When Parenting Styles Clash
A recent article in the New York Times, “Friends for Life? Wait Til Kids Enter the Picture,” highlights conflicts that can arise when friends take different approaches to parenting. For years, I have seen tension and clashes between friends, family members, and partners over parenting approaches. The issues can be attachment parenting vs. sleep training and schedules, or working mothers vs. stay-at-home mothers. Parents today can become very polarized and rigid over these kinds of differences. They may feel that if they deviate from their chosen approach, even a little bit, a catastrophe will occur or their child will be scarred for life. There are parenting books that support any approach you can think of -which is confusing to parents. In most cases, we parent the way we were parented -or in reaction to the way that we were parented. Everyone has different early experiences that color their beliefs.
As a coach, I work with parents who take many different approaches. I have seen that there are good parents raising healthy, happy children who have used a wide range of parenting styles. There is not a single right answer (even though I have my own point of view). My approach is to encourage each parent to find out what works for them, their partner, and their children. If your parenting approach is adding to your stress levels and producing guilt, rather than contributing comfort and ease, then you may want to re-evaluate. Having the parents be calm and happy, and able to follow their baby’s cues, will lead to a better outcome than rigidly practicing some particular approach.
It’s important for parents to learn about parenting and make conscious choices, but also to follow their instincts and be flexible.