The Parenting Styles of "The Parents"

12:50 PM

"When we parent, we are parenting the world and its future."
Robin Grille

Recently, after reading a lot of opinions on parenting on social media, I began asking if I fall under a certain type of parenting philosophy. Often I will see or hear a thought on parenting methods that I feel really strongly in favour of or against, but to me I felt like I was kind of all over the map. I see some parents and they are such textbook examples of the attachment parenting method...and although I appreciate certain aspects, I also feel pretty strongly against others. I have been left wondering where I fit and thinking maybe I am just weird! lol

Last week I started researching parenting philosophies to see if I identify with anything rather strongly...and I realized just because one method is super popular right now, there are also still tons of amazing methods out there that are less talked about that I identify with more! Now, that being said, I believe there is no perfect method and there are still things I don't really relate to within these philosophy, but in general I really believe in a blend of these three philosophies. I don't know if it's because we've been together for so long that we essentially grew into adulthood together and have already been a team for over 10 years before having children, but my hubby Scott and I actually completely 100% agree on parenting style and methods....which is awesome. I don't know how rare that is, but I am certainly appreciative because we are on the same page. So let me break down these three philosophies and how I relate.

Slow Parenting Philosophy:

Similar to the slow-food movement, the idea behind this philosophy is to stop and smell the roses, to let children set the pace of their day. Playing is their work, and the natural world is the best place for their discoveries and learning to occur. Electronic toys are discouraged, as they do not promote exploration. Slow parenting might be interpreted as a backlash to overscheduling children with activities and events.

Here are some typical characteristics of slow parenting strategies:

  • Making sure that there enough time in the family schedule for everybody to spend time together, alone or whatever is felt for or needed
  • Stepping back and allowing children to take certain risks in order for them to get to know themselves, their abilities and limits better
  • Few organized activities. Rather it is encouraged that children use their own creativity when playing
  • Exploring and using the resources of Mother nature. Exploring the woods, playing outside in the garden etc.
  • Limited use of television as it viewed as installing passivity in children and doesn't spark the imagination as say a book does
  • Simple toys rather than complex electronic devises. The philosophy behind this piece of advice is that the more simple the toy is, the more the child is forced use his or her creative mind in the play process
My thoughts: I love the concept of cultivating home and learning environments for our children where they are the explorers and not everything is set up and dictated to them via a packed schedule. I feel that the imagination is best grown by being used, and I love the philosophy of setting family time together to just be a family and explore together. I connect deeply with nature and really encourage time outdoors as much as possible. I also strongly believe in limited time with televisions and video games and iPads. However, the use of technology is probably the one area that is more grey for me in this philosophy. I am not against technology, I am just against not spending enough time in the day learning in a more hands-on style. Some technology can really help us learn and expand our imaginations, and it is also permissable to simply find enjoyment where you find enjoyment and spend time relaxing once all the work is done and enough time has been spent that day learning and exploring, so that is the one area of this philosophy that I am less likely to fully agree with.

Authoritative Parenting Philosophy:
The parent provides structure and sets limits, but explains reasons for punishments in an effort to encourage independence. (“We don’t throw things because they might hurt someone or something, so I’m going to have you take a break from this toy.”) According to Diana Baumrind's studies, and many parenting studies made since then, authoritative parenting is the parenting style that has been most consistent terms of being associated with positive outcomes for children: high level of self esteem, good academic performance, well-developed social skills, good emotional control etc. As a parenting style, authoritative parenting is characterized by high behavior control (demandingness) and high parental responsiveness (warmth).

Typical traits of authoritative parenting are:

  • A child discipline strategy that includes demands for children such as assigning house chores
  • Children are basically expected to do as they are told. Thus they are raised in a spirit of disciplined conformity, general obedience and sticking to the rules
  • Authoritative parents have a relatively flexible mind where they make use of what may be termed rational control: There are rules but they have to make logical sense
  • Relative freedom of choice. This parenting style encourages independent thinking and give and take discussions. However, the parents will typically always have the last say
  • Being warm, responsive and striving towards meeting the children's physical as well as emotional needs
My thoughts: I am all about fun and adventure and I adore time where we can peacefully just enjoy life, but we are also all part of a bigger picture and how we live our lives is not solely for ourselves, but also to help others and leave the world a better place having been here. I firmly believe in teaching my kids that the world doesn't revolve around them and they should not expect to constantly be served, never hear no, and never listen to anyone. On the contrary, I want my children to learn respect for authority, to give honour where honour is due, and to know boundaries of social behaviour - where certain behaviours are appropriate and where they are not. Scott and I both believe that our child needs to know that the dynamic of a healthy family, from our perspective, involves a hierarchy. God is #1, parents and marriage relationship is #2, and children are #3. Why? Because that's how it is. Our children will never feel that they are more important than our marriage or that they are allowed to come between us. This isn't just for our sake - it's mainly for theirs. We want to model a healthy relationship for them where they know that being a spouse or partner, if that's what they choose for their lives, is a very important decision and dictates the direction of their future. You need to commit fully to that relationship and not let anything come between it. We want them to see how important that decision is, and to know that mommy and daddy are strong and in this together. All of this provides a stable and strong foundation for our kids. I don't want them thinking they are the boss, because truly as children, they do not have the skills or abilities to handle that level of responsibility, and therefore will end up plagued by anxiety and self-doubt and insecurities. I want them to know that their parents are the boss and that's the healthy way it should be - they can rest and trust that we have their best interests at heart, even though I know they will fight back and try to push boundaries. However, the boundaries aren't moving. I honestly want to be my children's best friend but *never* at the expense of their self-development. If growing into a loving, respectful, hard working and helpful person in society means they need to hate me for awhile, I will make that sacrifice for them. I will always be warm and loving and have their best interests at heart, so they will learn rules and boundaries and structure so they can function well in the world and find their own place of belonging.

