To sleep train or not to sleep train? That's not the only question.
If you're preparing for a new baby, you might find yourself questioning all sorts of things. And that might include "What kind of mom or dad will I be?".
Parenting is a framework for how we approach every aspect of our parent-child relationships. It's the foundation for how we set our children up for their future. Your parenting style can affect everything from your child's self-esteem and physical health to how they relate to others.
Now let's get this out into the open right away: every parent and every child is different. For many of us, we'll need to create a metaphorical parenting soup - a little bit of this and a little bit of that. And when you have multiple kids, you might need to serve up different soups for each individual. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting; this is a judgment-free zone.
Essential Ingredients for your parenting style: Find Your Carrier
Let's be real. Chances are that even if we had the best and most loving parents, we might still need therapy. And that might mean our kids will too. That's ok! We're doing our best! Parenting is one big game of try, fail, adjust, win, lose, celebrate, hide in the closet, rejoice, cry, and do it all over again tomorrow.
Let's start with some of the basics.
Different Parenting Styles
Researchers have identified four main types of parenting styles:
- You believe kids should be seen and not heard.
- When it comes to rules, you think it's "my way or the highway."
- You don't take your child's feelings into consideration.
- You put a lot of effort into creating and maintaining a positive relationship with your child.
- You explain the reasons behind your rules.
- You set limits, enforce rules, and give consequences, but consider your child's feelings.
- You set rules but rarely enforce them.
- You don't give out consequences very often.
- You think your child will learn best with little interference from you.
- You don't ask your child about school or homework.
- You rarely know where your child is or who they are with.
- You don't spend much time with your child.
Most parents don't fit into just one category, so there's no need to panic. When balancing life and parenting, it can be challenging to remain consistent - AND we're bringing our unique experiences from our own families and relationships into our parenting styles - guilt and shame don't help anyone. Awareness does! Identifying your personal parenting style can give you more insight into how you're currently operating and how you'd like to operate. In addition, it can give you a framework to find tools, tips, and tricks to help regulate yourself and your kids. Knowledge is key!
Don't forget to put on your oxygen mask first - Your ability to care for your children will improve if you look after your own mental health with as much love. Here are some tips.
The studies show that authoritative parenting is the best style - if that's not where you're at yet, that's ok. Practice makes….well, not perfect because we're humans, and parenting is tough. But practice does make…improvements!
Today, we're going to chat about Natural Parenting, which is one version of Authoritative Parenting. It's also known as gentle parenting, conscious parenting, or attachment parenting. We're big fans of this parenting style because there is a significant emphasis on the parent/child bond (hello, babywearing!).
Intro to Natural (Or Attachment) Parenting
According to Healthine, "Attachment parenting is a modern parenting philosophy based on the attachment theory, which was coined by the work of two child psychologists. This research-supported theory is based on the concept that a parent's connection and responsiveness to their baby's needs have a lasting effect on their baby's future emotional health and relationships."
In our opinion, natural, or attachment, parenting is actually a very well, natural way to parent. Natural Parenting Magazine describes it as "no different than what you would expect to receive as an adult in today's society. Would you like to have your food made with love, be treated with respect and sensitivity, and be able to respond to others with care? When it comes to your children, the word discipline doesn't mean yell, scream, swear, abuse or physically harm the child. This is what we as adults would expect in life, so why wouldn't you respect and love your child in the same positive way that you would like to be treated? We all strive for balance in our family and personal lives, and this is exactly what a natural parent's philosophy is."
Attachment Parenting International identifies eight basic principles natural parents follow, which are:
- Prepare for pregnancy, birth, and parenting.
- Feed with love and respect.
- Respond with sensitivity.
- Use nurturing touch.
- Engage in nighttime parenting.
- Provide constant, loving care.
- Practice positive parenting, not discipline.
- Strive for balance in personal and family life.
These eight principles are best accomplished through skin to skin contact, babywearing, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, co-bathing, elimination communication, and positive parenting!
Growing your family? Tips on mindfully introducing another child to your pack.
Infant Carrying Promotes Attachment
Compared to other types of attachment-related interventions for at-risk mothers, the intervention of providing baby carriers turned out to be extraordinarily effective. The research team speculated on the mechanisms that might be involved in the dramatic change in the mothers' caregiving skills. Research in monkeys has demonstrated that mothers exposed to maternal neglect in their childhood tend to be negative towards their offspring and spontaneously reject physical contact. However, if exposed to sufficient amounts of physical contact with their offspring, their behavior would be modified.
Research conducted in the decades following this study indicates that the neurohormone oxytocin might be involved in the remarkable effect of baby carrying that the study brought to light.
Why Attachment is Important
Much criticism of Natural or Attachment Parenting comes from the idea that kids will be too dependent and needy, but studies have actually shown the opposite! Providing a "secure base" gives your baby the confidence to safely explore the world around them and seek independence when ready. (1)
A few studies have also discovered that babies raised in the Attachment Parenting style tend to be more agreeable, conscientious, and less anxious when they're older. (2) Having a responsive parent generally makes babies less fearful of the world around them and helps them have a more relaxed general temperament. (3)
Like we said before, no parent is a perfect parent. And most often, we need to pick and choose elements of different parenting styles for each child that work best for our unique personalities!
Here's the message to remember: YOU'RE DOING YOUR BEST!
Looking for more resources? These mamas are creating content that is relatable, helpful, and insightful…right at your fingertips!