What Kind of Parent Will You Be?
I will be the first to admit that when I first became pregnant, I spent a lot of time reading and researching about parenting. It did not matter how much I knew as a psychologist or how many parents I had counseled. I went back and searched for that one book, that one formula that would help me succeed. I found that for as many helpful tips on what to do, I also found plenty of contradictions. What worked for one parent or child does not necessarily work for another.
As if that were not enough, I also had to contend with a serious question a lovely woman at the grocery store asked me when she noticed I was pregnant. "What kind of mom will you be?" she asked. She must have seen the confused look on my face, so she followed up her question with: "I think you'll be a yoga-mom. Yup, for sure a yoga-mom or a soccer mom." I smiled politely and nodded my head, but I was left perplexed that there were categories to the types of mom you could be. I was clearly new to this mom language, so this question lingered in my mind throughout my pregnancy. "What kind of mom was I going to be?"
What’s in a label?
From a psychological perspective, researchers have identified four major parenting styles and attachment styles (see graphic below) our children develop. These attachment styles are said to be expressed interpersonally from early childhood into adulthood (see Edward Teyber & Faith Holmes Teyber, Interpersonal Process in Therapy, an Integrative Model, 7thEd.).
However, from a social perspective, moms today have a myriad of labels to choose from in order to identify themselves (positively or negatively) and describe what the focus or hyper-focus is in her life. Terms like a soccer mom, ice-skating mom, PTA-mom, stay-at-home mom, working mom, a (fill in the blank) mom. Ultimately, these identifiers influence the way moms raise their children. Many of the moms I have counseled have struggled with their own social description of parenting characteristic labeled as:
🚁 a helicopter mom: a hovering parent, extreme attention to the child
🐯 tiger mom: rigid disciplinarian, focused on succeeding, tough love
🚜 lawnmower mom: objective is to avoid all dangers/obstacles, whatever the cost
🦸♀️ super mom: works full time, is an exceptional homemaker, volunteers, is a mom of multiples, and has time for herself
🦄 unicorn mom: party mom, not into other’s opinions
and the list goes on (panda-, dragon-, granola-, crunchy/scrunchy-, rookie- spoiler-mom…)
In reality, there are no guarantees that any of these titles will help you shape a successful child or that in the end, you are awarded the "best mom of the year" award. I do know that the pressure parents face today in the social realm is real. Parents I counsel have had to contend with burn out, stress, anxiety, depression, and uncertainty; which is many times brought on by these very labels they try to fit in.
Decide what type of parent you want to be
As parents, our behaviors and words will have an impact in what we instill in our children. The reality is that parenting does not happen at the perfect moment under maximized conditions for learning. No, parenting happens in the everyday small moments of time in the midst of our daily, chaotic lives. Nonetheless, these parenting moments eventually sum up to be the very foundation that forms our children’s world view (schemas). Thus, making a conscious decision about our parenting style, values, and beliefs is an important step to parenting, especially early in our child’s developmental process.
An untrendy parenting label: Christ(ian) mom
So, I finally have the answer, I decided what kind of mom I was going to be. It may not be a novel description, but it sure is an untrendy type of parenting. So here it goes, I decided I'm a Christ(ian) mom. A mom whose focus is on Christ and seeks biblical guidance in the parenting journey.
See, we weren't supposed to do this mom or parenting thing without Him. Life has no guarantees, but I know it is a sure thing with Him. If we walk this parenting journey with Him, we can grow and understand that our title Mom or Dad is not what this world says it is.
As parents, we are disciplers of the next generation. Our relationship with God has a direct impact on our own children. We, after all, are modeling what that relationship looks like. It is never too early or late to start discipling your children; however, deciding to be a discipler of your children is an active and intentional journey.
As a Christ(ian) mom, I am continually equipping myself to disciple my child. And let me tell you it's no easy task! You think being a psychologist, I know exactly what to do and when to do. It's not true. Thank goodness for the knowledge I have, but what has made most of an impact has been the decision to be a Christ(ian) mom. Thank you God, that I can rely on you to guide me!
Formula: prayer, Bible, and worship
You see, I started discipling my child since she was in the womb. I prayed for her spirit, health, and for God to prepare us as parents. When she was born, we had moments of nursing and worship, time for prayer, biblical story time about our creator and heroes of our faith, we speak of heaven and her sister and family on the other side of eternity. It's never too young or too early to start a relationship with God. This very moment, you could make the decision to have God at the center of your family and parenting.
It may not be the trendiest or popular advice these days. But for my family and me, it is a decision that has helped us survive the death of our firstborn child and embrace the gift our second one. It has made a difference in those tough parenting moments in which I've questioned what I am supposed to do and what is the best approach to go about it. More importantly, it has made this naturally tiresome parenting journey a beautiful one.
In the end, I already had the ONE book I was searching for. May we remember that we are His and that we were not meant to parent without His sovereign guidance. May we stay rooted in God's word and seek His guidance and wisdom to be the mom's and dad's our children need us to be. So, I ask you what kind of parent will you be?
Disclaimer: The content shared in this page is intended as general advice only, and not to replace clinical counseling, medical treatment, legal counsel, or pastoral guidance.