Is There Truly One Right Way To Parent?

Parenting By The Infinite Numbers

There are 250 babies born every minute. That means each year there are at least 150 million new parents trying to decipher how to best raise theirs. Move in close to any group of new moms and dads, and you are sure to hear lots of advice being shared and criticism of “other parents”. It’s true that new parents tend to rigorously study trends and research on how best to raise kids, and that’s a good thing. But it’s also important to acknowledge that, although you believe in your approach to proper parenting, it doesn’t mean the way someone else handles their kids is necessarily wrong. 

A parenting expert on every corner

There are so many experts categorizing parenting styles and giving advice on how to raise kids, it can be dizzying. And they are often contradictory. The authoritarian parent, one of the four types of parents as defined by Diane Baumrind in the 1960’s, dictates rules not to be questioned, while the authoritative parent explains “why” a child should follow a rule or is being reprimanded. One might argue that the ruler creates bullies who pass along the trait, while another believes explaining things to a child gives them too much power they’re too young to handle responsibly. Benjamin Spock, noted for his bookBaby and Child Care, says children should be brought up with less pressure to compete and get ahead, another highly debated view. The point is, with there being as many opinions as there are people, who decides what is right? 

Personal style isn’t only in the clothes we wear

Dr. Spock also stated, “The more people have studied different methods of bringing up children the more they have come to the conclusion that what good mothers and fathers instinctively feel like doing for their babies is the best after all.” This point of view allows for each parent or set of parents to do what they think is best for their own child; that respect for differing styles can be had even if it isn’t what you yourself would do in any situation. It is also important to acknowledge that cultural, economic, racial and geographical differences impact parenting choices that may be completely contrary to your own. 

Mixed cultures demand flexibility

Reportedly 40% of adopted children are of a different race, culture, or ethnicity than both of their adoptive parents or sole parent today. Depending on the child’s age and their experiences before adoption, it can be important to learn about your child’s history and sometimes model the healthy guidelines for behavior your child knows and responds to, even when it isn’t what you had in mind. It is also important to acknowledge the country and traditions your child may have a link to, and not to disregard it as “not your world”. This respect for the place or culture your child has come from will add a sense of self-worth to how they identify in the world as well as in the family, knowing all of what they are has value.

A non-judgment zone

Along with so much ever expanding diversity in today’s families, comes diverse beliefs and behaviors. In the end, what matters is that the choices parents make are healthy for their children and that they help them to become well-adjusted people. Of course, when you see a child is at risk, falling out of their stroller or walking out into the street, you don’t have to think twice about jumping in to help. But jumping to conclusions when you witness a fellow parent discipline or teach their child in a way that, on the surface, seems counter to what you would do, might not be the best approach. With so many variables culminating in the action you see, perhaps there are reasons for the choice that parent is making you may not be aware of. Perhaps whatever they’re doing is right out of the pages of one of the uncountable publications out there in the how-to universe.