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Why gentle parenting doesn't work?

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  • Gentle parenting can lead to permissiveness and behavioral issues if not balanced with clear boundaries.
  • Helicopter parenting is linked to increased rates of depression and anxiety in children due to diminished independence.
  • Millennial parents need to strike a balance between empathy and authority to provide the structure children need.

Millennials, often characterized by their desire to break away from the traditional norms of previous generations, have approached parenting with the same innovative spirit. They have embraced gentle parenting and helicopter parenting, hoping to foster emotionally healthy and well-rounded children. However, despite their best intentions, many millennial parents are finding that their children are exhibiting behavioral issues, leading to a growing concern: why are their kids turning into little monsters?

Gentle parenting, a method that emphasizes empathy, respect, and understanding, has become a popular choice among millennial parents. This approach encourages parents to validate their children's feelings and help them navigate their emotions without resorting to punishment. Proponents argue that this method produces children who are emotionally attuned and self-possessed. However, the reality is more complex.

Gentle parenting can sometimes lead to permissiveness and overindulgence. This can result in children who lack self-discipline and exhibit aggressive or antisocial behavior. Anna Lussenburg, a child-behavior interventionist, notes that "emphasizing a child's feelings can magnify minor problems and effectively puts the child in the driver's seat when what they really need is adult guidance".

The Pitfalls of Helicopter Parenting

Helicopter parenting, another trend among millennials, involves parents being overly involved in their children's lives, often to the point of micromanaging. This approach stems from a desire to protect children from harm and ensure their success. However, it can have unintended consequences.

Research published in The Journal of Pediatrics found that high parental involvement is linked to rising rates of depression and anxiety in children and teens. The study suggests that diminished childhood independence, a hallmark of helicopter parenting, contributes to these mental health issues. Additionally, permissive parenting, which often accompanies helicopter parenting, is associated with "high levels of aggressiveness, antisocial behavior problems, and lack of self-discipline".

Striking a Balance

Millennial parents are caught in a challenging situation. They want to avoid the authoritarian parenting styles of the past, which often involved strict discipline and limited emotional support. However, in their efforts to be more empathetic and involved, they may be overcorrecting and creating new problems.

One millennial parent shared on Reddit that while they strive to be attentive and involved, they often feel overwhelmed by the demands of modern parenting. "Between work, financial stress, stress at home, and just the overwhelming amount of stuff on my plate, I am not patient or loving towards my kids most of the time" . This sentiment is echoed by many parents who find themselves struggling to balance their ideals with the realities of daily life.

The Need for Adult Guidance

Experts suggest that while empathy and understanding are crucial, children also need clear boundaries and guidance. Lussenburg emphasizes that "when you stop doing whatever it is you are doing and you let your day be dictated by their behavior, you stop leading, which makes children very uncomfortable". Children need to know that their parents are in control and can provide the structure they need to thrive.

Millennial parents are navigating uncharted territory, trying to improve on the parenting methods of previous generations while facing unique challenges. While gentle and helicopter parenting have their merits, they can also lead to behavioral issues if not balanced with appropriate boundaries and guidance. By finding a middle ground, millennial parents can raise children who are both emotionally healthy and well-behaved.

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