~ less than conventional parenting styles!

is there any things you’ve incorporated into your parenting that have been less than conventional? i’m thinking elimination communication, unschooling, gentle parenting, extended and/or tandem breastfeeding etc. how have people reacted to your choices/parenting style?
i intend to raise my children pretty unconventionally (when i have them) and was wondering how it is like for others who have done the same!

tyia!

I think the biggest for us are:

*Gentle parenting. There is such a misconception out there about it. People think that it means letting your kids do whatever they want, that you are raising spoiled brats, etc. For us, it means treating our child like a human being, trying to find roots to a behavior rather than just reacting to it, trying to promote a close child/parent bond that functions as a safety net or foundation, guiding them (including discipline vs punishment), and so on.

*no sleep training. Sleep has been a big issue for us, in more ways than I can describe on here. LO is a very wakeful child. People have said to sleep train but that isn’t a road that felt comfortable for us. It crossed a line in our minds. We lay down with him for every nap and bedtime, in his own bed, until he falls asleep. The few people who know about this haaaaaate it because they consider it spoiling him.

*no spanking. I would say it is only recently being frowned upon in the US but older generations seem to think spanking is a huge part of parenting, sadly… We don’t do it.

*we try to say yes more than we say no. There are times in life when we have to do things we don’t want to, absolutely. However, if something isn’t going to hurt anyone or if there isn’t any actual good reason to do it, we try to do it. Not always but a good amount of the time.

*consent. We do not force LO to hug, kiss, be held by, talk to or be around anyone (doctor being the only real exception so far and even that includes a conversation about why/what/etc). No sitting on Santa’s lap. No you have to kiss grandma. This is 100% opposite of how DH and I were raised, so it has caused a few issues but hurt feelings are a-okay to me compared to my kid being hurt or raised to not care about his own/others’ autonomy.

*as far as education, I’m not sure what we’ll do with that yet. He’s 2.5 and we have several homeschooling friends who start when their kids are even younger than him!! I want him to just be a kid, not having to worry about academics so young. He does know letters, numbers until around 20, colors, a couple of shapes, etc but that’s because we let him watch like Blue’s Clues and stuff. Not going to lie. We aren’t directly teaching him yet. He will probably do mainstream schooling but their requirements are ridiculous!!! I know a little boy who failed kindergarten! Kindergarten! Ugh.

I’ll end this by saying parenting is very difficult and requires flexibility. It also oftentimes requires you to look at yourself, find healing for yourself, look at your own triggers, to grow alongside your kids… Each child and family dynamic is very different and what works for one may not work for the other. I personally think things like “gentle parenting” and teaching your kids to have some sort of agency should be the norm but there’s no one perfect method. I mess up daily. I apologize to my son and reflect on it. I try to do better the next time. It’s hard trying to carve out a life that isn’t just necessarily unconventional but just different from how you were raised. That isn’t everyone’s goal, I know, but it is one of mine. It is heartbreaking to realize how this kind of stuff can be generational. I grew up with yelling, threats and dysfunction being the norm. It is instinctive to react the same way. It is intentional not to.

So yeah, we don’t get a lot of support or respect for how we parent. That’s fine with us for the most part. It is about raising, loving and guiding the child that we were given, for the world they’ll be living in. We’re doing the best we can (and re-evaluating constantly!) for him.

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I guess it depends on your definition of conventional, but some things we do are seen as unconventional by people around us and raise a few eyebrows, I suppose.

We’re trying to raise our children gender neutral. Not in the sense that we hide their gender from the world until they identify as one or the other, for example, but we do raise them without any gender stereotypes. Other examples: we buy unisex clothes or if one of our sons wants to wear something from the girls’ section of the shop, we let them. We let them play with whatever toys they want, and buy dolls for our sons. We’ll never tell them any activity they want to do isn’t suited for boys or girls.

