parenting styles

You Don’t Need A Parenting Style To Be A Good Parent

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There is so much about being a new parent that can be completely overwhelming. Besides the obvious fact that you are now responsible for keeping another human being alive and hopefully, raising them to not be a total asshole, there is also the unending barrage of information coming your way from fellow moms, the internet, your family, your friends, the pediatrician, daycare teachers. It feels like it never ends.

That might be why some mothers find themselves strictly following a specific “method” of parenting from pregnancy forward. I’m sure these mothers are just trying to eliminate some of the advice noise around them and zero in on one way of doing things to make parenting easier. It could also be that following a parenting style that has worked for others gives them a measure of confidence that it is tried and true, thereby helping them feel more sure of themselves. Or maybe these moms are very strongly convicted about certain things and find themselves aligning with Attachment parenting, Free-range parenting, Unparenting, the list goes on. Either way, I’m not sure this is always a good thing.

In my highly unprofessional (almost) seven years of experience as a mom, I am here to say that I think it’s unnecessary to ascribe to one and only one way of parenting. I think it can potentially end up damaging the confidence of a parent in the long run. If you are trying to adhere to specific guidelines in parenting I would think it could be very limiting as far as how a parent handles each decision and situation. For example- Attachment parenting is commonly associated with breast feeding your baby for as long as one is able. What of the new mom who has decided to commit hard to AP but finds herself unable to breast feed? After all the research and reading she’s done will she think she is an utter failure because formula does not fit into her AP mold? This is just one example-not trying to pick on AP- but hopefully, you catch my drift. One of the most important lessons I learned when I first became a mother was to listen to my gut and adjust my ideas of what kind of mother I wanted to be in a very fluid manner- making it up as I go along in the most well-intentioned sense. Being overly stringent in how I raised my children probably wouldn’t help me in the long run because if I strayed, I might equate that to doing it “wrong”.

That said, one could argue that I do have a parenting method- it’s called No Method In Particular. Over the years, I’ve bent my way of thinking and shifted my expectations so I could handle each situation as it came and not feel as if I had to fit into a rigid mold of motherhood. I loved nursing my children but was not really into wearing them in a carrier. I co-slept with my son but only because he would not sleep well otherwise. We don’t watch much TV during the week but it’s more a function of our limited time than a tenet of a certain parenting philosophy. We do what works for our family and I don’t really worry about where society can “file” me as a mother. I think this truly helps my confidence as a parent and ensures that each of my decisions is what is best for my family- not what is closest to a specific method of parenting.

(Image: SubbotinaAnna/Shutterstock)

25 Comments

  1. Kate

    May 30, 2014 at 9:08 am

    Love this! So so true! I am a child psychologist and I had all kinds of ideas about how I wanted to parent my kids before I had kids. Not a parenting style per se, but just a general idea of what methods I would use for stimulation/discipline, etc. Well, that all went right out the window when I had my first son – a spirited, “high need,” sensory craving kid. In all of my planning, I neglected to account for individual child temperament characteristics and goodness of fit with my own personal temperament. Such a powerful dynamic that really shapes parenting, I think! I am so humbled. (And at times, quite frustrated!) But we are rolling along…..
    Great piece!

    • Valerie

      May 30, 2014 at 10:08 am

      Thank you! And yes, I have to parent my two kids so differently- nothing about them is alike besides their DNA!

  2. Kendra

    May 30, 2014 at 9:13 am

    Agreed so much! That’s something I learned very early on. When I was pregnant, I was bound and determined to ONLY breastfeed, to NEVER co-sleep, and to limit pacifiers to a minimum. Well, smug pregnant me got put in her place pretty fast, and ever since then, I’ve adapted the “Do what works” method of parenting. Just raise your kids, people. Sleep, eat, and love them.

    • Spongeworthy

      May 30, 2014 at 9:23 am

      So with you! I was the most awesome parent before I had kids. Now I’m striving for “worlds okayest mom”.

  3. Kay_Sue

    May 30, 2014 at 9:13 am

    Val, have you got a Twitter? All the other writers have a feed and I usually pop over and follow them from the link at the bottom of their articles. #TwitterStalker #QuasiFacebookStalkerButMoreSoTwitterBecauseItIsEasierToFindThemAll

    My parenting style is, as I’ve said before, Adapt and Survive™. Also, “Don’t Let Them Smell Your Fear”.

    • Valerie

      May 30, 2014 at 10:07 am

      Lol. No, I have not started “twatting” yet. 🙂 I think I may start soon, though! If you ever want to reach out mommyishvalerie @ gmail dot com.
      “Don’t Let Them Smell Your Fear” is an excellent method!!

