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Index:  Panel 28: Empathy-Based Parenting Educators On the Role of Empathy in Different Parenting Styles?

Our panel of Empathy-Based Parenting Educators discuss, What is the Role of Empathy in Different Parenting Styles? Some of the styles discussed are; Authoritarian, Authoritative, Indulgent (permissive), Neglectful (uninvolved), Attachment, Nurturant and Empathic Parenting. 
(Sub Conference: Empathic Family and Parenting)

Empathy-Based Parenting Educators on the Role of Empathy in Different Parenting Styles?  



00: Introductions


Amy Bryant of Parenting Beyond Punishment and Wild Child Counseling. I'm a licensed therapist and I work with children, adolescence, parents and educators. I also have an online Facebook group called Parenting Beyond Punishment. It's really a place where parents and other people who work with children can go to get support and encouragement. To find out what they can do rather than punishing their children. It's really grown to be quite a supportive community, so you can find us on Facebook or you can go to my website


Kim Hopkins, I'm also a licensed social worker and the director and a trainer for Lives in the Balance which is the nonprofit that Dr. Ross Green started to help disseminate his model which is called Collaborative and Proactive Solutions. We also disseminate other non-punitive respectful models that diverge from traditional discipline. You can find us on the web at and we are also on Facebook at  Lives in the Balance. We have an educators Facebook page right now called Lost and Found to help educators who are trying to implement collaborative and proactive solutions in their schools and to get support from one another and problem solve. We are about to launch a parent Facebook group too to help parents to implementing the model in their homes and get support.


Lori Petro, I am the founder of TEACH Through Love. TEACH Through Love is really an online resource for parents and teachers and communities to spread the message of conscious parenting. Peaceful conflict resolution and definitely no punitive discipline is a focus. I am a speaker, a parent educator. I have a degree in education, that was one of my former lives as a teacher. I really come to this work as a misunderstood kid and my passion is for healing fractured family relationships and really restoring peace and respect to that parent child relationship, which I think is really missing.  It was missing from my experience anyway.  TEACH Through Love is where you can find me on the web and also on Facebook. We have a couple of pages on Facebook and a page where parents can come and get questions answered.

Robbyn Peters Bennett I am a clinician. I work with children who have been traumatized and also adults who are struggling with the aftermath of early distress in their childhood.  I'm also the founder of which is a non profit that is dedicated to trying to share the information that we know in terms of research about the damaging effects of spanking children. And also promoting positive discipline which is how I know these amazing ladies on this panel, because as soon as you say don't spank a parents is going to say "well what do I do?" That is the hard road and that is what these loveley women are doing, promoting more collaborative style of parenting that are connection based and attachment based.  And you can find more about my work on and on Facebook.

Edwin Rutsch, I'm director of the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy. This is a large resource for building a movement to create more empathy in the world.  I've come to see that the family is perhaps one of the most important areas that we need to create more empathy in society in general. 



What is your parenting style and what is the role of empathy in that approach?

6:00  Edwin
We are looking at a broad overview of parenting styles. There are so many different styles from maybe an authorization view to a very empathy-based approach and everything in-between. What I thought we could do is go around with each person sharing what is the parenting style that you advocate for, or use, or educate around and what do you see as the roll of empathy within that parenting style. Then later on we will go through some of the other styles in a more systematic way and talk about them. Is there someone that would like to jump in to begin with?


7:00 Lori
 I can jump in, because I love the parenting style question. I think we can really get caught up in categorizing ourselves and sort of limiting our selves in that.  I think for me my parenting style is conscious. So there really is no set of rules. Whether you are authoritative, authoritarian, I think they are just levels of connection that we are really talking about. So when I say conscious, for me, it is first initiating connection, because that is where problem solving, where self regulation, where empathy, where all that will come from is only when we can start to become conscious. I think a lot of us parent unconsciously because we are just doing what everybody else is doing.


We were never given that sense of being heard, so we don't really think it's important to kids. So for me the most important piece is definitely bringing in empathy but having that first as a parent, you have to have that for yourself if you want to be conscious so it's a couple of steps.


I don't like to call it a parenting style, I really like to think of it just as restoring this relational aspect to parenting. I don't like to tell anybody how to parent. I don't want to tell you what rules to set for kids, what's important, what values are important to you. I want to show families how to be conscious. How to not just be reactive in the moment.


