my style


I think we all set out on the parenting journey with certain ideas in our heads as to the sort of parent we would like to be. Some of those ideals stand strong and become a steadfast part of our approach as parents, and others fall by the way side. I'm in no doubt that there are right ways to parent and wrong ways to parent... I can do both in the space of a normal day, but on the most part I own it, I take the rough with the smooth, I accept that I'm making this up as I go along most of the time, I learn from my mistakes and I move on.

I kind of thought every single parent on the planet thought like that too.

But apparently not...



I met a fellow mummy at a baby group recently who really made me wonder about a lot of things I take for granted as a parent; about the way I choose to raise my children, the way other people may choose to raise theirs, and where these decisions come from.

And what, you might ask, prompted this sudden analysis of my role as "mummy": one simple question...

"So what parenting approach have you used with your children?"

It's not often I'm left at a loss for words, but I think I stared at her a little thunderstruck and confused for more than a few seconds. It was that kind of awkward silence where you just will your brain to come up with an answer... any answer; I settled on laughing it off and saying "I just make it up as I go along." But she pressed me, asked whether I had read up on any specific techniques, and not in a nasty way I am sure, generally made me feel like I'd turned up to school without my homework. And I am not that girl at all, I do the reading, I do my research, I plan and organise... was I wrong to be, in affect, winging it when it comes to my precious offspring?

As the conversation continued, I started to really worry... she had targeted that question at me specifically. Why? Was it because I was at the group as a breastfeeding peer supporter and she was looking to me as a more experienced mother, for advice? Was it because I had both children in tow with me, and she meant it as a complement because she thought my children were utterly delightful and wanted to raise hers to be the same? Or worse, was she asking because she thought they were being little terrors, and she wanted to avoid my techniques like the plague? And then I worried some more, as the extent of this lady's research became apparent. Her bedtime reading appeared to be parenting manuals, I was snuggling up with some nice young adult fiction at night. Eeeeek!

The conversation moved on, I tried not to worry about whether I was being judged for my lackadaisical approach to parenting. But in truth it weighed on my mind as I drove home, and for the rest of the day.

Generally I don't really question my parenting, and I feel like a pretty confident and with-it kind of mummy. I go with my gut, I trust my instincts, and I fall back on plenty of experience working with children for as long as I can remember. But I still have times when being a parent leaves me totally and utterly stumped. Days when I wish with every fibre of my being that my children had come with a manual, or a reset button, or some kind of training day to prepare me.

I wonder if all the parenting help books are really a help or maybe just a way of making parents doubt themselves even more. Truth be told, I would have loved a definitive plan of action that I could have followed when I first brought my first born home, and if someone had offered to write me a timetable and a strategy for every eventuality, then I'd have followed it to the letter. But I'm not sure I'd have really learned how to be a parent if they had. Being clueless made me hone those instincts, and fast.

Honestly? I don't know if I'm getting it right or wrong. Sometimes I feel like a total utter rockstar when it comes to being a mummy, and then in the blink of an eye I feel like a total failure. In the space of one day I can flit between a hundred different techniques and roles when it comes to raising my children. In my time as a mummy I have been an attachment parent, a co-sleeping parent, a cry-it-out parent, a helicopter parent, a Gina Ford parent, a breastfeeding parent, a puree weaning parent, a baby-led weaning parent, a friendly parent, a teacher parent, an authoritative parent, a permissive parent, a completely lovey-dovey-my-child-is-the-best-child-ever-to-walk-the-earth parent, and a get-on-with-it-yourself-I'm-not-going-to-hold-your-hand-forever parent. Good cop, bad cop, good mummy, bad mummy... I've worn all those hats.

And I'm going to put my neck on the line, and say I've worn all those hats with pride. And that I would, and probably will, wear most of those hats again at some point. Because if learning to trust my instincts has taught me anything, it's that even if there was some magical parenting manual with all the answers in, our children wouldn't have read it. Techniques, approaches, parenting books are all great to dip into, to get ideas from, to shed possible light on certain things. But ultimately children are all different, as different as the parents that they come from, and thats okay, thats good in fact. But why then would we assume that any technique would be one size fits all.

And with the added experience that having a second child brings, I can also testify that whatever the genes, the environment, the seeming similarity of two children; that what works for one child, invariably doesn't work for another. The rule book I thought I had nailed first time around, went out the window within minutes of them handing me my second beautiful little bundle. They are totally different creatures, with different desires, different attributes... and they both need totally different things from me. I am a different parent to them both, I treat them both fairly, I treat them both with love, but I treat them both differently because thats what they need.

But with one notable exception.... Love! And for all my other failings and triumphs as a parent I can guarantee you that both my children have that in absolute droves. So I can't be doing all bad. And that little nugget of a parenting technique wasn't one I got from a book either.


Photos courtesy of the lovely Marie Donn.

13 comments

  1. Loves is all that matters. We can't all be perfect but kids tend to remember all the love and all the good times we give them.

