June 6, 2012

Smorgasbord parenting.

Every day I scan the news for stories that interest me. It depends on my mood as to what prompts me to click. This morning there was news (and I use the word news in the loosest sense of the word) about a new parenting book written by Mayim Bialik. Shes an actress, has a PhD in neuroscience and was a child star. The reason it jumped out to me is that she was Blossom…a show I raced home to watch as a tween. I may or may not have worn a hat with a giant flower on the front. Ive always been a pop culture tragic.

The book explores attachment parenting which seems to get a bad rap from most mainstream press. I think technically I wouldn’t be allowed to be called an attachment parent because I work but I think I’m over-attached to my kids –  I wonder what labels that me as?

After doing some interviews I popped to the supermarket to grab some bits and pieces for dinner. My stepdaughters live with us for half of the week. So one half of the week dinners are a pretty relaxed affair – no one ever got malnourished from too many eggs and soldiers? I was grabbing things and looking in the basket. The choices didn’t match but they did reflect my parenting style.

Im a smorgasbord parent.

Someone asked on twitter a few weeks ago if people make separate meals for their kids. I put up my hand. Ive been known to serve 3 separate meals at dinner time – one for the adults and stepdaughters, one for my girl and another for my son. We have some food intolerance’s and some stubborn likes and dislikes in this house that make communal eating a challenge. But honestly it doesnt bother me. Im not sure why considering Im the cook.

On my meander to the supermarket I popped into a kids clothing shop to grab some jumpers for children that would apparently prefer to be cold. I chose a big red fluffy thing for my daughter – I put it back 3 times before I decided to buy it. The lady at the counter and I agreed that we’d both like one in an adult size, she then paused and said ‘you can bring it back if your daughter doesnt like it’. I echoed the line I use in these circumstances to reason away my parenting style  “I know I shouldnt be held to ransom by a 6 year old’. The older lady looked at me and said ‘we all like what we like, there’s no shame in recognising that as a parent’. Bless you lovely lady.

My mum rolls her eyes when I feed my kids vegetables – she still hasnt recovered from being forced to eat cold peas as a kid. Maybe Im just offsetting the trauma, God knows theres enough other stuff to fill its space.

So Ill working on giving up the embarrassment of admitting that I do let my kids dictate their meals or clothing choices. I let myself view parenting as a smorgasbord – if I lay it all out they can pick and choose what they like. The lazy Susan is the foundation of my life lessons. I should have been working in homewares not social work.


Are you cool with giving choices? Do you rebel against the choices you werent able to make as a kid?

PS Im banking on the jumper being ‘too fluffy’ or its zipper ‘too zippy’. Ill keep it for my son – he still looks at me like I know everything. Theres still time.

Join the conversation! 8 Comments

  1. I know bloggers who are attachment parents and who work, the two are by no means exclusive, blue milk is one such parent. And it’s not about being over-attached to your kids, but I rather suspect you know that?

    I’ve always been happy to give my kids choices about things like clothes and hairstyles and whether or not to participate in optional activities. Meals I’m a little less generous about, I cook one meal, eat it or fend for yourself.

    I don’t persist in trying to persuade the kids into doing things they really don’t want to even if I’m pretty sure they’ll enjoy it because I can vividly remember how much I hated being badgered into hiking up mountains or getting sandy and salty when I didn’t want to (I enjoyed those things perfectly well when I did want to). What’s interesting is how often they decide to join in anyway once the pressure is off.

    • I know its not over-attached :-). To be honest I would have loved to have been an AP if I had read more and been more open to new ways of parenting when I had my girl.

      I do notice that over the years of more guided choices the choices they all make are starting to reflect us. Its like watching a veggie garden grow – there will always be weeds with some good stuff in between.


  2. Aren’t social workers all about facilitating decision making? Putting options out there and working with clients (kids) to choose their own direction. This sounds no different to smorgasboard parenting, you have picked the right profession!

  3. I never had choices……. Coming from a my way or the highway parenting upbringing.

    I therefore try to give choices every which way I can in that I’m not doing it my parent’s way rebellion parenting style……. But what I have also learnt that with the plethora of choice/options/challenges of today that the little people in my life constantly look to me to just bloody make the choice for them and let them get on with processing it all!!

    So dinners are just one choice, but with some plates missing certain no negotiable veggies or raw carrot rather than cooked ‘cos that’s the choice I want tonight Mummy 🙂

    Clothes shopping is a gently guided affair which has seen my fairy pink skirt only princess wear jeans for the first time in her life at age 6.75 yrs, and the 10 yr old venturing into actually asking me if I think she will look good in this – and so far taking my advice!!!!

    I think the art is knowing when to step back from gentle guidance to none of our dam business, but isn’t that parenting all over. Once again you’ve got my mind reflecting. X

    • gently guided is a nicer way than saying ‘negotiating land mines’. I took the three girls shopping a couple of weeks ago – I wanted to hide in a clothes rack half way through. Your smorgasbord looks good J

  4. I like that term ‘smorgasbord parenting’ it suits me quite well I think… because really I think parenting is about picking and choosing the things that work for you and your kids. I don’t believe there is any one ‘theory’ that fits everyone absolutely perfectly all time time.

    As for choices… pick your battles I say. I offer lots of choices but within limits that I think are important and reasonable.

    • I agree, I think life can never be neatly fitted into one theory. It sets you up to fail if you only focus on one direction.

      Thanks for commenting – have been reading your blog forever x


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