No one can tell the story of different parenting styles better than the ones who had lived it. If you’re trying to decide on your parenting philosophy – this is a good place to start.
I could spend years advocating attachment parenting, working with parents to better the relationships they have with their children, and teach the pure beauty of compassion and empathy. But nothing, and I mean nothing will do a better job advocating what I believe in, then the personal stories of those who have lived it.
As a life and parenting coach who spends most of her waking hours talking to people, drawing the line between the past to the present is rather easy for me. When my clients tell me their stories and share their struggles with me, I imagine how they were parented. And I can’t remember being wrong. However, when I bring these topics up, many people automatically fall to defense, “can it really be all about parenting”?
Can it? I don’t know. Is it ALL about parenting? I’m sure it isn’t; we’re all born who we are, only later we are molded into who we become by the people and the environments we are raised by. This typical defensiveness is the reason for which finding individuals who draw the connection between their upbringing to their present themselves is so unique.
Imagine how inspired I was to find a post in parenting group that I am in, looking for “people raised gently or have adult children who were raised gently.” What are they like as adults”? The OP asked. “I’m Interested to see the differences in adulthood versus those raised in a very controlling, non-autonomous household.”
There were dozens of comments to this post, and before you are the most inspiring ones. I’m quoting the comments that best tell the story of children who grew up in an environment attuned to their needs and feelings, where their humanity is respected and accepted; and the children who weren’t so lucky.
There are many sorts and types of relationships between children and their parents, but the connecting line is clear: close, trusting relationships, those cross-generational friendships that we sometimes see, that true connection coming from the heart – is only possible when raised respectfully.
I received the authorization to share these stories with you with the hope to inspire as many people as possible to follow the route of peaceful, gentle, and respectful parenting. Accounts without a name were approved to share anonymously.
I Am Worthy of Respect
Emily Silvela wrote:
I was respectfully parented – I feel some of the results that immediately come to mind were/are:
I rarely wonder if I am worthy of respect because no one I cared about ever told me (or acted like) I wasn’t.
I’ve never thought of violence as remotely acceptable in a relationship.
I don’t have trouble setting boundaries because my needs/desires were always respected.
I think I have a higher than average emotional intelligence, for being “allowed” and expected to have emotions
I am very independent, because I feel secure as a loved, respected, and capable person.
I am a Mess of a Person
My husband was raised respectfully; I was not.
My husband is confident and secure; he never second-guesses himself. He will easily end relationships that aren’t healthy and didn’t look for romantic relationships until we met as he never needed anyone to complete him. He didn’t need anyone for his happiness. He is very patient too. He has a good (but quiet) relationship with his parents but would never hesitate to ask them for help etc if needed.
I am a mess of a person. I second guess everything I do, say, think. I will try to mend and maintain relationships even though I know they are not healthy. I’ve always felt I needed someone to love me, have been in abusive and controlling relationships from very young as I found it difficult to be alone (until after I met my husband and reset my definition of relationships). I am usually very patient and kind to our children though I have to retrain myself not to repeat the phases said to me as a child as they are ingrained into me.
Edit to add: I have a strained but ok relationship with my mother, though I still crave closeness with her. I have no connection with my father, though I continue to mourn this (daily) and have tried to repair it (It is toxic, so this is an internal battle).
To understand the full gravity of toxic parenting, I will hesitantly add that I have long suffered from mental illness, some relating to my childhood/upbringing, and have struggled to find healthy coping strategies. At a young age, I experimented with alcohol, drugs, emotional eating, and self-harm. I consider myself lucky that I can see and stop the cycle for my family.
The one thing though adversely is that I find myself continually wanting to parent better, learn more, advocate more. In contrast, my husband is just confident with how he is, and it wouldn’t occur to him to question anything. I won’t allow my children to go through what I did. Still, mentally, that burden is extremely difficult as it is constantly running through me with everything I say or do.
I’m Not Afraid of Honesty or Seeking Help When I Need It
Kara Eneberg shared:
I was raised gently. I have absolutely no complaints about my childhood! I got to discover who I am and who I want to be within the security of my parent’s love. I could climb high, knowing my parents would catch me if I fall. So I worked hard and went to college at age 15.
I knew my mom would help me with anything, and I could trust her with my biggest mistakes or regrets, so I wasn’t afraid of honesty and seeking help when I needed it. I knew their advice would be better for me than a peer’s naive perspective. Ultimately, I love that we’re still best friends. The relationship has shifted to one of equality, and my husband and I (and our daughter) genuinely enjoy their company and know that they’ll respect our decisions and hold space for us whenever it’s needed.
