I have no style. When it comes to parenting that is. I can easily go through the list of parenting types and identify with bits and pieces from most of them.
I co-slept and wore my baby in a wrap or carrier – I’m an attachment parent
I have a tendency to hover – I’m a helicopter parent
I can be a little controlling and have high expectations – I’m a tiger mom
I encourage play, socialization and being involved in community – I am a dolphin parent
I love rules – I am an authoritative parent
I believe sometimes rules are meant to be broken – I’m a permissive parent
Clear as mud right? As a rule, I don’t like labels. They box us in and set us up for failure if we don’t meet the status quo of whichever label that’s been put on us. As parents, I think most of us are very careful about not placing labels on our children. We don’t type cast them and make them feel that there is only one correct way to be. That is a dangerous game. We extend certain freedoms to them so they can grow in to whoever it is they are meant to grow in to. So, why then, are people putting so much focus on putting these labels and restrictions on parents? I have a couple of theories:
To sell books
Take a trip to your local bookstore (or go online) and visit the parenting section. Holy crap. Everybody and their dog has written a book about parenting. It’s a huge industry. Full of conflicting information and ideas. It’s amazing how many “authors” hold the secret key to parenting yet so many are still searching for it. I’ll save you a few bucks. There is no secret. There is no perfect parenting style. Stop lining the pockets of want to be parenting superstars by buying into the myth that you need to be type this or type that.
To stop feeling insecure
Parenting is not a sport. You don’t need to be better than anyone else. You don’t need to defend your choices as a parent. I think part of this movement to identify and catalog parents by their type has a lot to do with people feeling insecure about their choices, about their skills as a parent. And that is no surprise. Parents can be hard on one another. Very hard. The criticism and judgement that exists in the parenting word can knock even the most confident person down. We are bombarded with messages telling us that a good parent does this, a good parent would never do that. Co-sleep, don’t co-sleep. Breast is best. Cloth diapers save the world. Kids need rules. Kids need freedom. And on, and on, and on. So I think some parents today think they HAVE to pick a style. That way they have back up when someone criticizes a choice they make. Well this is how dolphin parents do it and I’m a dolphin parent.
Some Assembly Required
We can not parent from a box. There is no definitive manual. No two parents are the same. And no two kids are the same. What worked for kid A might be the opposite of what kid B needs to flourish. And although multi parent families need to be on the same basic page, mom and dad (or whatever the family make up is) usually are very different people too. The only parenting “style” that I’ve seen that really made me think – yeah that’s more like it – is Instinctive Parenting. It means pretty much what the name implies. You parent on instinct. Using the methods that work for you and your family. Of course there are countless books on instinctive parenting too. I won’t be buying any of them because, well, that’s not really my style.