We’re vegetarians, and recently we’ve become mostly vegan. We don’t prepare meat at home, and you won’t find any meat in our kitchen. We’re not too strict on it with our sons though. If they eat meat at school, at a friend’s house, … it’s not a big deal. They have to make their own choices when they’re older, and eating something with meat in it isn’t a mortal sin.
As for being vegan: most of the products we buy are vegan (yogurt, ice cream etc), and we give those to our children, but we won’t tell them they can’t have ice cream when we’re on a trip, for example.
[name_f]My[/name_f] oldest son, who’s 7, has decided he doesn’t want to eat meat. But when he’s over with his dad (my ex-husband) he does like to eat eggs, and that’s fine. It’s his choice.

We have a bit of an unconventional family in the sense that my twin brother lives with us and is very much part of our family. Our house has two different parts to it, we live in one part and my brother in the other. But there’s just one door separating both parts, and we share several spaces including the garden. The children’s playing room is also in my brother’s part of the house. They go from one part tot the other as they wish.
It’s not like my husband, my children and I are a family, and my brother is a household on his own. He is part of our family, and in some ways he’s our children’s third (and for Hjörtur fourth) parent. Things have been difficult for my brother for a while, and he wasn’t always able to fulfill this role, but he’s doing better now. [name_f]My[/name_f] husband and I have the biggest say in the parenting decisions, but we always involve my brother and value his opinion.

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We have chosen to do a couple of things that have friends and family raising their eyebrows.

We co-sleep, have done since birth and will do until they express that they want their own space. We currently have bunks in our room (two kids), a king bed and a bedside bassinet for the (expected) baby.
I have friends that put their baby in their own room by 6 weeks and let them cry to sleep. No judgement if that’s how they cope, but I feel very judged when people tell me I’m creating “fearful” children that can’t be alone. I’ve found that my kids are happy, even at bedtime compared to meltdowns I hear other parents struggling with and they can be alone, they just mostly chose not to. I think having that choice is important as we are social creatures and babies instinct is to find protection when left alone in the dark. Plus, who doesn’t want to be able to watch their tot smile in their sleep or hear their comforting breathing in the middle of the night. People ask about sex because we co sleep and I just don’t know why that’s even a question for people. Kids go to sleep. There are other rooms. [name_u]Or[/name_u] it’s all natural anyway and people have been doing it for ever. It’s only a bad thing if you make it a negative association.

We unschool, homeschool and don’t school at all. I incorporate my values and own things into the day that I’d like to educate with and they too self direct what they’d like to learn, either from myself and dad, a book or online. But we don’t do school at all. I’m open to changes and haven’t made this choice for any outstanding moral reason, I just don’t like the way schools pit kids against each other and are very competitive. I want to at least give my child a sense of self before they enter a facility like that and so want them to be older. [name_f]My[/name_f] kids are 4 and 6.
[name_f]My[/name_f] children are above their peers in terms of holding a conversation and regulating emotions, being able to participate in activities such as shop, write a list or play a board game and some of my friends who’s children are “behind” in their school curriculum are very mad at me about it. Though I have chosen to be a stay at home mum for my children and I understand that some people don’t get to make that choice, though we are below average financially because of it.

Something really unconventional that no one understands is that I do not smack/spank but my husband does. People ask me if it causes parenting or relationship conflict or favouritism from the children but it doesn’t. I don’t have a problem with us parenting differently because it means in the future, our children might see us as individuals with certain strengths and weaknesses and be able to seek help or confide in either parent they think is more up to the task based on those traits, rather than one formidable parenting unit that is not to be messed with.

Breastfeeding was another sensitive topic among my friends. I don’t have a problem letting my toddler aged child (that doesn’t bf) taste my milk because they’re interested in what the baby is doing or anything like that. A lot of people want their child away from breasts and don’t even show their naked body to their kids. We try to be as body positive and educational, even scientific sometimes, about bodies, babies, how their made and all the stuff no one seems to want to talk about with their kids. I can’t stand the thought of having a completely ignorant teenager already getting into this stuff and having to “give them the talk” so why not just talk about it all now, because it is just natural and normal.

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I’m not a parent, but there are some cultural parenting norms from my country that I know shock a lot of people from abroad! And I plan on enforcing them when I’m a parent as well.

