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A Cheat Sheet of Parenting Philosophies and Trends


Have you heard of or seen these parenting philosophies recently, but don't know what they mean? Authors Heather Gibbs Flett and Whitney Moss compiled a list of the trends in their book "Stuff Every Mom Should Know."

 

A mother and her two happy childrenThe terms below are defined for the purposes of helping you keep up with conversation or parenting news stories. For the most part, these labels serve to make mothers judge one another and, worse, judge themselves. So whether you’re a gung-ho practitioner of a particular parenting philosophy or a make-it-up-as-you-go-along-er, rest assured that no one will be testing you on this knowledge. Especially not your kids. (And we promise—we won’t judge.)

 

Authoritarian parenting: The parent is the leader, makes decisions, and does not need to rationalize to the child. This style of parenting earned media attention under the name “Tiger Mom.” (Even if you feel you fall far outside this realm, know that at some point we are all driven to say, “Because I said so!”)

 

Authoritative parenting: The parent provides structure and sets limits, but explains reasons for punishments in an effort to encourage independence. (“We don’t throw things because they might hurt someone or something, so I’m going to have you take a break from this toy.”)

 

Attachment parenting: This term is associated with three activities: baby-wearing, co-sleeping, and breastfeeding on demand rather than on a schedule. The philosophy is that children will grow up to be emotionally secure and enjoy higher self-esteem when they learn to separate from their parents at their own pace. Critics point out that this practice is extremely demanding on mothers. (“We don’t own a crib. Our baby sleeps with us at night and in a sling during the day.”)



 

Free-range parenting: This movement seeks to preserve the notion that children grow into independence by practicing it. (“Go ride your bike and come home before dinner.”)

 

Helicopter parenting: The underlying assumption of this parent is that the child is fragile and must be protected from the dangers of the world. This habit is so named for the physical resemblance that a parent who hovers over their child has to a helicopter. (“Be careful!”)

 

Permissive parenting: This style of child rearing assumes that loving and bonding with the child is the goal of parenting. This parent doesn’t want her child to be mad at her. The parent-child relationship here might be described as a democracy. (“My daughter and I are best friends!”)

 

Slow parenting: Similar to the slow-food movement, the idea behind this philosophy is to stop and smell the roses, to let children set the pace of their day. Playing is their work, and the natural world is the best place for their discoveries and learning to occur. Electronic toys are discouraged, as they do not promote exploration. Slow parenting might be interpreted as a backlash to overscheduling children with activities and events. (“We didn’t make it to preschool today because we found an interesting pattern of rocks in the garden and spent time studying them.”)

 

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