"the role that empathy plays is simply that
it is the super glue of relationships."



I grew up with a lot reactive parenting, so for me it's about stepping in and slowing down and restoring connection first and the role that empathy plays is simply that it is the super glue of relationships. Empathy really is what puts us in that place of being able to be compassionate.


9:00 Edwin
Are you saying, you don't like to have these different categories and look at it from a styles perspective, but look at it more from relationship and how you can create relationships, and empathy is the like core of relationship building process?


Lori, exactly, exactly.


9:10 Amy

So I really believe in parenting beyond punishment. That when we can step outside those ways that we typically want to control children's behaviour and instead recognize that their behaviour is communication, that they are really having a hard time and they are saying "help me, help me, I don't know what else to do, so this is what I'm doing," whatever that behavior might be. And it's really a lot that Lori said that we are looking at connecting would our children right where they are, so that everybody can become emotionally regulated. Then we can learn something different. So if the child is having a hard time and it is showing in their behaviour, once they are emotionally regulated we can offer them empathy to help them get there and stay emotionally regulated ourselves. The we can move into a collaborative problem solving with them, sort of like what Kim does in her work.


"It's about the relationship. It absolutely has so
much empathy involved both for the child
 and for yourself and for the situation."



It's about the relationship. It absolutely has so much empathy involved both for the child and for yourself and for the situation. Parenting is complicated, relationships are complicated and if we can say, you know what, I've having a really hard time and I can see you as my child are having a really hard time. Let's get to a place where we feel better, and then let's figure out what we can do differently together. That's a lot of what we talk about. So instead of trying to control the behavior, we really focusing on that relationship and we do it through play and connection and empathy and building skills together because I didn't get these skills as a child. So I am kind of learning the skills right along with my child and I think a lot of us as parents are doing that.



11:17 Kim

I think the role that empathy plays in our model of Collaborative and Proactive Solutions, it helps parents and educators to get curious about what is happening. So we talk a lot about, "what is your philosophy for why kids are doing what they are doing or misbehaving". We spend a lot of time talking about traditional philosophy compared to our philosophy which is a 180% change. Because we want folks to connect with being curious with why is this kid having a hard time right now. 



"empathy... helps parents and educators to
get curious about what is happening"



We build empathy to give that space for parents to, as Lori says "get conscious' and stop and think about why this could be happening before they decide how they are going to intervene. Also the first step in doing CPS is called the empathy step. Ross would say that he would maybe rename it to also add information gathering because that is the goal. But I think you need to be kind of couched in coming from a place of empathy to even initiate the first step, which is a neutral nonjudgmental question, based on age would vary, along the lines of, "wow you seem to be having a hard time with that? What's up? What's going on?"


Ideally, we are creating this space for empathy to enter the equation, proactively so we are not always dealing with things in the moment, because that is not terribly successful, much of the time. Although it can be useful for deescalating, it doesn't necessarily have a positive long tem effect. So I would say getting parents to get curious so that they can take a breath and stop and think and ask some neutral non judgmental question or make some observations if their kids are littler. To try to think about what we call lagging skills leading to unsolved problems which is what creates behaviors, so starting to create space to think about what those are for their child in this moment.



13:30 Robbyn

I think that everything these ladies have said is so spot on. This idea of restoring connection. To me I'm interested in world peace honestly. I'm interested in ending child abuse which I believe is a very doable thing. I think that when I was raised it was a bad weather, it's just part of life.  In studying the research and working in the field of trauma and understanding neuroscience, it is that understanding that we create the kinds of parenting styles. We have invented some parenting practices that are very, very damaging and they have to do with the bigger picture of trauma of our parents and our grandparents, or our culture all over the world really.



"I'm interested in ending child abuse
which I believe is a very doable thing."



And so from a perspective of restoration were are talking about what is the most effective way to grow the brain, to nourish development so that we have children that have empathy and tolerance and motivation and ambition and love and joy. That is what we all want to experience, we want to be having loving relationships with our children throughout our life, where they are there, they want to come visit, they want to be with us, they want to call on the phone. Not out of obligation but because of connection, because it is a nourishing relationship. And what is so interesting about us as a species is that the brain is very responsive to punishment, it's more responsive to punishment than to reward. So it is a very seductive thing to use when we want to get our way, because you can get immediate response and you can get a very powerful response.


