Are You A Helicopter, Tiger, Hummingbird or Unicorn Parent?
You know that feeling, when you walk into a playgroup or a school function and you see someone with their kids and you think "Yup. That's exactly what I'd do in that situation," and you just know you've found a fellow member of your parenting tribe? There are so many different ways of parenting today, that it's great to find friends who share your parenting style. But in order to recognize those parents, you first have to know what parenting style you have, right? Or at least have some idea?
For years, really smart people who know lots of important things and have many different letters follow their names to point out just how smart they are, have studied the different styles of parenting. There have been so many books and articles written about parenting styles, that its likely you fit into some sort of pre-ordained category.
For instance, probably one of the most famous parenting styles is the "Helicopter Parent." That would be a parent who hovers over their kids (hence the name) mostly out of their own fear and anxiety that the kids will somehow get into some sort of unknown trouble and either hurt themselves or someone else. "Helicopter parents" are often very controlling, doing for or rescuing their children.
Then there are the "Tiger Moms or Parents" who tend to be very competitive and demanding of their kids. They are very strict and demanding with their kids, setting very high standards on their academic and extracurricular development.
Author Amy Web had one of the nicer descriptions of our next entry, the "Hummingbird Parent". In her article for Motherly, she wrote " Hummingbird parents hover but do not interfere too much in the decisions of their children. They remain physically (or psychologically) nearby to jump in if their children need them, but they try to not make decisions for them or prevent their failures."
There are also styles such as "Free Range" and "Attachment" parenting, that are pretty much what you'd think: Letting your kids roam free versus literally having them be attached to you, whether it be by wearing or bed-sharing.
And then, there are some lesser known (but much more hilarious) parenting styles (I got these ones from a fabulous meme from NickMom.com):
"The Groundhog Parent: Sticks head out every once in a while to see what the kids are up to before burying themselves back in FaceBook.
The NSA Parent: Know how to unlock cellphones and monitor texts from their laptop. Somehow has all of their kid's friend's Facebook passwords.
The Air Traffic Controller Parent: Schedules the kid's every moment to ensure a smooth flow from breakfast table to bus pick-up to after-school activities all over town.
The Godfather Parent: Sits in a back room, waits for kids to approach to ask favors. If they say yes, you're going to owe them.
The Rabid Squirrel Parent: Runs about in panicked circles just trying to keep up. Signature phrase: 'Where the ___ are my keys?' "
But the favorite style I've come across came from an article published a while back on a blog called Mum Central: "The Unicorn Parent." As the writer, Jenna Galley so amusingly put it, "Unicorn mums are funny, up front and honest. They like to have fun and relax, preferably with a cold beverage. They do what they have to do to keep their kids alive. But they also do what they have to do to keep their sanity." She goes on to say that while a fancy, super smarty type person may not have coined that phrase in a legitimate psychological study, she discovered it instead from Urban Dictionary, which defines a "Unicorn Mom" as "A mother who’s not perfect, enjoys alcohol, has a sense of humour and couldn’t care less what you think.”
Since that article was published a couple of years ago, I think the Unicorn Parenting Style has really taken the place of what used to be the norm of "Helicopter Parenting" and I personally think that's a good thing. What I like about the Unicorn Style is the idea of not caring what others think about the way you do things, and the element of humor. I've found both of those concepts have served me well throughout my life, and especially so when I started having children.
Bottom line: Parenting is hard.
We all know that.
And when you find a style that lets you keep your kids alive, somewhat happy and heading in the direction of becoming a decent person, whatever that style is, however it works for you, I say go with it.