Recently I was at a friend’s birthday party and was chatting to someone I haven’t seen in a while. He does something very important and complicated in the field of Psychiatry. He has the knack of making one feel fantastically interesting, goes with the territory I suppose. We were chatting about work and what not and he started telling me about some research on parenting styles he had seen. I don’t generally have time for faddy parenting advice. I feel it mostly makes the majority of parents feel inadequate and a minority very smug and very irritating. This however caught my attention and I totally bought into the concept.
The basic premise uses animal parenting styles to illustrate different approaches. Kangaroo – keep your child stuffed in your pouch and tend to their every need, not allowing a moments danger or discomfort; ostrich – bury your head in the sand hand, prey it will all be ok, Lion –raise your young to be tough, independent and competitive, kill all other young in the playground to ensure the success of your own and show displeasure and disappointment in every weakness and failing, jelly fish – non-confrontational, dislike boundaries and routine….. I could go on. He asked me what kind of parent I thought I was…. A bit of Jack Russell mixed with Labrador probably. So what should we be aspiring to I asked, what is the Holy Grail of parenting. Be more Dolphin he replied, guiding, coaching, communicating and encouraging. I immediately saw his point.
Parenting is a difficult thing made up of guess work and guilt. We can only hope that our children grow up happy, socially comfortable and knowing what genuine success feels like. For some inspiration from the father of a Nobel Peace prize winner watch this TED talk ‘My Daughter Malala’
For now; Shove over Gina Ford, I’m going to strive to be more Dolphin.