My Parenting Style – Conscious/Unconditional Parenting

After last week’s controversial debate, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about our (Walter & I) personal parenting style, where we fit in, what is appropriate for us and what isn’t, what our values as parents are and how we are navigating the journey of parenting.

I think it’s NB to say first that I am not against any forms of parenting that other parents choose to adopt but that given my personal journey to parenthood I do sometimes feel judged. The word feel in that statement is an important one, it’s important to note that those are my feelings and not necessarily anyone else or that anyone else is judging me, but more how I judge myself and what I perceive to be area’s that I wish I could have done differently but couldn’t because of our own personal circumstance. As such, they deserve to be acknowledged even if they’re not understood or agreed with by others.

I read Kam’s blog this morning and found myself in total agreement with her. I truly do believe that parenting is not an exact science, it is forever evolving and changing, what is right now will be wrong in a year or two or three. We only have to look at our own upbringings and how we were parented versus the choices we’re making for our children today to see how fluid and constantly evolving parenting is. We are all ultimately a product of our upbringing, no matter how perfect or imperfect or what parenting style our parents chose.

The style of parenting that most fits Walter and I as a label would be Conscious or Unconditional Parenting. Which basically is defined as follows:

Conscious, unconditional parenting represents a paradigm shift from the dominant “power over” view of parenting children to a conscious relational view. Conscious parenting is represented by the spirit of cooperation while the traditional idea of parenting is more closely represented by control.

Parenting is not something that is done to a child but a process of creating a relationship with a child. It is an opportunity for the whole family to experience personal and emotional growth. 

It is important to not confuse Conscious or Unconditional Parenting with Permissive parenting which is characterized as follows:

Compassion, love and understanding are hallmarks of conscious, unconditional parenting.

Do you want to?

  • Reduce arguing, punishing and yelling?
  • Feel positive about your parenting choices?
  • Create more time for yourself?
  • Resolve conflicts without power struggles?

Unconditional parenting is not to be confused with permissive parenting or simply positive parenting. It is not about having ‘no limits’ or letting ‘children rule’ or simply giving kind, logical consequences. It is about re-framing our view of our children’s behavior, healing our own past wounds and allowing the free expression of feelings as we parent with empathy and compassion.

Unconditional parenting requires you to look honestly at your own childhood and acknowledge your emotional experiences. Your roadblocks to authentic parenting and your unconscious decision for choosing your current parenting style are interwoven with your family history and the parenting that you have experienced.

Conscious, unconditional parenting seeks to teach children by modeling principles of respect, love and non-violent communication.

It does not absolve parents of responsibility for the well-being of their children. Instead it requires much, much more of parents emotionally and creatively.

This style of parenting is the one that would best describe our method of parenting Ava, again, how one chooses to parent, I believe, also depends on the nature of the child. Ava is intelligent, determined and very head strong, so this method words best for us.

However, like any parenting style, we do not fit the mould completely because we do bring in elements of discipline. She does need to learn that for every action there is a reaction and that some behaviours are unacceptable. But we have a no spanking policy in our home. Spanking Ava does not work, because she is so strong willed and determined, the 2 or 3 times she has been spanked (swatted on a nappy covered backside) in her entire life have only resulted in me feeling bad about me and escalating her behaviour. A more timid child may have succumbed to the effects of a spank, however, Ava does not, she resists even further.

For us, the best discipline for her has been using time out. In my opinion there does need to be some form of discipline as discipline is and will be expected when she starts school and as her school practises the time out method, it made the most sense for us to carry on with it at home. It’s the only way for us to enforce discipline on her where she understands the consequence of certain behaviours and which is carried out without excessive tantrums or shouting on our part. We do not communicate by shouting in our home as it serves no purpose.

I love Ava, I want her to grow up to be a compassionate individual. I want to celebrate her uniqueness by trying to squeeze her into a mould or by parenting over her or smothering her. I don’t want her growing up being told how she should be feeling. One of the most valuable lessons I took from therapy was that there is no right or wrong when it comes to feelings, they should always be acknowledged. I want her to be confident in herself and not dependant on me or her father or someone else for her sense of self or her sense of confidence.

I mean, just look how unique she is, I won’t squeeze my gorgeous round peg into a square hole.

Cilla Bloom Ava



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  • Reply Spiritedmama1

    Love this post. I do think that inmany ways this is our parenting style too but it is not the only one that we fit into either.

    Your Ava is indeed unique and very beautiful.

