Every decision one makes about how to parent a child holds the potential to affect the child's future. This is a lot of pressure for parents, but it's also a great reason to look at all parenting options available. Having all the options in front of them will help mom and dad choose the right approach for their family.
Some decisions are considered unconventional because they go against mainstream parenting ideas. However, there are pros and cons to most decisions a parent makes, and many parents are finding the unconventional approach fits for them.
These choices range from the topics of breastfeeding to how a child should be schooled, and there is plenty of debate no matter what parents choose. Parents have to know what they value and what is possible in their situation to make the best choice for their kids and themselves.
Looking at the pros and cons, as well as the future effects of unconventional parenting choices, helps parents make informed decisions and feel more comfortable if they decide to veer off the normal path. There are also enough parents making unconventional parenting choices that finding a group of like-minded adults shouldn't be difficult. Just consider all of the possible consequences before moving forward.
20 Extended Breastfeeding Builds Health and Bonding
Recommendations about breastfeeding already encourage staying the course. Six months of exclusive breastfeeding is suggested, and moms are encouraged to keep nursing for the first year of a child's life. However, many moms are choosing to breastfeed even longer, letting their children decide when to end the nursing relationship.
Though this decision is still considered strange by some people, there are actually many benefits. Children receive health benefits from mom's milk as long as they are nursing, and mom and the child continue to bond through this precious ritual. The World Health Organization backs extended breastfeeding, saying mom should try to breastfeed beyond one year if possible.
19 Elimination Communication Allows Early Potty Training
Actress Mayim Bialik put elimination communication in the spotlight when she talked about using this method with her sons for potty training. Basically, a parent who takes this approach reads the cues a child is giving and takes him to the bathroom instead of relying on diapers. This starts before the age of one, requiring parents to read the signs of infants before they can speak.
This approach is great for the environment since it cancels the need for diapers. It's also a way to potty train a child early, likely skipping the child ever being scared of the potty or defiant about using it from years in a diaper. It is messy, and it does require constant vigilance from parents, but some moms and dad feels it's worth the extra effort.
18 Homeschooling Offers Customized Education
Kids who were homeschooled used to be viewed as unsocialized humans, held back by their parents' decision to keep them out of the school system. Today homeschooling is a growing trend, with homeschool groups popping up to support parents and kids who choose this method.
Homeschooling allows parents to customize teaching to their child's needs and desires, and this can help a child retain the love of learning longer. It usually takes less time a day to complete homeschool work than it does to go to public school, so kids also have more time to just be kids. This approach puts a lot of responsibility on parents, and every country and individual state has rules for homeschool requirements, but it's a growing option for many families.
17 Unschooling Offers Ultimate Freedom
One step beyond homeschooling is unschooling, a truly unique approach that puts kids in charge of their own educations. Parents who practice unschooling don't follow a certain curriculum, and they let their children take the lead when deciding what to study.
This approach can help a child love learning since he will get to choose what to study and how. However, it can backfire if a child is resistant to focusing on basic skills, and it can lead to gaps in education than may cause problems in the future. Still, in the over-scheduled, high-stress world many kids find themselves in when it comes to public school and learning, unschooling offers a much freer option that allows kids to love learning on their own terms.
16 Placenta Consumption May Help Mom Stay Calmer
The placenta provides the baby with nourishment inside the womb, and some moms are choosing to ingest the placentas after the baby is born to receive nourishment as well. After the placenta is dehydrated and placed in pill form, mom can ingest it postpartum in the hopes that it will help her recover.
The benefits of this method have not been definitively proven by scientific studies, but many women claim ingesting their own placentas helped them stay calmer and avoid postpartum depression. Mom's irons levels may also benefit, and that is a major help after losing blood during birth. Doctors do not particularly recommend this approach, but many women are still trying it and swear by the results. They feel it offers their children a more relaxed, less stressed parent.
15 Co-Sleeping Offers Mom and Baby Better Sleep
Co-sleeping is controversial for a variety of reasons, the most prominent being the small chance of SIDS. Allowing a child to room in with mom and dad is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, but they stop short of suggesting a child be in the same bed as a parent.
