The helicopter parent
Helicopter parents have a bad reputation. They hover, frequently intervening in their children’s lives and, in doing so, stifle their child’s developing independence. Helicopter parents’ hyper-involvement in their offspring’s lives extends from infancy right through to university, when they have been reported to liaise with lecturers to ensure their progeny gets top marks regardless of merit. With very few mums and dads admitting to being helicopter parents, it’s less a philosophy and more a term of disparagement.
See also the drone parent, a stealthier version of the helicopter, so children are often oblivious to their parents’ meddling, and snowplow parents, who clear obstacles out of their children’s path to a clearly defined goal, whether it’s university honours or best and fairest at Little Kickers.
In 2011, Amy Chua published her parenting memoir Battle Hymn of Tiger Mothers, outlining the strict style of parenting common in Chinese culture, and its clash with more laissez faire Western approaches. Tiger mothers are disciplinarians who aren’t afraid to invoke punishment to extract results from children. Success and fulfilling potential are the priorities of the ‘tiger mom’, with self-esteem a distant second.
"If they don’t fail sometimes, they won’t learn that they can get back up and go on with their lives."
The free-range parent
Free-range parenting, with its focus on fostering independence and its nostalgic homage to liberated childhoods of the 1970s, is the backlash against micro-managing helicopters. Writer Lenore Skenazy launched the Free Range Kids website in 2008 after she was dubbed ‘America’s Worst Mom’ for letting her nine-year-old son catch the subway home from Bloomingdales in New York - alone. According to Skenazy’s ‘free-range’ ethos, kids are seen as smart and capable individuals. She disputes the belief that children need constant supervision, or that the world is by default a dangerous place for them. One of the tenets of free range parenting is that it’s okay to let your children fail. "If they don’t fail sometimes, they won’t learn that they can get back up and go on with their lives," writes Skenazy.
See also respectful parenting, which views even small babies as "competent whole people" who should be treated with respect and allowed to develop at their own pace; mindful parenting, where parents are always ‘present’ in the moment with their children, and slow parenting, which forgoes busy schedules of extracurricular activities and passive entertainment like television.
The good enough parent
Parents are not perfect. According to the school of good enough parenting, modern parents are too hard on themselves. In his 1987 book A Good Enough Parent, child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim emphasised the importance of self-discovery for children. Raising a child is an art, not a science, and mistakes both provide opportunities to learn and foster social and emotional intelligence.
The Gallic parent
French children are famously well-behaved, both good eaters and good sleepers. They obey their parents or face la fessée, a smacked bottom. Authority is central to Gallic parenting, where children are subject to rules and strict codes of behaviour. French parents, unlike their Anglo neighbours, are less likely to empathise with their children. According to the popular stereotype of the French family, tantrums are not tolerated and good table manners are ubiquitous.
The communal parent
An old African proverb says that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. Traditional cultures often use communal parenting, or allo-parenting, to raise children. Community members other than parents take a parental role – commonly grandparents, siblings, and older family members.
The attachment parent
Devotees of attachment parenting place great importance on bonding with a baby and responding to children with sensitivity. This intuitive but demanding style encourages breastfeeding, baby-wearing and co-sleeping, and requires parents to be emotionally available to their children. Poor attachment, so the theory goes, increases the likelihood of developing mental health problems later on.
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