The dilemma of an elephant mom

A few years ago I read an article by Priyanka Sharma Sindhar about being an elephant mom and it struck a chord with me. “If you’re wondering what an ‘elephant parent‘ means, it’s the kind of parent who does the exact opposite of what the tiger mom, the ultra-strict disciplinarian, does. Parents who believe that they need to nurture, protect, and encourage their children, especially when they’re still impressionable and very, very young.”

My childhood memories don’t necessarily reflect this reality. My parents weren’t ultra-strict disciplinarians, but they weren’t elephant parents either. Their love, while unconditional, came with expectations. And, more often than not I felt like I had disappointed them. The more I rebelled, the tighter they held on, until we both had to break free just to breathe. Reflecting on their parenting skills, I can’t help but feel that they did their very best… they learned how to parent from their parents and now that I’m about to become one, naturally, I want to do the best that I can.

There are so many parenting methods out there and as my partner and I fine tune what makes sense for our family, we find ourselves talking more and more about creating an emotionally safe environment for our son to grow up in, as opposed to raising the perfect kid. Who defines perfection anyway? As much as I don’t care for labels, there are some positively reassuring qualities about elephant parenting.

  • Elephant moms don’t do it alone. It takes a herd to raise a baby and they are not afraid to delegate.
  • Elephant parents don’t rush their young. They nurture and protect them until they’re ready… Some wait until they’re teenagers.
  • Elephant parents are very attentive. They are not afraid to show emotion and are always waiting in the wings, watching cautiously
  • Elephant parents are always there to lend a helping hand… errr, trunk. There are countless heartwarming videos online of elephants rushing to help their young when in trouble.

Yet, parenting is not a one size fits all promise. No two children are alike, not even twins. Herein lies the challenge… As a parent, it is my responsibility to set boundaries and help my kid navigate through the challeges of this world. Not only will he need structure from the beginning with sleep training and behavior modifications etc., but it is vital for his well being and safety as he gets older. At what age can I arbitrarily decide to reverse the bad behaviors I’ve allowed to fester? Why should he suddenly listen to me when he’s gotten away with so much for so long? While I want to be there for my son, no matter what, I certainly don’t want to enable him to make bad choices in life. Let’s face it, I’m all for letting kids be kids for as long as possible, but I sure as hell don’t want to raise a brat!

Do you  consider yourself an elephant parent? If so, how do you deal with this dilemma?

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