Parents are still turning to this method because it makes breastfeeding easier and can allow mom and the baby to get more sleep. When a child wakes up hungry, mom is right there to respond to the baby's needs quickly. If a child simply wakes up to make sure he isn't alone, he may fall back asleep without a fit when he sees a parent with him.
Co-sleeping comes with risks and should be practiced responsibly by anyone who chooses it, but it is a growing trend.
14 Lotus Birth Keeps a Baby Attached
Lotus births occur when mom chooses to the leave the placenta attached to the baby by the umbilical cord until the cord naturally breaks. There's no cutting the cord because advocates for lotus birth believe it's less traumatic for the baby if the placenta detaches naturally.
Doctors have a problem with this approach because once the cord stops pulsing and sending blood to the baby, it is said to offer no scientifically proven benefits. In fact, it can be seen as a risk, since the placenta is a once-living organ which can grow bacteria. Still, advocates of lotus birth carry the placentas around attached to their children claiming its less traumatic if the children stay attached.
13 Vaccinations Are Being Questioned
The vaccination debate rages on due to parents believing that vaccines can harm children, even causing autism. Though the report some refer to that connected autism to vaccines has been discredited, parents are still choosing to avoid vaccines or to give them to children on a delayed schedule, hoping they won't wreak havoc on their immune systems.
Anti-vaccination adherents feel the risk of exposing their children to so many shots so early is too great. They believe the body will figure out how to fight bacteria as it encounters it. There is plenty of pushback to this trend.
12 Pre-Chewing Food Weans Naturally
When a video of actress Alicia Silverstone chewing her child's food before he plucked it from her mouth emerged, the public was confused. Why pre-chew the food of a child who has teeth and can eat on his own? Silverstone said that it's a way to help children self-wean, and she's not alone in using this method.
Premastication may actually offer benefits to the child that go beyond simply introducing him to solids. The bacteria from mom's saliva can offer health benefits, lessening the chances of a child developing asthma or eczema. Plus, this method has been used for years, and many parents are going back to it because it makes feeding an infant or toddler easier.
11 Gender-Neutral Parenting Avoids Stereotypes
With stores that segregate boys and girls' toys and clothes like each gender is from a different planet, it's hard to imagine what gender neutral parenting looks like. Parents who take this approach attempt to raise their kids without the limits society tries to place on them due to gender. Imagine a boy playing with dolls and a girl dressing as Superman.
Gender neutral parenting lets kids choose their roles in life, avoiding the stereotypes most of us were saddled with growing up. It allows both girls and boys to experience a range of emotions and experiences without identifying them as male or female responses. Boys can cry and girls can get angry, and parents who embrace gender neutral parenting hope to give their kids more options, whatever their gender.
10 Attachment Parenting Strengthens the Bond
Attachment parenting is a broad term that can encompass birth and feeding choices, as well as sleeping and other parenting decisions. Attachment parenting generally means mom and dad respond to a child's needs at all times, avoiding sleep training and unnecessary interventions. Parents who take this approach often wear their babies in slings or carriers and co-sleep.
This approach has been embraced due to the closeness and the attachment it creates between parents and their children. However, it can also be exhausting, allowing parents very little time on their own, and it may ensure less rest for mom the first year of a child's life.
9 Gentle Parenting Encourages Intrinsic Motivation
It's hard for most of us to imagine parenting without the use of a rewards and punishment system. We've been programmed to believe children need an external boost or threat to do what they are asked. Advocates of gentle parenting take the opposite approach, parenting children without reward or punishment in the hopes of encouraging intrinsic motivation.
This method offers valuable lessons and teaches kids to understand the why behind their actions. Gentle parenting means natural consequences take place instead of mom or dad interfering, and good behavior is rewarded by the effort and result of doing the right thing. The hope is that these lessons will carry into adulthood.
8 The Ferber Method Demands Too Much
Better known as the cry-it-out method, the Ferber approach is all about teaching babies to self-soothe by letting them crying on their own instead of responding. Some parents swear this is the best sleep training method available while others say it is too painful for both parents and babies. There are also concerns about leaving a young baby to cry it out because it may interfere with them feeling secure.
