Do have a parenting ‘style’? Does everything have to follow the same regimented rule book or did you throw away the handbooks within the first week and adopt a libertarian attitude? Maybe you’re a new parent, wondering which box to put yourself into?
Here’s your one-stop-parent-spotters guide….
The Perfect Parent
A joy to behold, the PP is always immaculately turned out and never to be seen having a meltdown with a fractious toddler in the school playground. The PP is enduringly friendly, appears to be endlessly contented and is genuinely happy to be reunited with their child at the end of the day. This is always a reciprocal gesture and you can only look on, mortified, as the PP and child engage in meaningful conversation whilst you scream at your own to pick up their sweater and stop kicking their sister. The PP often has only one child, making you question on a daily basis why on earth you didn’t push for the vasectomy after number 1.
The Invisible Parent
The IP is an elusive character, rarely spotted in the wild. While their child is biting/kicking/strangling the life out of yours there are often ‘around the corner’ or ‘in the KS2 playground’. There is whispered talk of an exclusive IP club where they discuss how best to avoid righteously earnest parents and argue that 8 hours of TV a day never harmed a child. Inevitably, the offspring of the IP are without fail the most popular in the class.
The ‘Been There, Seen It, Done It’
The BTSIDI has lived through every parenting challenge that you could possibly imagine. Happy to share, it’s easy to forget what your original concern was as the BTSIDI launches into a tirade containing such shocking detail that you’re left clinging onto the nearest bike rack, ruing the day you tossed your contraception in the bathroom bin. The BTSIDI has no interest in your opinions…..just getting through the day is hard work enough, taking on your issues is not an option.
The Bewildered Parent
Often seen wondering around with a ‘Where did I leave my children?’ look about them, the BW has absolutely no idea how they came to arrive at this point in time. One minute the BW was tripping barefoot around Glastonbury and the next she’s got three children and a killer mortgage. Best treated with caution, the BW is liable to spontaneously combust at any moment. The kindlier amongst you will gently lead the BW to the nearest tea and cake stop, the harsher will tish and pfft and generally suggest they ‘get a grip’.
The Control Freak
Earplugs at the ready around the CF. Every day is a military operation with no room for negotiation. The CF has a singular outlook on child-rearing and even the squarest peg will be forced through the round hole. Convinced that any deviation from the script will hasten the apocalypse, the CF refuses to buckle under even the most persuasive of peer pressure – keep a tight grip on your subconscious or before you know it you’ll be whistling Edelweiss and asking if all of the children’s clothes are made from curtains.
The Apologetic Parent
The AP knows that they are rubbish at this parenting lark, they have read every childcare manual published and still can’t quite get it right. It’s evident in every gesture, every sigh and wince. As they race along to get to the classroom door before it closes, the air around them chimes with “Sorry darling, I forgot it” and “Oh no, that’s my fault, I’ll bring it back later”. The children of the AP are practically feral, they have broken down every defence and sense victory is very close now – never look them in the eye, they’ll take you down in an instant.
The Aurally Challenged Parent
A close relative of the IP, the ACP is apparently the only living being within a 3 mile radius who cannot hear the screams of its child. More than happy to continue a conversation whilst ignoring decibels that would shake Big Ben lose from its casing, the ACP takes selective hearing to a whole new level. Friendship with an ACP will generally mean that you take on the role of listening to their child(ren). This is often no bad thing – chances are they are much more engaging than your own, whose conversation seems to begin and end with “Can I have an ice-cream mumeeeee?”.
The “I’d Home Educate if I had more time” Parent
The (redacted) HEP is vociferously critical of the school system. To summarise; the teachers/governors/ofsted inspectors/government know NOTHING. Their child(ren) may as well not be at school at all for all the good it’s doing them. They are constantly piqued that the welfare of their perfect offspring is not being put before the 586 other numpties and require daily feedback from the teachers as to their ‘progress’. The HEP has ‘given serious thought’ to home educating, generally whilst watching Jeremy Kyle and wondering where the day disappeared to.
There are many, many more of course. But which are you?
If you wondering which one I am, I’ll tell you – I’m all of them, or I have been at difference stages of this roller-coaster we call parenthood (with the exception of the PP). It’s a hellish ride at times, often requiring a sick-bag and/or crash helmet but the best thing that we can do is lose the judgemental stance. It’s easy to look in at someone else’s parenting style and criticise, I know I’ve done it. We all have our good days and bad days, and when those bad days come, a sympathetic smile and an ‘I’ve so been there’ nod can make all the difference…..