Thursday, July 9, 2009

Kid-centered vs. Parent-centered?

When we traveled to Addis, we met another adoptive couple who were wonderful people. I really enjoyed their company, they were great dinner companions, van companions, etc. Their names were Hope and John and they have 6 kids (including a little 4 year old boy they were adopting with an amputated leg and a club foot.) They also had a special needs child at home they had adopted from Vietnam and basically saved his eyesight in doing so. I had a lot of respect for them as people. They were fun, and really wonderful with the kids. You could tell they loved their son immensely from the second they laid eyes on him.

We had a discussion over breakfast one morning about parenting styles. John mentioned he had noticed 2 main styles: child-centered parenting and parent-centered parenting. He said he didn't claim one was better than the other, each was different and fit with different families.

He went on to explain that in child-centered parenting, the focus is entirely on the child. All household activities revolve around the child's needs and wants. For example, a soccer game would trump a romantic date every time. Babysitters are uncommon.

Conversely, in parent-centered parenting, the parents set the tone of the house hold and their lives continue, with full involvement in the children's lives of course, but without giving up their identifies completely. There are date nights. The marital relationship is nurtured. Babysitters are commonly known to the kids, and rules and limits are firmly set. With 6 children, I can see why this was the only option for them. I also think it's healthy for the kids to have a healthy marital relationship role model to watch while growing up.

As a single parent, I'm not really sure which camp I'll fit in to... I'm hoping parent centered, because my belief is it teaches the child they are not the center of the universe (to the rest of the world, at least) which is more reality based. I think she'll have less of a shock growing up than if she grew up believe the world revolved around her and then finding out life is not like that.

Which camp do you fit in?

Which camp do you think is better for the child?


michelle j said...

Parent centered. For married parents it's important to cultivate their relationship and not lose track of one another. I've heard frequently and believe- one of the best gift parents can give their children is a healthy marriage.
For single parents it's the same kind of thing. Kids need to see a healthy, well rounded adult as an example. A child isn't (or shouldn't be) brought into a parents (married or single)life to complete the parent. The parent should have already been complete.

Malia'sMama said...

I would say I am parent-centered. mal does NOT know babysitters, per se, but she knows my parents, her auntie etc as caretakers, too. She joined MY life, and it works well for us. I have always been very spontaneous, deciding on a whim to travel here or there. I do it to a lesser degree, but I still do it- only with her and with a lot more stuff :)
She is a great traveller and a wonderful companion besides being my baby love. I definitely put her needs first, but I don't "cater", if you know what I mean.
Don't try to BE a certain style, your right fit will find YOU.

Anonymous said...

We are child centered. It just happened that way. We've still never left our daughter 4 or son 1 with a sitter for a night (partly because grandparents are so far away; partly because of children's temperaments). We just stay home with them and it seems to work for us. It's interesting to see/hear from several adoptive parents who are parent centered. From the attachment parenting responses I saw last time, I thought most people who responded here were attachment system followers, and I assume that's more child centered (like feed on demand and wearing the children). Maybe not. Interesting! Danicuz

Tami said...

I was raised in a parent centered house and I will raise Baby I in one. Even when I tried to change it to child centered my mother quickly let me know that was not her household. LOL I don't think either is wrong or is what works for the individual. However, I do think it is a mistake for children to think everything revolves around them and that can happen in either household.

J-momma said...

uh, yeah, most definitely parent-centered (if that's the way we are defining it). i was me before my kids and i'm not letting myself slip away with the addition of them. that's not to say i don't make certain sacrifices, of course. but i need me time, husband time, and girly time. my kids can deal with it. besides, if we're preparing them for real life, it will never be centered around them as adults.

J-momma said...

p.s. i think you can do both attachment parenting and parent-centered parenting. it's all about balance. my baby is carried around in her maya wrap and sometimes sleeps in our bed, but she also goes to a babysitter when we need a night out and gets put down when i need to shower. it seems to work for us.

abby said...

We are also "parent-centered". We need to take time for ourselves (sometimes far, far away) from the kids or we would go nuts and have much less patience with them. I don't think either option is right or wrong - you have to do what works for your family. And sometimes you can start out as one and your kids out grow the need and end up going the opposite direction.

And I agree that you can do attachment parenting and be parent-centered at the same time. We use many of the attachment parenting techniques with our son but he still has baby-sitters, he still sometimes "cries it out" in his crib and yet we let him sleep with us or we wear him all day if need be.

Personally, I think good parenting means you take bits and pieces from all styles/cultures of parenting and find what works for your family - and be flexible with it.

David Ornstein said...

Small world- I came across your blog recently (My wife and I are waiting for our referral and are # 1 on the infant boy and girl lists)and in reading this I realized I know your John and Joy. I forwarded a link to him. John and I went to elementary school together and while he's west coast and we are in Ohio, I know he travelled at the time you were in ET.
Just thought I'd let you know... someones always watching... lol
Best of luck with your child! Oh, and we are hoping to be Parent Centered! Wish us luck.
David and Michelle

Carole Turner said...

Hey, I'm catching up on all your post since you've come back. Love that baby girl!! She is so so so cute!!

I know and love Hope and John!! They are really great people.

I fall in between really on the parenting. We do just about everything as a family, Dean and I rarely have a date night. So for us it's not so much kid centered as it is family centered. BUT we do have babysitters a couple times a month even when one or both of us have to do something away from the kids.

I think the main difference with adopting is parenting styles really need to be thrown out the window for a while with the new child. I parent Abel differently then my other kids. He's still learning English, is grieving the lost of his country, identity, grandmother who raised him, etc. so, special care is taken for a while to help him transition and mostly to help him attach to us all. So, that's why family centered is where we are more at right now.

Your gonna be fine and that baby girl will flourish!

So glad you two are home.

God bless.