Choosing how to Parent
There are hundreds — if not thousands — of articles and books written about parenting and how to do it the “right” way. If I weren’t already up to my eyeballs on diaper changes and remembering to feed my child (and myself) I’d take a week or two to sit down and read all of them. But I don’t have that time, so I took a brief moment during nap times to acquaint myself with parenting techniques and styles. I read some articles, watched videos from child psychologists and educators, and listened to first hand accounts from other mom’s in my personal and social media groups.
There were some key lessons and takeaways that I got from my research and I will share with you now.
The first lesson I had to learn about was the four different “leading” or “parenting” styles that are clinically classified as:
- Permissive — child-driven and overindulging child to avoid conflict.
- Authoritative — solving problems together and creating/maintaining healthy boundaries
- Authoritarian — parent-driven with strict rules and one way communication with no regard to child’s behavior or emotions
- Neglectful — absent, offers no guidance to child, often indifferent to child’s needs
The second lesson was understanding how I was parented and what emotional needs were not met during my childhood that I would like to have met for my child. This is a little harder to dive into. It’s essentially putting yourself through therapy. You also have to take off the kid glasses and evaluate yourself. Were you a happy child? What needs were met to create that feeling? What needs were unmet that created unhealthy responses to certain triggers in your relationships? What is that your child is doing that triggers your responses and what can you do to cope? If you cannot afford therapy for yourself, here are the following social media accounts I like to follow to help guide me through my personal journey.
The third lesson was figuring out which style of parenting I’d like to do and how I can work on myself to fall under that category. I chose the authoritative style as it best matched what I felt would be the best teaching tool for my child and their emotional regulation. It was also a good experience for me to practice the tools used under this style on myself.**
It’s been a real eye opening experience, especially because I never realized just how receptive my toddler was until I started putting these tools into practice with him. He has picked up so many tips, (ex: breathing exercises) and I couldn’t be more proud of how well he’s been learning to regulate his emotions.
**I’m not a perfect person. I still make a lot of mistakes. I still get frustrated, angry, and cannot “keep the calm” inside. I am actively working on this and it hurts me and my kiddo when I cannot control my emotions the way I’d like to see them do. I do not like who I am when I lose my patience or my temper. When this happens, I usually end up apologizing for my behavior and give him kisses. We laugh it out with something silly. I do feel like I’ve messed up a lot, and I don’t know when that becomes irreparable.
More in-depth about Authoritative Parenting:
Authoritative… doesn’t that sound close to Authoritarian? Yes, it does, but here’s the difference. Authoritarian parents set hard rules without explanation or reasoning. They are quick to be disappointed and judging, but never praising for expected behaviors.
Gentle parenting is creating clear and firm boundaries. It is allowing your child to recognize their feelings and emotions and how it affects their bodies. It is showing your child that you are there to help and act as a guide through their life. It’s showing up for your child when they need you. It’s also allowing them to be independent and problem-solvers.
Permissive parenting has no boundaries.
Phrases you’ll hear most:
- I’m here. What do you need?
- How can I help you through this?
- What would you like to do about this?
- I wonder how we can solve this problem.
- Let’s take a deep breath together.
- You don’t have to share the toy right now, but you need to let Susie have a turn with it when you’re done playing.
- If you put that in your mouth again, I will take it away. *baby puts in mouth* *mama takes it away*
Phrases you will not hear:
- I told you so.
- I said you cannot have this toy… Oh, don’t cry, okay you can have it.
- Stop the whining and tell me what you need.
- Because I said so.
- Give the toy to Bill!
Attachment style parenting is similar to gentle parenting but mainly used for infants to toddlers. The term you might see used often would be responsive parenting. “Feeding on demand” when you nurse or feed your infant when they give hunger cues rather than setting a strict time when they need to feed. Following sleep cues instead of setting a strict time when they need to take a nap or go to bed. Co-sleeping or bedsharing with the baby to increase bonding and create better sleep habits. Baby-led feeding — letting your baby play with food and figure out foods on their own. Toddler-led weaning, letting your toddler dictate when they are done with their nursing/bottle journey instead of cutting cold turkey.
All of this is creating an environment where you and baby work together to problem solve and learn to regulate their emotions. This type of relationship is supposed to help your child throughout their life with their relationships to others even in adulthood.
Since this “trend on social media” has started up in the past few years, I’m interested in seeing how these children will be as they grow up and what kind of society we will have in the future.