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.
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.