Traditional Parenting vs. Connected Parenting

Traditional Parenting vs. Connected Parenting

Mar 02, 2023

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What are the differences between traditional parenting and connected parenting, and how can you become more compassionate with your kid? 

I’ve been thinking about the goals and outcomes of different parenting styles lately, and here’s how I think of it.

Traditional parenting is focused more on the external - the way somebody looks, presents themselves to the world and the way the world views them. 

The goal is for your child to be socially accepted and fit into the world we live in. This is driven by values like compliance, obedience, conforming, productivity, perfectionism and people-pleasing.

But often, this approach leaves the individual feeling disconnected from themselves. 

Connected parenting puts more focus on the internal world of the individual. 


The challenges of traditional parenting

Most people were raised in a traditional parenting environment. This is largely the norm in our society. 

The goal is to look good, behave well, be accepted. And the tools often include fear, shame and comparison; the threat that if you don’t perform or conform, you won’t be accepted in the world.

When you learn to look for external validation, you stop listening to yourself. You don't have trust in your own ability to make decisions, and you can end up disconnected from your internal guide. 

But the truth is that when you feel terrible on the inside, it doesn't really matter what other people think because you don't feel good about yourself. 

Feeling disconnected from ourselves can lead to anxiety, depression and causes challenges in our relationships with others.


What is connected parenting?

Connected parenting (the method I teach) goes by a lot of names. Gentle parenting, conscious parenting, feelings-first, compassionate or non-violent parenting. But the underlying goal is the same. We, as parents, want to create an environment that helps our kids grow up to be emotionally healthy.

We want our kids to have good relationships with themselves, with us and with others. We want them to trust themselves and know that their worth as a human is not based on performance.

The goal is to help our kids understand what they are feeling and why they’re behaving the way they are. Because their thoughts and feelings are what drives behavior.

We use the tools of compassion, emotional regulation, clear boundaries and limits and personal responsibility.


Obstacles to connected parenting

I’ve been parenting this way for 14 years and teaching connected parenting for 10 years, and I’ve seen a few common obstacles that parents face.


Lack of knowledge

Simply put, you don’t have a model or map for parenting this way. If your parents used a traditional parenting style, that is the style you know.

Maybe you know you don’t want to raise your kids the same way, but you don’t know what to do instead.

This is a revolutionary parenting style. Most of us didn't grow up with anybody helping us with our feelings. We don't know how to do it. 

That’s why I created the Calm Mama Process and the tools I teach - to give you a framework that outlines exactly what to say and do so that you can show up as a compassionate parent and give your kids the tools to manage their emotions. 


Inability to manage your own emotions

Based on the first obstacle, this makes perfect sense, right?

If you weren’t taught to manage your emotions when you were younger, you’re learning to do it now. 

It’s almost a process of re-parenting yourself so that you can teach your child the same thing. 

I think of this as healing the next generation in advance. And it’s why CALM is the foundation of everything I teach. This is where you practice soothing yourself, processing negative emotions, dealing with disappointment, overwhelm and stress in a healthy way.

You may not have grown up learning this, but you can learn it now.


Societal pressure

The third main obstacle I see is the societal pressure for kids to be obedient. There’s a judgment that if your kid is misbehaving, it must be because you are a bad parent (which is totally not true, btw). 

This can show up in a lot of different communities and contexts, but the message is that “we don’t want to see your kids melt down or make mistakes.”

Kids start out not knowing how to manage their big feelings. They don't know how to process anger, sadness or frustration in ways that don't create problems. They’re going to hit, kick, punch. spit, throw, yell, disagree, argue, negotiate, protest and complain.

None of these behaviors are because they’re bad kids or you’re a bad parent. They are all because of their feelings. 

They have to figure out what works and what doesn’t, and they’re going to make mistakes as they learn these new skills. That’s how learning happens. 

But when they're in the middle of misbehaving and making mistakes, and you can feel everyone around you judging your kid and your parenting, it can stand in the way of you connecting with and helping your kids.

In that moment, you have a choice. You can default to traditional parenting methods of fear, control, threats and bribes, or you can use compassion, clear boundaries and allow your kid to make mistakes


There is no perfect parenting

Connection takes more time. It's going to be messier. It’s also how you reach the long-term goal of emotional health and your child learning how to deal with whatever feelings come up.

It is impossible to practice connected parenting at all times. We're human beings, and we have our own emotional experience and our own feelings, thoughts, overwhelm and stress. 

The goal is not 100%. The goal is to do it as often as you can. When you find yourself yelling, threatening or showing up in a way that you don’t want, catch yourself and pause. Reset and try again. Get curious and connect with your child. 

The more you do it, the closer you move toward making compassion your new default.


You’ll Learn:

  • The differences between traditional parenting and connected parenting
  • What connected parenting looks like
  • 3 common challenges in connected parenting
  • How to start making the shift to connected parenting

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