The fascinating research coming out of neuroscience over the last 15 years has taught us that what is even more powerful, even has more of an influence, is the power of unconditional positive regard. Unconditional love essentially. And esoteric as that sounds, it is neurobiology founded and so when you really truly have a loving connection you do several things, one is that you soften or you relax the stress response so that child is not agitated and this just allows their brain to flourish. Also you activate all of the reward systems in the brain so that the child is more likely to experience pleasure in relationship and much less likely; to need alcohol when they are a teenager, to need food, to need high risk behaviour, to need high risk activities to feel that they only feel better when I am taking something in or acquiring something or possession something.


So I think this is a very huge evolutionary development in our culture over the last 15 or 20 years, and probably longer than that in terms of moving away from a materially based drug and alcohol inebriated culture to one of flourishing relationship.


So to me the most important thing we can be doing is helping mothers and fathers feel supported so that they can have connection and so that they can really understand their children and empathy, of course, is the foundation to that because we essentially are our relationships. Little children are mimics, they mirror us, they mirror us.




Authoritarian Parenting


17:00  Edwin

Looking at parenting and empathy in the family. I'm interested in getting a broad overview and one of the first things I did was look on Wikipedia at the different parenting styles and it gives different approaches. One was authoritarian parenting. Maybe we can just have an open discussion about your thoughts on this approach and the role of empathy in Authoritarian Parenting. For Authoritarian Parenting the first thing that comes up for me, is a program that is along those lines. That's  the organization 'Focus on The Family'.  I don't know if you are familiar with that organization?


"The focus was not on empathy and necessarily being heard
about what was going on for me.



I would say my upbringing was more along those line. I got spanked as a child. It was a loving family but it was more authoritarian, follow the rules, obey. The focus was not on empathy and necessarily being heard about what was going on for me.  If we could hear from our panel, what are your insights about authoritarian parenting and the role of empathy within it?


18:30 Kim

I could weight in. I had a similar upbringing, a very loving home but there was some spanking although I was the youngest of seven and the youngest by far. I think my parents we tired by the time I came along so I didn't receive as much as the others but I got the, "Wait until your father got home quite a bit."  For me, what ended up being missed in that parenting style was that I had a major lagging skill around cognitive flexibility and a change when the plan changed. So I can remember, being told "ok we are going to go roller skating" and then at the last minute the plan changes and "now we are going to the movies". And I perfectly liked going to the movies and in fact I'd probably say I like the movies better than roller-skating.


But I would have a hard time and I would melt down and cry about it and it was read as she likes her own way and dealt with that way. As opposed to let's take a breath and get curious what could be troubling for her here. Oh, it's a change in plan that is what is hard. It's hard for her make that shift cognitively and give me some skills so that it's not so hard.


Because then as an adult, especially when I became an manager and had to put fires out all the time, I would have a really hard time with that and I wasn't doing it any major behaviour with it but I would become anxious and it would come out as, snappy, which doesn't really work in the context of a personal relationship. I could be viewed as unhelpful, or ridged, or something like that. So flexibility and like we talked about those breathing moments that take the time to think through. I think expectations are fantastic especially the realistic kind. So it's all in how you pursue the expectations that are not being met, that is really critical.  If empathy can be part of how you are pursuing the expectations that are not being met, then you got something going there.


 "If empathy can be part of how you are pursuing
the expectations that are not being met,
then you got something going there.


20:30 Lori

I can speak to the authoritarian as well. I think there is obviously a difference between authoritative and authoritarian. I grew up in the authoritarian in which I didn't have any voice. Authoritarian to me is not even authoritative, where there may be punishment, where there may be even no voice, but it's more a parent that seeks to control every aspect. That's how I see authoritarian, that's how I felt it and so for me whenever I'm helping parents or looking at my own child's behaviour and the negative behaviour and trying to figure it out, I always look at three areas. Skills, stress and the state of the relationship.  So authoritarian for me, just like Kim was saying, it impacted my skills. My communications skills, my ability to be flexible, my ability to self regulate, and not having a voice, being shut down with punishment.


"I grew up in the authoritarian in which I
didn't have any voice."


