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Teachers are often overworked and underpaid, and the stress of the job can certainly wear a person down. However, a growing teaching population believes that parents who engage in “Gentle Parenting” are part of the decline in respectful, disciplined children. In other words, whoopings and yelling are needed to get students in order. At Consciously Lisa, I dispel those thoughts.

“Educators have been dealing with harsh criticisms and unrealistic expectations for years…And not just from parents. The disrespectful views and attitudes of parents frequently pass to their kids, who seem to think they are entitled to do whatever they want in our schools. From refusing to comply with simple classroom rules like [completing] the assigned work to spewing whatever disrespectful nonsense they hear at home, the frustrating behavior of students won’t be improving any time soon, largely due to administration completely outside of our control.”

Some teachers even suppose that the uptick in disrespect at the hands of their students is tied to the parenting philosophy known as “Gentle Parenting.” In a recent article on, teachers make it clear that they believe Gentle Parenting to be the culprit behind their increased challenges in the classroom. Their complaints include:

  1. “If your kid spends all their time playing video games and watching TikTok, and you never make them do chores or homework, you’re never going to see the behaviors that the classroom teacher sees. You’re never asking them to do anything they don’t want to do for an extended period like we are.” —TheDarklingThrush
  2. “Children come to school expecting their teacher to have the same availability and time for them as their parents do.” NyssaofTracken
  3. “I think Gentle parenting creates anxiety in a lot of kids because they’re looking to us to see how to handle their emotions, and the truth is that not every feeling needs to be dissected. It’s okay to say, ‘You’re fine!’ and that be the end of it.” —lemondrops42

The article goes on to assert that,

“One of the problems with understanding Gentle Parenting’s impact in schools is that there’s no agreed-upon definition for what Gentle Parenting is. There are no official “gentle parenting” guidelines or tenets and no single authority figure to ask for clarity. And in this gray area, there’s a lot of room for interpretation.”

The assertion that gentle parenting causes behavioral problems in the classroom is, at best, misinformed. This belief comes from people who need to become better educated on Gentle Parenting and how it’s to be practiced. I don’t necessarily blame the teachers for this confusion. Social media has done a bang-up job of showcasing Gentle Parenting in a very cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all modality. Moreover, the very label “Gentle Parenting” does a disservice to the actual work of this very intentional parenting philosophy.

The word gentle has an established meaning: (adjective ) having or showing a mild, kind, or tender temperament or character.

This definition is what we all understand the word to mean. So when “gentle” is paired with the term’ parenting,’ it should be assumed it means to be mild and tender with our children. Even without this assumption, the vast majority of the most popular Gentle parenting videos on social media showcase what appears to be mild parental responses to seemingly unacceptable behaviors in children. 

These social media videos fail to highlight that “Gentle Parenting falls under the umbrella of Authoritative Parenting.

Authoritative parenting is one of three main parenting styles first identified in the 1960s by psychologist Diana Baumrind. According to the American Psychological Association, “Authoritative parents are nurturing, responsive, and supportive, yet also set firm limits for their children. They attempt to control children’s behavior by explaining rules, discussing, and reasoning. They listen to a child’s viewpoint but don’t always accept it.”

Children raised by authoritative parents are prone to develop independence, self-reliance, social acceptance, academic success, and good behavior. Additionally, they have a lower likelihood of experiencing depression and anxiety, as well as engaging in antisocial behaviors like delinquency and drug use. Studies indicate that having at least one authoritative parent can have a significant positive impact (Fletcher et al., 1999).

Cathy Guttentag, Ph.D., an associate professor at the Children’s Learning Institute at UTHealth Houston, says,” Gentle parenting is more lenient and less rigid than authoritarian parenting, which sets strict rules for children but is firmer and more structured than permissive parenting, which has almost no boundaries.

However, the most popular social media creators have inadvertently blurred the lines between permissive and Gentle Parenting. They were resulting in widespread misinformation and misunderstanding. Consciously, Lisa actively showcases that gentle or conscious parenting does not mean the absence of discipline. Yet, the stigma persists. So much so that well-intentioned parents are being made the scapegoat for the behavior teachers see in school.

These parents may practice what they believe is gentle parenting when, indeed, they are permissive parents. As mentioned above, authoritative parents existed far before gentle parenting TikToks. The gentle parenting label is new, thanks to parenting expert and childcare author Sarah Ockwell-Smith, who popularized the term. However, anyone with any familiarity or understanding of Authoritative Parenting would quickly see that it is indeed a form of Authoritative Parenting, and what is portrayed on social media doesn’t accurately showcase what it is in real life. 

Furthermore, no research suggests that authoritative parenting causes behavioral challenges in children. Educators should know that correlation does not imply or equal causation.

On the contrary, Research has continued to show that since the pandemic, children are no longer willing to withstand the standard school day, resulting in more behavioral challenges for teachers. The children we had before the pandemic are not the children we have today. I dare say everyone is different. In 2021, pediatricians called the mental health crisis among kids a national emergency.

In 2022, The National Center for Education Statistics found that 87 percent of U.S. public schools reported that the pandemic had negatively impacted students’ behavior and socio-emotional development. I found the same true and opted to withdraw my oldest child from public school and homeschool him.

In short, there are far too many variables at play to lay the behavioral challenges teachers face solely on parents’ backs. As a collective, we should be challenging the public school model and the administrations who refuse to accommodate the societal changes that make the current model unviable. Parents, teachers, and students are all victims of a system in which they have little to no control, resulting in what we can all see as the beginning of the collapse of public schools. Instead of pointing fingers, we should take a stand and enact change. Sooner rather than later.

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