Parenting Without Style

parenting styles.png

I’m not referring to raising your children whilst wearing Crocs. No, when I say “style”, I’m referring to parenting styles. I’ve been fairly clear from pregnancy that I had no intention of following any particular “parenting style”. Now that SB is coming up to two, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on parenting without guidelines, and how it’s worked out for us.

As I’ve said in previous posts, there’s nothing wrong with following a particular parenting style if that’s what suits you – but we made a fairly unconscious decision not to follow any styles, because they all seemed a little too rigid. I’ve read a great deal of blogs from people who blog solely about their parenting style, and they all seem a little… well, “militant” is the only word I can really think of.

There’s also the problem of feeling like a failure. When parenting styles have such rigid rules, “breaking” one of these rules can make a new parent feel like a failure. There’s so much on Facebook at the moment about attachment parenting, and there are plenty of resources, groups and forums to discuss it. However, there is a hardcore group at the centre of the movement who are adamant that unless you breastfeed, you cannot call yourself an attachment parent.

When so much of breastfeeding success is based on circumstances outside of your control, it seems a little unfair to restrict that support and community to only those lucky enough to be able to exclusively breastfeed. Someone could spend their entire pregnancy within an attachment parenting community, meeting people, making plans and preparations – and if they don’t manage to breastfeed, or find that co-sleeping doesn’t work for them, or their baby hates being carried in a sling, they can be made to feel ostracised from that community. That’s damaging to any new mother in the early days of parenting.

The same goes for the “Free Range Kids” movement. When so much of it is based on giving your children freedom to explore and independence, what happens if you develop anxiety and are no longer able to commit to the movement? What happens if your children need that extra guidance and support, and struggle with having independence forced upon them? I don’t know much about how militant people get within the free range parenting community, but I’d imagine you’d feel that you’d failed as a parent.

We’ve actively shunned any kind of label for the way we parent. About half of the time, it’s pure instinct that drives the way we parent. The rest of the time, it’s either Google or pleading for advice from other people who have successfully raised functioning human beings. Okay, so there’s no real specific community for “parenting by the seat of your pants”, which I suppose is the best descriptor for what we’re doing – but there’s also no rules whatsoever, so we never have to worry about being kicked out of “the club”.

I don’t know what will happen with future pregnancies and babies. I may try and breastfeed again, or I may not. We may use slings and carriers, or we may use pushchairs. We may try and encourage the child to be independent, or we may try to keep them as reliant on us as possible. Whatever we decide to do, it won’t be because a book or a Facebook group has told us to do it. (It will be because Google has told us to do it, which is more acceptable for some reason).

In short, I have no regrets about not adopting any specific sort of parenting “style” with SB, and intend to do the same with future children too. Most of us are familiar with the saying “The baby hasn’t read the books” – they also haven’t joined the Facebook community or read the blog, so just as we can’t expect them to behave exactly as the books say they might, we also can’t expect them to adapt to your chosen parenting style immediately (or at all).

If I had to create a parenting style, the only rules to follow would be these – relax, be flexible and adapt. Trust your instincts, Google lots and get to know your own baby – not what a Facebook group says. I don’t think you can go far wrong.

A Bit Of Everything

Mummascribbles

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17 thoughts on “Parenting Without Style

  1. Jenna says:

    This is a great post, Maddy. We’ve been much the same in our parenting style – winging it. I do A LOT of googling too. 😉 I’ve recently borrowed some aspects of the Montessori approach but this has stemmed from picking up on Jasmine’s desire to be more independent. It basically means I try to focus on letting her get involved with things around the home (which is what most of us probably do anyway). I could never follow the method fully, though.

    I don’t really care how others choose to parent their children – it’s the snobbery and one-upmanship that pisses me off. The “my way is better than your way” attitude. For example, there’s a hashtag I see on Instagram used by babywearers: #wewearwecare which always grinds my gears. I didn’t babywear much because 1) Jasmine hated it 2) it gave me crippling backache. Does that mean I don’t care about my child? I just don’t think there’s any need for it.