There was a lot of physical punishment, I come from culturally accepted violence and I'm not just talking about spankings. I mean like backhanded across the face with out warning kind of stuff. It made me hyper vigilant, it made me very alert to what was going to happen and then I also found out when I was 38 that I grew up with undiagnosed Aspergers. So for me there was this peace that people didn't understand my emotional expression. Some people will say, 'Oh these kids don't show it.' and I'm going to say that the adults in my life didn't understand it. So the authoritarian on top of this special need or whatever we want to call it these days. Difference, learning style, brain difference, whatever we might call it, it impacted me on several levels.


So the skills and the state of the relationship. People thought I was being rude or just wanting to get my way. I got accused of a lot of disrespect because that disrespect was coming at me and through this authoritarian parenting.  For me, I was so sensitive that I just melted down and reacted very strongly back. Some kids may shut down and you might not see that emotional neglect that is going on and some kids will act out. And I kind of did both, but I definitely acted out so I became very aggressive with my siblings. That was another impact that it had and they were much, much, younger than me, 6 and 7 years younger. So now I was a teenager and unable to control my emotions with very small children and so it causes a lot of problems in those relationships. So I think it affected me on all of those levels, my skills, my stress of what I could tolerate, and the relationship that I had with my parents and with other people around me.


This authoritarian comes definitely,... there is a cultural impact, I think immigrants were much more likely to be authoritarian because it was survival based. And like Robbyn was say, we sort of invented a lot of parenting strategies based on our needs, based on what we were trying to achieve in those moments. That's my view on the authoritarian and what it impacts. That's definitely the most damaging in terms of what it does to our child's resilience and their ability to take in life experience and roll with it. You know really to be able to bounce back.


24:15 Robbyn

Yes, I really resonate with what Lori is talking about.  In my own upbringing, my parents were very devout religiously. In some way that was their strength but what came with that was also a preoccupation with being bad and being good.  And what happens when you are an anxious person anyway, maybe you came from a violent upbringing or a very strict upbringing that makes you kind of reactive. Then when you are with your children you become very worried that they are going to be bad and you react. And you can react very aggressively and don't even realize it and for me I was often quiet afraid of being bad.


"...for me I was often quiet afraid of being bad. "


I think at the root of it the aggressive, angry, yelling, or hitting, all of that,  sort of authoritarian approach, I was supposed to show respect even when I couldn't. Even when I was overwhelmed and the underlying piece of it is just feeling that I'm a bad person, I'm unlovable, and feeling a lot of hatred that could never be expressed.  So I think that is the other piece of it that if we treat children in a way that we treated our friends they would no longer be our friends. Or our husband would no longer marry us, he would be out of there.


Then we have to think about, ok, those are a common idea about being a human being. Why would we treat children differently and I think it's ultimately shame, an authoritarian parent is usually afraid they are a bad parent and afraid their children are going to be bad. Instead it is better to be concerned if children feel bad, if they feel bad then we try to understand why they are struggling, instead of are they a bad person, which is more of a moral judgment.


26:20 Amy
I was also raised in a very authoritarian religious family, spanking and grounding, lots of love too, I mean, without a doubt. In conversations as an adult now they say we did a lot of what we did because we were afraid we would get in trouble if we didn't. Or we were afraid we were disobeying god if we didn't. And that was a huge point of contention for us for years as I'm sure most of you all can relate.  What I have learned is that with growing up without having a voice I had to find a new voice that wasn't just about being angry and it wasn't just about someone has to hear me somewhere but what is that voice. Developing more empathy and compassion for people instead of just sitting in that anger that I wasn't allowed to express. It's so much of this growing up as an adult instead of learning these things as children that I think we all want our children to learn.


One of the things that sticks out for me is, because it was that whole good, bad thing like Robbyn mentioned. That I just remember going through my parents think that this is bad, but I don't think this is bad so I am just going to get sneaky and lie because I don't think I'm doing anything wrong. And so I got really good at it, and then my parents thought I was so good and so I wasn't the black sheep until I got older.  So now we have sort of healed and we figured it out and I don't think I am really the black sheep anymore. We'll have to ask them and find out.


"Empathy has been a hard thing to learn
because it wasn't modeled


Empathy has been a hard thing to learn because it wasn't modeled and compassion has been another thing that has been hard to learn. Honesty and integrity, like it is ok for me to be honest and say "I think this is good and so this is who I am."  I'm presenting that to people, our authentic selves, my authentic voice. So many things, flexibility, like what Kim was talking about. When you don't have a voice and you have to obey authority or you are afraid you are going to get hurt, you don't get to learn those key skills you don't get to learn impulse control and you don't get to learn emotional regulation and having an authentic voice.


