Do You Have a Parenting Philosophy – Your Children are not Your Children

Attachment Parenting, Benign Neglect,  Authoritarian, Helicopter Parent, Tiger Mum – which one describes your parenting method best?

Can you put a name to your Parenting Philosophy, explain it in two or three words?


In those first hazy months of parenthood, many of us read books on parenting. We search for answers, for reassurance, for advice. Or we use websites such as Mumsnet, Netmums or Babycentre. Perhaps you already had an idea of the kind of parent you wanted to be, and found that the reality of parenting was slightly different to the theory.


I can recall being indignant at my husband’s Grandmother, because she told me that when I had children, my ideas on parenting would change, that the theory is all very well but sometimes a well-thought out plan must be laid aside. These pesky children don’t read the books unfortunately.

One of my bugbears before we had our daughter was the dummy – I was insistent that our children would not use one. When our daughter was a few days old, I sent my husband out to buy a pile of dummies, as the midwife had suggested giving her one. She had an extremely strong suck reflex, and it was the only way to settle her – even years after she gave up her dummy I would sometimes see her moving her mouth around an imaginary dummy when sleeping.


As our children grew, I realised more and more how important it is that both parents have similar ideas about parenting. You don’t have to agree all the time, but if one parent is on the Attachment Parenting end of the scale, and the other Authoritarian, then there is a rocky road ahead.

It is a good thing to have a chat about this before your child is born, and while that child is still young. What are your opinions on discipline, on table manners, on school work, on chores. You don’t have to set things in stone, but if you have talked about these issues before they come up then you know where each partner stands.

It is something that crops up  from time to time – the question on supporting each other’s decisions. Many people say that the parents must not argue in front of the children on differences of opinion. While I agree with this in principle, sometimes it is good for the children to see that their parents do not always agree, and to see compromises being made.

We have sometimes had situations where one of us thinks that the other has been too harsh, and have commented on this. Obviously this depends on the situation, and the tone which is used, but I do think that it is good to have a discussion about it. It prevents a Them and Us confrontational family dynamic between the parents and children.

If I were to sum up my parenting philosophy in two words, it would be MUTUAL RESPECT

We respect our children’s right to be individuals.

We respect their right to have their own opinion.

We respect them.

We expect respect from them – not blind obedience but honest and caring response to our wishes.


When my daughter was a baby, our paediatrician had a poem from Kahlil Gibran on her wall. It pretty much sums up my parenting philosophy.



On Children
Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.


  • Little Me

    I can’t really label my parenting style, as I don’t know what each label means. There is so much conflicting parenting advice about everything that I have read as little as possible, listening to my instincts and my daughter’s doctor. I absorb what other people tell me, and will use their advice if I feel it could work for me.

    To be honest I don’t think think I have gleaned very much advice even from mumsnet – I prefer to use that site for debate, the funny threads and as a spyhole into other people’s lives. I hope that doesn’t make me sound too awful, but it is interesting from a psychological point of view, and also as a writer.

    So I guess if I had to label my parenting method I woudl say Instinctive. I never expected to be a mother, but feel like I have coped better than I thought.

    I think women need to trust their instincts and not worry too much about doing things wrong. A child needs love, education, food and trust.

    But those are the words of a very new mother who has been blessed with a very easy baby. I guess everyone has different experiences, which may be why no one label is ever really suitable.

    • mmelindor

      That is a good road to take. I do think that some parents have difficulty doing this, trusting their instincts. Which does not mean ignoring all advice offered but making your own decision, based on the available information.

  • Ella

    When I had my first baby I desperately read all the parenting books I could find. I had imagined a baby who bounced in a chair while I practised my juggling, the reality was very different.
    Later in my parenting career I read (can’t remember where) that a happy home is one where everyone has their needs met within a culture of respect. So my children have the right to make noise and have fun but not to tear the house down. Equally I have the right to read a paper for twenty mins but not all day.
    This attitude works well in my home. We all get a little of what we need.
    I can’t and won’t subscribe to one style of parenting. I co sleep with my baby’s and love slings. However I’m also a fan of the time out step and all my little ones in bed by seven.
    So I guess I’m not answering your question at all, but a good rambling comment never hurt anyone right?

