allied parenting, parent allies


Power sharing
Parent Allies use their privilege and power as adults to help their children get their needs met and to achieve their hopes and dreams. In a very practical way children are penalised for being children – objects are outsized, packets tricky to open, resources hard to access. Parents use their position to help a child do what they need to do.

Parent allies don’t assume that a healthy child is “independent” but assume that each child is different and will express independence when they are ready. As an example, some children in a supportive environment are able to make their own lunch at five years old, others ask their parents to make their lunch at nine years old – this might be the child asking for connection, or revealing their deep hope to be nurtured.

Space created for child’s PoV
Parent Allies create room in their lives to hear their child’s point of view and withhold action before hearing it and withhold judgement after hearing it. This means pressing the pause button when responding to sibling quarrels, it means taking time to sit and hear a child’s perspective. It means introducing protocols in the family life where everyone can state their opinion and suggest their ideas on an issue effecting the family- family meetings are an example of this mechanism.

Information-based expectations
Parent Allies are aware of what stage their child’s brain development is in and we make sure any expectations or requests we have of the children in our lives is based on realistic and accurate information. An example of this is when parents express disappointment when three years old children don’t display empathetic behaviours. At three years old the empathy pathways of the brain are still in formation, and likely to be disrupted by the child meeting their primary biological needs for survival. It is developmentally challenging for pre-schoolers to see beyond their own healthy and natural urges.

Parent Allies set aside unrealistic expectations in order to meet their child’s individual needs and in order to base their relationship on connecting, rather than “ideals.”

Equal weight given to everyone’s needs and desires
Parent Allies understand that “bigger” doesn’t mean “more important.” Children’s needs and desires hold the same weight as an adult’s needs and desires and the assumption is made that needs are not mutually exclusive, but everyone’s needs can exist and be met in a timely manner.  Adults who see themselves as allies invest time into creative solutions that enable all family members to get their needs met.

Prioritising connection
Parent allies recognise that one of our children’s foremost needs is human connection and that for most of their childhood we will be the primary people to meet that need. Parent allies examine the parts of their life that lead to disconnection and use each opportunity they can to engage authentically with their children in love and kindness.

Inner work
Parent Allies recognise that whilst as adults we are in a powerful and privileged position we carry with us the scars of once having been members of an oppressed group of people. We acknowledge that when we were children we were likely coerced, shamed or marginalised and that this can impact our ability to uphold the rights of our children. Parent Allies are therefore committed to working through our baggage and seeking the support we need to be allies to our children.  We are also committed to holding up our adult bias to the light and spending the time we need to ensure this bias doesn’t consistently lead to the marginalisation of the children in our life.

All children
Parent Allies recognise that building a fairer world for children begins in our homes, and that this small stuff has a ripple effect on child rights. However, Parent Allies don’t parent in a silo and we are mindful that infrastructure and policies need to change too and we consciously engage in action and ideas that further the rights of children in far worse circumstances than the ones in our home. We have a broad vision for a fairer childhood and we claim that slogan from the nineties “Think global, act local!”

Like all principles, the expression of these principles will look different in each household. Like all principles our aim is to uphold them, but there will be days when we struggle to and, for the sake of our children, we continue to practice self-love.

allied parenting, parent allies



  • Becky July 5, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    Does anyone know of any good books that help explain the development of children for example the article above mentions most 3 year olds aren’t ready to show empathy. I feel i need something I can refer to, to help me manage my expectations and support my little boy x

    • JM July 6, 2017 at 7:40 am

      Yes, I’d like some good reference material, too, please. Thanks! Great website. 🙂

    • admin July 6, 2017 at 8:14 am

      Hey Becky, there is a post in the pipeline 😀

    • Jenny Fearnley July 6, 2017 at 9:26 am

      I like to read the Louise Bates-Ames books ‘Your [insert age] year old’. The books are old and as such some of the advice given is outdated and not suited to parent allies BUT the information on developmentally appropriate behaviour/ability/expectations I have found invaluable and I find I have much more empathy for my children (1 and 3) when I reread them.

    • Rebekah July 6, 2017 at 7:22 pm

      Dance with me in the heart by Pennie Brownlee, and Understanding Children’s Development by Anne Smith (both NZ books) would be good starting points. Most libraries and schools – including early childhood, & most definitely Playcentres – should have them.

    • Claire July 9, 2017 at 7:53 pm

      The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland is a good one

    • Marissa Webb July 11, 2017 at 6:29 am

      The Whole Brain Child might be worth having a look at. I can’t remember if it explicitly discusses empathy but it’s very detailed about development.

    • Lucy July 21, 2017 at 8:28 am

      Children are from heaven by Dr John Gray is a wonderful book to read exploring different developmental stages and personality types, such as receptive and sensitive children. Also explores the notion that children are never ‘bad’ & they are always doing their best at that moment. Very empowering book for the rights of children. I highly recommend.

  • Sophie Lovett July 10, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    Love this post! Adults attitudes to young people always made me uncomfortable when I was working as a teacher, and the more I grow as a parent the more obvious it is how disenfranchised children are in our society. I look forward to reading more 🙂


Leave a Comment