I think we all want that for our children. I think universally we want our children to be able to make decisions that are good for themselves and for other people. And have compassion and have respect for themselves and others. I just can't see how that can possibly happen in an authoritarian households where children have no voice.



Authoritative Parenting

29:20  Edwin

I did a documentary on my family history and my parents come from eastern part of Germany. Part of the documentary they talk about their upbringing and they talked about the switch which was kept above the door. They got spanked with switches, it was very authoritarian there too. So it goes from one generation to the next and what I'm seeing here, it that everyone here had somewhat of that background and is looking for alternative. That is quite fascinating to me.


The next approach I saw here was the Authoritative Parenting and I'm not really clear on what that really means. Does anyone want to jump in and explain that parenting approach?



30:17 Lori

I think that is when we take the extreme hitting out of the authoritarian and we put control in. But it is getting a bit better with each generation, right?  I have friends that have that same authoritarian upbringing and they don't hit their kids but they are still really authorities and that is really where I see most people hangout and get stuck. If they don't really pay any attention to it, if their kids aren't causing enough problems where it's just disrupting  the whole family, or disrupting school, and we can deal with a certain level of negativity from our kids and parents, so that builds up.


"But authoritative really just means
I'm going to keep control


But authoritative really just means I'm going to keep control but I'm going to do it in a way where it doesn't fall under the terms of abuse. Which is what hitting and things do now. That's my take on authorities.


31:15 Robbyn

I love it Lori. I think of it as this adverse childhood experience study. You can get this sore from 0 to 10 depending on the kind of adversity you have. I always think the higher your score the more deregulated you usually are and mine is pretty high. So I think how upset I am on the continuum, how stable or not stable is my environment. The modality is still one of authoritative, my authority is threatened so I have to protect it and it really fundamentally is lack of trust in love.


"The modality is still one of authoritative,
my authority is threatened so I have to protect it


And a lack of trust in relationship and just how incredible like Kim that's work that she is talking about with Ross Green. One of the things they talk about is being able to get in there and solve the problem together. As if you are going on a plane ride was one of the analogies he had one time and you don't really know where you are going to end up. You want to go to Hawaii, your child wants to go the Bahamas but you don't know where you are going to end up and you can't in the back of your head go I already know where we are going to go. I'm just going to get my way and I'm going to be a really good listener, but we are going to Hawaii, so that to me is authoritative. It's like if you still got your frontal lobe going so you can be kind of tricky, which we are all guilty of that at certain times. I've had to work very hard on that myself personally.



32:30 Kim

I think that sometimes the focus is so strictly on "I have to teach my kid right from wrong".  And punishment is not the only way to do that. Also if we are so restrictive in that thinking what we could actually be teaching is blind adherence to authority, with no thought process and no thinking and no problem solving  that takes place. A lot of folks I will run into will say when they get out into the big bad world that is what they need to know.  They need to know when to put their head down and say 'yes ma'am, no ma'am'. or 'yes sir, no sir'.  And when we think about it and I've done an informal poll of many adults.  That is actually not our experience as adults.


We all have bosses, or sometimes maybe we have been stopped for speeding or something like that, that had to do with the police. And it's not always black and white. There's often room to say, "can you tell me where you are coming from?  Here is where I'm coming from". "Can we get together on this?"


I think taking the plane ride, and that's exactly one of the symbols we use is really helpful because it teaches the child to problem solve. And those are the skills that they really need most of the time in their adult life.



34:00 Amy

the one thing that stands out for me most for authoritarian and authoritative there is still just seems to be so much fear around our role as an authority figure. That idea that if I am not in control, I'm either a shuck, or all chaos is going to break loose. We have this sort of, if your kids are having a hard time parents want people around you what you to come down on your kids. There's that fear of what are people thinking or this fear of my kid is controlling me or I am not strong enough and I think what we are looking for which empathic-based parenting is to say I have some fears. I have some fears that I am not doing this right, or I have some fears that my kids are maybe a little out of control in this one moment or several moment through their lifetime.


