Over the years I have taken a number of personality and behavioural surveys and profiles. You too may have done some of these at work or as part of a team building exercise or perhaps on a lazy afternoon when flicking through an old Cosmo magazine. Here are some of my results:
- Myers Briggs: ISFJ
- DISC: C and I dominant
- Tendency: Upholder
- Love language: Quality Time
- Kolbe action style: High on ‘Fact finder’ and ‘Follow through’
- VIA Strengths: Highest – Love of Learning, Lowest: Humility (well I do write a blog about myself!)
Check out the references to find out your results (note some websites may charge for the report).
Maybe these survey results tell you a lot about me. Or maybe the fact that I absolutely LOVE ticking all those boxes tells you all you need to know. I realise that these are just tools, and that no test sums up me, or anyone else, perfectly. However, I relish in the structure they give and the knowledge that there are other people quite similar to me in this world.
So when it comes to parenting, I thought I would also like to try and fit into a category, to find other mamas just like me. All I would need to do is research the key points of the main parenting approaches and slot myself in to the one that resonates the most with me – voila – instant community.
Here are a few I tried on for size. These are major philosophies and I do not want to trivialise their importance, but to keep things short, I have summarised their main tenets into a couple sentences. Check out the references for more information.
The Tiger Mother
I initially liked the sound of this – who wouldn’t want to be associated with these majestic beasts? This parenting approach places a huge emphasis on academic success and non-academic structured activities that garner awards such as classical music practice.
Unfortunately I cannot lay claim to being a tiger mother. My four year old now does soccer practice because he told us he wanted to. And my 18 month old daughter has been barely exposed to anything remotely structured as an activity, except for the occasional sing-a-long during Rhymetime at the library.
I then thought perhaps I am the opposite of the tiger mother – have I embraced ‘Slow Parenting’? This advocates a lot of free play, less toys and places emphasis on a child using their imagination and being out in nature. It sounds idyllic, plus I would love to have less toys cluttering up the house.
The issue I have with ‘Slow Parenting’ is its name. In the 1980’s when I was growing up, this ‘movement’ would have been simply known as ‘Parenting’. I spent many hours on the weekends with my sister and our friends making huts out of the gorse bushes or bamboo strands in our neighbourhood, and I am pretty sure my parents have never heard of ‘Slow Parenting’.
Plus it discourages kids from watching TV so it is ruled out of contention for me on that count alone.
I love the idea of natural parenting with its emphasis on being as close to your child as possible, natural childbirth and what is best for the environment.
My second child went onto solids via baby-led weaning. Not because I was trying to be a natural parent, but because, well, it was baby-led. Eloise refused mush off a spoon almost straight away.
But I just never could get the hang of baby wearing – I always thought my baby would fall out of the sling. And anyway, I believe I have a life-long ban from this movement for the 100% use of disposable nappies (diapers).
With its emphasis on empathy, understanding and tolerance along with self-regulation and mindfulness, ‘Conscious Parenting’ sounds more like an aspiration rather than something I can adhere to 24/7. It seems kind of obvious that we would all want to be conscious parents, but I am fairly sure that people who (although only occasionally) drink wine in the shower are excluded from this category.
Good Enough Parenting
So if I give up striving to be the perfect parent should I then instead embrace the concept of ‘Good Enough Parenting’? The basic argument here is that no more striving to be the perfect parent means less stress, which is good for the whole family.
However, this may lead to no attempt to improve us as parents or to develop our kids as potential leaders. I would rather try – and possibly fail – to be a conscious parent, if this is the alternative.
Where To From Here?
These are all perfectly valid and legitimate forms of parenting, backed by scientific research and anecdotal stories of parenting success.
But they are just not right for me. Actually that is incorrect. They are all right for me, in different circumstances, but not a single one is exactly the right fit.
Then I realised what I was searching for, the structure I have been craving, is something I have already started creating: I am a ‘CherishMama’.
My website, cherishmama.com is a sanctuary. But for who exactly? This is still evolving, but currently it is for parents like me. Ones who do not fit easily into other parenting categories.
We are an eclectic bunch of flawed Mamas (and Daddies) who cherish the fortunate and privileged position we have of being a parent, but sometimes huff and snarl at our kids. We do strive to do our best, but sometimes end the day by drinking wine in the shower. At last, I have found something that ticks all my boxes.
Myers Briggs: https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test
Love language: http://www.5lovelanguages.com
Kolbe action style: http://www.kolbe.com/why-kolbe/kolbe-wisdom/four-action-modes/
VIA Strengths: http://www.viacharacter.org/www/Character-Strengths-Survey
The Tiger Mother: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_mother
Slow Parenting: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slow_parenting#Slow_movement
Natural Parenting: http://codenamemama.com/natural-parenting-resources/
Conscious Parenting: http://www.teach-through-love.com/conscious-parenting.html