As soon as I became a mum I became very aware of how many parenting styles there were. I was suddenly hearing phrases like; attachment parenting, gentle parenting, free range parenting, authoritarian parenting, authoritative parenting, permissive parenting, positive parenting, helicopter parenting… I could go on and on. One style of parenting I’ve not heard much about though, is instinctive parenting.
I’m just going to throw it out there, instinctive parenting is my parenting style. Instinctive parenting doesn’t come with a list of dos and don’t and there are no set rules, instead this style is about being completely led by parental instinct.
When Bear was first born, I had health visitors and midwives tell me what I should and shouldn’t be doing. I would then go to baby groups and have endless lessons from conversations with other mums who would bore me to tears with their well read knowledge of all parenting styles. I would go glassy eyed as other new mums (with no idea what they were doing either) told me about how their style of parenting was the way to go… because they read it in a book in pregnancy. I was always so confused. How did they know that their baby wanted to only be allowed a 45 minute nap, 3 times a times a day? How did they know their baby needed a set routine in order to improve their GSCES grades in years to come? The more I listened to these women, the more I wondered how many of them weren’t actually listening to what their instincts were telling them to do. That’s when I decided my parenting decisions would be based purely on my natural instincts.
Since deciding that was my parenting style, I’ve had countless conversations with mums questioning something they are doing in regards to their parenting. Whether that be to take away a dummy, co-sleep, sleep train, wean early, put their little one in nursery, not put their little one in nursery, whether to home school, whether to not and every time I ask, “Well what does your instinct tell you?” Usually there is a definitive answer and I think, well why not just do that.
I wonder if we over complicate parenting these days? I wonder if we are so focused on making sure our children turn out to be wonderful human beings, that we look for outside reassurance to tell us that we are doing this whole parenting thing right, instead of listening to our own instincts and knowing we are.
When it comes to a lot of my parenting, I try to think back to how I felt when I was growing up. At bedtime I always wanted one more story, not because I was being difficult, but because I was scared of the dark. When I was misbehaving it was usually because I was overwhelmed or tired, not because I just felt like being difficult that day. Now as a parent when my children are misbehaving, we talk about why they are behaving that way and find a solution, whether that be a compromise, a cuddle or some time on our thinking step to calm down. When they are reluctant to go to bed, I sit with them until they no longer need me to be there.
When it comes to parenting, I follow my instincts, because they usually guide me in the right direction. My children are happy, caring, well mannered, well behaved, social and reasonably intelligent kids. I guess my instincts can’t be getting it too wrong, so I’m going to stick to using them.