As Annabelle grows older, I am starting to face situations I assumed I’d have under control. For example, last week, I was at the playground. Annabelle was on the merry go round with another little kid and a mom friend was standing next to me. There was a 3rd mom lightly pushing the merry go round. I had Liam in the carrier so I wasn’t much help. Anyways, a bunch of older kids walked up to the merry go round, got on. I knew the situation was about to change.
Me: “HANG ON Annabelle!! It’s about to go FAST!”
Other Mom: “Everyone SLOW DOWN!”
I looked over at the other mom and hung my head in Mom Guilt. The other mom probably prevented a huge accident from happening and I felt guilty. So, I shared my story as a way to see if other Moms faced the same thing. None of the other Moms said they gave the advice of ‘Hold On’. The funny thing is, they all said that they liked the ‘Hold On’ advice because there are going to be situations where they are not present and they’d like the kids to know what to do. Unless they were just saying that but with their inside voices saying, “She’s a crazy Mom!”
Detachment vs Attachment Parenting, who cares
The latest fad in parenting is called ‘Detachment Parenting’. I first saw the ‘parenting style in the June issue of Parents magazine and was spurred to find out more information. It appears to be a sort of backlash against the hyperbola that is Attachment parenting symbolized by Time magazines featuring a 3 year old breastfeeding. While I do appreciate every mom has their own way of raising kids, I do reserve the right to say what I want about it. My parenting style? I’m learning quickly that I am a middle ground momma. I love that my son is still a baby and that I get to nurse him, cuddle him, but I will teach him how to sleep through the night in a moderate form of cry it out. Where does that leave me?
American Parenting is a melting pot
There are so many ways to bring up kids in the US. Styles swing from the extremes of Attachment “I breastfed my kids until they were ten!” to the complete opposite but still crazy Detachment parenting “My kids can kiss their own boo boos!”. Some parents will raise kids with strict adherence to religious beliefs such as Christian, Mormon, and Jewish. There are so many diverse ways of raising kids in America and each camp has a strong, opinionated voice that it is hard to find a comfortable place where moderate parents fit. Most parents I meet are not extremes, but somewhere in between. What I’ve learned from real life parenting is that one style doesn’t fit all. Picking the right style for the situation at hand is more important.
The media paints a picture of disjointed parenting styles all at war with each other. My philosophy: Why should I limit myself to one “camp” when there are so many good things I can learn from all of them.
Style doesn’t matter; it takes a village
Screw the “you’re an island” mentality of Dr. Sears and who cares about being a Super Mom. My parenting style is building a village and using what works. Just like business networking, I am creating a network (village) of people that will help me to raise my kids. What does this mean to me?
Find relief for PTSD, Depression, and Overextension from Parenting
There is a physical hardness to being a parent carrying kids, juggling bags, making meals, changing diapers, standing on your feet all hours of the day, and doing this half asleep because the baby is waking because of teething, night terrors, or whatever. Then, there is mental toughness you learn from dealing with drama and stupid crap all day like saying No 769 times, letting her drink water from the fountain for 34 minutes, figuring out how to redirect when you’ve been hit hard, figuring out what germs to care about. What I described above would be a dream situation for some moms. Imagine having a colicky baby who doesn’t stop crying and hasn’t slept in 24 hours. For fun, add in the fluctuation of hormones and depression. Parenting is physically and mentally hard. By the end of the day, I am TIRED.
I started to spiral down. It’s easy to do. I was going to get help and see if it was necessary to be on depression medication. What I learned about maternal depression is it’s similarity to a drug withdrawal. Your body has had a huge influx of hormones over 9 months that it’s gotten used to. When you give birth, the bulk of the hormones go away and your body goes into a withdrawal of sorts. While waiting for an appointment, to help alleviate the physical and mental stress, I started to build my own village.
When I’m so tired my eyelids are throbbing and I start yelling at my kids because my emotions are wackadoodle, I can call a friend in my village with whom I can commiserate and schedule a playdate. What I found to be the most helpful is to create consistent schedules, strengthening relationships with Moms who help, and being open to other parenting philosophies. I ended up cancelling the appointment because I felt so much better. I still have bad days, but I have more days that are good.
I’ve also found a great Momma’s helper. She’s a high schooler who comes over while I’m at home, and just plays with the kids. I can sleep, write, clean, or do laundry without having to stop every three minutes. It’s a huge help. The whole point is that it’s okay to get help from someone. For me, it was impossible to do it alone, lonely, and depressing. I had to find ways to stay connected and get a break every so often.
Parents aren’t the only people a child should obey
A single mom friend of mine once said, “It is impossible for me to raise this kid on my own, she has to listen and respect the adults because I cannot always be around. I want to make sure that when Grandma, Grandpa, Teachers, Babysitter or Mom friend asks her to do something, that she listens and obeys.” That really resonated with me. I am not the only source of authority in my child’s life. This statement is so fraught with worry for so many parents because many, including myself, worry that these people may take advantage of the situation. After debating this back and forth, I realized that real life isn’t about isolation; we don’t always get to pick our teachers, bosses, or coworkers. It’s better for my kids to learn how to operate in a community than an island. It means I trust my village and am teaching her the rules of community.
This doesn’t mean I am letting other people raise my kids, nor does it mean that I will allow them to discipline her. Though, she does need to understand cause and effect of her actions. I’d rather teach my kids how to thrive in a community with me at the helm in a village I have created rather than have her learn unattended without any help from me. As she gets older, it will be easier for her to navigate the complexities of the real world. I am trying some things differently, like a Manners Community. So far, I really like it. It’s impossible to be all places at once and even more so with two kids. Other Moms can tell my daughter No or redirect without a huge battle. Annabelle is learning that her parents are not the only source of authority.
Exposure to culture and sense of community
Another benefit of having a great village is the exposure that my kid will get to different people, languages, and cultures. My village is full of diverse women and couples that have very different parenting styles, and I think all of them have something good to offer.
What parenting style are you?
Do you find yourself strongly in one parenting style because of a passionate belief of how to raise kids? Or are you flexible? Would love to know!