Respectful parenting is based on the belief that even the youngest child is a whole-person, with thoughts, feelings, likes and dislikes, and is deserving of unconditional love and respect. Let’s break down this sentence: 

  1. Why RESPECT:

This addresses the need to love, nurture, and support a child the way they want and deserve, with the center of focus around the child and not around us the parents. We can think of a situation where often in the name of love, one has caused a degree of harm to another. Thus, respect or respectful love keeps us parents conscientious about our intent and calls to examine our own actions in our relationship with our children. Which brings us to …

2. Children are WHOLE BEINGS and NATURALLY COMPETENT in many ways.

This is supported by a rich body of scientific research in childhood psychology and development in the last few decades, specifically supporting that from the very beginning of life, children are:

  • Explorers
  • Inquisitive
  • Problem solvers
  • Motivated learners

 3. Your ROLE as a PARENT:

Respectful parents appreciate these amazing abilities of our littlest human. Beyond supporting children’s basic needs of food, rest, comfort and warmth, respectful parents protect these innate abilities and create a rich environment that is:

  • cognitively challenging,
  • physically safe,
  • and emotionally nurturing

for which children can freely develop using these skills in their own way, in their own time, into their authentic selves.

You might be thinking that this all sounds great, and sure “respect” sounds great, but what does respect mean to an infant? At Imperfect Parent, we aim to show you practical ways to build respect in your everyday interactions with child from the very beginning of their life.

This school of thought is also known to many as intentional parenting or conscious parenting, though the most prominent body of work is associated with Madga Gerber, the founder of Resource for Infant Educarer™ (RIE) Approach. For decades, Gerber advocated for infants and defended their competency. Indeed, as the knowledge about childhood development accumulate around the globe, her approach to caring for children is now supported by this incredible output of research studies. RIE™’s approach to caring for young infants help centralize these findings into a core guiding principle and actionable ways to apply respectful parenting to everyday life.  At the Imperfect Parent, we draw heavily from the RIE™ Approach as well as the phenomenal work and practice of the following childhood development experts:

Non-Violent Communication – Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD

Unconditional Parenting & Punished by Rewards – Alfie Kohn

How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen – Joanna Faber and Julie King

Body of Research on  the Importance of Play – Dr. Stuart Brown

Division of Responsibility – Ellyn Satter Institute

The Gardener & The Carpenter – Alison Gopnik