Every so often a different parenting style is making news. It could be “the new best way,” “causing harm” or getting parents in trouble. Below, Care.com editor, Katie Bugbee shares her thoughts on all these trending parenting styles, and adds a few of her own. What are your thoughts?
Yesterday morning, I sat with my 6-year old son as he did his summer homework. “You’re coloring outside the lines,” “Slow down,” “Start at the top line and go to the bottom,” I said to him over and over. But the voice inside my head was different: “It’s summer, give him a break” it told me. “He'll learn to write/go slow eventually” and (gasp!) “Are you being a helicopter parent??!”
Then I got to the office and my co-worker was talking about Lighthouse Parents. While another said she’s trying to be a French Parent. And no, neither was French -- or a sailor. (See a list of the most common parenting styles defined)
I was left thinking: What happened to being a regular parents? Why is there such a need to classify ourselves and the way we raise our kids? Then when a study comes out about a great new way – or our current style causing permanent damage -- we panic. It’s Parenting-Style-Paranoia! Is being a Tiger Mom so bad if it (seemingly) gets great results? Will being a Helicopter Mom on math homework cause depression – if I swear I'll “Dolphin” on reading!? Will I get arrested for Free Ranging?
Call me Parenting-Style-Phobic, but it’s these reasons I can't stand parenting books or discussions of parenting styles. So in jest, here are some new parent types I've come up with. Feel free to use one of them in the next ridiculous conversation you have about how you're raising your child(ren).
- Light-phanas Parent: A combo of Lighthouse (guide when necessary) and Elephant (nurtures, protects and encourages) and bananas because these two styles seem to contradict each other enough that your brain will just go haywire.
- Town Parent: Gets completely walked all over by kids, parents and in-laws.
- Feed Me Parent: Lives to update pictures and quotes of children on social media feeds.
- Botox Parent: Never shows how they're really feeling. Might be anxious, surprised, sad, and they still wear the same pleasant face, all day long.
- Grande Parent: A cross between the over-caffeinated parent who can always be found at Starbucks and the parent who tends to “Love Me Harder” (gotta gotta gotta love me love me love me).
- Buoy Parent: Seems like they're drowning but always stay afloat.
- Tight Rope Parent: Uses the leash on their mild-mannered 2-year old.
- Gore-Tex Parent: Every issue just rolls right off. And they're so breathable.
- Umbrella Parent: Make Your Own Style with a bit of this and a bit of that all rolled under your umbrella- ella- ella.
I suggest we stop labeling ourselves. We're parents. Period. Let’s just set out to raise good, happy kids. Even better: aim for them to be responsible, productive members of society. The tactic? I honestly think it’s a recipe based on love, respect, firm boundaries, sweet cuddles, solid values and a little healthy fear.
How much of each ingredient parents give will vary for each family. If we have to push them at times, we do it. When they're breaking down, we hug them. When they talk, we listen – and really hear them (even if we ultimately tell them we think they're wrong). When they need help, we consider how much. And when they need to let go, we let them to fly on their own. Good luck out there, parents. If it were easy, there wouldn't be so many theories and styles trying to “help.”