Single-parent families have become more prevalent in our culture. Most of these families are headed by the mother, not the father. In black families currently, 70 percent of babies are born out of wedlock. After a long workday, mothers come home and still need to train their children to be independent and civilized. There is a lot on the plate of any working mother who has to parent their child with no male impact or assistance. Magically, gentle parenting is supposedly the new answer.
Women overwhelmingly are the ones responsible for caring for a child in unwed relationships that produce a baby. The reality is most children are raised primarily by a female while a biological father, at best, is an occasional visitor who has limited involvement with the child. Mothers, by their genetic predisposition, are the best physically and mentally to nurture the child.
Males’ absence from the family has had an enormous impact on child development. Women are less comfortable in being aggressive with their children than are fathers. Child development experts have emphasized non-punitive ways to supposedly get the child to listen and conform.
Gentle parenting is a novel way to guide a woman to raise her child with little or no assistance from a father figure. Instead of the traditional approach with the mother being the nurturer and the father being the enforcer, this approach of “gentle parenting” has removed the concept of the enforcer in favor of a “wonder woman.”
The woman must become a “clinical psychologist,” making the decisions using the exact amount of loving verbiage at the proper time. She has to demonstrate empathy, respect, understanding and give few boundaries regardless of the child’s behavior. At the same time, she must employ the “three Cs:” connection, communication, and consistency while never resorting to anger or punishment, which would violate the child’s feelings. “I know it is hard to put away your iPad,” “I know you don’t want to go to bed.” Somehow, the mother is supposed to convince the child to do so by empathizing with the child- psychologically convincing them to do what the soft and reasonable mother’s expectations are.
The mother has to always remain sweet and understanding, often hugging or touching the child in a gentle manner. This approach is supposed to create a partnership between the mother and the child where the youngster is magically converted to do what the mother wants.
If the mother was going to be the only adult in the child’s life, it might work. However, the child is not going to associate with only empathetic, understanding, and gentle people but many who are more authoritarian. Bosses, teachers, judges, and peers are not always going to approach the child with unconditional love.
Gentle parenting might teach the mother how to gently maneuver the child to listen to her, but it does not prepare the child for the real world with many short-tempered people who do not have a shred of empathy, respect, or understanding for a self-centered individual.
It is understandable that gentle parenting has become appealing to single mothers raising a child. It is impossible for these women to say, “Wait until your father gets home,” for there is no man to act out this role. Gentle parenting has evolved around female strategies: empathy, understanding, maternal instincts, and acceptance. It is not an optimal arrangement for raising a child in a complicated culture. Men make up approximately half the population, and any child should at least understand the unique characteristics and behavioral expectations of men as opposed to psychologically sophisticated mothers who manipulate their children through subtle methods.
Gentle parenting has not been practiced throughout history. As we have witnessed, the family has prospered with a father and mother leading a united front with their children.
This arrangement allowed the mother to have reinforcement backup so she could perform her magic in being empathetic while the father did his job as an enforcer. Mothers cannot be the loving nurturer and, at the same time, the enforcer as the two roles conflict. This is the reason that both a man and woman in the family has been the ideal method of raising children.
What our culture needs is not gentle parenting without consequences and punishment. Our nation needs both mothers and fathers to raise normal children who have had exposure to both male and female figures as parents.
Domenick Maglio, PhD. is a columnist carried by various newspapers and blogs, an author of several books and owner/director of Wider Horizons School, a college prep program. Dr. Maglio is an author of weekly newspaper articles, INVASION WITHIN and the latest book entitled, IN CHARGE PARENTING In a PC World. You can see many of Dr. Maglio’s articles at www.drmaglioblogspot.com.