Choosing a Parenting Method

It’s truly amazing how many different parenting styles there are. When my son was born, it felt like everywhere I looked there was a new (to me) method of parenting being talked about, praised or ridiculed. As a mom, it can feel pretty overwhelming as each parenting type/label seems to proclaim that you are failing if you are not following their methods to a T.

All it takes is a few spare moments on Google or in a bookstore and someone will be telling you that you are doing it all wrong! So many methods, dozens of opposing theories and countless controversies; this is motherhood in the 21st century. For fun, here is a quick list of some of the most popular methods being talked about today. This is certainly not an all-inclusive list as I would quickly run out of room on this post!

  • Attachment Parenting
  • Permissive Parenting
  • Gentle Discipline
  • Slow Parenting
  • Strict Parenting
  • Helicopter Parenting
  • Authoritative Parenting
  • Authoritarian Parenting

The list could go on and on. Wikipedia has a great index about many popular parenting methods and styles if you are wanting to read more.

What I quickly discovered as a new mom was, that I don’t fit into any of these categories as a parent. There are some great concepts in almost every parenting style, I find myself nodding in agreement with some theories from each method and moments later adamantly shaking my head no, aware that I would never do some of the things that the same method promotes.

I found myself stuck in the middle of dozens of great ideologies, feeling pulled in so many directions and never finding one that I could fully embrace. For awhile I felt guilty, worrying that something was wrong with me, perhaps I was too indecisive or maybe I was going to mess up my kiddos because I couldn’t fully embrace one particular parenting method or another.

But as my son grew into a happy little toddler and we welcomed another baby into our family I came to realize three truths that have been so helpful for me as a mother.

There are good things in each method

I’ve learned to embrace the good that I see in each method and not worry about all the other details that might not work for my family. For example: I cloth diaper like a crunchy mom, babywear like an attachment parent, but I also choose to vaccinate (which is rare for a crunchy/attachment mama).  I’ve co-slept for a few months and done a mild form of cry it out with both of my kids. These examples aren’t even getting into discipline methods, but I dabble a bit into many methods there as well. Point being, reading up on different styles doesn’t have to be intimidating but instead educating yourself on different ideologies can be a fun learning experience and help shape you into the kind of mother your kids need.

The methods don’t work (for every child)

I’ve read a lot of parenting books that claim their techniques are perfectly effective for every child in the world but I just don’t believe that! All children are unique and different methods work better for different kids. I’ve seen my friends effectively using methods that would never work on my son. Figuring out what works for each particular child is the hard part, just don’t let yourself feel guilty if you’ve found that certain things work for you that don’t work for your friend’s kids or the other way around! Each child and each family is unique so it makes sense that our parenting styles would differ as well.

Love matters most

I’m still a novice at this whole “mommy” business (my oldest is only 2.5) but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past two and a half year, it’s that loving on my kids is far more important than any method or ideology out there. We will all make mistakes, regardless of our methods (even if we follow them completely) but the one thing we can do is love the kids and try to do what’s best for them.

Stressing out over what parenting method to choose didn’t help me become a better mother it just worried me. Instead of focusing on perfecting a method, I’m learning to focus on loving my kids and learning how to relate to them in ways they can understand and appreciate. I’m not a perfect mother and I still don’t have a parenting style to call my own, but I’m okay with that. Because I love my kids and do everything I can to raise them “right”, even when many of the methods are telling me I’m wrong.

Choosing a Parenting Method

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