A Query | Giftie Etcetera: A Query

Saturday, July 7, 2007

A Query

A loyal reader asked this question (edited here for brevity):

What is child led parenting? Whenever you use the term I don't know if you mean Attachment Parenting or that great mass of parents who don't discipline their kids or maybe something else. - Loyal Reader

My response (in case anyone else is confused, though I recall writing about this at length):

I have no idea where the term came from. Maybe from a message board? Maybe from a book? Who knows? It's been part of my consciousness so long that I have no idea of the source.

Basically, it means you take all your cues from your child and use that to guide your parenting, much like people do with infants, only it goes long beyond the infant phase (where I believe it is totally appropriate) to the preschool phase. A parent-led parent is very authroitarian and doesn't consider the child's needs (beyond the basic needs, like hunger). A parent-led parent says jump and expects the child to say how high. A parent-led parent expects the child to sit quietly through an entire Mass at age 1 or 2. I consider myself a family-led parent, where the child's wants/needs/desires are considered, but are not the be-all, end-all of what happens. Instead, the good of the family comes first, and the good of the child comes second (but is of high importance). So my child is expected to sit through Mass, but I bring age and church appropriate toys, distractions, and engage him in the singing. Nonetheless, if he goes beyond the limits that I set as reasonable, he gets a timeout rather than just get to leave Mass.

It's not Attachment Parenting (which, as I understand it, involves a lot of other aspects, like baby-wearing and no CIO), but many attachment parents are child-led parents. I am definitely not an Attachment Parent. I do have many friends who are and mostly they seem okay with me not believing in the same philosophy as them.

Child-led parenting definitely is not the same thing as just not disciplining. A person who just doesn't discipline does not get respect from me. That's just pure laziness and does nothing for the child's well-being, IMHO. Instead, a child-led parent would choose discipline based on exactly what the child wants/needs (so I can respect it), but the families discipline preference would not be considered. So a child-led parent might just not take the child to church, because the child doesn't want to go, and therefore it must not be appropriate for the child yet. I just don't think child-led parenting ultimately leads to a child who is truly concerned about others, as opposed to only being concerned about himself, so I don't practice child-led parenting. It's too easy, IMHO, for a child-led parent to become the parent of a spoiled child.

But it's hard sometimes, to not just give in to Ander, which is why I end up blogging about the struggle to keep setting guidelines and enforcing them! Child-led parenting is probably the easiest way to parent. The child eats when he wants. He sleeps when he wants.

Instead, we are somewhere in-between. Ander can have snacks throughout the day, but breakfast, lunch, and dinner are at set times. And no snacks while I'm cooking dinner. And he has a bedtime, and we enforce it. Things like that are the differences.

Etcetera.

2 comments:

Mathochist said...

Thanks Loyal Reader for asking; I was confused too! Thank you Mommy to Ander and Wife to Box for clarifying.

I am not familiar with these terms other than from your blog, but by your definition I would consider myself a family-led parent, too (although perhaps you and others would not, as I am also pretty AP-oriented...)

"it's hard sometimes, to not just give in" Yes!!!! I struggle with this too many times each day! I have to constantly remind myself of something I read in a book (A Mother's Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot) "Mommy means what she says, AND is willing to enforce it!" (my emphasis)

Mommy to Ander and Wife to Box said...

Honestly, most of my friends are family-led parents. But I have at least one friend who is definitely child-led and one who is definitely parent-led.