why most parenting philosophies don't work

why most parenting philosophies don't work

You know the stress of trying to implement a specific parenting method you read about, only to feel like a complete failure when you can’t get it to work? I definitely do. When R was born I tried soothing her based on the 5 steps from The Happiest Baby, and for the first few rounds, they worked but then completely lost their magic.

Then someone recommended Babywise and I thought some of it sounded good, but in practice, it never panned out as the author had described. I read The Continuum Concept and liked it, and also thought that Attachment Parenting had some good points, but neither R nor I wanted to be bound together every waking moment. We also didn’t want to be separated much either. So where did that leave us?

The months have passed, R is growing, and I’ve had a lot of time to think over how much we humans love categories, methods, strategies, and philosophies, and how hard we try to fit precisely inside particular ones. This seems especially obvious in the parenting genre, but just how logical is it to think that something- anything- is one-size-fits-all or most? It’s not.

I believe the reason for this is that parenting is a collaborative process that happens between us and all of our experiences, the things that shape us, the people who have influenced us, our partners, and our children themselves. Each one of us is a strange intersection of all the things we’ve ever encountered, so none of us is anything like any other mother. Even when we have commonalities, the details are what make us details.

This makes me think of one-size-fits-all leggings, which are anything but that. Have you ever tried a pair of those on? Maybe they fit you, but probably not perfectly, because how could they simultaneously fit a twig and a trunk and all the shapes in-between? They can’t account for every size of love-handles or postpartum tummies or flat booties. There’s just no way.

Same with parenting philosophies. One might truly be genius, but the odds that it will fit perfectly with the giant intersection of everything that is you and your child are so very slim. And then to think that this intersection is a constantly evolving one as you and your little one move through the world independently and together, and the odds become even less. We humans are too fluid and nuanced to ever be boxed into anything certain.

I love this idea of parenting being a collaboration- living, breathing, and pulsing. The thing about viewing it this way is that all things are welcome as potential co-collaborators. Every philosophy and method and person might very well add a piece to the puzzle, even ones that seem on the surface to be contradictory. Pick and choose to your heart’s content and leave what you don’t want behind.

I’ve been wandering down this rabbit hole lately, mulling over all the things that have shaped the current version of my parenting style. I obviously can’t think of everything, but the big things are pretty easy to define. If you want, you can do this too. It’s a really fun exercise to see just how unique of a mother you are and to pinpoint and appreciate the things that have shaped you.

I use post-its to do this, but you can use something else. This is how you do it: you think, write, think some more, make connections, write them down, think think think, ponder, mull, write a little more….and tada! There you have it: your lineage; the forces that have come together at the unique intersection of you and you only. Once you do this you can see why parenting philosophies, for the most part, are a fail.

If you’re curious, here’s what my parenting lineage looks like:

My dear mother, my grandmother, the religion I was raised in, my education and ten years of experience in massage therapy, Katy Bowman and Nutritious Movement, an ex-boyfriend’s children, that same guy’s mother, Buddhism, the death of my brother, my Millenial generation, the Enneagram, Amanda Soule, Meg McElwee, Minimalism, Boulder, my dog Sam, my partner Chris, Margy Thomas, the book Simplicity Parenting, tiny homes, Waldorf education, Montessori, Attachment Parenting, the field of Somatics, the story of Ferdinand, and my daughter.

So….what does your unique parenting collaboration look like? I would love to know, so tell me below if you feel like opening up a bit :)

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