Are Parenting Labels Necessary?

Photo cred.: Quote Addicts

Before I entered the world of Parent Blogging I didn’t realise how inclined people are to categorise themselves when it comes to parenting styles. I breastfed George and have on occasion let him sleep in our bed if he’s needed comforting at night, however, I have never felt inclined to declare this on my various social media bios. This is by no means a post attacking those who define themselves as particular ‘types’ of parents, if you are proud that you breastfed, co-slept, wore your baby etc. then that is fantastic, be proud of your parenting skills! I just find it interesting that as a community we divide ourselves by using possibly unnecessary labels when it would be much more beneficial to just support each other in our varying styles of parenting. Two main categories I often come across are ‘Attachment Parenting’ and ‘Breastfeeder’, although there are many, many more out there.

‘Attachment Parenting’ is the label which troubles me the most. It is simply defined as, ‘an approach to raising infants that aims to promote a close relationship between the baby and its parents by methods such as feeding on demand and letting the baby sleep with its parents’. If this definition is correct then are all parents not doing this? Surely it is impossible to ignore a hungry baby’s cry for food, or to not doze off with your child on at least a few occasions, even if it’s just so you can catch a few minutes of sleep yourself. My main worry is if I don’t declare myself as an ‘Attachment Parent’ does this mean I am unattached from my child? I am certain that no-one would call themselves an ‘Unattached Parent’, therefore why is it necessary to create a division; those attached, and those undeclared. I recently read a great article on the Huffington Post all about Attachment Parenting as a label, it was so great it almost put me off writing this post altogether for fear that my own writing would seem totally unoriginal in comparison!

Another label I often come across is ‘Breastfeeder’, although rather strangely I rarely see a ‘Formula Feeder’ declaration. To breastfeed or not to breastfeed is a hot topic amongst parents-to-be, new parents, and those of us who have long since passed through that stage, especially when everyone from Jamie Oliver to your next door neighbours Auntie seems to think it’s appropriate for them to weigh in on your decision. I personally chose to breastfeed George, the milk was there and we were both comfortable with it so why not? However, I completely understand the choice not to do so, trying to force yourself into a mould which does not fit is simply ridiculous. We are lucky enough to live in a world where we have created a near-replica of breastmilk which offers the same nutritional values to our babies, so why not proudly use it? I think that the whole ‘breast is best’, ‘breast v bottle’ debate is not only unnecessary, but condescending. As long as we are feeding our babies and they are growing up healthy and happy shouldn’t we all support each other in our parenting decisions?

I think my main point here is that defining ourselves as one kind of parent is alienating and often causes a feeling of inferiority amongst those who wouldn’t define themselves in the same way. As a community, parents generally understand the feelings of guilt, self-doubt and worry that go hand-in-hand with having a child, therefore why do we put further pressure on each other to fit into arbitrary categories that all simply fit under one heading – Parent. I’d personally describe myself as a ‘get through the day with more smiles than tears even if that means using chocolate as a bribe’type of parent, but that’s too long for a Twitter bio anyway.

Pink Pear Bear



9 thoughts on “Are Parenting Labels Necessary?

  1. Brilliant post, I have the same thoughts on parenting labels. I think we are all parents, who should be supporting one another no matter how we decide to parent. I feel like parenting labels are sometimes used (purposely or not) to make others feel inadequate and no person or parent should be made to feel that way. Thanks for writing this 🙂 #bigpinklink x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thankfully, my kids were born before all of this social media…but as I have three healthy and happy boys (22,17,15), I refuse to be chastised over my parenting choices. We all do what we have to do, and my kids have turned out just fine!!

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  3. Brilliant! One of the best posts I have read today!! I absolutely detest these labels!! And yes, the word ‘inferior’ hits the nail right on the head! As soon as I see these labels in people bios, it really puts me off, because I immediately fear judgment, and get an inferiority complex. I think ‘am I an awful person because I couldn’t bear to have my sleep space invaded by my babies?’ And ‘I’ve failed because I didn’t exclusively breastfeed and use cloth nappies.’ Yet, I love my children with a fierceness that can make me catch my breath-and that’s surely all that matters. I was ridiculously attached to my mum as a child, and she did none of these ‘label’ things in parenting me. You are right, none of us are unattached, we do what is right for us, and what we are comfortable with. Personally I find labels elitist, condescending, and a self righteousness competition!!
    Thanks for sharing with #bigpinklink!

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  4. I love this post, but if I am honest, I label myself all the time. For me, when you begin to label your parenting styles, it is easier to befriend others with similar styles. For example, I am a breastfeeding, baby wearing parent. Friends who didn’t baby wear told me I looked stupid, told me that my baby would’ve really clingy and told me I was parenting wrong. In terms of breastfeeding, everyone I have ever spoken to has, at some point, told me to stop. Either it ‘wasn’t natural’ – how the f is it not natural, it’s the most natural thing in the world!!!- or told me that there was something wrong with my breast milk because my baby was only little, or have put it down in some way. As soon as you label yourself, other people of similar labels drift towards you, and I have found that I have a lot more in common with them. I don’t want to have to leave a room because my baby wants to feed, I want to be comfortable to do it anywhere I want to! Saying that, I can completely see your point, and why can’t people just do what they feel is right, without any negativity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I absolutely agree with you as well, baby wearing/breastfeeding etc any kind of parenting is fine by me as long as mama and baby are happy! It really is just the negativity that can be caused by being so staunchly for or against something that you become unaccepting of others, we are all in this together after all! And as for people saying breast feeding is unnatural, goodness me! Daftest thing I’ve heard all day. Xx

      Liked by 1 person

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