Never Felt Love in His Own Home
My mother tried her best to raise us gently but dealt with her mother wounds and fell short occasionally. However, she did her best and is an amazing inspiration and help to me now. I am confident in myself and what I deserve, and I know how I should be treated and how I should be treating others. My mom wasn’t great at helping us figure out our emotions because of that mother wound, so I had to navigate that part myself, but otherwise, I feel that my siblings and I grew up to be incredibly respectful, kind individuals with real compassion and love for others.
My husband was not raised gently at all, and is still suffering from it. His parents had a paddle that they would “whoop/spank” him with when he misbehaved. Once I mistook it for a cutting board. When they used those words to describe what it was, I (without even thinking about it oops) was like, “you don’t beat someone with a thick cutting board and give it a cute name like spank or whoop.” They were pretty shocked to hear someone describe it like that!
My husband is going to start therapy for his childhood. He never felt loved in his home; he was raised with very outdated ideas about women, sexuality, and how to care for others. He has an incredibly hard time standing up for himself and telling people no. When we get into mild arguments, he curls up like a hurt puppy because he is reminded of his childhood.
We have done a lot of learning together in our six years of marriage, and I am so grateful I married him. If he hadn’t married me, he wouldn’t have known how damaging his childhood really was. He is worlds better now that he has learned more about his emotions and his worth. But he still has a long way to go.
Seeing him and many of my cousins who were raised the same way as adults has cemented my determination NOT to be that kind of parent.
I Feel Comfortable In Crowds and Around People
Gerie R Ayers wrote:
So I think I was raised about 80% with gentle parenting, which is very non-traditional for Eastern Europe and people born in communism lol. My parents have never punished me in any way, and I have never been rewarded for positive things. My mom always took the time to explain what was happening and why and shared her emotions with me. My dad has always been very caring with his words, and I don’t think I have ever seen him angry or being rude to anyone.
My parents have influenced me to try and be a good person to others. I try to treat people friendly because I firmly believe I should treat others the way I want to be treated. I try to be aware of the way I word things because I’m concerned about how my words will make people feel; I learned this from my grandmother, who was one of my biggest influences. She was the calmest and most open-minded person I have ever met.
I love talking and making new friends; I feel comfortable in crowds and around people. I enjoy making others laugh and smile, I am a very positive person, and I try seeing the good side of things when they happen. I also feel like I am still young at heart which is totally typical for my entire family.
A few other things I believe come from the way I was patented is that I have no problem sharing how I feel about things with close people even though I may get emotional while doing so.
I move into new situations easily and without too much stress and lastly I am very close with my family.
Even if I do not share everything with my mom or other members because I feel like it may worry them I still speak to them weekly and make sure I show them that I care for them. I try to move a lot of the way my childhood was towards my children who are toddlers now because I think I had a great childhood.
My husband, on the other hand, comes from a military family of divorced parents. They were not in good opinions of each other and very strict. He has to work extra hard to remain calm in situations that trigger him. He isn’t close to his family.
Being Screamed at, Lectured, Shamed or Physically Punished
Venessa Sanchez shared:
I was raised in a very controlling, non-autonomous household.
I struggle with anxiety.
I am a people pleaser and self betray to meet the needs of others or because of fear of upsetting anyone.
I had no idea what boundaries were until recently and realized I allowed others to violate them. I struggle so hard to put down and maintain boundaries. I’ve never been so uncomfortable in my life doing something I very much deserve.
When there is an issue, it is a knee jerk reaction that I immediately think I did something wrong.
When I feel vulnerable, I automatically shut down emotionally. I developed this defense mechanism from being screamed at, lectured, shamed, or physically punished.
I didn’t have an emotional connection with my parents as a child, and I struggle with building relationships with people as an adult. I often avoid getting “too close” to people.
I Feel Bloody Lucky
Robyn King-Coley shared:
My mum’s raised me gently, and we have a fantastic relationship. A considerable part of it has been that I’ve never felt judged by them. It has meant I’ve never needed to be secretive or rebellious & in turn, I’ve never really felt alone. That was particularly important in my teens & when I first became a mum! I feel bloody lucky to have two such incredible role models.
Caroline Philips wrote:
I was raised gently and am now a gentle mum. I consider myself extremely fortunate. I’m nearly 40. While I’ve had difficult times, I believe my upbringing prepared me to see the good in things, including myself and equipped me well to deal with life’s ups and downs. I have robust mental health and lots of inner confidence. I have a fantastic relationship with my parents and see them on most days. I know I am very, very lucky.
So is it all about parenting? Probably not. Anxieties, fears, insecurities, and other disturbances to the lives we want to live come in various shapes and form and originate in a wide variety of reasons. But can a beneficial, needs-and-feelings-centered approach to parenting make everything better? I promise you that it can. No matter who you are, how old are you, how old your children are – everything can always be better.
Join my life and parenting support group on Facebook, or better yet – join my TRIBE and raise your children together with me 🙂
Can’t wait to meet you 🙂