Travel Agent vs Tour Guide Parenting

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I’ve seen myself grow and go through changes as a parent. When I first became a mom, I thought my role as a parent was one of a dictator. I made all decisions, set all of the rules, and had to demand compliance no matter what. Luckily, a few years into parenting right when I actually had to start putting things into action, I discovered something called Gentle Parenting. That helped change my perspective on parenting. When I started to read about Gentle Parenting, it took me back to my own childhood. It helped me look at parenting from the point of view of my inner child. It made me realize that I needed to focus on the type of parent I wanted and needed as a child. It made me see that many times children are expected to be little adults that fit easily into the lives of the big world around them.

We are only children for a finite amount of time. I think there is too much pressure in society for children to be almost robotic. To be well-behaved at all times, to do their best in school from a young age, to sit still, basically to go against the nature of children which is to have fun! Although kids are little, they’re still people and at the end of the day, people rarely like to be told what to do and bossed around all of the time. I’m so glad I discovered Gentle Parenting when I did because it helped me learn to be the parent I want to be. It’s not that I don’t have boundaries, rules, or expectations, I just have a more effective way of expressing them. I like to think that Gentle Parenting has helped me to be the tour guide in the journey of parenting instead of the travel agent. The tour guide makes time for fun, lets you know the rules, and is someone you look forward to going on the trip with. The travel agent is caught up in the procedures, points out the rules and fine print, and knows about the fun without experiencing it.

The travel agent parenting wouldn’t have worked for me. There’s too much pressure. Pressure to be the perfect parent raising the perfect children. There are too many unrealistic expectations both for me as a parent and my children. Too much management of every aspect of their life. Too much listening without really understanding. Too much emphasis on submissiveness. Too many expectations of who society thinks they should be. Too many results without enough opportunity to practice the skills that develop the results.

The mom I am today, almost nine years into the journey thinks my job is to be my children’s tour guide. As a tour guide, I have insight and experience about the journey they’re on and am able to pass it along to them in a more effective way. I want them to know what the rules are but also why they are in place. I want to show them how to do things and not just replicating my way. I want to teach them how to make good choices so they can make them whether I’m there or not. I want them to be aware that they are responsible for their words, actions, and the consequences thereof. I want to cultivate the things that make them unique. I want them to enjoy being a child while they can without the pressure of having to perform to certain standards. I want them to enjoy their day without being overextended in activities. I want to teach them manners without expecting them to be on their “best behavior” every moment of the day no matter how they’re feeling.

The Gentle Parenting approach is definitely more work in the sense that I have to think things through and respond more rather than react. Yet, I think it’s worth it because the approach is more effective. It’s about treating children like the little people they are. It’s about giving them a say in their own life. It’s about respecting them and holding them accountable. At the end of the day, it focuses more on raising children that will one day be adults instead of rendering the results I want right now. It’s about taking everyday situations and turning them into lessons and examples. It’s about taking the time to understand things from my children’s point of view and be willing to make adjustments because as their parent, I’m not infallible. Parenting is like a journey with a map but no route. You have to figure it out as you go along. For me, Gentle Parenting is a great compass that helps me find different approaches that help my kids feel like the able little beings they are.

If you’re interested in learning more about what Gentle Parenting is and how you can incorporate some approaches into your parenting journey, I suggest starting here:

What metaphor would you use to describe where you are in your parenting journey? How has your parenting changed from when you first became a parent to now? What kind of parenting would you have wanted as a child? Are you that type of parent for your kids? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. 

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4 Replies to “Travel Agent vs Tour Guide Parenting”

  1. What an incredibly wonderful way of looking at parenting – I love the way you break it down by tour guide and travel agent. You are absolutely right, children should be allowed to be children… in our current society it is pretty much not even “permitted”! Kids have more and more pressures at a younger age and that is very sad – they should be playing and having lots of fun not learning math at 3 years old. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I think it’s sad. I’d like to see a shift where as a society we embrace kids being kids. Having fun, valuing play, and taking the pressure off for them to succeed at such a young age. I’d like to see more emphasis on emotional intelligence, empathy, and a sense of community than letter recognition…


  2. You articulated this perfectly! The misconception that parents must control and dictate all of their children’s choices is damaging to our society. I love how you emphasised that gentle parenting means providing boundaries but giving freedom in between.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. I’m glad I no longer subscribe to that train of thought and hope to encourage other parents to connect with what feels right for them instead of what fits into society. Thank you for reading, it’s nice to meet you 💖


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