You’re in the middle of an important phone call and your 6-year-old keeps barging in on you. Do you: A. Yell at him B. Bribe him to be quiet with a handful of goldfish or C. Take a few deep breaths, surmise that your son is trying to feel more connected to you and tell the person on the phone that you’ll call them back in an hour? If you answered “C” then congrats—you have mastered the art of peaceful parenting and can skip all of the below. But if you’re like the rest of us, well, keep reading.
Peaceful parenting (which is, as it sounds, the concept that parents should approach learning and discipline from a place of love and calm) is all the rage right now, and with good reason: This generation has wised up and realized the authoritarian role played by parents in the past did more damage than good. We now know that the iron fist accomplishes precious little when it comes to some of our top parenting priorities, like encouraging cooperation and respect from our kids. That’s why I call myself a peaceful parent...on a good day, that is.
The truth is that my 3 and 5-year-old children frequently push all the buttons until I get snappy and then spiral into an abyss of mom guilt once the dust has settled. And there are many in my circle of mom friends who can relate: We all want to do better, be better—but struggle to change our parenting behaviors when push comes to shove, literally. (I can’t be the only parent who condemns fighting between siblings by screaming at them...)
So is this gentle parenting technique a more effective modern alternative, or is it just a quixotic project—the kind of pie-in-the-sky aspiration I soothe myself to sleep with at the end a rough day? Honestly, I don’t know. But I can report that having immersed myself in the quintessential book on the subject, Dr. Laura Markham’s Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids, even this skeptical mama is feeling inspired and ready to practice the empathy I preach to my kids on repeat. If you’re curious about peaceful parenting but don’t have the time to read the book from cover to cover, check out our summary below so you can get started.