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4 Moms Discuss Parenting Styles

This week The 4 Moms are discussing parenting styles, specifically what kind of parenting styles we employ and how they have changed as our families have grown.

When I had only one child, I was what you might call the "hyper-vigilant parent".

If she dropped her pacifier, I would snatch it up, sterilize it in boiling water, and let it cool for an hour before returning it to her. Now, if the baby drops her paci, we take it out of the dog's mouth, give it a good spit polish, and give it right back to her. What?! We want the crying to stop!

I used to hold my little toddler's hand to accompany her all over the playground. I lifted her to each piece of equipment, never letting go of her hand.

Now, my toddlers explore the playground independently, under my watchful eye, to see which fun thing they can master on their own. Once, a plumber was at our house and in mid-conversation, he glanced out the window to the backyard. He suddenly became very worried and said urgently, "Ma'am! Your baby is climbing the slide!" "Oh, I know. She does it all the time," I reassured him.

I have had other mothers at the park tell me in a worried tone that my baby was playing with a stick. A stick! When I was a new mother, that probably would have sent me running. No. Wait. Who am I kidding? I would have been holding her hand, so she wouldn't have had a chance to pick up a stick!

Nowadays, I don't mind if my babies pick up sticks or rocks to explore them. If they chew on a stick, I don't freak out and snatch it away. I let them feel the consistency of bark in their mouths and discover on their own that bark is not pleasant to taste.

I even let my toddlers fall down, if I know they won't be hurt. If I see them toddling up a low step or climbing on a low stool. I watch to see what will happen. When they roll off, I tell them they have just learned about gravity!

Don't get me wrong. I am very watchful and careful if there is real danger. Whenever someone is backing out or pulling in a parking lot or driveway, we all hold hands. When we are swimming, everyone 5 and under wears floaties. We don't allow the petting of strange dogs, and I don't even mind that my little ones are afraid of big dogs. These are very real dangers. They can be seriously hurt or even killed in these scenarios.

It is when the situation isn't dangerous, that I let my children explore on their own, and maybe even receive a little bump on the noggin or a bitter taste in the mouth in order to learn about the complexities of our world.

These days, I would describe my parenting style as "relaxed".

Now, let's go take a look at the parenting styles of the other Moms:

What's your parenting style?

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  1. I worry other mothers around me because I let my children do some of the things you mentioned, they seem to think “don’t you see what they are doing”.

  2. Great post. We’re pretty relaxed when it comes to parenting now too, though it was definitely different when we only had one. Now, once the baby is old enough to be scootching around and putting stuff in his mouth, as long as it’s not something dangerous, we don’t freak out. We don’t sterilize everything or use hand sanitizer unless someone has a stomach virus. And go figure, our kids are almost never sick.

  3. I totally agree!! When our oldest ate an earwig and I found its black pincers on his little pink tongue, I nearly had a coronary. Now that we have 7 kids bug-eating=extra protein. :)

  4. Yeah, I still have one child who’s 8- and I’m still how you described yourself as a new first time mom. LOL!!! When we have more, I supose that will change, or we’ll pull our hair out. I don’t mind being relaxed, but my husband is the more up tight one who has to follow protocol, protect from ALL germs, and avoid ALL illness at any cost. Can’t wait for life’s next adventure. LOL!!!

  5. Just wondering if you’ve read “Free Range Children,” I’ve heard good things about it from friends (though I haven’t read it yet myself) and it sounds like it advocates a more “relaxed” (i.e. “anti-helicoptering”) approach to parenting like you’re describing :)

  6. Really enjoyed this post! As the oldest of seven myself, I was blessed to skip the hypervigilance for the most part. Many of the children we know the same age as my son are their parents’ first and while I know it is a natural part of being a new parent, it seems to detract from the delight in watching the children discover the world. And when you get down to it, knowing a stick with all five senses is pretty enriching. 😉


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