Free-Range Parenting Philosophy:
This movement seeks to preserve the notion that children grow into independence by practicing it. (“Go ride your bike and come home before dinner.”) Almost as a backlash to the overbearing, over-scheduling “helicopter” parent, free-range parenting is based on the notion “that we can give our children the same kind of freedom we had [as kids] without going nuts with worry. When you let children out, all the good things happen - the self-confidence, happiness, and self-sufficiency that come from letting our kids do some things on their own." There was a time when letting young children walk to school alone, ride their bikes around the neighborhood unsupervised, and hang out in the park didn’t seem like irresponsible parenting. In fact, if you grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s (and earlier, of course), you probably remember going out to play after school and being expected to return home only when the street lights turned on. But as more families had both parents working outside the home, supervised after-school activities became increasingly necessary. What resulted was a shift in our culture that requires kids to be under constant adult surveillance. “Kids today in all settings are very scheduled and very supervised,” says Richard Gallagher, PhD, associate professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the NYU Child Study Center. “You rarely find kids today engaging in pick-up softball games or other kinds of activities where they plan things and work it out themselves.”

Typical traits of free-range parenting are:

  • Allowing your children to explore the world as an exciting place, rather than a fearful dangerous place (within proper logic and reason)
  • Letting kids be bored so they establish the ability to entertain themselves, create, and use their imaginations to keep themselves occupied
  • The belief that self-esteem comes from attempting something that’s a little difficult and either succeeding or failing and trying again until you do succeed.
  • Not forfeiting your responsibility as a parent, but passing on what responsbility you can, at the appropriate ages, so your children develop into independent, self-motivated individuals
  • Let children face some consequences of their own actions that won’t harm them, but will teach them some lessons
Sadly, in our current western society, the heavy emphasis on scheduling and supervision has caused children to lose the ability to entertain themselves without TV, computers, or video games. Aside from our work schedules, fear often dictates what we will and won’t allow our children to do. Most of us perceive these to be dangerous times, with the threat of child abduction, abuse, or worse on the rise. It would be flat-out unsafe, bordering on criminally negligent, is a common refrain, to allow our children the same freedoms we had to roam our neighborhoods unsupervised. But that's just not statistically true. As it turns out, we’re living in about the safest time in history. But if you pay attention to 24-hour news, which brings us the worst stories from around the world, you’ll likely believe otherwise. In fact, crime rates in this country were on the rise during the 1970s and '80s and peaked in 1993. Since then, crime has declined by 50% or more. That means if you were a kid in the '70s or '80s, your children are actually safer today than you were when your parents allowed you to walk to school on your own.“The message you get if your parents do everything from driving you to school to waiting at the bus stop to doing your science fair project is ‘I love you so much, but I don’t think you can do this. That’s why they call it self-confidence, not parent-assisted confidence.

Questions parents should ask themselves when considering whether a child is safe to participate in an activity:

  1. Does my child have the disposition to handle the activity?
  2. Can he or she follow rules?
  3. Does my child know what to do in case there is a problem?
  4. Does my child know from whom it is safe to ask for help?
  5. Does my child have a sense of how to reach out to parents, use a phone, distinguish between police officers and other people?
My thoughts: I entirely love this philosophy. Like, LOVE it. I am sick of our society being so plagued by the fear of the media that somehow it's become the norm to trust absolutely no one. Man, my mom was even a worry wart in the 90s and we still had sooo much freedom. My childhood was excellent because of that freedom. My memories are beautiful and fun and I cherish them dearly. I will not abuse my children by locking them up and teaching them the world is a terrible place with much to fear. I just won't do it. This philosophy speaks strongest to my heart because I love freedom and adventure and even risk - and so do children. They will learn what they need to learn. They need to learn to navigate their own gut feelings and question the safety of things themselves, not just constantly listen to fearful old mom, ruining their fun. Sure, I will be terrified. It's the job of the mom to be terrified I think...but that fear should never win. I want my children to ride the wind and fall in love with life and nature. Ahh, I just love this philosophy so much!

So, in closing, this is me in a nutshell...and I expect to practice all of this perfectly! Just I expect to most days, like many parents, feel like my head has been cut off and to constantly be second guessing if I am being a good mom. Fundamentally, this is where we stand as parents. I've worked with kids in many ways over many years and I know who I am as a leader to them and how my actions/reactions influence their behaviors. But I don't judge other parents...we all must do what we feel is right, and that can look different from one family to the next. Plus, so many factors come into play - finances, locale, demographics, health, etc. But it was really satisfying for me and even rewarding to finally peg down where we stand and to now know what resources to turn to when we aren't quite sure what to do. You can get such varied advice across the board, so we would be best to turn to resources that at their core, follow the same ideologies as us and typically follow the same parenting philosophies. Hope you learned something!

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