It's having empathy for yourself in those moments and having empathy for your child in those moments that moves you out of those authoritative and authoritarian roles. So that we are not afraid of not having our thumb down on our children. I don't know, I agree with all of what you all have said. There is some differences, but there is still not a lot of empathy for what's going on and not a lot of understanding for where our children are and what's going on for them on the inside.



"It's having empathy for yourself in those moments and
having empathy for your child in those moments
 that moves you out of those authoritative
and authoritarian roles.



35:45 Lori

Don't you think Amy it goes back to what you were saying earlier which I completely agree with, That we focus on behaviors, so authoritarian and authoritative they both on stopping behaviors. Whereas empathic parenting or conscious parenting focuses on solutions, are be building skills, are we restoring connection in our relationship. Are we helping the child regulate stress, what are we really focusing on and when we are focusing on those root causes we can see beyond the behaviour. But those two they don't allow for any taking into consideration what is going on internally. And that is so important to stopping behaviour and to really addressing it to know what is going on internally and those two approaches are so...  it's a hierarchy at that point, it's the parent at the top and we have the rules and we make all the decisions.



36:40 Robbyn

Lori, I think about this idea of knowing what's going on inside and thinking like that is how I actually manage my behaviour like I'm paying attention to all of you but I'm also tracking myself. Like how am I feeling, what's going on inside of me, what do I need, what is influencing what's occurring. Then from there, I am able to connect to you and have relationship and that I think is a learned behaviour and when you grow up in a home where your internal world in not investigated then you don't know how to do that.


 I think that is why psychotherapy is such a huge business because you have to go somewhere and learn how to pay attention to yourself inside and you really do that through like what Carl Rogers, the famous psychologist said. Through the therapist giving you unconditional positive regard. And that is essentially reparenting us because of the defects that our parents didn't know how to give, and probably didn't' receive themselves.

"that is essentially reparenting us because of the defects
that our parents didn't know how to give, and

probably didn't' receive themselves."


37:40 Lori

That is so interesting what you are saying Robbyn because that tracking of your emotions and the sensations in your body.  Why do I feel this way and what am I listening to and what am I hearing. For kids that have experienced trauma, and I know for myself, restoring that connection to what is going on took a long time because they lose that. When we shut down kids and that emotional part of themselves, they start to lose that awareness, that body awareness. And that is really creates this ridged, inflexibility in a lot of kids because they completely lose touch with that. Just hearing about that was such a huge part of my trauma releasing work thought doctor Peter Levine and his work. It was noticing those sensations was reconnecting do my body in that way and being able to process as I was listening to people instead of numbing out.  You know, numbing  out when some people might do with addiction, some people might just do it by shutting down completely. That was just really interesting to hear that. and such an important part of his parenting.



38:40 Robbyn

For those that don't know about Peter Levine, he is very interested in the bodily experience. It's not just useful for trauma, which of course many of us may not feel traumatized, but we do carry a lot of anxiety. Or we get a little down more than we need to and life is hard. Or our relationships maybe have a lot of conflict. The beauty of his work is he is in the body and you know, really that starts with toddlers in such a big way. Like understanding what it is to be in their body, what is their body experience. Body experience, is so fundamental to having any orientation to what is going on and being able to connect to other people.




Indulgent Parenting (Permissive)


39:30 Edwin

The next parenting style is Indulgent Parenting or permissive? Would you like to jump in on that and describe your thoughts and the role of empathy in this approach? I think that sometimes a more empathic form of parenting or family life is seen as indulgent and permissive?



40:00 Robbyn

I think the other side of authoritarian parenting. It comes from the same place, being raised in family where there is a lot of negation of your being or what you experience and think. And probably a lot of aggression either overtly experienced through anger and hitting, or not overtly expressed through just negative looks. I just give them a look and they are in line. There are a lot of parents that say I never have to hit, I just give them the look. But it's the same attitude. So some of us are fighters, we will mouth off and fight back and they call that externalizing and we are problem kids. And some of us are more... girls are often more this way, we are more passive, we disassociate, we fade out, we go away, we become passive and we learn to submit and to be passive is the best way to cope with aggressive situations where we are threatened where we are small.


 "I think permissive parenting is just a passive response,
a submissive response to life, to anything."


 So I think permissive parenting is just a passive response, a submissive response to life, to anything. So you relate to your children the way you learned to relate in your upbringing. Which for many of us to avoid aggression and to avoid getting into trouble and being passive and just letting things go, and not speaking up, was the way we survived.


