The best parenting strategy
Is there such a thing as the BEST parenting strategy? If you’ve been to this website before you’ll know that I promote Gentle Parenting and even teach a course on it, so you might be surprised to find out I don’t think it’s the “best” parenting strategy.
Let me explain though before you think I’m invalidating what I teach here!
I think the best parenting strategy is what’s best for you and your kid – and only you can determine that.
It can be super frustrating as a parent when you start hearing all the opinions out there about the “best” way to parent. I mean consider all these things…
- Natural birth or epidural
- Formula or breastmilk
- Co-sleep? Crib? Baby in their own room?
- When to start solids
- Should they go to daycare to socialize?
- Public school, private, or homeschool?
- How much sugar can they eat?
- How much screen time can they have?
Phew, I’m exhausted just having to think of all those, because honestly so much shame can come with the decision. I know where I landed on all of those for myself, because it’s what was best for me and my child at the time.
But is there a best answer?
Is there a WORST answer? Well yes, because it’s obviously not ok to abuse children.
But if your child has never tasted sugar, that’s not abuse. If your child watches 8 hours of TV a day, that’s not abuse.
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You never know another mom’s situation
Mom shaming is so incredibly common these days, and a lot of times it’s because there are so many options out there to parent and people believe they know the “best” way to do it.
It’s understandable though, because it’s easy to think what works best for you will work best for someone else.
But you never truly know someone else’s situation.
Sometimes as parents we make certain decisions based on our mental health or chronic pain.
Sometimes we make decisions based on how little money we have.
Sometimes we make decisions based on our past experiences and the pain we experienced growing up.
Sometimes we make decisions based on our culture or race.
Sometimes we make decisions based on our personality or our child’s personality.
These factors, and many more, all come into play when we decide what’s best for our children, and that means we really can’t determine what is best for someone else.
For example, I don’t live with chronic pain, so I might make decisions differently than a parent who has to factor that in.
As a white (settler) Canadian woman, I can’t relate to some of the nuances of parenting that comes with other cultures. As an outsider looking in, it’s not my place to judge.
We can’t judge why another parent is making a certain decision in their parenting. We only see a fraction of their reality, and don’t know why they’re making certain decisions for their family.
Parenting strategies are like…face wash
I think of parenting strategies like face wash.
I know which brand of face wash works for me, and that’s the one I buy and like to use.
Sometimes I recommend it to my friends – because it works great!
Buuuut, it actually might not work for them. Maybe it will dry their skin out. I wouldn’t want them to have that happen just for the sake of us using the same kind of face wash.
And just like parenting strategies, I myself know which strategies definitely don’t work for me. I’ve also never tried all of them.
In the future things could change, and maybe I’ll want to try a different face wash.
I try to understand my skin and use what’s best for it, while still sticking to my own budget.
There’s no way I can say what the “best” face wash is, but I do know what’s working really well for me right now, so that’s what I’m using. I also put in some research to make a good decision so I wouldn’t use something that would harm my skin.
And honestly, no one is shaming me about which face wash I should use or insisting the one they use is better.
The best parenting strategy is the one you’re confident in
So really, there isn’t a best parenting strategy, but there should be one that’s best for you and your child. Maybe you’ve already figured out what that is, and have a lot of confidence in how you’re parenting your child (and specifically how you’re disciplining them).
But maybe you feel frustrated in your approach, then it’s worth doing some serious reflection to figure out what parenting strategy is best for you.
Doing some research, especially about child development, can help you to have more confidence in your parenting strategy, as well as learning some specific new skills.
I would highly recommend the book, “The Whole Brain Child 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind,” because it is really informative about how children’s brains work and strategies you can use in light of that. As well as the book “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk” because it gives you a whole bunch of super practical examples of what to say to kids in certain scenarios.
But are they the BEST strategies?
Well that’s up to you to determine for yourself. If you’re already doing something that you believe is best for you and your child then there may be no need to feel that you need to change because something else works best for someone else.
Gentle Parenting is the best parenting strategy – for me
Gentle Parenting came naturally to me as an Early Childhood Educator from what I knew about child development and discipline from an educator’s point of view.
What I love about Gentle Parenting though is that we may have some guiding principles (like my 6 pillars for Gentle Parenting) but for the most part each of us as gentle parents are able to define what that really looks like in our own families.
Different families practicing Gentle Parenting will have different ideas about screen time, schooling, bedtime, boundaries, etc. There is no set of rules for us to follow if we want to use Gentle Parenting, and that can be very freeing as we figure out what’s best in our family.
We can only try our best as parents
I have strategies I believe are “best” in my household, but I don’t always follow them. Sometimes I don’t hold boundaries as well as I’d like because I’m totally exhausted, or I don’t spend enough time outside with my daughter, or I don’t do the things ahead of time that I know can prevent meltdowns.
Knowing what’s best for our family doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re going to be perfect all the time at following through with that.
What I believe is best is to equip ourselves with shame free knowledge. Understand why some strategies might work while others might do more harm than good.
Understand where our child is at developmentally and what they’re actually capable of (so we don’t put unrealistic expectations on them).
And also understand ourselves – what can we handle? What sort of triggers might be affecting our parenting? Are we parenting based on what we think others expect from us? What do we need to do to make sure we stay regulated? All important questions for us to consider.
Related: 10 Signs of Bad Parenting & How to Avoid Them
Your parenting strategy can be the best parenting strategy
Parenting is in your hands, and you get to decide how to discipline your child.
Use your wisdom, do some research, and understand yourself and your child.
You can find the best parenting strategy for you, without being shamed into doing things a certain way.
You are the expert of your child. You’ve got this.
Gentle Parenting Resources
If Gentle Parenting is something you want to try (no worries if it isn’t) here are some of the resources I have available for you:
Gentle Parenting Power Tools (free digital download with quick tips)
Gentle Foundations for Parenting (free course in written and video formats)
The Gentle Parenting Course (paid video course)