    • mmelindor

      Ha. Yes, the idea of all that will be possible during maternity leave – that is soon scuppered.

      A pick n mix of parenting styles is perhaps the way to go.

  • Kim

    I agree with Ella and Little me – a mixture of instinct, mutual respect and letting kids be kids is how we muddle through. That and making sure they know every single day that they are loved very much.
    Its so strange that you posted ‘On children’ today. I came across it for the first time yesterday on Rebecca Wolfe’s blog GirlGoneChild (I’ve been ill in bed for two days so passed the time by reading blogs!).
    She named her son Archer because of it. Its beautiful.

  • Kim

    Forgot to say – a decent bedtime and a balanced diet always helps too. My 5 year old is an absolute nightmare when he’s tired or hungry, but aren’t we all?

  • Jo

    If i had to use 3 words, i would say my parenting style is common sense, instinctive and fair (or i always try to be) 🙂
    Really enjoyed this post. I had just finished a blog post that started out about 2 of my children and then went on to also be about the colour of children’s toys etc…
    I then clicked on your blog for a read to see your post today was also with reference to parenting and children 🙂

  • Joanne Mallon

    Yes I have a parenting philosophy, which is: relaxed, with boundaries. So in general I don’t sweat the small stuff, but I’m very hot on saying please and thank you and going to bed on time. Our one and only family rule is: Be Kind, which I find covers most things.

  • Clare Kirkpatrick

    Similar to you, I think. We try always to be open minded, and aim to be open and honest and respectful with our children and each other. Constantly striving to find the right answer for our family, regardless of what other people may feel is the right answer.

  • Rose Holman

    Before I had childrne I thought I had a parenting philosophy, and I thought I knew what I would be like as a parent. The reality is very different, and now I don’t tihnk I even have a parenting philosophy. I have a life philosophy, and my parenting comes into that, but to be honest, life with a child with AS is pretty hard to fit into some predefined boundaries or specifications.

    I try to be fair, openminded, flexible and be prepared for change, contstant change. I respect my son and give him plently of independence, and try to remember that he is an individual and has the right to be different, even if it means I don’t get to practice the kind of parenting I thought I would practice before having children. I can’t be that imaginary prent for my son, it just wouldn’t work with him.

    I also try not to think about it too much, otherwise I would contstantly feel like I was failing, I don’t ecpect perfection, I can’t expect it, so I just aim to be a good enough parent, have some laughs and gun in amongst all the daily grind.

  • bluebirdsunshine

    Like so many others, I don’t think I have one parenting philosophy or style. I guess you could say I’m baby-led when it comes to most things, and definitely still have a lot to learn. I’m strict to the point of slightly obsessive about the bedtime routine though and good old fashioned manners. I think most days I think to myself ‘let children be children’ and I declare the day a success if we have all had at least one big belly laugh together.

  • Dilly Tante

    I thought I’d be more routine-y and less lentil-weavery. I’m trying but I can’t sum up my style ATM. Often lazy, sometimes uber mum with a rush of creative energy which soon wears off. Less respectful than I should be sadly. I need to be more aware that dd1 is her own person. I stand my ground, but perhaps too much. That said mine are 4 and 1 so I’ve barely taken the training wheels of in terms of parenting!

    • mmelindor

      Maybe we all have to do it for a little while before we really know what style we wish to adopt. I certainly would not have written this post 4 years ago.

  • PartySpanner

    I love that poem and it is so utterly true. (It made me cry a little bit)

    All I’ve ever strived for is that my children are completely aware how very much they are loved by me, whether by setting boundaries or by waking them gently every morning. I abide by the law of never going to bed on an argument and by saying goodbye every time we part.

    We’re doing ok.

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