Is parenting over-analysed?

Is parenting over-analysed?
Ms Meiling Wong-Chainani, 43, who is a parenting coach and her two children Krysh, 11, and Kyana, 9. She uses various parenting styles, from positive parenting, conscious parenting and champion mindset parenting. For story on the proliferation of parenting styles today.

Attachment parenting is about focusing on forging a strong bond between parent and child. Positive parenting frowns on punitive measures. Mindful and conscious parenting urges parents to be mindful of their daily interactions with their children.

More recently, there is RIE parenting. Short for Resources for Infant Educarers, RIE (pronounced "wry") exhorts parents to respect their children and stop treating them like passive beings.

Parents of young children these days are spoilt for choice when it comes to parenting styles and trends - and the philosophies mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg.

But are modern-day parents overthinking and overanalysing parenting?

Lawyer Hoon Shu Mei, 27, thinks not. The many styles can be confusing, but she finds a couple of them useful. She initially adopted attachment parenting because she found recommended practices such as breastfeeding and baby-wearing beneficial in promoting a close bond with her daughter, especially when she was a newborn.

When her daughter, Ashley-Sue, was about four months old, Ms Hoon came across RIE parenting and found that its methods resonated with her. For instance, RIE encourages parents to treat their children as active participants rather than passive objects.

She says: "So, when I change my daughter's diaper, I would tell her what I am doing. Before I pick her up, I would tell her I am going to do so."

She feels that Ashley-Sue does not struggle much and, on the whole, is more receptive to what she does because she prepares her daughter mentally for it.

Another parent, too, finds different parenting styles useful at different stages of her children's lives.

Mrs Meiling Wong-Chainani, 43, a stay-at-home mum who became a parenting coach last year, started with positive parenting for her two children and found it handy in warding off tantrums. "I didn't experience the terrible twos and threes with both of them and I feel it is largely due to positive parenting," she says.

"Even though they are easy-going kids, no matter how easy-going children are, they still have their needs and wants and I felt I was able to meet their wants by using positive language and giving them choices."

Now that her son, Krysh, 11, and daughter, Kyana, nine, are starting to face more pressure to excel in and outside of school, she finds champion mindset parenting useful in helping to instil in them an "I can do" attitude.

In this parenting style, parents cheer their children on according to what they believe they are capable of. This, in turn, inspires the child to believe he can do well.

For instance, when Mrs Wong-Chainani's daughter sat for a drum examination recently, her teacher thought she would fail. But Kyana broke the school's record and Mrs Wong-Chainani credits it to champion mindset parenting.

She says: "It's difficult to say if another kid would have scored the same result, but I feel that when parents believe in their child, that belief will move the child forward."

Experts say that when it comes to parenting, it is better for parents to arm themselves with some knowledge and skills, rather than go with their "gut feel".

Mrs Shelen Ang, head of research and development at Focus on the Family, says that when a parent goes with his instincts, he may end up parenting the way he was brought up.

She says: "It may not work because each child is unique and the environment the parents grew up in is very different from that of their child."

That said, it is important not to get caught up in constantly trying to follow parenting trends.

Mrs Ang adds: "Trends come and go. What matters most is the unwavering love of a parent."

Ms Claire Nazar, a council member at the non-profit Families for Life, adds that there is no magic formula or fool-proof one-size-fits-all parenting philosophy.

She says that every child is unique and it may not work to apply the same parenting style to all.

She says: "It is important for parents to take time to understand their child's personality and needs before choosing a style which works best for them. Whatever the parenting style, its effectiveness can be determined only over time."

She adds that it is also important to note that a child's personality may change over time, so parents need to continually fine-tune their parenting style at each developmental milestone.

That every child is unique is something civil servant Yina Wright, 28, learnt from experience with her daughter, now 10 months old.

She says: "When I was expecting, I read a couple of books about sleep training, which recommends that the baby follows a fixed schedule for naps, activities and meals, but my daughter refused to stick to the schedule."

The experience taught Mrs Wright that there is no one right way to parent.

She says: "Instead of trying to make my daughter follow a particular recommendation, I now focus first on understanding her personality and needs, and then seeing if the recommendation is relevant to her."

How did parents from the older generation bring up their children then, given that they had little access to such parenting philosophies and trends then?

Retired human resources manager Siew Heng Kwok, 64, and his wife, 54, say they drew largely from their Christian faith and their personalities. The couple have a 30-year-old son, who is working as a medical doctor at a government hospital.

Mr Siew says: "We are not people who like to yell, not even at kids. Also, we feel that so long as we love our child and that whatever we do or say is out of that love, then things will not go very wrong."

They have also used the cane, but sparingly.

Mr Siew believes that his son has not turned out too badly. He says: "He has the right values in life."

This article was first published on May 24, 2015.
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