I believe that parenting styles are innate. Of course, you are never quite sure how you are going to feel until you have a child. I thought momentarily that I would want to stay at home and enjoy a different style of life from the working one I had experienced before. In the event, I found the whole thing incredibly boring, and after doing the bare minimum three months of breastfeeding took myself back to work and a sphere in which I was more competent and confident.
However, I admire the parents, usually mothers, who I see reading the latest tome by the latest expert. I am basically too lazy to believe that I am capable of any but the smallest adjustments in how I comport myself with my children. I cannot imagine dramatically changing how I am bringing up my children on the basis of a book.
A laissez-faire type of mother is not going to become a demanding “tiger mom”; I cannot imagine how that could possibly happen without doing violence to oneself.
For what it’s worth, I could never be a tiger mother. I am cognisant that childhood, as we are constantly told, has become ever shorter, as children are exposed earlier to the facts of life around them, whether that is sex, war, terrorism or alcohol. I am ambitious for my children, but not at the cost of their happiness.
I am neurotic and anxious but I have not allowed myself to be a “helicopter parent” – the kind who hovers worriedly over their child. My job as a mother is, at least in part, to build up resilience, and you can only do that when things are allowed to go wrong and children are permitted to make mistakes.
My style might best be described as “love and logic”, after the parenting philosophy first outlined in 1977 by Jim Fay and Foster Cline. To “love and logic” I would add a hefty dose of humour – as logic is useless, I think, when facing down a hysterical toddler.
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