Parenting Styles – Skeptics Please Stand Up

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

July 16, 2010

San Galgano, Church

I am including San Galgano as a bastion of simple Catholicism. Beautiful, authoritative, long standing. Image by Michelle Lasley via Flick

I’ve written previously about my skepticism towards magazines that give advice. Given a magazine’s typical audience, I think this was sound advice. I’ve done enough research papers to want to see the studies behind a given claim or something attributed as fact. I may not understand the tables and techniques used to devise one study over another, but I have enough sense to be able to figure out the gist of what the panel of authors is trying to tell me.

As parents, we are given a lot of advice. It comes from non-parents, grandparents, our parents, pediatricians, general practitioners, OBs, chiropractors, teachers, clergy, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, friends, foes, strangers at the super market! Some days it’s enough to make me feel a little batty.

There seems to be one (set of) Doctor(s) who appears to be the leading sage on kiddos: Dr. Sears. He advocates attachment parenting, has an answer for everything, and goes against “mainstream” parenting ideas. Warning bells ring in my head.

OK. Many (many) of my friends like Dr. Sears. They find what he’s saying to fit their needs as a parent. I am glad they have found something that works for them. Please, if you are reading this, know that I am. I have seen your parenting style, and you are firm and affectionate, and I respect, appreciate, and admire that.

View from Church

But, I am a skeptic. A self-identified Catholic, I don’t agree with the church on many things (Hello? Women? Priests should be defrocked for thinking of ordaining one of us? Seriously, get with the times). And, I get really skeptical when another human is held up on a pedestal where upon he cannot be struck down – well – I get really skeptical. has my skepticism on their FAQ. Remember my frustration in Momma Bear? When parents don’t do anything to “teach” their children that a behavior is wrong? Attachment Parenting apparently advocates this approach when addressing toddlers who hit:

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you let him hit other kids. By remaining close by and engaged in his play, you will often be able to intervene before your son lashes out at another child. In the event that he does hit another child, you can model empathy and issue an apology to set the example for him. You can help your son put his feelings into words and continue to work with him on sharing (or “taking turns,” which is sometimes an easier concept to understand). By staying calm and comforting his distress, you help regulate his emotions and model empathetic behavior.

Frequently Asked Questions 3rd Principle: Respond with Sensitivity, Attachment Parenting International

As an adult, I have difficulty expressing how I feel to many, including my closest loved ones. I have always been this way, although I am closest to my mother and my sister whereby my difficulties are lessened dramatically. I trust them, implicitly, even if I don’t agree with their decisions or advices for me. For others, I generally start off guarded and slowly get to know folks, treading carefully to see if I can fully trust someone. My mother was an authoritative parent. She was raised by authoritative parents. My husband is an authoritative parent who was also raised by authoritative parents. Part and parcel of being authoritative, from how we were raised, was being shown consequences for our actions. The simple idea behind this philosophy was to get us to think before we acted. If we pushed our siblings we likely would have been spanked and/or had something taken away, a favorite toy, to show there is a consequence for our action. Again, the idea being that repeated demonstrations of actions and their consequences would lead us to think before speeding, for example, as a young teenage driver. We would have been told as we got older that speeding could lead to reckless driving which could lead to death. Our deaths would cause sadness and grief for our families, so please think before putting the pedal to the metal.

The above example is a demonstration of articulating feelings. While I appreciate the attempt, it is short sighted and one sided. It only asks the hitter, the child acting out, to display his feelings. It says nothing of the child being hit. The child being hit only receives a half hearted apology because how sensitive are those 2 year olds (yes, I have met some who have genuine, real feelings, but many seem quite underdeveloped).

This half-hearted parenting actually does a disservice to our children. This type of parenting is the type of parenting teachers complain about when they get into schools. First, the parent modeled the apology but didn’t ask the child to respond. This would only teach the child that their parents will fix their problems for them, which is the problem many of my teacher friends complain about. The child received a poor grade, for example, on a test because they goofed off in class and didn’t pay attention. The consequence for their action was the poor grade. The angry parent demands the grade be fixed because their child couldn’t possibly have received a poor grade.

This example highlights my skepticism of attachment parentings. It sounds like cuddling without the consequences. If we just cuddle, everything will be all right. Well, you may have a nice time cuddling with your child, but my kiddo was just pushed by your attached child.

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