What Really Matters in Parenting?
So you're about to become a parent? Welcome to the oldest club in the world! It is a joy to bring a new life into the world and shape your little person into a thoughtful, interesting and curious bigger person. It can seem daunting, which is why new mommies and daddies have always sought out the advice of the experienced and older generations. But what really matters in parenting? Are there right and wrong methods? What truly matters is that you do what is best for your family. Each family is different and has different needs, so a little research and talking with parents who have already gone through early childhood development will help you pick what is best for your family.
What to Expect when you are Expecting
When new parents learn about their soon to be bundle of joy, there is always an initial period of shock and excitement. In between baby showers and refiguring the home for a new arrival, there will be a lot of anxiety and questions about what to do next. Here are some questions that may go through your mind before the arrival of your first child.
Do I have enough money to be a parent?
The age-old question. Once the shock of imminent parenthood passes, reality sets in and it is natural to wonder if you can afford it. Yes, it costs a lot of money to raise a child. It varies from nation to nation, state to state, and by neighborhood and zip code. This chart will help give you an estimate. But keep in mind, the first year of a baby doesn't have to break the bank. Food, clothes, a place to sleep. Those are the basic necessities. Also, people of every socio-economic background have kids. It can be done. Don't let money be your obstacle.
Can I really be a parent?
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! It may seem daunting with all the books and experts filled with advice, and it's good to read up and take classes, but experience trumps everything. For example, if you want to become a stronger person you can read all the books about lifting weights all you want, but none of it really matters until you go to the gym and actually pick up the weights. Parenting is very much the same. You can put diapers on a doll for practice, but until you try on a squirming, screaming baby, it will never be the same. But you know what? You can do it. And you will. Because you will have no choice!
How do I keep my baby alive?
This question races through every new parent's mind. Yes, babies are fragile and rely on their parents for everything. However, rest assured that while parenting a newborn is a 24 hour a day job (and it is a JOB, albeit a labor of love of course) it doesn't take much to keep your little one alive. Food (and if mom is breastfeeding, for much of the first year that alone will do), clean dry clothes, and a safe space to sleep.
What is the safest place for a baby to sleep?
While it is a low risk, parents should do what they can to minimize SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The best way to do that, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics is to have your baby stay in your room for the first six months to a year, but not share your bed. Their crib or bassinet should have a tight-fitting sheet and no pillows, blankets, or other bedding.
What if it is all too overwhelming?
Parenting is not easy, especially in the early days. Don't forget the phrase "it takes a village." It's not all on you and your partner. Come up with schedules to make sure that you each get some sleep. Make sure that you not only have a pediatrician, but that you and your partner have doctors and if needed, mental health specialists, to be part of your team. Enlist help from family members. And if people offer to bring you food and cook you meals, LET THEM.
What is the best method of parenting?
There's the million dollar question! Ask ten people and they'll give you ten different answers. The best method is what is best for you and your partner's temperament and environment. Below are descriptions of different parenting methods and links to provide more information.
There are multiple types of parenting. With a little research, you and your partner can figure out what is best for you. Here is a breakdown of many methods, but the following methods are explored in this article:
- Authoritative Parenting
- Authoritarian Parenting
- Indulgent or Permissive Parenting
- Attachment Parenting
- Helicopter Parenting
- Slow Parenting
The authoritative parenting style is for parents who want to be responsive to their children's emotional needs. It is about reasoning with children and setting limits. Basically, children are encouraged to be independent, but with limits on their actions and repercussions for any wrongdoing. This is an active method of parenting, but the results pay off: kids raised in this style tend to become well-behaved, socially accepted, and successful academically.
This method involves heavier punishment and strict control over children. Once popular, this type of parenting has fallen out of fashion. Imagine a drill instructor at boot camp. That is how this parenting method works. Corporal punishment, like spanking, is part of this method. Yes, your kids will certainly be disciplined and well behaved. Kids raised by authoritarian parents tend to get into less trouble as teenagers or adults. However, studies show that there is a higher instance of depression and self-blame amongst these children, and are also less resourceful and less socially adept.
Indulgent or Permissive Parenting
In this method the parents tend to be lenient in order to avoid confrontation. Parents may compromise rules depending on the mood of the child. One positive aspect of this method is that parents are usually very nurturing and loving. However, there are many down sides: children may grow up with little self control or discipline. Children have poor social skills and lack of motivation which leads to lower levels of success. This method is not recommended.
This method is all about nurturing your child, and ensuring that the bond between parent and child is very close and strong. This connection is a strong method to raise independent and secure children. Attachment parents tend to co-sleep with their children until they are ready, baby wearing whenever possible, breastfeeding up to four years old, and are encouraged to not sleep train their children. Some downsides of attachment parenting include more difficulty in getting children on sleep or eating schedule, less ability for children to self-soothe, and co-sleeping can make it more difficult for intimacy between parents.
Parents who "helicopter" are those who are focused more on their children than themselves, or any other aspect of their lives. Helicopter parents tend to shadow their children, and rarely leave them alone . Very few parents aim to be helicopter parents. However, parents who are overly anxious, overcompensate, or feel peer pressure from other parents tend to overcompensate and transfer their anxiety on to their children. Consequences include decreased self-esteem, decreased confidence, undeveloped coping skills, and an increase in a sense of entitlement and anxiety.
Slow parenting, also known as simplicity parenting, is a method where activities are not overly crammed into a child's schedule. Kids are able to explore the world at their own pace, without being rushed from event to class to organized sports to violin lessons with no time to learn and play on their own. Organic play is encouraged; watching television is not as it is a passive activity. Some downsides include less of a drive for success and financial gain later in life, and since children are not supervised at all times, there are risks of accidents.
Now you can see that there are a myriad of different ways to raise your child. What is important is that you and your partner are on board with the same method. That way, as your child gets older, he or she will not be confused by inconsistencies. Children are sponges and will take in everything that you give them. And even though parenting can be exhausting, difficult, and daunting, make sure you take in the good moments, and there will be plenty of good moments. As any experienced parent will tell you, it will all go by so fast!