Parenting Without Style


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.


Comments (20)

  • I LOVE this post, Shayna. And I completely agree – I am a nice mixture of all those “labels” and “parenting styles” that the world seems to have created.
    I think that for name sake, folks like to put themselves in labels…. more so for conversational purposes or perhaps psychologically, it makes sense for them and they can feel better knowing what “type” they are and focus on being better knowing that.
    Who knows? All I know, is that at the end of the day, a parent’s main focus is the well-being of their child/ren and that’s what should matter most! 🙂
    I always say, “To each his own.”

  • I don’t play the “Mompetition” game. Not because I’m perfect but because my kids gave me an odd gift by being born 10 weeks premature. In doing so, I’ve never been able to compare them to other kids their age.

    As for the rest of the labels, I can’t really say what kind of parent I am. Must buy a book to find out.

    Besos, Sarah

  • I too identify with many different styles. In the olden days, they just called this “parenting”.

    I cloth diapered, did not co-sleep, wore my baby when it was convenient, left them on the floor with toys while I was in another room doing dishes, I’m a minimalist (when it comes to toys) and a maximum-alist (with books).

    Screw the books, screw the labels. Can we just go back to parenting?

  • I also find I am a bit of everything and I go with the flow. I was not always this way though. I think that I tried to be the permissive parent because my parents were controlling but that did not work in our home and so we have rules but we often break them. This is a great post, great morning read.

  • Wow, Shayna! I LOVE this post! I too, identify with a variety of different ‘styles’ and don’t even consider myself to have a parenting ‘style’. To me, it’s just doing what innately feels right for my child and for my family. Labels and books may be great for some, but for me, I just want to do what feels like the right thing for my family.

    I agree with Sarah on the not playing the Mompetition game. Just thinking of that stresses me out! 😉

  • Hit the nail on the head with this post Shayna! I love when parents share experiences and perspective, but we are all different people and parents. In fact I am as you say a different type of parent on any given day or situation.
    Great Post!!!!

  • Great post Shayna, I can relate to many of these types. For me it really depends on the situation on how I parent at any particular moment. I don’t compare my child to others. What is right for one parent may not be right for another. I am a parent and my daughter loves me and my hubby no matter what.. good or bad.

    Tammy Bell
  • Yes, exactly, to each his (or her) own. It’s about where you end up more than how you got there.

  • You and I are almost always on the same page 🙂

  • Agreed! The focus should be on “parenting” not styles right? Parenting styles tend to go out of fashion just like everything else.

  • Thank you Aneta,

    In the beginning I identified with the attachment parents because that’s what my baby needed at the time. But as things went on I just kept adapting to what she (and we) needed and never really worried about what I was doing was called.

  • I totally agree with “what feels right” for your family. How can you go wrong with that?

  • Thank you Cathy. There are so many variables aren’t there? And being a mom to a little one with anxiety if I can’t be flexible I’m doomed!

  • Your daughter loves her parents no matter what – that’s it right there!

  • Fantastic post Shayna! No two parents are the same, we all do what works for us and I’m not sure why there needs to be a title or a label for each way of doing things. Parenting is an art, its something that evolves based on who our family is made up of and what types of challenges we have. We need to realize that not everything needs a label, not all of us have to feel that we are not living up to expectations.I think that is also one of the flaws of social media (that’s a whole other article) but when people post about how perfect everything is in their lives, it influences people in a subconscious way and sadly puts undo pressure.
    Thanks for highlighting such an important topic Shayna. Love this article!

    Sharon Vinderine
  • Love this post! I think that parenting in any genre is hard enough. I hate that the media has secluded parents into various tribes (so to speak). I say, do what works for you and enjoy it because it goes by so quickly!

  • I am an ‘always on edge’ parent. Hee hee — among other labels. Ya.. so many labels but hey… we parent how we parent.. what is best for our kids is the best way to parent.

  • Being a parent is not easy… I think that in order for me to be the best mom that I can be for my kids I need to be a mixture of all the types to set the balance.

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