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Parenting Styles: Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

Before becoming a parent myself, I didn’t really think much about parenting styles.  Of course, having a college background in child and family studies, I knew about various parenting styles, but I never realized that people actually subscribed to these styles so rigidly as to label themselves.

Apparently I was wrong, and now that I’m a mom I’ve seen first-hand just how divisive it can be to divulge your parenting style in mixed company. It’s almost as divisive as political party lines. Telling someone you co-sleep or that you let your baby cry it out can be just as alienating as telling someone that you support gay marriage or that you are pro-life. Democrats vs. Republicans. Attachment parents vs. …everyone else. It’s getting ridiculous.

It’s time for a reality check. There isn’t one “right” way to parent, no matter how hard you try to convince yourself. Just because you choose to breastfeed your child for an extended period of time does not earn you a gold star in parenting, nor does getting your child to sleep through the night through sleep-training. We’re all figuring this out as we go, and I wish everyone would just get off their high horse and stop thinking they have a corner on parenting truth.

Read more after the jump!

I know that right now attachment parents are in a huff because they feel judged with all the hoopla surrounding the recent TIME magazine cover featuring a mother breastfeeding her three-year-old, but even before this article the judgment was there — especially throughout the blog world.

I’ve heard snarky remarks from both sides and seen judgment all around, and the only thing it serves to do is keep everyone from learning from each other. Even though right now attachment parents are getting a lot of the backlash, I’ve encountered plenty of attachment parents who are incredibly judgmental themselves. Some of the rudest and most hurtful comments I’ve ever received were from attachment parents; parents who told me I was “a horrible mother” for letting my baby cry it out and informed me that I was damaging my child. Newsflash: any one parenting choice in and of itself does not make you a good or a bad parent.

I consider myself to be a “mish-mash parent” (yes, I just made that up). I don’t follow a particular parenting style. I’m learning as I go and I try to do what works best for my baby and my family. Maybe I let my baby cry it out, but I also chose to bed-share for the first couple of months of my baby’s life and have worked insanely hard to breastfeed. I don’t choose to baby-wear, but that’s only because my baby doesn’t like any of the carriers I’ve tried. I did, however, make birth bonding a priority through my natural water birth. Do any of these parenting choices inherently make me a “good parent” or a “bad parent”?  No.

Parents need to make their own choices based on what is important to them and what works best for their baby. No one knows your baby and its unique needs like you do. If you want to breastfeed your kid until they’re three, great! That’s your choice! If you want to push your baby around in stroller or if you want to wear them in a carrier until they’re five — also great! If you want to go on a date night without taking your sleeping baby along, great! I think you see where I’m going with this.

No parent or parenting style is perfect. Inevitably we’re all going to do one thing or another that is going to “screw up” our kids, because parenting is hard. So, can’t we all just get along and agree to disagree? Even better … what if we actually tried to show respect and support for one another?

I, for one, think this would make the world a much nicer place to parent.

 

Lauren Hartmann is the founder of The Little Things We Do, a blog about life and adventures in Portland Oregon. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook, or catch up on all of her posts here on Babble.

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