Gentle parenting, the term that caught my attention ever since I became pregnant with Seyon. I am aware that many of my fellow Sri Lankans may not be familiar with this term, (Lol) as it is not something that we were exposed to when we were growing up. We are a generation raised with a different parenting style, one where we were often punished for getting sick and blamed it on our screen time.
As I read about other parents' parenting styles and compare them to the way we raise children in Sri Lanka, I am sometimes overwhelmed. I believe that those who practice gentle parenting would definitely disapprove of our parenting practices. Now, I am scared that I will inherit toxic traits from my ancestors. Honestly, I am scared.
Let's be clear, I am not saying that white, privileged people have the best lifestyle, but I am here to address how we were treated like objects, instead of being respected as human beings with natural instincts when we were kids, and how it still continues today.
I once read about a parent who wrote about kissing young children. The parent's grandmother had asked for a kiss in exchange for a treat. The parent who practices gentle parenting had sternly told her mother that "we do not share our bodies in exchange for favors" and that her mother should not expect physical affection from her children, and should not be sad if they do not reciprocate.
They are teaching their children about bodily autonomy and consent. If a child says no to a hug or a kiss, it must be respected. "You can't exchange your body for a treat!" This was a significant statement for me to read, but it is a reality and it is how they practice gentle parenting.
In the South Asian context, this is a big step forward. We have witnessed our grandparents kissing baby boys on their genitals and being proud of the male offspring. This is not an old-day story, as a millennial I have witnessed this in many places.
Apart from this, can we separate our grandparents from our children for the sake of bodily concerns? I don't think we could. I think they have all the rights to demand a kiss from their grand-daughter or the grand-son. But this is not what we practiced. We keep proudly holding the baby's genitals and say "ambila kutty/singam." How far are we in the behavioral evolution in the realm of human civilization? I can't even imagine!
Though there are lot of good practices we Sri Lankans, South Asians have comparatively better solutions for the society, but this made me to write when I saw the following post/pic at this time. But I'm sure our generation parents are way better than the previous generations all over the world. We do really care our little humans for real purposes.
Think about it, as Sri Lankans, are we not even concerned about adults touching adults! I am truly scared of parenting, and I feel like I have a lot to learn. Though I have many dilemmas about gentle parenting, it is fascinating to follow. Any
parents following these kinds of practices? I would be interested to hear your thoughts. We as a society have come a long way, but there is still much to be done. Let's keep the conversation going and strive to be the best parents we can be for our children.
I want to be clear that I am not suggesting anyone to follow gentle parenting entirely, but I do believe it is a great topic to discuss and consider. It has given me a new perspective and opened my eyes to ways in which I can improve my own parenting style.