The most major one would be that children don’t work. It’s unheard of for someone under 18 to have a job here unless their family is seriously struggling economically, and I’m of the personal belief that a minor shouldn’t have to balance a job on top of school. Now, if my children really wanted to work and had a good reason for it (so, not just that their friends are doing it), I would allow it. But I’d never encourage or expect a child to work.

On a similar note, where I’m from you’re expected to support your child through university as well, when it comes to essentials (food, rent & other bills). If the child (then adult) wants to get a job to be able to spend money on personal items that’s perfectly fine and fairly normal, but if the family can afford it it’s considered irresponsible to make their child work to pay the bills when they should be focusing on their education.

Finally, people here are usually a lot more relaxed about sleep schedules. It shocked me to hear that some of my British friends had a bedtime of 9 p.m. as young children. Growing up, my mother would read us bedtime stories at around 9 for a half-hour, and then I’d read a book until I fell asleep. I didn’t have a specific time I should be asleep or a “lights off” kind of system, and that’s typically the norm here. Of course there’s a limit - no parent wants their eight-year old to be up past midnight, but generally parents aren’t very strict and I, myself, don’t see a reason for them to be, as long as the children are getting nine hours of sleep.

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I think in general parenting is becoming more varied now than it was in the past, as parents have access and exposure to different planting styles and the ability to see how parenting is done in different households, places etc.

We don’t necessarily follow any specific parenting philosophy, however we have a few guidelines goals we try to follow when parenting.

Make sure our kids feel safe and heard. We do this by trying not to punish an emotion, but rather discipline an inappropriate behavior. (And we view disciplining as teaching rather punishment, after all what Good is a consequence if you learn nothing from it) and we do our best to use a natural consequence rather than an enforced one when available. So for example we don’t discipline if toddler is overly tired and has a melt down at a grocery store. That’s not a behavior problem, that’s our 3 year old trying to tell us something. However my 3 yr old drawing on the walls would be an undesired behavior that we would stop then as consequence she would have to clean it off the walls (with mom’s help) and with discussion as to why that is not ok. We feel this provides boundaries which kids need to feel safe, but allows them the room to explore their world.

There’s more but I butI’m running out of time so quickly for schooling I would love to homeschool but i don’t think it would work well for us. However if we have the opportunity i think our kids will attend s waldorf school

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Yes!! I love how you worded that third paragraph!

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^ These are all things we do too, and @namergirl3 said them much better than I could!

I’ve found the saying yes thing so valuable. Harder to do once you’ve got two kids and more rush/stress, but so so valuable. It’s not like yes you can watch tv all day or eat loads of lollies. But yes to allowing them more independence, letting them help cook etc, letting them choose their clothes, letting them use their toys in more creative ways, making ‘boats’ out of cardboard boxes etc.

We also co-sleep, and are considering unschooling or Montessori. I’m not sure what other people consider extended breastfeeding, but I fed my eldest until 18 months or so when my milk dried up due to a second pregnancy, and am still feeding my 2nd (he’s nearly 15 months).

We haven’t had many people being open about negatively judging us (even if they’ve thought it?!) but also we’ve got really wonderfully chill/supportive family in general and we don’t really invite feedback in the sense that we feel pretty confident with our decisions and would probably be pretty rude back if people got rude to us :rofl: the neighbours next door def don’t agree with our parenting I don’t think, but we don’t talk much.

Co-sleeping is the thing I’ve felt most nervous about I think, but lots of people have done it themselves! I’ve also found public breastfeeding a little scary, I’m not exactly discreet about it. But like, would people really prefer the sound of my baby screaming non-stop over the possibility of a brief flash of nipple before there’s a baby head in the way?

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I do not hit my child, shout at my child or ‘train’ him in any way. Violence won’t be sorted with violence. I speak to him like a human and not like I’m an authority figure, it works so much better. I gentle parent and we have a bedtime but if he doesn’t want to sleep, then I get him out again and try again later. I was hit as a child and remember it vividly, I never want my son to experience that. I’m also glad the above aren’t that unconventional anymore, it seems the generations since my parents’ have the right idea (mostly). He has dolls and is encouraged to roleplay and learn through play. No toys are gendered here, if he wants it then he gets it, no matter if it’s aimed at girls or boys. Screentime also isn’t limited, he has full access to YouTube but is obviously supervised. But he has learnt a lot watching children’s entertainers on there (like Ms Rachel). Sometimes he sleeps in my bed and I have no issue with that either, even at 26 weeks pregnant! I let him wear what he wants and don’t fuss too much about outfits matching either.

