Your Parenting Style: Are You An Extreme Parent?

by Lindsay Hutton

Attachment parenting, helicopter parenting, free-range parenting -- these are all terms you've probably heard, but might not know what they mean. Take a look at today's most prevalent parenting styles, and the pros and cons of each, and decide which (if any) you're on board with.

In This Article:

Parenting styles of today

Think back to when you were a child--did your parents allow you to roam free and play as you pleased? Or did they keep you within eyesight and make sure you were supervised by an adult at all times? Could you head outside to play for hours on end, and only come home when called for dinner, or were you only allowed to ride your bike to the end of the street, never out of sight of your house?

Chances are, no matter how your parents raised you, there wasn't a special "label" on their parenting style. Today, things are different. It seems that parenting has taken on some extreme forms, and each one has its own rules. Still, while everyone seems to be an expert on raising kids, we all do it our own way. Here's a look at today's most prevalent parenting styles, and the pros and cons of each. Take a look to determine if you're on board with one of these trends.

Attachment Parenting
This term, coined by Dr. William Sears, concentrates on high-touch relationships between child and parent. It promotes physical and emotional closeness through what Dr. Sears calls the Baby Bs--bonding, breastfeeding, babywearing, bedsharing, and boundary building. The Baby Bs are all thought to promote closeness and attentiveness between the parent and baby through continuous contact.

Parents who use this style essentially keep their baby as close as possible at all times. They use their natural instincts and responses, not the clock, for cues on what their child needs. Followers of this style believe babies will tell their parents when they are ready to eat, sleep, sleep alone, be left with a sitter, or cultivate any new behavior.

Parents using this style believe role modeling, rewards for good behavior, time outs, and loss of privileges are the best way to discipline a child, all the while keeping his developmental stage in mind.

Pros
Attachment parenting uses gentle, non-violent discipline based on age-appropriate expectations. Proponents also encourage breastfeeding, which promotes bonding between the mother and baby, and has also been shown to be healthier and a more economical choice for many families.

Cons
Attachment parenting is labor-intensive and demanding. Some opponents feel if puts unrealistic demands and obligations on the parents, especially for working mothers. Many women who work outside the home have reported feeling weighed-down and guilty when they don't feel they've upheld the principles of attachment parenting. For this reason, some believe this has led to an "age of anxiety" for modern-day mothers.

Critics also point out that co-sleeping, which is encouraged by proponents of this style, can be dangerous to babies.

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