‘my way or the highway’ parenting: overcoming our need to defend our families and put down other styles of parenting


Kaya, working on her bike ( she wants to be a mechanic!!)

I was just reading a few interesting posts, one on time outs and another on VBACS. The latter was really interesting as it mentioned how one can get totally fixated on having a certain kind of birth ( for this article, it was intervention free) and how if we don’t get that exact birth, we can insult ourselves or judge others. I myself want a VBAC badly, but this article open my mind to not getting so fixated on having one that I begin to insult myself if I don’t end up having it.
Regarding time outs, we do them occasionally, and I have read several anti timeout posts and understand the views. What I don’t agree with is the sort of put down of parents who do do them. Every child is different. Mine, for example, actually loves them. No, I have not conditioned her to love punishment. She and her father use it as a time to hang out and meditate, and she reemerges smiling and laughing. Now, I can’t convince another mom what is right or wrong for my child. But yet I feel I have to, as if one is in the natural parenting community, there seems to be a status quo of how to parent, and if you aren’t on board, you can be treated like you are a ‘bad’ parent. That’s not right.

I want the natural parenting community to feel like a peaceful, welcoming place, not a judgemental one. I respect other people’s views, even if I disagree. What I would like is the same done to me. I don’t go off on friends who let their kids eat junk food or use a stroller and don’t wear their babies. I just let them be and am there if they ever need any advice. They are their for me as well, even though I parent differently and unschool.

Let’s pretend Attachment Parenting and homschooling was a religion. Would you join if everyone at the church kept telling your parenting style was doomed? There are moms who have killed themselves after hearing that. Would you join if the churchgoers were kind and accepting, or preached to you 24/7 on how their church was the way. What if their were tons of rules, such as what colour your hair had to be to what you ate.

I am seeing a lot of rules in the APing/unschooling world, on how we ‘should’ behave as parents. This, to me, sounds like an ultraconservative meme that won’t die. We all need to do the ‘my way or the highway’ parenting style, or be ousted.

Have we unschoolers and APers created an environment that is flexible to many families or only pushes one path? Are we preaching or just being? I keep getting the feeling that we do both, but can lean on the former in forums and on posts. This is not what I want to do. We are all flawed. There is no perfect parent, APer or other. Every child is different, every family is different. My dad was an alcoholic. He did the best he could, and I would not have traded him for anyone in the world… even some amazing APer or dedicated unschooler.
We shouldn’t have to follow one method of parenting or be condemned. We should embrace eachother on our complicated and yet wonderful paths as parents.

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About Elizabeth Kelsey Bradley

Writer, Blog Coach, and Digital Strategist based in Thailand. Wellness fan. Gamer.
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11 Responses to ‘my way or the highway’ parenting: overcoming our need to defend our families and put down other styles of parenting

  1. brava! this is so true. what works for us is just that – FOR US. 🙂

  2. I love your words and totally appreciate and understand your point of view. We are homeschoolers too!! I’m from Puerto Rico and had a beatiful 16 months baby girl named Anaisabel 🙂

  3. erinmidwife says:

    Thanks for this. I have a similar experience with AP philosophy. I think it is best applied to babies, but does not serve older children and parents as well. I also observe staunchly AP parents, as a group, to be more fear-based in their approaches. Of course, that is a generalization, but one that I have experienced over the years.

    • Erin thank you for your comment; that is a really interesting perspective! I can def see how that can happen. I hope to be in some middle ground: very close to my kids but giving them freedom.

  4. Matt says:

    Great post. I think your point came across well that every child is different and requires a unique and custom approach. If it’s working then keep doing it and if not then fine tune it until it does. And as kids grow the approach will change. Raising kids is just one big experiment and that means successes and failures. Personally I don’t put too much thought into what others think about our parenting ways. It works for us and our kids and that’s all that really matters.

    We’re about to embark on a homeschool journey and don’t know anything about it so I imagine we’ll have lots of trial and error. But it’s all part of the process. I listen to the experiences of other families who have gone before us and use what works for us and ignore the rest. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

  5. Marilia says:

    I´m with you here, on respecting other parenting approaches. I don´t do time outs and I wrote a post about why I don´t. But I´ve seen parents using it and having good results too.

    • hey Marilia! We found out what we do is more like what some call time ins. I agree completely, how some parents get good results doing X and others with doing B. Kids are all so different!! 🙂

  6. Pingback: Radical unschooling scares me but I so want this for my kids (and me and my husband too)… « Sara in the Sky with Diamonds

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