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)