To the In-Between Parents

Happy parent and kid - the in-between parent

This is for the in-between parents. Those of us who haven’t picked a concrete parenting style or chosen a side or a team. It’s for those who have dabbled a little in free-range and helicopter and gentle and structured, with a dash of paranoid thrown in for good measure. (It’s fine, we’re fine, everything is fine.) But, in fact, maybe we’re a bit confused by all these styles and sides and teams.

It’s for the ones who read a parenting book or article and think it sounds pretty good until the next book or article comes along. Or until our offspring stare us down during the first attempt of our New and Improved Parenting Approach while we rack our brains on what we’re supposed to do next. But what we’re really thinking is, “Huh. The article never mentioned this.” 

This is for those of us who don’t even realize that what we’re doing is considered a “parenting style” until we read about it somewhere and think, “Oh, I guess that’s me.” (Cue me and baby-led weaning. Who’d have thunk giving your babies pieces of non-pureed food was a whole thing?)

In this sort of no-man ‘ s-land of parenting approaches, most of us are here. Society and social media would have you believe you need to choose sides. That the Mommy Wars are real and alive and well. You’d better pick an approach and make it a key component of your personality, or your family is capital-D Doomed. However, that’s the opposite of my lived experience in my offline world. 

There’s seemingly a whole world of parenting styles out there. Still, most of us choose what we need in a given moment, for a particular kid, during a specific situation. So this is for us, the in-betweeners, who don’t have a hard and fast parenting tribe, but that’s okay. We know who we are.

Here’s to those who:

  • Nod their heads along to the virtues of clean eating and also know there’s nothing to a kid like a Happy Meal.
  • Love their kids’ activities yet hope they don’t have to stand outside in the rain to watch their 5-year-old play soccer tonight.
  • Want to foster independence in their children but also continue to fold all the laundry because they don’t actually mind doing it.
  • Agree with the pros of baby-wearing, but sometimes the sweat gets to be a bit much. Also, for those who had a baby who might be part octopus, so it’s less cute and more squirmy.
  • Believe in the strength of routines and consistency and also know the delight of bending the rules at bedtime.
  • Love a good organizational TikTok, and yes, were influenced to buy some clear storage bins for the pantry, BUT also have that one drawer/closet/room that no one ever, under any circumstance, should look in.
  • Wholeheartedly believe in a free-range, go outside for hours childhood, AND love the coziness of snuggling in for a marathon movie day.

Here’s the thing: we can live in the “both/and.” It’s 2022, and we can do this. We don’t have to clench our fists and cling to one group until the end of time. We can eat hot dogs and chips on rushed evenings and stir-fries full of veggies on others. We can enjoy both watching TV and going on hikes. We can love the nights we shuttle from one activity to the next and cherish our evenings at home.

So here’s to all of us. We know there were never sides in the first place. Not really. That was all to sell some books or social media engagement. Because most of us? We’re all just doing the best we can with what we have. And that’s the only tribe, team, or side I want to belong to.

Shannon is a writer, reader, Minnesota native, and Enneagram 1. She and her husband have always been overachievers so they kicked off this whole parenting thing by having three kids in two years. She believes firmly in the power of iced coffee, books, and pedicures. You can find her scribbling her thoughts on motherhood and life at shannonscribbles.net and see her day-in-the-life chaos over on Instagram.

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