Things I Wish I Had Known: Parenting Philosophies

This is the second post in my Things I Wish I Had Known Series, where I am sharing some of the things that I have learned on my parenting journey which would have been helpful to know before giving birth to Ellie.

I wish I had known that not having a particular parenting philosophy wasn’t the end of the world.

And that it didn’t make me a bad mother to not commit to one particular way in which to raise my children and center my family.

I heard and read so much about Attachment Parenting, Consensual Parenting/Living, Unschooling and Gentle Parenting among so many others. It seemed the be-all and end-all for being the best parent you could be was to have the right label applied to how you parent. I researched and soul searched trying to find one which fit my parenting philosophies completely, one which I could happily subscribe to and feel good about but there was never anything which absolutely felt right.

I came into this gig with a whole lot of lofty ideals, even without applying a particular word to describe them. I hadn’t thought about the fact that life, different children, experiences that come along and the things I am constantly learning along the way would set me up comfortably with my very own philosophical style of parenting and living which is expanding, growing and flexible to a point.

There are so many families out there who can and do live in ways I admire, such as (but certainly not limited to) Radical Unschoolers. I would love to do this, with all my heart I wish we could but I know it wouldn’t really work for us. So, while I find parts I am not quite able to commit to for various reasons, I am able to apply and adapt the bits which fit with the way in which we are trying to live.

I honestly thought that without the guidance of living within a certain belief system that I would fail completely as a mother.  I stressed about the fact that I couldn’t find somewhere to ‘fit’ but not having a label for the way you do things doesn’t mean you’re not doing a good job.

If there’s one thing I do know now it’s that pulling some parenting practices from here, taking some beliefs from there and adding what I am learning and wanting for my family to the mix and creating my own philosophy to live and parent by has lifted the stress.

There are still bumps which need to be smoothed, lessons to be learned and adjustments to be made and I am happy to make appropriate changes and be flexible where necessary. I am also happy to hold firm in the things I know are right for my family.

And that’s the thing, when we’re just starting out on this parenthood journey there’s so much thrown at us and it can be scary, but what doesn’t seem to be said much is “Do what works for you.”

Because my way may (or may not) be fab, but that doesn’t mean it is going to work for your family and circumstances.

I like to think of it just like parenting advice; use the bits you like, that work for you and throw the rest away. And don’t feel guilty. Accept that others probably choose to do things differently to you and move on.

That’s probably one of the things I worried about most at the start; fitting in with a certain philosophies’ group. Or not, given that I couldn’t find ‘the one’. There seems to be so much talk about the judgments and criticism heaped on those who do things differently and in my hormonal pre-mumyhood I didn’t want to be an outcast.

What about you, do you live by a certain philosophy, have you created your own or are you more a ‘go with your gut’ parent?


 Interested in what else I wish I had known?

Part One: Parenting Books

Part Two: Parenting Philosophies

Part Three: Highchairs
Part Four: Routines




  1. I tend to think that parenting style labels are only useful when you are trying to write your about page LOL
    I don’t believe there is one right way to parent, one label that fits everything you do… you just do what you, you make the best of what have and you do what feels right to you. 🙂

    • I think you’re right, Kate. I do wonder how close people can really live to their ideal parenting style. Now that I just go with it I am amazed at how difficult I made life with all my worrying!

  2. to be honest, I haven’t even THOUGHT about a “parenting style”. My groups of friends don’t talk about parenting styles either. I should probably know that they exist having done a uni degree in primary teaching but when I fell pregnant the thought didn’t cross my mind, 11months down the track hasn’t until… I read your post! lol
    I have absolutely no idea what ‘style’ I would fall under, perhaps I’m the “go with your guts” style. I parent with the same beliefs I pretty much had before having my daughter. Healthy food, social play, exercise, family days, individual play, not rocking to sleep (unless sick, bad teething)… Gosh don’t tell me I have to go and read some more books? lol
    Just go with your gut I say Becky. 🙂 “Labels are for Soupcans”

    • Thanks for your comment Neen. I now go with my gut and, even more so, with the flow of life and the children’s ‘stages’. Life is much better, more free and less stressful this way!

  3. Parenting can be the toughest job you\\\’ll ever have. Kids present new challenges continuously because they keep growing and changing, and the issues grow and change with them.

    As parents our most important job is to make sure our kids feel loved and valuable for who they are (not what they do). It\\\’s my biggest struggle, and my biggest joy all at once!


  1. Things I Wish I’d Known: Highchairs | Becky and James - [...] One: Parenting Books Part Two: Parenting Philosophies Part Three: Highchairs ← Part Four: [...]
  2. Things I Wish I Had Known: Parenting Books | Becky and James - [...] One: Parenting Books ← Part Two: Parenting Philosophies Part Three: Highchairs Part Four: [...]

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