41:14 Amy

Wow, I really like that description. I think that makes so much sense because when I work with parents, I sort of find that that is exactly what happens. They sort of don't know what to do and they feel overwhelmed and so they just go, "whatever". And then at some point they might do the opposite. They have gone "whatever" for so long that they just explode.


 And then they are caught between these two exploding or coming down hard and just letting things go. In some ways I thing there's more empathy there, but I think it's all so related to our own experiences and how we have worked through, or perhaps not all the way worked through them, to figure out how to have a voice.  I really like  that description, it makes so much sense.



42:15 Lori

Definitely it is the other end of the spectrum there in terms of authoritarian. I also agree and I love the way it is not just about wanting to give your kids too much it's about not knowing how to cope and that really is your way of coping. I think I have a lot of parents that come to me and they will give in because they don't know what to do if they are not yelling or punishing. And to stop the crying or to stop the wining or the begging, or whatever is coming our of their child that they cannot tolerate. They need to find something to do. They need to find a way. Those parenting styles that we call them, are just the adult way of coping with what is going on in the situation.  And indulgent parenting I think it gets, well people say, "If you are not punishing, then you are indulging."


We really can set boundaries without being unkind, and we can do it without being aggressive or reactive. Just in the same way that we can not set those boundaries, we can be kindly indulgent and it's not going to be any better for our children. But conscious parenting, empathic parenting should not be equated with indulgence or permissiveness. It is often, but that is because people don't really understand that we are not going to be just addressing behaviour, we are going for the root causes. Sometimes that looks like we are ignoring the behaviour, and if we can help people to understand that we just want to go a little bit deeper and that doing deeper give you sustainable discipline.  


I know a lot of people don't like that word, discipline. But for me it is about giving people sustainable tools. Tools that have long term impact. For me, authoritarian, indulgent or whatever, they all have short term benefits maybe. Because we get the behaviour to shift in the moment but it still effects the long term ability or our children of our children to cope, manage or whatever it is.



"For me, authoritarian, indulgent or whatever,

they all have short term benefits maybe. "


44:20  Kim

I agree. A lot of families we work with who are permissive now, didn't start that way when they describe how they envisioned parenting and how it actually played out. When parents have a challenging child who has a big behaviour that is what they do to just get it to stop, like Lori said. What we like to do is help parents see that there is a middle, there is a way to have expectations and to pursue those expectations. That doesn't have the likelihood of increasing behaviour and in fact over time decrease it.  The light bulb goes on like, 'wow' help me understand that.




We also work with schools who come across permissive parents to plan the seed that maybe that is not how they want to be.  And maybe they just don't know what else to do. So that they can see their role as working with parents if they know something else to do to work with them from that respective and not blame them. That parent doesn't care enough to set limits. That is not the case in most of the families we work with. They care a lot they just don't know what else to do.


"And maybe they just don't know what else to do."


A lot of the influences the we will be talking about in another panel in media, a lot of places that folks turn to, to learn parenting, just tell them to do more of the same authoritarian stuff. They are saying, I have tried that, I've been very creative in my punishing and it's actually made things worse so they actually don't know what else to do. So they stop perusing expectations.




Neglectful Parenting (Uninvolved)


46:17 Edwin

Another style I see here is Neglectful Parenting or Uninvolved. Does that overlap with permissive or is it something else?



46:30 Amy

I think it's pretty different. I like how Alfi Choen talks about this and I think he talked with you about it Robbyn in an interview.  Based on his book called The Myth of the Spoiled Child. He says there is a clear difference between an indulgent or permissive parent or an parent who is totally uninvolved. The uninvolved parent is the one who is doing their own thing and doesn't know what is going on. And again it is not necessarily because they don't' want to or maybe because they are overwhelmed with life. They are at work and they can't even think about checking in on their child for whatever reason because they have other things going on. Which I think is different from the permissive or the indulgent parent because they want to be involved and they don't know what to do and they are overwhelmed and they are shutting down.


So it's almost in my mind anyway, and I can't say it as eloquently as Alfi Choen would probably say it, clearly and strongly, that the difference I think as trying to be involved and doesn't know what to do and the other is absent.  It's like an absent parent. I think there is room for all of us to have empathy for all of these parents who are struggling, whether they are permissive, indulgent, authoritative, authoritarian or absent.


