I dont understand parenting labels. I don’t understand them at all. People say to me, oh so your an attachment parent? Some say this with a tone of judgement others with a tone of respect… either way, I find it a bit odd. People make this assumption because we do tick a lot of the boxes. We co-sleep, we breastfeed exclusively, we wear Bo… constantly. I’m not an attachment parent. I’m a lot of things but when it comes to parenting, I’m not anything other than Bo’s parent.
I don’t like labels (it’s probably not best to get me started on how people label children… I’m sure there will be plenty of time for that in the future). It frustrates me to no end that our western society is so quick to slap a label on something – whether it be person, behaviour or attitude… and then box it up and tuck it in a dark corner again, never to be revisited. I love many of the aspects of the attachment parenting theory and others I find very unrealistic for my lifestyle and my child. What I dislike most about it is its name, it assumes that other styles of parenting are detached, and I don’t like that at all. I believe that fundamentally we are all attached to our children. In researching for this post I discovered tens of “parenting labels” I’d never even heard of, including but not limited to the tiger parent, the helicopter parent, the slow parent, the free range parent… I mean, seriously? But then, I’ve only been in this game for the past four months, and had to look up what an “attachment parent’ was – so I obviously have no idea.
We (my husband and I) have our own parenting styles, styles that are often very different from each other. But we also have a set of common beliefs in the way we wish to raise our daughter. Respect is a huge part of the way we parent our child. Survival (not Bo’s, she’s fine, it’s more so our own) is another. There is so much chatter in the parenting world about eat, play, sleep routines… about feeding schedules, nap schedules, sleep patterns, bedding guides, what food to eat when, baby lead weaning… there is a name and a label for every-bloody-thing you could possibly imagine. There is talk of the manipulative child, there is talk of creating a needy child, a dependant child, an insecure child. There is talk of creating the selfish child, the demanding child, the wimpy child. There are huge, loud and often fear mongering debates about co-sleeping, homeschooling, baby-wearing etc. It goes on and on and on. We (humans) have been raising children since the beginning of time. Was this the way when our mothers were parenting us? My mother says, no. She didn’t even THINK to pick up a pregnancy book or parenting book to tell her how to grow/raise me… was she the norm? Probably.
But today our choices are judged by our peer group and many of those in generations who have already walked this parenting path themselves. But shouldn’t our choice as parents, our choice as to how to raise our own flesh and blood, our adopted children, the children placed in our care – be respected? After all any caring, loving parent makes these choices with the child’s best interests at heart. Isn’t that what matters most? That a child is loved. That a child is cared for… the best way the parent knows how. Since when did something so natural, so loving and so wonderful as parenting become some sort of sordid competition?
Parenting choices spur heated debates all over the internet… and even nastier ones in playgrounds all around the western world. I do wonder, do they have these problems in the east? Women (and Men) feel they have the right to comment, nay judge, other women (and Men) on their parenting. It’s outlandish really. I guess the only thing I will say about that (I’ve been very lucky to have lots of very supportive people around me even if they don’t 100% believe in the way I’m doing things) is that often the people that yell the loudest, and the people who are the fastest to judge – are the people who are most insecure about their own choices.
Chuck out the labels, and I’d bet we would ALL feel better about ourselves…
Bo and I are having a lovely time in Perth, by the way. Photos, stories and love to come later in the week.