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Moms Talk: What Flavor Parent Are You?

Just like an ice cream shop, parenting has flavors to match everyone's individual preferences.

“I am thirty two flavors and then some…” – Ani DiFranco

I didn’t know when I got pregnant that I was entering a war zone. Battles rage everywhere over the correct way to parent. Traditional parenting clashes with attachment parenting. Positive reinforcement advocates skirmish with the No Bribes crowd. Concerted Cultivation gets sucker-punched by Tiger Moms.  And, of course, there’s the of public schooling vs. private schooling vs. homeschooling vs. unschooling.

It’s just way too much hostility for me over what is, basically, a difference of opinion. So I ignore the war as best I can, and instead try to look at parenting as an ice cream shop. In my creamery, everybody picks the flavors they like best, and nobody hates anyone for their choices.

Traditional parenting is the vanilla. It gets the job done, and some people like it very much. This is your classic parenting style; the “let them cry it out” parents, who put babies in their own cribs as soon as possible, spank when they think it necessary, and mostly follow the example set by their parents, and many generations of parents, all the way back to Victorian times. (A note: I am not talking about abusive parents, here. I believe that there is a world of difference between thoughtfully using spanking as a tool and physical abuse. If you don’t agree, then no ice cream for you.)

These are often people with a traditional marriage, as well, and you’ll find many provider dads and stay-at-home moms falling into this group. Vanilla for their marriage, and vanilla for their child rearing. They choose vanilla because it is mild, comfortable, and familiar. They believe they are raising their children to be self-reliant, respectful, socially appropriate human beings, with just a fleck of ground bean. 

Chocolate is 50/50 parenting. These are the parents who try to split responsibilities evenly, where the dads change diapers and the moms get some fulfillment from things that aren’t their kids. (Please don’t audibly gasp.) Nobody really hates chocolate, but some people just find it too rich for every day. 

Strawberry is for . Sure, there’s a lot of ice cream in there, but big chunks of fruity iPod, tv, and computer time liven up the mix. This works well for a lot of people, but there are some people who are just allergic to strawberries, so they can’t even hear about your love of this flavor without feeling itchy.

Attachment parenting (wearing your baby and co-sleeping and such) and Unschooling (following the child’s interests rather than a set curriculum) are Chile Mango Sorbet. I’m sure it’s absolutely delicious. I know people who love it. I just will never, ever put it in my mouth.

There are so many flavors, and new ones all the time. Tiger Moms are Green Tea, which I once found bitter, but have learned to appreciate. Positive Reinforcement is a Raspberry Sherbet, delicious to start, but sour in large quantities (and oh, those seeds in your teeth). Each flavor is someone's favorite, but there's no need to start a fight about it. Just get your own cup or cone and dig in.

For my own choice, I do a lot of tasting, but come back again and again to a banana split. A scoop of Vanilla for practicing spelling lists and getting our daughter to sleep in her own bed. Some strawberry for a refreshing break after a long day of full attention parenting. Hot Fudge sauce over it all (because my husband does a lot more than just 50 percent).

And, of course, bananas and nuts, because … well, parenting is bananas and sometimes drives me nuts! But the hug and kiss before bed are the whipped cream, and a whispered “I love you” always puts the cherry on top.

ROB JINKS May 27, 2011 at 07:29 PM
GREAT INSIGHT FOR BEING MORE TOLERANT OF OTHERS' OPINIONS
Cathy Watkins May 27, 2011 at 10:22 PM
Just when I thought you couldn't top your previous articles...... Still trying to figure out what flavor I am:)
Chris Macbeth May 28, 2011 at 07:35 PM
Great article.
Sheryl May 29, 2011 at 09:23 AM
love love love the article. While typically mango is my favourite ice cream, in parenting styles I can say I would take a bit of everything but the chile mango. And as the kids get older I find my tastes broadening as I grow with them.
Marni May 30, 2011 at 08:27 PM
Great analogy & reminder to be tolerant of others' choice...and just loads of fun! I think I'm banana-splittin' it myself. =)

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