 "there is room for all of us to have empathy for all of these
parents who are struggling, whether they are
permissive, indulgent, authoritative,
authoritarian or absent.



48:00 Lori

I was going to say that neglectful can also be the parent who is giving their kid everything, but emotionally they don't see it. They think giving them classes and making sure they have the nice cloths, and making sure they have that they look good to the outside can overtake and then they completely forget to check in. Their child may come home with sort of a down look and they don't say hay how are you, are you ok. They just say "oh your snacks on the kitchen table, be sure you do your homework and get ready for sports". They sort of check out emotionally but that doesn't mean that they are checked out totally. Whereas a permissive parent maybe totally checked out too.


So there is obviously is a spectrum. And what Amy said about that support, when we stop labeling ourselves and when we stop sort of classifying these habits and these patterns that we have gotten into we can then start to come together and support.


When we stop pointing fingers and saying, "Oh, she's permissive and he is authoritarian, we can then look to parents deeper needs and when we can show them that we care about them and we are not criticizing and judging. Because I think so many parents fall into these habitual patterns because there is a lot of judgment out there in society of not just the kids but of what parents are doing and they don't want to look like they are the parent that's going to have the kid that falls through the cracks, so the kid that's going to cause some disruption and negative behaviors and all that kind of thing. 


I think there is a spectrum of all these labels that we have that if we can come together and really support parents we can change the family structure in a way that we relate to each other.   The way that we think it is supposed to be, that we are supposed to be relating to each other.



50:00 Edwin

So actually get away from this label which we are doing here and empathize with empathize with every form of parenting and say that every approach that someone is using we can empathize with them and see that the needs are underneath there.




Closing Remarks




I really enjoyed about parents having empathy for themselves. I think that is really important because I was thinking that when you were bringing up blaming of parents of all types. I think there was a school system who wanted to fine parents for their children's behaviour at school. There is some really entranced blaming going on. I'm not sure that parents are going to demonstrate  empathy for their kids if they are feeling that weight on them. I appreciated that comment as well as many others. But that really stood out for me.



"I really enjoyed about parents having empathy for themselves.

 I think that is really important"



I appreciate this entire panel discussion. I think, we all have very similar approaches to children and it's very much about empathy for children and child advocacy. But also empathy for parents because we were all children who perhaps were not parented perfectly because our parents were not parented perfectly and their parents were not parented perfectly. So I think this is an exciting discussion, the whole entire thing.



"...we all have very similar approaches to children and
it's very much about empathy for children and
child advocacy. But also empathy for parents... "




I agree, I enjoyed it very much. I think that when we can restore the family unit. I'm not saying it's not whole but it's very fractured and I believe we are filling in those cracks and shoring up our foundation. And giving people a voice is so important and empathy is the crux of all of that. Being able to say, I hear and understand you is life changing. It's been life changing for me.  And I love that we all come from different perspectives and we have licensed clinical people that know their stuff and then for me I really, as a teacher and parent educator, for me I come to this work as a misunderstood kid and that just fuels my desire to help parents. Not just restore that relationship, but the relationship with themselves as well.



"giving people a voice is so important and empathy is the crux
 of all of that. Being able to say, I hear and understand you is
life changing. It's been life changing for me.





I think the idea of empathy is that I feel you, I feel what it is to be you. When I hear Lori about your own experience it's like I'm in there and I'm feeling it. I know when someone feels me and I just relax and life is better. And it just doesn't hurt as much and I think what we are healing here is the disconnectedness that we have as a tribe. It's not just about parents, it's about our whole tribe, it's about giving connection and love to the whole tribe so that we can just take a breath and know we are going to be ok. Because we have each other and we are not alone.


 "it's about our whole tribe, it's about giving connection
 and love to the whole tribe"




I feel a little remise since there were a couple of styles we didn't cover like attachment parenting, nurturant parenting, empathic parenting, etc. We ran out of time but we are going to be doing a whole series of panels and I hope we can cover those in future panels.


The main thing I feel is that if we are doing empathic family and an empathic way of being. It means to empathize with everyone and the means are the end. So it's not about judging any parenting style but that by empathizing that we model that way of being.


"It means to empathize with everyone
and the means are the ends."


Thank you all.