Parenting isn't about having all the answers. It's about helping children learn to think for themselves and rediscovering yourself and the world through the eyes of your child. Socratic Parenting focuses on knowing yourself, knowing your child, and becoming the change you wish to see in your child. In order to develop their own authentic parenting style, parents must honestly examine their own habits and beliefs while building a healthy relationship with their children. Parents are never any better at disciplining their children than they are at disciplining themselves. Socratic Parenting empowers parents to become more self-disciplined and to disciple their children.

Other parenting methods focus on the sameness of children. All children need food, love, sleep, stimulation, discipline, medical attention, etc. Socratic Parenting celebrates the uniqueness of each parent and child relationship. Other parenting books have catchy tricks-of-the-trade and long lists of do's and don'ts with the premise that if it appears to be effective, it must be good. Our society thrives on instant gratification. The more immediate the effect, the better solution it must be.

Socratic Parenting takes a “big picture” approach considering the long-term implications of the parenting tools available. Parents who want answers must ask the right questions of the right person. The right questions are Socratic questions. The right person is yourself. Too many parents frantically search for new experts, reading every book and article they can get their hands on, jumping from canoe to canoe in the whitewater rapids of raising a child. While it is certainly appropriate to seek professional help and guidance, parenting is more just a series of consultations with a string of experts. When it comes to actually parenting your child, the expert must be you. The answers to your parenting questions are within you. As you consider suggested parenting strategies or seek expert advice, ask yourself, "Why does it work? What am I'm really teaching my child?" By developing their own self-knowledge and knowing their child, parents become adept in determining how best to handle situations with their child as the situations arise.

Most parenting books suggest some system of rewards and punishment to classically condition children to behave the way their parents want them to behave. Parents become lions (authoritarians) and tigers (competitors) and bears (bullies) who believe that the end somehow justifies the means. When it comes to parenting, the means are the end. Parents must begin to feel, think and act from a place of love. Tools such as guilt, shame, threats, and corporal punishment teach children to become controlling and manipulative. Socratic Parenting abandons all of these “tried and true” methods that derive from fear.

Socratic Parenting is based on the Socratic Method. Most school teachers have at least heard of the Greek philosopher Socrates who lived approximately 400 years B.C.E., and all law students are familiar with the Socratic Method of teaching critical thinking skills through guided questions. The Greeks consider Socrates to be the inventor of ethics, based upon his questions directed to law, justice, and goodness. While Socrates was a relatively young man, the Delphic Oracle pronounced him the wisest of all men, but Socrates believed that if he was the wisest, it was only because he understood that he knew nothing.

Socratic Parenting fully embraces “I don’t know” as the starting point of a better way. Whether you’re a new parent overwhelmed by volumes of contradictory books and articles or a more seasoned parent facing the "You-know-nothing" attitude of teenagers, Socratic Parenting can help you to parent with more awareness, clarity and confidence. Rather than training children to meet our expectations and indoctrinating children with our own limiting beliefs, Socratic Parenting empowers parents to nurture their children and teach them how to think for themselves. It honors the universal truths in all religions and respects parents’ right to choose the spiritual path most comfortable for their family.

Author's Bio: 

A former high school teacher, experienced trial attorney and child advocate, Laurie Gray is the founder of Socratic Parenting LLC. In addition to her writing, speaking and consulting, Laurie works as an adjunct professor of criminal sciences at Indiana Tech and as a bilingual child forensic interviewer at the Dr. Bill Lewis Center for Children in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Laurie’s debut novel Summer Sanctuary (Luminis Books/2010) won a Moonbeam Gold Medal for excellence in young adult literature and was named a 2011 Indiana Best Book Finalist. She is the author of A Simple Guide to Socratic Parenting (Luminis Books/2014). For more information on Laurie’s writing projects, please visit