We are all just one google search and quiz away from receiving a parenting style label. Are you a helicopter mom? A tiger mom? How about a lawnmower mom? The internet is full of information regarding these terms and other “parenting styles”. I personally don’t take too much stock in these labels.
Why? Well, I like to think of myself and others as more than just one-dimensional. I also don’t think the majority of these terms are kind. I believe that most parents do the best they can with the abilities they have when raising their kids. I personally try to be as authentic as I can with my kids.
That being said, what is authenticity? Are any of us truly our authentic selves or are we some version of what the world told us to be? When parenting my daughter and two stepchildren, I often find myself taking a pause and asking myself some combination of the following questions;
- Is what I am going to ask them to do or to stop doing, in conflict with who they are at their core?
- Is my request an imposition of my own personal belief system?
- Am I trying to mold them into who I want them to be vs giving them the autonomy to explore this on their own?
- Is this my dream for them or is this their dream?
- Am I hindering their self-expression?
- Is what they want to do going to hurt them or others?
- How will this serve them in the long run?
The answers to these questions help me determine my approach. My husband Drew and I believe in rules, and most importantly, responsibility and accountability. We do a lot of “coaching” in our house. Telling our children what to do and how and when to do it. Sometimes this transitions into us trying to coach them into certain interests. Things that we know will make them successful in life or things that we feel are their individual strengths. This is sometimes in conflict with what they want to pursue or are interested in. All three kids have varied likes, dislikes and interests. They are their own little people in the process of discovering themselves.
So often I find myself comparing my kids’ childhood to my own. I had plenty of access to game systems growing up but that by no means was my only form of entertainment. I spent as much time as I could outdoors. When I was indoors, I had varied interests like drawing, reading and imaginary play that kept the Nintendo turned off.
My kids are growing up in a different time, with different norms, and societal advancements. All three of them spend more time on electronics than my husband and I would prefer but I had a startling realization the other day. My daughter was excited to show me a video she had made on TikTok. Yes, before I’m “mom-shamed”, our kids have TikTok accounts. They are private accounts and their only followers are friends and family but I digress.
The other day my daughter showed me a video she had made on TikTok. I was amazed at the level of creativity. Honestly, I was proud of what she had made. She was, to my surprise, expressing herself. It was authentically her. Her creative expression looked different than what I had imagined it would be. It made me question my previous apprehension towards electronics use in our home. We encourage creativity in our home and she was doing just that, being creative.
I want my children to be their authentic selves. I don’t want them to get lost to peer pressure or feel that they need to fit into a certain box in society. I know from first-hand experience; this can cause turmoil later on in their lives. That’s why in our house, we strive to be our kids’ biggest cheerleaders while also helping to coach them for success. I truly believe that when it comes to parenting, it’s all about balance. We are still working on that balance as a family but every day we get one step closer to figuring it out.
So, put away the labels the next time you’re questioning how to handle a situation with your kids. You know your child(ren) the best. Try asking yourself those 7 questions and see if it leads you to your answer.
Pictured: Sara Lords
Photo Cred: Seeking Earth Photography