I’m not a parent, so I can’t possibly imagine how challenging it can be at times to look after your kids. I mean, I’ve got an idea but I never had to experience the same tasks, problems and worries that you do.

Why is this important? As a service provider and business owner, I want to make sure that I deliver information and content you enjoy but that’s also valuable to you.  So today I’m starting a series where I let industry professionals do the talking. Those who work with children and/or parents. Those people all have something unique to offer and through working with them, I am actually learning so much myself.

The people in this series are local businesses in Sussex and have taken part on my Sussex small business collaboration. If you happen to know someone who might be interested in being part of this project or someone you would like to hear from on my blog, feel free to let me know or send them to the collaboration page I created for that purpose.

Anyway, let’s get started…

The Art of Gentle Parenting

An interview with a parenting consultant

Please let me introduce you to Jenni from JenniWren Parenting.

Jenni is a gentle parenting advocate who is empowering parents with small children, specialising in behaviour and sleep. Apart from that, she’s also on her path to share more honestly about her own challenges as a mum of two, to help other mums see that they’re not alone.

Jenni Wren Parenting

For those who don’t know you, could you introduce yourself and your business, please? 

Hi lovely people, my name is Jenni and I am the face behind JenniWren Parenting. I am a mother of 2 wonderful boys and have a partner called Jonny who is my rock. We live in a small town on the South Coast of England called Worthing.

My passion for all things parenting started when our eldest was born in the summer of 2016. I am a huge research junkie and have an obsession with learning. My main interests are effective communication, responsive & attachment parenting and breaking generational patterns.

These passions led me to train as a CalmFamily consultant where I support and empower parents to make the best decisions for their families to promote calmer relationships. I am trained in both BabyCalm & ToddlerCalm.
I don’t claim to be a ‘parenting expert’ and believe every parent is the expert to their own children.

What is gentle parenting?

Gentle parenting is based on 4 principles: respect, empathy, understanding and boundaries. It is not permissive parenting which is what a lot of people think.

Who do you help or work with?

I work closely with families that have babies, toddlers & preschoolers. A few things I help them with are understanding our own and our children’s basic human needs & how these can affect behaviour & sleep among other things. How their children’s brain develops and ways we can support and encourage healthier brains & minds. I inform parents of what is biologically normal which reassures them that their intuition is there for a reason. I don’t follow a one size fits all approach as I believe every child and family have different needs, however, I am happy to provide suggestions which help to empower parents to make the best decisions for their family.

What’s the best thing about your job?

That it doesn’t feel like a job. I’m doing what I love.
I really enjoy meeting new people (especially little ones), creating a connection and seeing the relief in parents faces when I tell them that what they are already doing is ok, that they won’t ‘create a rod for their own back’ and that they don’t always need to change anything. It’s also great to hear from families a few weeks post consultation and how much I have helped change their family dynamics and they feel much more confident in their parenting choices.

My clients appreciate feeling listened to when working with me. I provide them with a safe and supportive space to feel seen, heard and understood. My main goal is to help families feel more confident in their parenting choices.

Do you have a (work)shop/studio/premises you work from?

Not yet, this would be my dream to have a space of my very own. I currently run a local stay & play session where parents and their children can meet and chat to me if they need to. I want to bring back the community feel and create a haven for parents & children to come to where they feel safe & supported in their journey together.

I also offer 1:1 consultations in person or via zoom. I’ve recently started offering consultation walks where I meet up with clients and we go for a stroll whilst their little one naps in a sling or buggy.

What questions do people come to you with? And how do you address those?

Most questions I get asked are to do with their child’s sleep or behaviour but I cover a wide range of other topics. A few examples may be…

  • Their baby is waking more than they expected and they do not want to sleep train
  • Their toddler is having huge emotional outbursts and they are not sure how they can support them
  • They want to stop feeding their little one to sleep or to stop bedsharing and aren’t sure where to start
  • They think their child is ready to potty train but not 100% sure or what approach to take
  • Their little one is ready to wean onto solids soon and they feel anxious about starting
  • Parents don’t see eye to eye and want support & suggestions for how to move forward with their parenting choices
  • They don’t have time to read parenting books, do their own research or feel overwhelmed with knowing where to even start

I give parents guidance and support by explaining our basic human needs, the science & what is biologically normal and how their child’s brain develops among other things.

What is your aim working with parents? What do you want them to walk away with?

I would like them to feel empowered to make the best decisions for their family and to feel confident with following their intuition. The bigger picture is that I would like to create a ripple effect throughout society so that we begin to view children and parenting differently.

A lot of small business ideas are being born out of seeing a gap or a need for somethign that needs changing. So did did becoming a mother impact Jenni’s journey?

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about motherhood since having your own children?

Before having children I used to love watching super nanny and thought this was the best way to raise children which makes me laugh now. We know so much more about how important the first 5 years of a child’s life is and how much of that shapes who they will become. We also know a lot more about mental health issues and are more trauma informed than we’ve ever been. 

What is one thing you wish you’d known before having children and is something you want others to know?

Follow your heart & your intuition. It is there for a reason. Don’t listen to all of the noise and do your own research before taking someone’s unsolicited advice.

Is there anything in particular you constantly see or hear from people that you know you can help with?

From personal experience, I know how difficult raising children can be and understand that parents can’t do better until they know better. We are all doing the best we can. Sometimes the smallest adjustment can have such a big impact.

I wish more health professionals were trauma-informed. Midwives, health visitors, GP’s & pediatricians etc. I also wish families were able to live closer to one another so that they were supported by not only their immediate family but their extended family too.

If you want to learn more about what Jenni is doing, maybe work with her or learn how she might be able to help you, please visit her website and/or join her wonderful Gentle parenting Facebook group for support from other mums as well as Jenni.

I hope you enjoyed this kind of content – there are more exciting businesses and people I want to introduce you to within this series. If you have anybody you think would be perfect for some spotlight on my blog, please reach out to me and let me know!

More on the topic of family photography for you to read