Even before I had a child, I would think to myself of other parents: “My kids will never do that!” or “Is that father watching that child?” or “Did that mother really just say that?”. C’mon, I know I’m not the only one. We all think we know best and that when it (fill in the blank) happens to us, it will some how be different or better even. I haven’t had any real parenting dilemmas yet with an infant and I realize that it is easy to judge others when you are naive and haven’t got children of your own.
The one thing I know for sure about kids is that they can be very unpredictable and unless you and your partner are on the same page regarding your parenting style, it can be a long and arduous road. Trying to determine which parenting style to follow can be little mind boggling though. I’ve done a little research on this and here is what I have found…so far.
Psychologist, Diana Baumrind determined that there are three basic parenting styles based on two aspects of parenting that she found to be extremely important: “Parental responsiveness”, which refers to the degree the parent responds to the child’s needs and “Parental demandingness”, which is the extent to which the parent expects more mature and responsible behavior from a child. The three parenting styles she defines are:
Authoritarian (“Too Hard”): the authoritarian parenting style is characterized by high demandingness with low responsiveness. The authoritarian parent is rigid, harsh, and demanding.
Permissive (“Too Soft”): this parenting style is characterized by low demandingness with high responsiveness. The permissive parent is overly responsive to the child’s demands, seldom enforcing consistent rules. The “spoiled” child often has permissive parents.
Authoritative (“Just Right”): this parenting style is characterized by moderate demandingness with moderate responsiveness. The authoritative parent is firm but not rigid, willing to make an exception when the situation warrants. The authoritative parent is responsive to the child’s needs but not indulgent.
It’s a no brainer that of these, the “Just Right” theory is most appealing.
I’m also interested in Attachment Parenting, a parenting philosophy developed by Dr. William Sears. One big focus of Attachment Parenting, however, is “babywearing” or carrying your baby around with you. At two months old, Lucas already weighted over 12 pounds and was 23 inches and because I bruised my tail bone pretty badly during delivery, carrying him around for any length of time was nearly a physical impossibility, let alone “wearing” him.
From what I understand about Attachment Parenting, it is a method that does not seem to value the independence of the child and instead promotes dependence between parent and child.
On the other hand, I do love the idea of being sensitive to your baby’s every need. In Sears’ book, The Baby Book, he says “Imagine how you would feel if you were completely uncoordinated—unable to do anything for yourself—and your cries for help went unheeded. A baby whose cries are not answered does not become a ‘good’ baby (though he may become quiet); he does become a discouraged baby. He learns the one thing you don’t want him to: that he can’t communicate or trust his needs will be met.” This makes a lot of sense to me and I practice staying in tune with my son every day.
I want to encourage the parental attachment I have with my baby while at the same time fostering a healthy sense of independence in him. There has to be a happy medium, right?
Most people, it seems draw from what they experienced as a child from their own parents as a means of determining what their parenting style will be and perhaps, too by looking around at others and deciding exactly how they DON’T want to parent.
I may have bit off more than I could chew with this topic, but the bottom line for me is that parenting is the biggest job I’ll ever have and it is also a learning experience that hopefully, I’ll get better at each day. I feel as long as we are parenting from the heart, we can’t go wrong.
The best is yet to be.
Eight Principles of Attachment Parenting
1. Preparation for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting
2. Feed with Love and Respect
3. Respond with Sensitivity
4. Use Nurturing Touch
5. Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
6. Provide Consistent Loving Care
7. Practice Positive Discipline
8. Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life
These values are interpreted in a variety of ways. Many attachment parents also choose to live a natural family living lifestyle, such as natural childbirth, home birth, stay-at-home parenting, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, babywearing, homeschooling, unschooling, the anti-circumcision movement, natural health, cooperative movements, naturism and support of organic and local foods.