Diving into the world of parenting advice is such an overwhelming experience. Especially, the further you dive, the more at a loss you may feel and ask, “who is right?”, “which philosophy is the one for me and my family?”, and “why do some approaches seem to contradict each other?”.
On my ongoing process of constantly collecting and managing the information about child development and family life, I am always evaluating and re-evaluating my own beliefs. When educating parents, I offer what I have in my toolbox, and it is up to the parent to decide which tools are right for them and their family.
With that said: Many of my tools are from the RIE philosophy, but I also love the ideas of Attachment Parenting (AP), so I offer many of their tools as well. I appreciate and use many of the works of Rudolph Steiner, as well as, the Reggio Emilia approach, Maria Montessori, John Holt, John Dewey, A.S.Neill and Alfie Kohn.
Since my biggest focus right now is on infants and toddlers, I have been exploring the many fine line debates between the RIE and AP approaches, what I noticed is that even though they have different methods to dealing with sleep, feeding, play time, etc., I noticed the overlap:
1. Both approaches remind us to be more mindful, aware and connected to our children.
2. Both approaches strive to create independent, confident, and emotionally healthy babies.
3. Both approaches create a great platform for discussion about development, growth and hopefully promote interest in the academic world to perform more research!
In the end, the details are up to the individuals to decide based on their family culture, ideals, beliefs, knowledge and preferences.
What’s important is reading as much as possible, and exploring a topic fully from many perspectives before accepting it… especially if it feels controversial.
Here is an intriguing discussion about sleep between two excellent representatives of each approach. Notice how each person is making sure people do not misunderstand the approach, as they clarify with utmost respect for each other what they believe is most beneficial for the child. Please read the comments since they are part of the discussion.
So, if you are debating between one approach or the other, what I can offer is this:
Fill your toolbox with as many tools as you can collect, and try them out to see which works best for your own family.
- Educate yourself on things that feel controversial — read, research and ask educators a lot of questions.
- Observe closely to the culture, rhythms and habits of you and your family, and how they impact the choices you make for your children.
- Challenge yourself to see from the opposite perspective of an approach. Think of all the benefits and challenges that each approach could bring, and choose what fits best with your beliefs and lifestyle.
- Try new methods that you feel make sense and pay close attention to what works after a healthy trial.
- Incorporate methods from as many approaches as you like, as long as they work together, and everyone seems happier in the end.
- Find a place where things feel balanced and remember that since life is fluid, it is ok to let go and go with the flow.
As life on Earth continues, humans will continue to transform and progress in their ideas (hence the progressive parenting paradigm), and build on top of what they already know to improve life. What we think is the best method today, could be easily obsolete and challenged in another few decades. Let us keep questioning, trying, and experimenting with what is one of the most important processes of life, human beings raising human beings.