Too strict or too soft? Passive or rigid? Punish or permit?
Many parenting styles exist, whether you agree with them or not. Many exist whether you have even thought about them or not. You also have a style whether you realize it or not.
Whether you are intentional or not, you have a parenting style. You may fall under a particular style or you may utilize aspects from a few different styles. Your style may be purely one thing or a combination. Your style may also change over time. One thing that we all have in common is that we have opinions both on how our children and the children of others should be raised. There is no right or wrong style, what matters is what is best for you, your family, AND your child.
Parenting is very personal even if it is often on public display. There are no shortages of self-proclaimed experts on every topic. It’s important, however, to remember that we don’t know enough about the inner workings of other families to know what actually works for them or not. As the saying goes “walk a mile in my shoes.”
So, how do you find your style? It may just come naturally to you. You may have made a conscious effort to practice a particular style. You may have a style based on results. You may have no idea.
That’s ok. Parenting styles, like the children they are here to help, can evolve and change over time as the parents figure out for themselves what works and what doesn’t. The trick is to take what you can use, leave the rest, and be open to changing your mind down the road.
A common, yet contradictory statement that I give to parents is to not take other people’s advice. What I really mean by that is to not take the advice, word for word. Know who the advisor is, know their situation, their experiences, and most importantly their child. A method may have worked for them, time and time again. But the keyword here is that their advice worked for “them!”
When processing the advice/research/data, you will doubtless be given by well-meaning experts, make sure you consider why you are looking to make changes with how you and your child communicate. Remember, you are the expert when it comes to how best to meet their needs, how you can help them learn, and (of course my favorite) how you can help them master the skills of independent sleep.
I admit that as a nanny, I rolled my eyes when a parent would use the statement “but the book says….”
I admit that as a doula, I squirmed when a parent would say “but the doctor says…..”
I admit that as a sleep coach I cringed when a parent would compare the sleeping patterns of their child to those of a neighbor, friend, or relative.
I tell parents directly to consider the methods that are doable for them. I can confirm that for so many studies and articles on a topic, there are just as many stating the opposite.
So what is a parent to do? What is an exhausted parent that can’t think straight to do? There is so much information available today. It’s so hard to not be overwhelmed and confused by it all. If the internet, books, or apps are causing you more stress than before you started reading, then STOP!
If you try something new and it doesn’t feel right or work, it’s okay to change it.
My advice (and remember, take what you can use, leave the rest) is to try something for a week.
Sometimes, children have an adjustment period.
Sometimes, things may get worse before they get better.
Sometimes the solution doesn’t click right away… but a week will give you a taste of how a new style might (or might not) work for your family.
Ultimately, it is your family and you will figure out what is best for them.