...is that I don't have a parenting philosophy. At least in the way that "parenting philosophy" tends to be discussed these days--a catchy name, an approach to the most common needs of infants, and an insistence that your way is the "One True Way" to raising a happy successful child.
Certainly I have priorities. I know what I consider important, things I want to spend my time & energy on for my kids, things I want to teach them...but none of that really falls into a "philosophy" that you may find a book or blog about. I make important decisions deliberately, but feel free to pick and choose whichever things happen to work for me, my child, my family. Unmedicated, epidural, formula, breast, cry-it-out, co-sleep, baby-wear, daycare, purees and chunks ("baby-led-weaning" I believe its called)...I did those things, still do some of them. And I suspect the coming years will continue in the same vein, driven even more by my children's unique needs.
This post (read it, its great) sums up my discomfort with clinging to a philosophy---each kid is different, each developmental stage is different, how can you be so sure about what you're going to do? I find it particularly...eye-roll-inducing...when a pregnant woman announces her parenting philosophy*. I love the part in the linked post when she mentions how newborn/tiny kid-centric many of these "philosophies" really are: "you can't "babywear" a ten year old, you know? You can't breastfeed a teenager".
I understand...I see the appeal of having a One True Way to follow, knowing with certainty that this is the best way. It takes away a lot of the inherent uncertainty involved in parenting. I consider it akin to organized religion in some ways---follow our rules and everything will work out OK in the end. And by attaching yourself to a label, its easy to find others who will applaud and support your parenting choices...your parenting congregation where you sing the hymns of breastfeeding or preach against the evils of co-sleeping.
The problem, of course, is that if your One Way is right, then all the Other Ways are by definition wrong. And that is where every mean-spirited internet comment thread, every headline-grabbing Mommy Wars feature, and many a lonely, isolated, and fraught mother are born.
Can we all admit that there is no One Right Way but just The Best Way for This Kid and This Parent at This Time? And acknowledge that the parent who just as thoughtfully and deliberately chooses different than you most likely does love her child just as much**? And that we really don't know how our kids are going to turn out in the end, but we are all just doing our best and hoping it all works out in the end?
Maybe that IS my parenting philosophy.
*and smugness-inducing when she realizes she may have been wrong...either immediately or commonly when child #2 is born
**should go without saying, but certain things ARE excluded.