“Parenting is personal” has become one of my most favorite mantras. Whether talking to other parents or talking about ways to partner with parents, I often repeat this phrase, reminding myself and others that parenting involves incredible personal choice. When I say parenting is personal, I hope to dissolve the defensiveness and self-doubt many parents hold about themselves. And remove the judgments so easily made about how other parents “choose” to parent.
I believe that the reason this phrase provides such comfort is that it is a gentle reminder that all parenting does not have to look the same. It allows parents to bring their own style to their parenting. It enables parents to believe in their own practices. And, it may even go so far as to indicate that it is okay to make mistakes.
It seems to me that parents today are flooded with opinions, warnings and suggestions about the “right way” to parent. Yet I have found that most parents report that they learned to parent by how they were raised and through pure trial and error. They had to figure out what worked for their child and what made sense to them. Which I see as completely logical! Parenting is about the relationship between the parent and the child – which is personal! It is based upon the energy and passion that exists as parents and children connect with each other. So to assume there is only one right way to parent diminishes the power of the parent-child relationship. And to infer all parents should practice the same parenting strategies eliminates the choices parents have in raising their children.
I am not trying to suggest that parenting is easy or that advice is not helpful. I really believe quite the opposite. I believe parenting can be very overwhelming and that parents are often grateful for ideas and support. But I do think it’s important to be aware of how we give support. That when “giving advice,” we avoid the judgments or blame that often follows.
So make your parenting personal – trust your instincts and the knowledge you have about your child. Be aware of your own strengths and limitations and chose to parent in a manner that supports the best in you and the best in your child.