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  • Silvia Farag

Finding the Balance: Gentle Parenting in a Modern World


My kids got me this shirt for my birthday last year. I think it captures my essence perfectly. The one thing that has been consistent in my approach to everything is “balance.” I believe when you have balance in every area of your life including parenting, then you are in good shape.

I keep reading about “gentle parenting.” It’s all-over social media, blogs etc. While I am all about gentleness and self-control, I want to share a few thoughts. It seems like it’s a trend without a tool kit, much like sugar filled froyo. Gentle on your stomach and supposedly good for you. Hmmm. I still love a full fat hazelnut gelato on a freshly made waffle cone, but I digress.

Here are my thoughts.

I have…. well, complicated opinions about gentle parenting. We know from the research that it’s important to treat kids with warmth and respect. But we also know that kids benefit from rules and limits. I find that gentle parenting experts don’t always help parents figure out how to do both at the same time. It’s like they paint a picture of where parents should ideally end up without also telling them how to get there. This, I worry, can leave parents feeling frustrated and ashamed.

I think some parents might infer that gentle parenting is the only acceptable way to parent — and that if you parent differently, you’re doing something wrong. I try every year with the best of intentions to find my inner calm and promise myself that I will not yell. But once, twice, three times and then bammm!!!!!  Now that I got their attention, their response is “why are you yelling.” Gosh, I can’t wait till they have kids.

Despite what you may read on social media, you are not a “bad parent” if gentle parenting doesn’t work for your family. Proponents of gentle parenting often imply that if you’re not a gentle parent, then you must be a harsh “authoritarian” parent, but that’s not the case. You can be a very effective parent who doesn’t only ascribe to gentle parenting, and not be authoritarian. It’s not either/or as often presented.

Gentle parenting gurus also often imply that the way your child behaves is a direct reflection of the strength of their relationship with you, which is also, well, in my opinion not true.

In how I see parents interpret gentle parenting, they (mostly mothers) feel intense pressure with each interaction. A child’s behavior becomes a reflection of whether the parent has a positive enough relationship with their child. Guess what? Sometimes kids are what I like to call “PITA(s)” I know my readers are smart and can figure that one out. Sometimes I am a PITA.  We all have our moments. Every challenging behavior or meltdown does not need to be a referendum on our parenting skills or our relationship.


That said, I also want to emphasize that I’m not anti-gentle parenting. If it works for you, that’s great! But it doesn’t work for all kids and all families. And if that’s the case for you, you’re not a bad parent or doing anything wrong. There are many (science-backed!) ways to be a wonderful parent. But I believe that everything in life needs balance to keep our eyes set on the end goal, the best version of ourselves working towards the kingdom.

Balance, peace, and joy are the fruit of a successful life. It starts with recognizing your talents and finding ways to serve others by using them. - Thomas Kinkade

Silvia Farag, MSW, LSW, PsyD Candidate runs the Christian Center for Counseling and works with adolescent and adult clients in individual, couples & family therapy. Her personal philosophy is that through human connection, we can foster the encouragement needed to take courageous steps toward creating positive change. She uses evidenced based and strengths-based approaches & believes in the inherent ability of everyone to overcome when they are willing to step into their potential. Therapy illuminates the path so the client can make conscious steps towards emotional health. Her attitude is one of respect and acceptance of each client’s individuality, allowing for the creation of a safe, therapeutic space. Silvia serves with Coptic Women Fellowship, an archdiocese ministry focused on enriching, supporting, and strengthening the lives of women, along with the clergy and several accomplished women of the Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese of North America.


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