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Elephant or Lighthouse


I just read an article about parenting and again I thought to myself...why is there a constant need to label parents? As if most don't already have enough to handle.


I'm sure you remember the furor over tiger parents and maybe free-range parents, with parents questioning themselves and others regarding how they're raising their children and their own behavior as well.


Are you an elephant parent? They nurture and protect their children under age 5. I don't know a single parent of a young child who wouldn't fit this description.


What about a lighthouse parent? They guide children, focusing on character. Seriously...who doesn't do this.


Or a slow parent where balance and mindfulness are the focus. Or maybe dolphin parenting where purpose, connection and contribution are the focus.


Can any parent actually say that they don't ebb and flow through and between each of these descriptors as situations warrant? That nurturing, character, instinct and yes, being overprotective when needed aren't part of the parenting journey?


I recoiled when tiger parenting was coined and had strong reactions to free-range parenting too. I feel similarly about these other labels.


Parenting isn't like industries, types of food, or dog breeds. It's a fluid process where constant learning and adapting to whatever situations appear before us sets the stage for how we react and respond. And more times than not, we're a mix of these types of parents. And that's not just okay, it's the way it is.


Parents, like their children, are individuals. Forget the labels. They're barriers and make inclusiveness and acceptance far more challenging.


I'd be the first to say - and proudly so - that over the years, I've been all of them. Yet the only label I'd gladly accept is being called a loving parent whose priority was and remains the needs of my child. And wouldn't each of us want the same?

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© 2019 Debra Isaacs Schafer