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"Grace-Filled Mothering": An Extension of Gentle Parenting

By now, I think we are all familiar with the term “gentle parenting.” I often see gentle parenting described as a modern approach to childrearing in which parents employ self regulation skills in order to interact with the child in a calm, clear, and mature state. This parenting style may look like asking questions and being curious about what your child is experiencing, as opposed to assuming or guessing what your child’s experience is. Additionally, it looks like removing punishment such as time out and hitting and replacing those tactics of control with strategies for connection.

Personally, I appreciate this shift because how a child is brought up sets the foundation for how they will experience themselves and the world later on in life. While I appreciate this shift in mindset and the deliberate destruction of outdated paradigms, I believe there are gaps that need to be addressed as we make these shifts. For instance, most parents have to change who they are on a core level in order to execute gentle parenting. Meaning, they have to become a gentle parent! So when we focus on the fact that gentle parenting has a lot to do with a well regulated nervous system, how many parents actually know what it is like to have a well regulated nervous system? In world that almost demands our nervous systems to be overactive in order to sustain the standards of society, how is that even possible? Well, this is how the term "grace-filled mothering" came to me.

Now, I’m sure there is wisdom in this concept fathers can gain; however, as a mother, I can only speak to the woman-centered aspects of parenting. Within this framework, grace-filled mothering comes from a mother’s ability to extend grace to herself, and to her children, as they are both learning to embody their roles of mother and child. It is through the integration of grace-filled mothering that gentle parenting can manifest. With grace, there is a flow to life that is honored. There is an acceptance of what is. There is an openness to move in the direction that the wind blows. An element of unconditional softness that creates a net of safety and unbounded love. 

Here, I would like to emphasize grace-filled mothering is deeply associated with acceptance. Because we are here having a human experience, we are subject to error. It is in escapable. With taking into account the inevitable error, imagine a mother having a difficult time supporting a child through their own moment of emotional chaos. Unable to maintain her composure, she yells at the child. Ashamed for losing her power, she shuts down and avoids eye contact... Before I go further with this image, take a second to reflect on how you would have responded to losing composure. Could you stay connected to your child while navigating this feeling of shame? Would you be able to give yourself grace or would you be plagued by guilt? When would you get to a state of acceptance?

Acceptance. This conundrum of guilt, shame, and grace can be mediated by one’s acceptance. Self-acceptance, acceptance of the child and their behavior, and acceptance of future possibilities for change. Without acceptance, we lose ourselves in the error instead of learning from it. So, to all those mothers intentionally making changes to raise emotionally intelligent children, stay motivated to the cause! And if you are struggling with gentle parenting, I want to ask you how grace-filled is your mothering? Is there more space for grace in your world? If so, open up and allow it to enter.

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