defiant, rebellious sinner. Unfortunately I’m not sure how to translate that idea for my Protestant friends!

How do you all handle situations where it’s appropriate to give advice (like a generic request for suggestions) and you know your parenting principles differ significantly from the person asking? I generally just try to gently plant alternative ideas without getting too radical but I wonder if I should say more…

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