Pick A Path Parenting
Do you remember the novels that allowed you to choose your own adventure? If you choose to go through the left door, turn to page 457 or if you choose to knock on the door in front of you, turn to the next page.
I loved to ‘cheat read’ and look at all of the options by reading ahead and then choose the path of least resistance. Usually there were too many decisions involved in this research phase and I ran out of fingers to bookmark each possible outcome and I was forced to just ‘make a decision’. It may not have been the ‘right’ one every time, but each time I chose a path, I weighed what I could from what I was presented with.
With parenting, you are faced with multiple decisions that you can’t ‘cheat read’ your way ahead for. You just have to try to take the best path that you are presented with at any given time. At best, you can think back and recall a decision that might have led you to a current predicament, but you cannot ‘flick back’ and take a different path. At the same time it is worth noting that whilst you cannot go back, you can make another decision in just a few ‘pages’ to alter your path again significantly.
Recently I read an article about the ‘mistakes’ a mother felt that she had made by choosing the path of attachment parenting. What occurred to me is that her decision to bracket herself into a particular style as ‘Attachment Parent’ without weighing up the pros and cons of each situation as it presented itself, was not the most ideal approach. It was like she was forcing herself into an ideal mould that was an uncomfortable fit.
She was reading a pick-a-path novel that had the decisions already made for her (like all the options had been circled already). Her feeling that she had made so many mistakes by choosing the path of Attachment Parenting was as if she had not been mindful of any of the journey she was taking on her way. The parenting path she had taken wasn’t the one she wanted.
If she had chosen any another style of parenting to define her path, the end result would have been the same. If you try to parent along someone-else’s path, you will probably not enjoy the story nearly as much as you might if you just relax and try to take one decision at a time – and pick your own path.
The best thing for parents and babies, is to make one decision at a time. Enjoy its successes or the learning that you gain from it, and move on confidently to the next.
Before becoming a parent, I thought Attachment Parenting was not for me. What I now know is that I lean far more towards Attachment Parenting styles than other styles. The methods my parents used were not for us, the methods some of my friends swore by were not for us and even some ‘tried and true’ methods read on the internet just did not fit.
My point is that I couldn’t know what style would fit if I had chosen a path before I walked it myself.
We have some routinized aspects, some ‘old-school’ methods, some AP methods and we try to be consistent. For us it has been made easier because there are no brackets, definitions or ‘paths’ set for us. There is no ‘right way’ that has already been written that means that if we choose the door on the left we will fail. Each path is chosen for its merits at the right time.
When my midwife asked me about my birth plan, I told her I didn’t have one. I told her that I trusted my body to do what it needed to do and that I didn’t want to make a plan in case it didn’t turn out how I wanted it to. Birth is predictably unpredictable and my lack of fixed plan meant that I could relax into labour knowing that I was in good hands and whatever happened would happen and we would all be ok.
I didn’t realise that the same philosophy would attach itself to me for the journey into parenting beyond labour.
Definitions are dangerous. Just as a movie is ruined when someone tells you what happens in the end, so too your parenting journey can be less enjoyable due to a pre-determined path.
Choose your own path. The terrain can be rough, but the views are definitely worth it.