The Check-In

A Different Type of Love

A few months before I met Ash, I had an acquaintance confide in me that they didn’t love their partner as much as they loved their newborn.

The love, they said, for their partner was replaced with a deeper love for the baby.

They felt guilty by this shift in the relationship, but knew that this was necessary to being a good parent.

I wasn’t sure how to respond because I wasn’t a parent and I wasn’t in a relationship, so I did what any awkward single person would do: I nodded and affirmed that they had nothing to feel guilty about. It made perfect sense to me: love for a partner could easily be replaced with love for a child. Biologically, we are geared towards wanting to care for our offspring more in order to ensure its survival into adulthood.

They were talking about simple biology and I had no reason to disagree. I asked if they told their partner about this shift in relationship dynamics. They hadn’t at the time, but that was a very difficult conversation, so I didn’t blame them.

Now that I am nearly a year-and-a-half into parenthood, I remembered our conversation: the aquaintance wasn’t wrong about the shifting love. The love I have for Jai is deeper than the love I have for Ash, but it is a different type of love.

I still love Ash deeply, more so every day because of all that he does for his family, but the love I have for Ash is completely different from the love I have for Jai.

Different Types of Love

Psychologically speaking, there are 7 different types of love. For Ash, my love is more nuanced and a combination of erosludusand pragma. Whereas my love for Jai is storge and therefore completely platonic in nature.

So it isn’t that I love Ash or Jai more/equally I just cannot compare or measure the love for either because the love is so different.

The fact that my acquaintance was concerned about this conundrum is not unusual: there are plenty of forum posts and articles out there where mothers admit to loving their children more than their partners.

Unfortunately, what does not seem to be addressed is that the love between partners and the love between parent/child has to be different. I feel like this is obvious, but there shouldn’t be the same sort of sexual feelings for the child that would happen with a partner.

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Gentle Parenting

This is the first post in a 3-week series on parenting observations. Week one is based on gentle parenting, week two is about parenting with compassion, and week three is about parenting with a disability.

These posts are based on my personal experiences as a parent and are not meant in any way to judge other parenting styles or decisions. I am offering my personal research and conclusions as possible suggestions for others out there, therefore these posts will be as objective as possible. When it comes to parenting: provided the method isn’t abusive, there really isn’t a wrong way to parent your child. Be secure and do what works best for you and your family and ignore outside judgement.

I never sat down and thought about my parenting style before I started the blog. I had a few ideas of how I wanted to parent Jai: ways I would be different than my parents, ways that I would be similar, what I would want to encourage, and what I might do to discipline. But I never gave much thought to a particular label for the type of parenting style I used.

Like many parents-to-be and new parents, I bought books. Lots of books. Read through websites, forums, asked around for ideas and tips on how to hone my parenting style with Jai and plan ahead for various scenarios that we’d invariably stumble upon with a child.

I cobbled together my ideas and working with Ash, we developed a style that worked best for us and went with it. Then I started frequenting online parenting groups as research for my blog. I realized there was a name for the style we had come up with: gentle parenting. This type of parenting closely aligned with the core of our personal philosophy: parenting with compassion, respect, and empathy.

What is Gentle Parenting?

Unfortunately, when labels are added to everyday actions, a natural divide is created: between what is good and what is “not good” or negatively “different.” By setting itself apart, gentle parenting stands in contrast to what is generally accepted as mainstream parenting.

But what is mainstream parenting?

Searching around online, there doesn’t seem to be a consistent definition for what is mainstream parenting. I always think of it defined as: “this is how we’ve done it, so this is how we do it” or “this is what the experts tell me is best for my child.” But that isn’t much of a definition because it’s scant on important details or those details shift on a frequent basis from study-to-study.

In fact, I would argue that it is impossible to nail down a specific definition for mainstream parenting. Outside of strictly adhering to your pediatrician’s advice for how to care for your child, there really isn’t one right way to be a mainstream parent.

So how is this different from gentle parenting?

According to their website, gentle parenting follows these six points:

  1. Respecting your child
  2. Resolve to empathize with your child
  3. Allow your children to have their own opinions and autonomy
  4. Reset your expectations to what is age appropriate and “normal”
  5. Take time to nurture yourself
  6. Give your children your attention

But wait, I do a lot of these points already (if not all)! Does that mean I gentle parent?

You may not define yourself as a gentle parent, but chances are you do take a lot of their points into consideration when raising your child without realizing it.

My argument is this: while it is important to make distinctions between styles because it allows others to understand the parameters within each style, there is a strong possibility that your version of mainstream parenting is less “mainstream” without even realizing it.

Which brings us back to my original point: there isn’t a wrong way to raise your child and don’t allow anyone’s judgement affect you for doing something perceived as slightly different from mainstream. As the parent, you must do what you feel is best for your child and yourself.

Continue reading “Gentle Parenting”