I didn’t manage to BF him but I aim to BF this baby and will BF past the age of 1 as well, not stopping until baby naturally weans.

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I think the most unconventional thing I do when it comes to parenting my little Lilybud is co sleep. Lilia loves to be close to us and we love to be close to her so we have embraced this. We haven’t done sleep training instead we lie next to her until she falls asleep then leave her to sleep in our bed. Both me & Joseph take it in turn to sleep next to Lilia whilst one of us sleeps in the other bedroom. It means that Lilia is happy sleeping next to one of her parents whilst the other one has the joy of a restful sleep/lay in (and trust me it’s very joyous) as Lilia does wake during the night along with waking very early. We have our evenings together where we can hang out be close but then go our separate ways and another bonus is that I don’t have to put up with his ridiculously loud snoring :joy::joy:

However if other folks talk about sleeping and I say I co sleep the judgement is EXTREME!!! I’ve had people say all sorts including how it’s such a bad habit, it’s so weird, your poor partner (as I’m apparently depriving him of the luxury of depriving me from sleeping as I’m a light sleeper and his snoring is a lot whereas Lils seems to be comforted by it :joy::woman_facepalming:t3:) you’ll be raising a spoilt brat and one parent indicated that I was lazy which is why I’ve never done sleep training. When I try to explain my decision behind co sleeping (probably until Lils wants her own space) I’m met with a lot of negativity so what I try to do is reiterate my experience & feelings behind this parental decision then if I’m challenged further just say people have different parenting journeys and this is mine.

Also I will not be hitting/shouting at my child or using authoritative language like your being ‘naughty’ or ‘your being bad’ instead I say stuff like I think that’s a bad decision Lils or I wouldn’t do that babe as you may hurt yourself. I don’t want Lilia to be fearful of her parents and I try my upmost to do this. Of course I’ve had bad moments I’m human I need to work on my patience and life can be a lot but I do try my best to do this. Again when I say about language/punishment I get looked at like I’m an alien but I just do what I explained above ultimately she’s my kid I can parent her (within reason) how I want!

My friend said I follow the ‘gentle parenting’ concept but to be honest I just do what feels natural to me rather than following a concept.

Another thing that I actually faced judgement about that I wasn’t prepared for was having a planned c-section and not breastfeeding. I’m a survivor of domestic abuse/sexual violence and punished my body through not eating. I have a difficult relationship with my body and find certain pain, exams etc really difficult I knew
I wouldn’t be able to cope with a vaginal delivery but apparently me having a planned c-section was a lot of judgy things which I thought was weird. Why does it matter how my child was brought into the world? Another thing was BF I just couldn’t face being so exposed (it felt very exposing but this was probably just my head rather than the reality of BF) and the idea of it made me feel very anxious so my loved ones told me to go straight to formula feeding which was the best thing for me mentally. A mentally well parent results in a happy healthy baby and in turn a happy healthy environment which is very important. Another thing people couldn’t wrap their heads around and I was even called neglectful over. But I just chose to ignore it. Honestly when you become a parent your world can be full of judgement it’s exhausting at times but worth every exhausting moment.

Good luck with your parenting journey :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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I feel like I also need to say, what I listed before was our ideal parenting. However I have also learned to extend myself some grace, and I think whatever type of parenting you choose forgiving yourself will always be a component.

