Depending on how you research it, there are many different approaches to categorizing parenting styles. You've got:
- Authoritarian (aka The Tiger Mom): These parents are extremely strict and controlling. Obedience is stressed and discussion is discouraged. There's no wiggle-room with a Tiger Mom.
- Authoritative (aka The Moderate Mom): Parents in this category set limits and rely on natural consequences to help their children learn from making their own mistakes. Think, "I'm sorry that you got hurt but that is why Mommy said not to climb on top of the sofa." Authoritative parents engage in discussions with their children and consider the tiny tot's point of view.
- Permissive (aka Reality TV Moms): Accepting, warm, generally the most fun mom on the block, this mom also exerts very little control. The kids call the shots and that's just fine.
Parenting style buzz-words
Then you've got all the parenting styles that come and go as children mature and their (often incorrect) perceptions:
- Attachment parenting: Look at me! I can nurse my 8-year-old and my infant -- who I'm wearing in a sling -- simultaneously while snuggling in our shared family bed. Next up, bath time in the tub I birthed all my children into.
- Ferberizing: Cry it out, little one, mommy has better things to do and it's time you learned that the world doesn't revolve around you.
- Helicopter parenting: Oh, it's okay, little one. Mommy will take care of that for you, and that, and that, and that...
So what's your parenting style?
Picture yourself in the following scenario: Your 4-year-old has taken a toy from another child. You respond by:
- A. Demanding the ball be returned to its rightful owner.
- B. Explaining that the ball belongs to the other child and suggesting that the children take turns playing.
- C. Drinking your latte, little Janey is simply expressing herself.
I'm getting choosy
Okay, perhaps my portrayal of these styles is a bit harsh and clearly shows where I do not fall on the spectrum, but you get the idea! In real life, I think the majority of moms, myself included, tend to practice pick-and-choose parenting and when we do, we're raising well-rounded, responsible, thoughtful, insightful children. Maybe embracing pick-and-choose parenting will finally put an end to the mommy wars.
Pick-and-choose parenting is just that -- picking and choosing the parenting styles and techniques that fit your family, your lifestyle, your child and your situation. What a novel idea! I've been all across the parenting spectrum:
- I'm the attached parent because I nursed my son until almost 15 months and would have gladly gone longer had he not weaned himself.
- I'm the authoritarian mom when my children are in danger of being exposed to adult concepts I don't feel they need a knowledge of at such young ages. Roarrrr!
- I'm the Ferber Method parent because, yes, I let both my children cry-it-out while sleep training them, knowing full well they were fine.
- I'm the authoritative mom when my daughter doesn't want to put her laundry away and I explain that she is old enough to put it away and that mommy is also putting laundry away. And if she gives me a valid reason why she can't do something, I generally capitulate.
- I'm the permissive mom when I'm exhausted, I've chosen to pick and choose my battles, and the fact that my son insists on throwing the pillows off the couch for the 18th time in 5 minutes.
Rather than subscribe to a particular parenting style and wearing your parenting theories emblazoned across your chest, why not be purposeful about your parenting choices and tolerant of others' choices? Embrace your children's personalities and enforce the principles you feel passionate about. Pick-and-choose the parenting methods that will be most beneficial to your child, and wear that across your chest.