Here at Mothering From Scratch, we encourage you to find your own mothering style and parenting methods that work best for you and your family. Most moms, we’ve found, take bits and pieces of various advice and mix them into their own successful recipe. However, the process of deciding what to keep and what to throw away can be filled with feelings of guild and inadequacy.
Maybe you’ve heard some of these parenting methods along your journey:
1. Helicopter Parenting:
This one has been in the news a lot lately. Apparently, we are ruining our childrens’ ability to think for themselves and make decisions by doing all the hard work all their lives by swooping in to rescue them. Rescuing behavior can be everything from making sure they don’t fall down a flight of stairs to filling out their college applications for them. When should we swoop? Are we ever “permitted” to swoop?
I have to admit, I do like to swoop every now and then. I also have painfully watched as my kids have experienced normal life circumstances and navigated them on their own. Occasionally, my mothering instincts get the better of me and I just know they need help. I have set myself free from having guilt about real help and guidance. What’s a normal amount of swooping? I don’t know. I just know that I have to trust my gut, seek God’s direction, keep my helicopter blades greased while still figuring out when to pull the brake. It’s exhausting, if I may be honest.
2. Attachment Parenting:
I like to call this Velcro parenting, myself. Before this term was even coined, I was attached. It made more sense to me to hold and sleep with babies than it did to put them into seats, swings, cribs and any other device. My arms seemed like the best place. Sue me.
There were consequences, though. Where was this harmful? My housekeeping and work duties took major hits. I wasn’t really capable of doing all of this holding, wrapping and cuddling without ignoring other important tasks. Now that everyone is as big as me or getting there, I have no regrets about all of the holding I did. It doesn’t last that long in retrospect.
For those who prefer (and who’s child prefer!) a more “hands down” method of parenting, it’s important that everyone make the decision for what works for their particular child and personality. Onc way is not better than the other. We have to declare this to be true.
3. “God’s Way” of Parenting:
During the 90s there was a popular child rearing philosophy that centered around what a few people decided was “God’s Way” of parenting children. Some of the tenants involved the notion that parenting was mostly about control and authoritarianism and somehow that conveyed love.
This one put me into a tailspin. My instincts told me that I wanted to cooperate with my child’s natural “God given” personalities and do what I felt best, but this method instructed me to lead and control every single encounter with my child, from play to feeding. It exhausted me worrying about whether I was in control. It made me feel like a wimp when I fed my child when they seemed hungry. This was probably the lowest I felt about my capabilities as a mom. It didn’t fit. And certainly it was my fault.
Proclaiming what God’s way of parenting is and should be is dangerous, dangerous territory. It attaches the relationship with have with God the Father as if we don’t want to disappoint him and do it “wrong”, as it were and therefore be in a state of sin. I would like to offer some other faith-filled statements regarding the privilege of raising children. Humanae Vitae and others illustrate what responsible parenting looks and acts like. From these, we can see a loving approach of the Church encouraging parents in loving their children well.
4. Strict Parenting:
“I had very strict parents, and it worked out well for me, so I’m going to do the same.”
“My parents were so strict and controlling. I would never do that to my child.”
These statements are all or nothing. They are the black and white thinking patterns we sometimes have when it comes to mothering. The truth is that our mothering style is very, very grey. It is such a mixture of our life’s experiences, our strengths and weaknesses and our gut.
Pigeon holing ourselves into either side of the “strict parenting” quandary mostly will lead us to feel inadequate. Strict values on a variety of topics and issues are really where I have seen myself. Certain things are non-negotiable. Others, I’m more flexible. Some to be honest, I just don’t care about at all.
Setting ourselves free from the constraints of parenting formulas is just a small part of surrendering to God’s design. If we were all the same, then these formulas would make sense to all of us. Finding what works best for you and your family is a constant recalibration of values and circumstances.
True freedom can only come when we realize that we EVEN HAVE THE FREEDOM AVAILABLE IN THE FIRST PLACE. If we feel constantly pulled and pushed into different directions, it’s time to reevaluate why.
I’d love to know your thoughts and feelings.
Where is God leading you to re-evaluate your mothering style?
What parenting style worked for you and truly helped you lovingly parent your kids?
Is there a parenting style that fits better for you than others?