I think when we read lists and articles and posts like this it can feel a bit overwhelming (at least it is for me) to try and do everything we know we should do. We are only human, and I have had bad horrible days where try as I might I have yelled, (or even spanked) when I have been in a situation where I am not at baseline. And I used to feel horrible guilt whenever I was an imperfect parent but I’ve been really trying to just move on and do better next time without beating myself up over it. And I feel as parents we hardly talk about that part

Also I have come to learn there are many different effective types of parenting as long as it’s done with love, patience and understanding. And the best parents figure out what works best for them, not necessarily what experts say is the best parenting techniques. [name_f]Every[/name_f] parent is different as is every child

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My daughter is only 5 months but I plan on gentle/respectful parenting. I also am trying to incorporate as much Montessori elements as I can. I switched to formula with her recently because I’m pregnant but if she decides she’s curious once baby gets here i will gladly let her try nursing again or at least give her some milk in a cup. I let her contact nap as much as she wants. In the future i would love to homeschool/unschool but unfortunately i dont think its possible for us.

Eta: we will be doing baby led weaning. i am also going to be body and sex positive. I am going to follow their lead as they discover their identities and will not force any gender roles. I do not assume their sexualities. We are also a pagan family but i wont force any religion.

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Well I’d like to reach out and say thank you so much for what you are doing for your child (and your selves!), and that I respect that so much. As someone who experienced the same kind of upbringing you described earlier (dysfunctional), hearing people talk about this type of intentional parenting, healing, guiding, building a relationship, etc, really warms my heart, and restores hope. :slight_smile: :purple_heart:

Having read through everyone’s stories, I am so disappointed, sad, and shocked at how many people have been rude and judgemental towards them. I know many of you believe in people doing what is best for them, but sometimes people project when something reminds them that they aren’t doing what might be healthy/ right/ best for their child. :grimacing: Well, I’m sorry for those of you that have been treated like that :disappointed:

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If you are concerned about judgement from other people just we aware of what and how much you share with people. Some things are nobody’s business, sometimes maybe pick your audience and share in a way that isn’t going to implie that their different approach is bad or harmful.

I have found older generations in general were told a very different "correct " way and more likely to be the ones telling you that you are making a rod for your own back doing things this way. I am guessing it could come from a place of genuine care.

We just thank people for their advice. Sometimes say that at the moment this is what is working for our family.

It is honesty very helpful to know of lots of ways to do this as what is working for you now might stop working and if you have in the back of your mind you have lots of different tools you could try and that can’t be a bad thing.

Go easy on yourself. All those ideal new parenting approaches don’t work for every baby and situation even if you plan and decide ahead that that is the way you will do things. Don’t dispare if you get out the screen or the sugar or the disposable nappies or yell at your kids when you are worn down. Too much pressure to be perfect will destroy your mental health.

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What defines our “family” is extremely unconventional and I haven’t always gotten the best reaction. Firstly, my daughter and I live with my parents. I’ve gotten the comment about how that must be a burden for them. Secondly, I’m in a poly relationship so comments have been said that this will “mess up” my daughter. I don’t dwell on these opinions too much. [name_f]My[/name_f] parenting style is to embrace those who love you and march to the beat of your own drum :woman_shrugging:t2:

Also, my daughter is only 6 months old and I’m breastfeeding her. For some reason, a lot of people ask when I plan to stop breastfeeding :face_with_raised_eyebrow: I always say that we’ll breastfeed as long as we both want to. This surprises a lot of people, like they don’t understand :thinking: Perhaps other people make a goal month to stop :woman_shrugging:t2: That may be 7 months, 12 months, or 24 months for us. I don’t know yet because we’re not there yet :sweat_smile:

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I think what some are as normal others see as peculiar. There is so much out there trying to pull into all sorts of directions. Im about to arrive on 6 years of parenting and there are some things I think raise eyebrows to some more then other things…

Breastfeeding! In my almost 6 years of parenting I’m also going to be at almost 6 years of nursing without stop. This includes 2 times of tandem nursing and 3 times of nursing while pregnant. For my first two kids [name_m]Ive[/name_m] had a weaning goal of 3.5 years. With my third (and hopefully future kids) I’m thinking more 4years. I think for those seeing this as foreign (I know I did prior to kids) I point to the WHO which has always suggested normal weaning to be by 6yo and the AAP which has just recently formally updated their recommendations to AT LEAST 2 years.

I’ve be able to avoid all jar baby food and store made baby pouches. [name_f]My[/name_f] husband and I when it comes to developing out childrens eating preferences have decided to be mute with them on our preferences- we don’t want them to refuse to try something because they’ve heard Mommy or Daddy describe such food as being gross or disgusting.