Parents who practice the Ferber Method need to make sure they are not neglecting to feed their kids as often as necessary at night and that this approach doesn't lead to failure to thrive. Checking in on the baby is allowed using this method, and crying-it-out is supposed to be timed, not indefinite.
7 Letting Older Kids Help Deliver Siblings Keeps Them Involved
Women who birth at home sometimes choose to make it a family thing, allowing older siblings to stick around as babies enter the world. This approach is met with raised eyebrows from people who see it as 'too traumatizing' for children, but advocates for this approach believe it is a way to help siblings bond.
As opposed to feeling pushed aside as the new baby arrives in the family, a sibling who is present at the birth feels a part of the growing crew. The older brother or sister will have the birthing process demystified, and the sibling will be one of the first to greet the new baby.
6 Device-Free Parenting Allows Focused Attention
It's not uncommon to see parents staring at their phones while their children play, eat, or try to get their attention. In fact, children are often given devices to keep them distracted or entertained, and it's possible for a family to be physically together without interacting with each other.
Some parents are choosing another way by committing to go device free in front of their children. They hope modeling self-control with electronics will help their children practice it as well, and they don't want to miss out on anything because they were distracted by their phones. While technology is essential for most people to keep up today, parents who go device-free commit to not using screens in front of their children.
5 Free Range Parenting Offers a Childhood
Free range parenting involves letting kids roam without helicopter parents monitoring their every move. It's basically 1980s parenting applied to today. Unfortunately, many people are a lot less tolerant of kids riding bikes around the neighborhood or playing at the park unsupervised. In fact, some parents have even had the cops called on them for letting their kids live free range.
Luckily, many parents are pushing forward with letting their kids take reasonable risks and setting their own boundaries. They believe it is essential to their children's wellbeing, both as children and adults, and research seems to back up this belief.
4 Babywise Method Can Lead to Failure to Thrive
The Babywise approach involves putting children on a rigid schedule, with parents calling the shots on when they eat and sleep. There isn't a lot of consideration given to growth spurts or sleep regression, and some reports link the Babywise approach to failure to thrive because of the strict feeding schedule.
Still, some parents feel using this method allowed them to get sleep and add some structure to their days. Days can feel formless when an infant is involved, and clinging to Babywise is the solution some parents reach for. It's just important to know the risks and be attentive to a child's needs.
3 The Bringing Up Bebe Approach Lets Parents Be People
Much ink has been spilled about the French and how they raise their children. Pamela Druckerman even penned a book explaining how French children don't order from a children's menu and French parents have lives outside of parenting. As an American in France, Druckerman took an investigative approach to see what the French did differently.
Compared to many Western countries' 'overly hands on' approach to parenting, the French approach is sometimes seen as slightly removed. Children are loved and involved, but parents aren't expected to alter their entire existence once they become parents. This approach may leave mom and dad feeling less unmoored as they transition to parenthood.
2 Co-parenting Offers Maximum Parenting Support
Co-parenting is more popular now than it was in the past because of all the alternative ways parents choose to live as families. The nuclear family option isn't considered the only choice any more, and many parents find themselves parenting with someone who doesn't live in their house or who they are not in a romantic relationship with.
Civil co-parenting, especially by divorced parents, can make life much easier for kids. They feel the support and strength of both parents, even if the relationship didn't work out between them. Kids can still consider themselves part of a family unit when decisions are made by mom and dad working together for their interests.
1 Some Believe That The Big "Snip" Can Have Unwanted Effects
Parents may choose to circumcise a son for religious or health reasons (mainly to lower risk of disease and infection), but some parents skip it. There are many reasons for this choice.
There is a very small risk of getting an infection post-procedure, and some parents don't think it's worth the risk. Others feel circumcision is a decision a boy should make when he is older, and some parents worry about the area becoming desensitized after the skin is removed. This is an individual choice for every parent and should be researched before settling on a decision. There are pros and cons with either choice.
Sources: Americanpregnancy.org, Parents.com, AAP.org, Livescience.com, USNews.com