You may have heard of attachment parenting, playful parenting, parenting from the heart, and dozens of other names for parenting philosophies. You might even be interested to know more, but with so many options, feel overwhelmed.
This article is collection of several of those approaches that have all performed well for some or many families along with a very brief nugget about each one, and links in case one of them calls to you.
All of these philosophies or approaches share common features:
1) They all view children as important human with needs for love, respect, and self-expression.
2) They all view children as important human with needs for love, respect, and self-expression.
3) They view building the child-parent relationships as central to effectiveness as a parent.
So now, in alphabetical order:
Especially organized around early childhood, attachment parenting promotes a close physical bond with young children through a variety of strategies. It is a great resource to learn about baby wearing, baby-friendly childbirth, co-sleeping, and a variety of other gentle approaches. There is a chapter in the DC area that meets monthly in Takoma Park.
How to Talk so Your Kids will Listen and Listen so Your Kids will Talk
Compiled after focus group discussions, this easy to read collection of parenting strategies for responding constructively to demands, frustration, and other challenging situations, is illustrated by enjoyable cartoons. It also has a sequel, Siblings without Rivalry.
Parenting by Connection (Hand-in-Hand Parenting, formerly known as Parents Leadership Institute)
Parenting by Connection emphasizes our ability to be emotionally present with our children. By positively framing the feelings children have as an important process, this approach supports parents in handling challenging moments, behaviors, and strong feelings. They have articles in English and Spanish.
Parent Effectiveness Training
A democratic model of parenting, Parent Effectiveness Training (PET) encourages parents to develop communication skills that allow for better collaborative decision-making. These skills are applicalble outside of parenting relationships as well. The PET philosophy especially avoids framing parenting as a contest of wills or power struggle. They have a collection of accessible, free articles available online.
Parenting from Your Heart (Nonviolent Communication/NVC)
Nonviolent Communication (NVC) works from the belief that all behaviors and feelings are the expressions of human needs at play. NVC suggests that empathic listening and authentic sharing are central skills to both handling difficult moments and building strong relationships in the long-term. Parenting from Your Heart is a short book by Inbal Kashtan that efficiently discusses Nonviolent Communication as it applies to parenting. An organization called Capitol NVC offers workshops in Nonviolent Communication in the DC area. Read the first chapter here.
From the perspective that children interact most fully through play, this book and approach suggests that we as parents stretch in the direction of engaging with and responding to our children through play, even — or especially — in difficult situations.
Taking the Power Struggle out of Parenting (Taking the War out of Our Words)
Available only as an audiobook, this was written and developed by a mother-daughter team, Sharon Strand Ellison & Ami Atkinson. The audiobook is here, scroll down to the page bottom. It is also available from the NotJustSkin lending library.
This approach asks, 1) what do children need, and 2) how can we give it to them. The answer to the first question is “Unconditional Love” (and a bunch of other things). If we take seriously the goal of providing unconditional love, then there are lot of things we have to (un)learn. That’s the content of this book. You can also hear the author being interviewed here.
Whatever your path, remember to be gentle with yourself. Parenting is hard.