We spend a lot of time as parents (and an awful lot of time on parenting websites) exploring what kind of parents we want to be. The tendency to name "schools" of parenting is new to this generation. Our mothers were just mothers, not Attachment Mothers, or Free-Range Mothers, and, as we discussed yesterday, the name-your-parenting-after-an-animal trend is only about a year old (and, I would politely suggest, has run its course…)

I have been alternately amused and frustrated by this need we seem to have to give our philosophy a label — or even to have a distinct philosophy at all. The closest I come to a belief system of my own is borrowed from a friend, Donnica Moore, who sums up parenting as: It All Depends On Everything.

Two essays on Huffington Parents today throw out the idea of "one way" or even a "semi-consistent way" and offer up — actually CELEBRATE — a view of parenting that is closest to Moore's.

Devon Corneal describes it here as "Sure of Nothing Parenting." She nails it (as usual).

And Patty Onderko calls it "Relativist Parenting." Her essay is below.

Whatever you call it (because, after all, names can change, and everything is relative…) these two women sum up the on-the-fly, never-the-same-river-twice, doing-the-best-you-can feeling of this thing we do — whatever it is called — that differs from child to child, day to day, and moment to moment. — Lisa Belkin, Parentlode


I could be the worst parent in the history of the world. Or I could be the best. It's all relative. And that's my problem. Being a relativist and being a parent are hard ways of life to reconcile. Most likely, I'm a middle-of-the-road parent, but what's the middle of the road when it's relative to the relative best and the relative worst?

An example: I was crossing the actual (not proverbial) road with my 4-year-old twin boys the other morning when a turning car began honking at us. Here's a secret: I've long ago stopped forcing one of my sons to hold my hand while crossing streets. He rebelled so forcefully that our struggle actually put us at greater risk in the middle of the crosswalk. So I relented, and instead stood right next to him against oncoming traffic until we were safely to the other side. But the woman driving this car made it clear that I had made the wrong decision. She rolled down her window and screamed, "Hold his hand!!!" at me as she pointed emphatically to my unattached son. I was angry and defensive at the time, but later: Am I pansy parent who can't even uphold the supposed "non-negotiable" rules of childcare? Or am I a sensitive mom who wisely knows how to pick her battles? Honestly, I could go either way on that one. I flip-flop as of writing this.

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