Additionally, my husband and I have made the mutual decision to not desensitize “hate” around our kids. Our faith equates “Hate” to murder but so often we see in our world the word hate used so frivolously. We just don’t say it- we’ll cross it out in books and say dislike instead or other such things. We want our kids to grow to understand that there is a weight with hate.

Other things we teach them that are not the typical norm is the actual names of body parts (we for sure get raised eye brows from others on this- like the grandparents); I did this more out of safety but we try to talk to our children at age appropriate levels when they ask questions. We do not make them apologize. I’ve become loathful over the style of “Say sorry or else….”. If my kid is going to express an emotion I want it to be an emotion that they actually feel and not one they are verbalizing out of fear of consequences. Speaking of consequences, Spanking has not been ruled out of our family but we aim for it being a very rarely used tool. We do try to help our children pinpoint emotions with their behaviors but I would say in regards to discipline the Super [name_f]Nanny[/name_f] [name_u]Jo[/name_u] [name_u]Frost[/name_u] is my biggest influencer. But Infind the world these days cringes at her ways of setting boundaries, clear single warnings and time outs for disobedience.

We are a TV less house! It is amazing how much this detail floors people. And I admit it wasn’t my suggestion but my husbands. He sees how much screen time can dictate and control and influence in the negative so many around us. We have a DVD player that we’ll watch things on rainy days or special occasions and whims things that my husband and I feel are appropriate. But being screen less has been amazing as I feel it’s contributed so much to the hours my kids spend outside (including with bugs, snakes, in the mud and rainy weather!) and to their wildly vivid imaginationsand love of books.

We homeschool! And I love it! And I think this is something that I’ve seen supported by everyone. I think the public school mentality kind of confuses people on certain aspects but people see my kids and they see how much they are learning and love to learn and are provided so much benenfits as a result that they support it. I love having hands on curriculums that foster learning and creativity!

We are a bed-Sharng when they are young and co-sleep when they are ready to transition to their bigger bed family. This has helped so much with our nursing relationship. Was not at all what I planned on prior to kids- I planned on a month in our room in the crib and then booted out. But once they were here in front of us it’s what worked.

There may be others but These are just what come to mind at what others most raise their eyebrows to us. Some of these I planned and others I for sure thought I would act and parent one way and then…… kids happened…… making me go the other way. I would say most of these I don’t go flaunting about so if others reactions to your parenting choices are of a concern I’d just stay mute. What they don’t know they can’t complain about!

I’m pregnant with my 12th child and raising 11 children we have gone through many highs and lows. [name_f]My[/name_f] husband, [name_m]Rainer[/name_m], is a navy seal and we believe in a military-style home. We have been judged for this but all our children have turned out fine and are very respectful and well behaved. I think that a strict structure is fantastic for children. [name_f]My[/name_f] husband goes through their rooms daily after chores and if there is anything out of place we punish them as we see fit. They learn to be clean and have respect. They also refer to us as “Sir” or “Sergent” and “Ma’am” 4 of our children have gone into the military and 2 are currently in military school. We also believe in the bible so spare the rod spoil the child

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Anyway, it surprises a lot of people because I’m a teacher but even in a classroom environment for me, all education is play based up until age six or so. They learn more, have more fun, and are less self critical. It allows more flexibility and I find these kids are also generally better behaved. Not sure why — less stress, maybe? But they’re always so excited to learn and hold onto that information so well!! I just find it more practical that they’re in tune with emotions and practical life at that age, as opposed to other things.

I’m also very anti-hitting of any form which is surprisingly frowned upon. :sweat_smile: I don’t judge anyone who’s got good intentions…but I just don’t believe in violence. :slight_smile:

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Our goal is to discipline our kids with gentleness and consistency. Sometimes that means a spank. There is almost always consequence for disobedience, but SOMETIMES the kid gets grace. (They looooove this!!!) We are following the Biblical model to train our kids and it works! Our kids are often commended on their behavior. They’re not perfect of course, but I’m really proud of my three and love being around them!

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