What’s your Parenting Style? Have you chosen one?

As like many parents, my husband and I created a hybrid of a variety of parenting styles with our daughter.  I have combined R.I.E., Attachment parenting, nonviolent parenting, eventually Waldorf, and now Simplicity Parenting.  All of that along with a large dollop of advice from friends, co-workers, and Mom bloggers and parenting books all along the way.  Oh, let’s not forget my spiritual faith and core values.  And if I were to be completely honest, I would admit that the influence of my parent’s style was also incorporated.  Not necessarily that I parent as I was parented, at least I work very hard on consciously not defaulting to that.  However, the way that I experienced my childhood, and what I remember of how I was parented, has influenced decisions that I have made in my style with my daughter.  Sometimes it is as easy as using those reflections to identify how I don’t want to interact with my daughter, and on the flip side, some of experiences that I would like to incorporate.  You might call it the “Heinz 57” of parenting techniques, which is how I suppose most of us truly are.

I attended a Simplicity Parenting workshop today, led by Kim John Payne M.ED.  I found it to be truly inspiring and eye opening.  I highly recommend attending parenting classes or groups.  It is a wonderful way to deep dive into whatever method you are looking to learn more about.  You are taught real skills on that technique, are provided with interactive opportunities to practice it, and most importantly, speak and share with other parents.  The community of parenting is just so helpful.  It is a crucial experience that immediately expands your resources.  It is also an immediate normalizer, in most situations.  Similarities become clear in the categories of struggles in coping with temper tantrums, sleep transitions and routines, and sibling rivalry for example.  Self doubt and critiques of your abilities are often echoed in the parent sitting next to you or in your role play session. Sharing the experience of the guilt of not being the perfect parent is typically a perfect anecdote for releasing the guilt, or at least some of it.

If you are pregnant, it is actually the perfect time to start researching on all of the various parenting styles that are available.  It is a great time to read, especially during that last trimester where you find yourself dealing with insomnia or middle-somnia.  Just like you would with a pair of shoes, try it on for size.  Take a class or workshop, or attend a webinar.  Try out a few and discuss with your partner.  Take the time, deep dive, discuss, practice, talk to other parents, and family.  And realize that in the end you will develop your own hybrid for your family, a collection of techniques that are aligned and fit with your values.  My only caution is to allow yourself to fully learn and understand that which you are applying.  There are many people who say that are attachment parents or R.I.E. parents, but are actually applying the technique incorrectly.  Co-sleeping with your infant and toddler does not make you an attachment parent.

Happy trails.

Alisa Donner, MSW, LCSW, Co-founder of Pregnancy Awareness Month

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