    • TwentiSomething Mom

      May 30, 2014 at 12:21 pm

      I thought I was the only one without a twat, I mean twitter

  4. momjones

    May 30, 2014 at 9:22 am

    My parenting style? “Do Whatever Works (Within Reason)” I need to write the book.

    • Valerie

      May 30, 2014 at 10:08 am

      I would read it!!!!

    • momjones

      May 30, 2014 at 10:13 am

      It would be short. The last chapter would be titled “It’s All Relative, and It Really Doesn’t Matter Because They Are Going To Do What They Want (and CHOOSE) To Do” – just the title, nothing in the actual chapter.

  5. Spongeworthy

    May 30, 2014 at 9:24 am

    We now ascribe to the “Shit, I dunno, let’s try this and see how it goes” method of parenting. Pre-order my book on Amazon. Only $50 and it comes with a free corkscrew.

    • Valerie

      May 30, 2014 at 10:07 am

      The corkscrew is key.

    • Spongeworthy

      May 30, 2014 at 10:37 am

      It really is. THAT is something that needs to be on the baby registry.

  6. JenH1986

    May 30, 2014 at 9:26 am

    The one thing I can say is before I found Mommyish I was all “I’m gonna do x,y,z” and now you awesome moms have made it clear. I should really just get what I can for a kid and then hold on for dear life. Lol

    • Kay_Sue

      May 30, 2014 at 9:29 am

      I do think it’s good to have a plan going in. You’ve just got to be flexible and realize that it doesn’t always work, you know? 😛

    • JenH1986

      May 30, 2014 at 9:36 am

      I’m a planner by nature. So that should be interesting when I have to change plans. lol

    • Kay_Sue

      May 30, 2014 at 9:49 am

      I know. That was one of the big problems I had with adjusting after my first. I was going to do this, and that, and not this, and he…well, let’s just say I very quickly realized that he was his own person, with his own agenda, needs, and personality, lol! 😉

    • Valerie

      May 30, 2014 at 10:08 am

      It is good to have a plan and some ideals but just be prepared to make adjustments. 🙂 Nothing at all wrong with planning!!!

  7. Jessifer

    May 30, 2014 at 9:30 am

    I think parenting should be 90% intuitive. Sure, it’s great to fill the other 10% with reading and research, but the truth is that the fields of child health, psychology, education, and development are constantly changing. Methods that were “in” in the 80s are now “out” and what is “in” right now (ex. AP) will likely be discarded in 20 years from now in favour of some other method. That’s the way it’s always been. Better to just do what feels right and what works for you rather than force yourself to fit into some sort of mold.

  8. jane

    May 30, 2014 at 9:51 am

    I loosely define my parenting style as “I Would Walk To The Moon For You Now Get The Hell Out While I Shower.”

    It’s figuring out how to tow the very fine line between the crazy-making that is loving my kids to the depths that I love them, the crazy-making that is shaping kids into normal and happy human beings, and the crazy-making that is retaining enough of myself that I don’t go bananas.

    Once I figure out how to do that, I’ll be sure to report back.

    • Kay_Sue

      May 30, 2014 at 10:01 am

      That should be the title of a parenting book. I’d buy it.

  9. K.

    May 30, 2014 at 10:38 am

    I think it was either “Freakonomics” or something Malcolm Gladwell said–one of those guys–it was something like they studied which parenting book could produce the “best” results (ie, kid was not a felon, kid went to college etc.)…and found that it made no difference which style/book you choose; what made the difference is that you were “the TYPE of person who WOULD consult a book on parenting. Doesn’t matter what you’re consulting, actually.” Which seems to contradict what you’re saying, Valerie, but it’s more saying, um, so long as you take the job seriously and you have the ability to read…you’re okay.

    I figured, “Why YES! I AM ‘the type’ of person to consult a book! …So now I don’t have to consult a book!” And I didn’t.

    (Although I did enjoy that “French Kids Eat Everything” book for fun)

    • Kay_Sue

      May 30, 2014 at 10:56 am

      I figured, “Why YES! I AM ‘the type’ of person to consult a book! …So now I don’t have to consult a book!” And I didn’t.

      Sheer brilliance.

    • TwentiSomething Mom

      May 30, 2014 at 12:26 pm

      Yea, I feel like I read that in a book too, not sure which one. If you care enough to do the research then you’re already a good parent. Not to say that people that don’t research and just go by instinct or consult with family aren’t good parents, but if you feel overwhelmed, unsure or don’t feel you have family support, you are already doing alright despite that because you care enough to change.

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