    September 19, 2012 at 12:48 pm
  • Reply Beth

    I think parenting is such a complex issue not because of the different theories and methods of parenting but because of the different types of parents. Being a parent requires you to make certain decisions based on what you believe is right, whenever someone challenges your personally held belief it can be difficult not to react defensively. We automatically see criticism as someone judging us unworthy or that our choices are wrong. I think this is a reaction that many people have. If you add the that the guilt that is created by society pressuring us to be “perfect” and to always “get it right” it becomes a volitile combination. The stronger a person feels about an issue the more likely they are to have an emotional reaction to any debate about it. Because if they have put so much time and effort into getting it right then how can anyone say that it isn’t the best way.

    Parenting is challenging and negotiating other parent’s ideas on parenting in a public space like on your blog is even more so.

    I think we really all should just take a step back and then rather say: “I like how your method of parenting has resulted in…”

    So Sharon I like how your style of parenting has resulted in such a confident little girl. I am envious of the fact that you get uninterrupted sleep at night and I admire how devoted you and Walter are to your daughter.

    September 19, 2012 at 12:55 pm
  • Reply TJ

    Gosh, somedays I do wish parenting was an exact science and that I was able to understand the science 100% – alas, Science has never been one of my strengths and some days parenting doesn’t seem to be my strength either.

    I think as parents we are all (ok, maybe not ALL) aware of our shortcomings, our strengths and weaknesses. I know where I can do better, I know where I do great. Yet, I also sometimes get left feeling rather inferior to some parents who seem to ‘get it all right’. I wish I was a far calmer mother, a more accepting and ” a home is a place for self-expression” kind of Mom. But I’m not and I think that part of parenting is accepting the kind of parent that you are. And just hope you’re doing something right!

    The last thing I want to do is break the spirit of my boys!

    September 19, 2012 at 2:54 pm
  • Reply Olga

    Although I’m yet to become a mother, I share your sentiments exactly Sharon. I’ve always believed in doing what is in the best interests of your child. Dominance is not conducive to a harmonious family environment, nor is being permissive as they both lead to levels of unhappiness from either child or parents … Or both in most cases.

    What a joy it must be in a position to debate topics about parenting styles. I too hope to be there some day.

    September 19, 2012 at 6:56 pm
  • Reply Laura

    Oh gosh I can’t even begin to try and define how I parent because I don’t even know how I parent. I am not trying to be funny but when you have more than one kid often what works for one doesn’t work for the other one (or the 3rd one).

    So we muddle through it with our focus on creating boundaries, stability, love and a deep sense of what is right and wrong – how I do that often differs from the one child to the other.

    I have so many blog posts to right about parenting – it is the one thing that doesn’t seem to improve for me with time – it is not one of those “practise makes perfect” things at all!!!!!!

    September 19, 2012 at 7:27 pm
  • Reply Pandora

    My daughter is also confident, something I never was, I want her to keep that. I don’t follow a particular style, I think, I learn from the mistakes my friends and sistes have told me they made, and for the rest, I am firm on some issues (dangerous activities, saying please and thank you for eg), not so firm on others, and have a ‘whatever’ attitude about the things I don’t consider so important, for example, who says you can’t have buiscuits for breakfast now and then?
    Before I became a mom, when I had time to watch TV, I loved all the parenting program, supernanny, house of tiney tearaways (?) etc. Some of it must have sunk in, because I was on supernanny’s website earlier tonight to see if she was on twitter, and I saw an article on how to stop your child whining, and I was already doing most of the things she recommended! Who knew?But I do still make the classic mistake of giving in now and then. Oh, well.
    I must say, spanking does does not work for us either. I asked her if she wanted a smack recently, and she said ‘Yes, on my bum!’. We do timeouts for most things, and no TV for bigger offences. Like scratching the TV with a hairclip. The threat of these two usually stops her in her tracks.

    September 19, 2012 at 10:08 pm
  • Reply Denise

    I have to say that i aspire to conscious unconditional parenting but I have more ‘fail’ days than I care to share! My parenting style right now could be labelled as – make it through the day without doing too much damage!

    September 20, 2012 at 9:26 am
  • Reply Sue Stuart

    Time out works best for us too, however there are times when I ask Katy to look at me so that I can explain why she’s been in time out, that she gives me this huge, round-eyed, “ok-I’ll-humour-mommy” stare that has me in fits of giggles that I’ve lost that particular parenting moment 🙂

    September 25, 2012 at 11:11 am
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