In our four-part series on parenting styles, we looked at four very different kinds of moms. We talked about everything from being super-strict (like the Helicopter Mom) to ultra-lenient (like the Laid-Back Mom) and hippies (like Crunchy Mamas) to geeks (like Techie Mommies). And whether you identify fully with one style or just pick out a couple of similarities, it says something about you. So what does it all mean?
Let’s take it back a bit first. The whole idea for a series about different kinds of parenting came about in a rather serendipitous way. I was at a local mommy & me type play place and couldn’t help but notice that there were so many different kinds of moms there – moms on their phones, moms hovering, moms talking about amber necklaces, moms “asking” their kids to obey, etc. And it got me thinking: where do these habits come from? Are we just carbon copies of our own childhood, mirroring our parents? Is it instinct? Or is it a combination?
I think we can’t help but bring some of our experiences into the process of parenting. If you were raised never to eat meat, and you continued that lifestyle into adulthood, then chances are you’re probably going to pass that on to your children, too. Yet I also remember poring over countless books and online articles during my pregnancy, bound and determined to learn everything I could to raise the most perfect, well-rounded little person… and then I clearly remember forgetting everything I ever read or experienced the moment I held my son on my chest for the first time.
So what does it all mean? Obviously I’m not a doctor or an expert by any stretch of the imagination (unless you count my own, then yes), but I believe that all mothers instinctively want what is best for their child, and that may mean something different to each mother. For the Helicopter Moms out there, they show their unconditional love by being a constant presence in their child’s life. And for many of the self-professed Hoverers I’ve talked to, it’s because they themselves felt unsure or distant from their own parents as a child. So they have vowed to do the exact opposite for their children by doing everything they can to be there for and protect them.
Not all moms share in the same upbringing or ideology, and that’s okay, too. A lot of the more “hands-off” or free-range parents I’ve talked with don’t even dig that deep when I ask them about why they parent the way they do. For them, it’s not something they even have to devote that much thought to – it just came about naturally. Though they may tend to do their research when it comes to important issues (like health or education), at their core they care more about living in the moment with their child than anything else.
As I finished up the last of the four-part series last week, I was already wondering how I wanted to tie up the whole thing. And wouldn’t you know it, the idea came to me in the same place that started it all. Back at the play place with my fellow moms and my baby’s bffs, I stopped (subconsciously or not) putting parents into categories. I stopped seeing “Crunchy Mamas” and started seeing the beautifully complex women that they always were.
So that’s my takeaway from the whole thing. You may have some helicopter tendencies or geek out from time to time, but that’s kind of the point. We differ a little bit in our parenting styles, but when get right down to it, each and every one of us just care about helping our little one make it through this crazy world. What do you think?