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  2. Firstly, LOVE those photos.
    I would have to say I am similar to you. I think I've worn all of those hats and I'm fine with that. In fact I think in doing that I have found a style that works for us, for now. I can honestly say that I think I will continue to switch hats around as the children get bigger and as we all change.
    I think the best thing we can do is to forget about the different styles and approaches that are labelled and instead to just go with it. Parenting on demand and being baby led...and even child led (although with us having the power, obviously) as all children are different and all parents/people are different too.
    Great post Lucy, I really enjoyed that xx

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  3. I don't think I am a particular kind of parent, in fact I don't think I have ever really thought about what kind of parent I am. I am not one for labels, as such I don't put myself in a Gina Ford/helicopter/baby led/natural parent bracket. I have never even so much picked up a book to tell me how to parent my children. I go with my instinct and I make it up as I go along. I get it wrong A LOT but I also get it right too, and I think thats the main thing. We aren't perfect, no one is, but we are the perfect mothers to our children. And we love them dearly and ultimately thats all that matters. x

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  4. Love and instinct has to be at the core of parenting, I feel that as a mummy of 1 I have been through periods of questioning my parenting and also if people judge me by it or not. I have to snap myself out of those worries as inevitably I see the love and happiness in my daughters face and fundamentally her good morals show me that we have somewhere along the line instilled these into her and she is an all round good human. She can also cause me a few grey hairs and be a little madam from time to time, but what child doesn't! Great post Lucy, I do wish that as parents we can say these feelings and concerns out loud and not worry how we will be received by the other parent but that's just our human nature, no one likes to be judged or seen to be vulnerable, thank goodness for communities and blog posts like yours as at the end of the day, we are all learning and always will be.
    Beck x

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  5. I think some people are just obsessed with parenting "by the book." Also, some parents are very judgey and nosy. I am like you, I just follow my instincts! My kids know their are loved, and that's the most important thing. :)

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  6. All parents have different techniques and I am one to know exactly how I want my children to grow up! But my way won't be wrong or right because we are all different! I am sure your little angels are perfect! Xx
    http://oliviacherylx.blogspot.co.uk/

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  7. I wonder whether anyone every does parent exactly by one prescribed 'method'? it seems like that would be incredibly rigid and constraining. Someone once asked me a similar question and I think my response was like yours, somewhere along the lines of "gut instinct". There are days when the method of parenting as me seems to be just perfect and days where I wonder whether I've created the most rat fink little horrors. I suspect I fall nearer to one end of the spectrum than the other but with a fair amount of variation within it and that works for us. I think there's a danger that if you were to spend every night relaxing with all the parenting gospels you could lay your hands on you'd become utterly overwhelmed with information to the point of indecision - with everyone promising that this is the way to bring up a well balanced happy child how on earth would you know what to choose. And given that no two families are the same, and within that family no two children are the same, the idea of a one size fits all formula just seems daft! Love, gut instinct, and young adult fiction for bedtime reading all the way!

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  8. Love this post! I'm not a particular 'type' of parent either and I also have worn all those hats, I haven't ever read any books but I do quite frequently stumble across articles on Facebook that really make me question certain ways of doing things and give me new ideas to try. I do try and trust my instincts, I could definitely always be better but like you said love is the most important thing and they definitely have lots of that. Gorgeous pics too x

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  9. Oh Lucy I just sat very tense reading through your amazing post and thinking about my own parenting and what I thought about the same questions you were asked. I think we all parent differently and all have different children as you say so for there to be actual specific techniques out there is crazy as no one size fits all fits in parenting. I do admit with my first I was a gina ford mommy. I didn't have a clue and I relished in the fact that this book gave me time tables and what to do next when I felt lost and alone with no family around to advice or help. Funny though only a year and half later when I got my second child the book went out the window and I approached things so very differently. I wish I could be a fly on the wall and see what people thought and saw in my children. I hope I am doing something right. I often think I rock and then more than often think I am the worse mommy in the world. depends on the day and they both can happen to me in the same day often too. I think we are all hoping for the same end result I just think some think there really is a perfect method out there and they search for it high and low. Love the photos you have here. They are truly stunning. I hope they are blown up huge on your wall. Framers for sure! You and your family are all so beautiful inside and out.

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  10. What a strange question to be asked. It is rather random and I too would have felt a bit weird for being asked it. What you say is so true though. Love is definitely key. So long as you show your children as much love as possible then the other stuff is irrelevant. x

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  11. I love this post. I think I would have had a similar response to that question - I have generally parented mostly by instinct and perhaps picked up some tips from books here and there in addition to advice from other parents. Love is the most important thing though - if your children are happy, secure and know they are loved, then you are definitely doing it right.

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  12. I really don't think I fit into a style of parenting, and like yours, my two are so different and require such different things from me that I have parented them differently, but with equal amounts of love. x

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  13. I love this post Lucy. I surprised myself when I had my first daughter at just 21, I didn't know what I was capable of until she was born, it really is a matter of maternal instinct with me, of course I get it wrong sometimes, question my abilities, wether i'm worthy to be a mama, then I have the days where I feel like I am owning it, having the right balance. In my experience, I feel I do a better job when im taking care of myself too! I've been questioned why I don't hit my children (really.) I've been questioned why I breastfeed, why I have them close in age, why I don't get stressed about messy paint crafting and so on.. I've had those days where I feel like I should've been calmer, not shouted (haven't we all?) but then the best days out weigh it all.

    I have no idea why I parent the way I do, all I know is I do it with the passion and unconditional love that will never alter. :)

    P.s i'm also a trained BF support worker too xx

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