It cracks me up whenever anyone hints at what type of parenting "style" we adhere to. Without hesitation, my first instinct is to respond with "the keeping her alive method." I use the term "style" lightly, because although we do our best to be intentional about what we want for our daughter; I wouldn't go assigning a label to our efforts. Hell, I call it a great day if we've managed to keep the dog from licking her mouth more than once.
Trav and I have both sat down plenty of times to discuss what our biggest desires are for Charlie. Honestly, before she was even a thought in the world, we would have talks about what we wanted most for our kid(s). Among them were some of the more typical requests:
- NO picky eating. (HAHAHAHA)
- Be kind, respectful, and accepting of others.
- Never settle, just because it seems like the easy way out
- Keeping the routine an almost boring level of consistent.
- Being active parents in life outside of our home - school, online, etc...
I could go on and on. While these are all great in theory, the ebb and flow of our daily lives shift greatly in accordance to Charlotte's needs, wants, and emotional growth. I never spent time when I was pregnant obsessing over, or committing to any one way of parenting- I've always been a firm believer in doing what works best for your family, and your situation. What tactics may prove beneficial for one kid, may not be suited to fit the needs of your own. Because of this, I allow myself to be somewhat lax about any strict textbook 'must-do's' when it comes to decisions we make about her upbringing.
It's not that I'm opposed to all of the resources I have available at my disposal - I appreciate that they exist, and use bits and pieces of what I read or come across in our everyday lives. I'm also counseled by a great community of moms that have managed to keep their kids alive for quite some time now. I just feel that there is an overabundance of information out there; constantly criticizing and critiquing one way of parenting over another - if all we did was sit around all day basing every choice we make off of these articles and media propaganda; we'd be running around like chickens without heads. I'm already anxious enough, guys. Like my ass needs any more reason to freak out about whether or not my kid is eating too many green foods and not enough red.
At the same time, I wonder if I'm a little bit more cavalier than most first-time moms. Do I want strangers making out with my child? Not in particular. But I don't mind kisses on the head, or letting people hold Charlotte when they ask. I'm not a huge germophobe. Kids will be kids. They're walking petri dishes. If it has a hole, they're diggin' in it. Shoving my kid in a plastic bubble every time someone sneezes in her direction will only hinder the evolution of her immunity. Does that make me a total freak of nature mom? The verdict is still out on that - but so far, so good - she's only had to endure one or two colds. Mind you, I also don't ask my nephew to come over and kiss all over her when he's very clearly sick. I take precautions when necessary, but not to the point of sanitizing her eyeballs.
We're also big advocates of the '5 second rule' movement. Do I think kids should be picking up pieces of sticky candy off of the dirty carpeted floor in crazy aunt Edna's house? Probably not. But If were at home eating, and a piece of garlic bread drops on the tile, am I going to shout QUARANTINE and make everyone drop what they're doing to assess the situation? Not very likely. Give that golden piece of carby heaven a courtesy wipe, scan for any suspicious looking debris, and get your head back in the game. We don't waste delicious food in our house (now that is a parenting tactic we don't take lightly!)
If I can keep my babe away from obvious dangers, and be proactive in her health; I'll absolutely stay on top of it and take whatever measures are necessary. Will I feed her healthy foods when I'm able to provide these? Of course! Will I also give her Macaroni and Cheese when It's a Monday night, and mama doesn't feel like cooking? You bet your sweet behind. Will I teach her about what it means to have a healthy lifestyle? Yes. Will I always follow this to a T? No, because I'm human. Will I take preventative steps to ensure that she is given the opportunity to thrive? Always. If there is a homeopathic remedy to something that is ailing her, I will always attempt that course of action before going straight to the medicine cabinet.
Life's about balance. Kids deserve the occasional non-organic cupcake and mud war. They're going to break bones, scrape knees, and wreak mini havoc. You can't helicopter their every breath (advice I'm trying to instill in myself as we speak.) They reserve the right to slather their booger fingers all over their friends and family. You're only little once, and there is a definitive 'cute-gross' statute of limitations when it comes to farting in quiet, awkward situations. When you're twenty-something and you pick your nose and eat it, I promise you no one is going to say "aw, no, icky" and laugh it off. You'll just be the gross adult that farts loud and eats their boogers. It's hard to make friends that way.
So, to recap our official "method" of parenting:
- '5 second rule' movement = Winner winner, Chicken dinner.
- Helicopter parenting = there's a time and a place.
- Foods can still be healthy and not organic. Wasting it is a no-no. Shockingly enough, your pantry doesn't need to be filled with the finest, locally sourced, imported dry goods. If it is, that's awesome. If it's not, your kid will still thrive.
- Swapping spit with kids that aren't your own = no thanks, frowned upon. Sterilizing child in quarantined bubble because someone cleared their throat in their general direction = Not a life and death concern.
- Playing a proactive role in all aspects of kids lives: Absolutely 1000000% supported.
- Fostering love, acceptance, and individuality: Every. Single. Day. Infinite amounts.
Full Disclaimer: there is no clearly-defined manual to being a good parent. Whatever you practice, however you practice it - it's the time and amount of love put into your kids that sets the course for their success. Do yours - don't worry about what everyone else has to say about it.