    Anyway, here’s to making it up as we go along! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Speed Bump says:

      I looked for a Montessori nursery for SB – I love the teaching style, I couldn’t follow it all the time at home but I think she’d benefit from a Montessori education. The nearest one is hours and hours away unfortunately 😦
      I totally agree with you – the oneupmanship is totally unnecessary and I think social media is the worst for it x Thanks for the lovely comment! xx

      Like

  2. Dean B says:

    I never even thought that there was a “style” when parenting! 😉 Seriously though, I always knew I wasn’t the type either who would follow anything. I go with my instincts as my mum did, as her mum did, as her mum’s mum did. I think that’s the best “parenting style” there is 🙂 #abitofeverything.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tracey @ One Frazzled Mum says:

    I love this. I too just ‘wing it’ I have no plan or no idea what the heck I am doing and I have managed to raise a human to almost 10 years of age with no idea how! I say almost…….lol. I totally agree with you, as good as these ‘styles’ can sound nothing can replace a mothers instinct to do what is best for them and their child(ren) #abitofeverything

    Like

  4. The Anxious Dragon says:

    When I read posts like this that introduce me to the pressures the internet put on new parents these days, I thank my lucky stars that I raised my kids before facebook and such were a big thing. I would definately be an instinctive mum, your child is unique so your parenting needs to be unique to the child.
    Thanks for sharing with us, Tracey xx #abitofeverything

    Like

  5. 18-7-2 says:

    Here’s to winging it! *clinks glass*

    I agree that the big problem of style is that it doesn’t handle flexibility when things go wrong. And they do go wrong!

    We go on the what works principle and adjust according to levels of tiredness. A lot of it is about picking battles.

    I found scary mommy.com blogs collect posts from the sort of parents you might find interesting.

    #alittlebitofeverything

    Like

  6. This Mum's Life says:

    Great post Maddy! I’m with you, I never set out to parent my children in any particular way! I didn’t even know such things existed until after I’d had my first, and someone asked me if I was doing attachment parenting-I was totally blank! It’s something I like the concept of, but like others have mentioned, slings gave me terrible back problems, and I don’t sleep well at the best of times, and having a baby in my bed would just about finish off any chance of sleep I might get. I’ve never been one for rigid rules anyway, and have winged my way through pretty much everything in life! Apart from the toddler tantrums, which I’m sure everyone goes through, my 2 seem happy, well adjusted, sociable and polite! So winging it seems to be working so far!
    #abitofeverything

    Liked by 1 person

  7. mamacurtiss says:

    I love that you are bringing attention to today’s “other” parenting movement (search Google, read a bunch and decide what’s right for parents and baby). I never did much research on parenting styles when pregnant and still don’t care to. I don’t ascribe to any of them but I know I would be labeled “attachment parenting” due to people having to place a label on those that choose breastfeeding (until 12 months and done) and babywearing, however, there is NO way I will give into the co-sleeping. It simply doesn’t work for us. I don’t feel that any specific parenting style works for us and I don’t want to judge the parenting choices and styles of others. I’m a big advocate for supporting all mamas with no one right way. Freedom from judgment, and most of all freedom from labels. #abitofeverything #twinklytuesday
    -Mama Curtiss

    Like

  8. hannah says:

    Amen to that Maddy! I had to stop being friends with a lady because of her breastfeeding, babywearing militancy and the way she judged my parenting! I try to stay away from it as much as possible and now Alex is 15 months, try and stay away from groups in our area as there is alot of snobbery!

    Like

  9. Agent Spitback says:

    Excellent post! Well said! When I was pregnant with #1, I followed advice, did what I thought was best suited, and then #1 arrived, he decided otherwise…and when #2 arrived and was as different from #1, that’s when I threw all styles went out the window too. Each child is different and we had to learn the art of improvisation and whatever worked, worked. Relaxation is the key!

    Like

  10. Robyn says:

    So refreshing to read a common sense opinion on parenting styles. For the first few months of new parenthood I spent a lot of time trying to figure out which parenting style appealed most to me, but it turns out I have a pretty feisty baby who is just going to do what suits him most of the time, he doesn’t subscribe to dogma either!

    Liked by 1 person

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