alpha, beta, gamma

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she made me a mom

There are alpha parents (also known as “helicopter parents”) and there are beta parents, as I learned about this weekend when some friends shared The Beta Parent Manifesto.

After reading it and thinking about how I parent, I think I am a hybrid of both … alpha and beta. Call me a “gamma” parent.

I’m definitely guilty of quizzing my daughter endlessly — total markings of an alpha parent. But I also give her plenty of time on her own to play and explore — which has come in handy since Ben came along.

We get together with friends a lot (what the cool kids call “play dates” nowadays) … but we don’t sit with the kids 24/7. We enjoy adult time and let them play, intervening only when truly necessary.

We don’t eat all organic … but she does eat really well. Maybe it’s just dumb luck, but personally I like to think it’s because I don’t cave at mealtime, meaning there have been times where if green beans was all she’d eat on her plate, that was her dinner.

I also think my parenting style has shifted the longer I’ve been a parent.

For example, when Maya was a baby, I panicked if she wasn’t meeting milestones. She didn’t crawl til 11 months; didn’t walk til a year. I worried something was wrong … and instead of focusing on the positives (her awesome fine motor skills, her strong language skills, her fabulous cognitive skills) I zeroed in on those physical milestones she wasn’t meeting, worrying for the sake of worrying. Well guess what? She did them … but when she was ready, on her own accord.

Now with Ben, I don’t even read those weekly emails anymore. I know generally what he should be doing and he is mastering so many skills. He has a couple babble/nonesense words now (da-da, la-la, ba-ba, dee-dah, a-ta), he can sit and play, he has strong legs and can “stand” if you hold him up, tucks his legs under to assume a crawl position (but doesn’t crawl), turns to his name, recognizes our family — even on Skype … he’s doing great. And while he isn’t rolling over the way he “should” be, his doctor isn’t concerned … so why should I be?! Lesson learned with the second kid …

And with Maya, if Rocco knocked her over or she fell or something, I’d come running over, freaking out and probably making the situation far worse than it was … newbie parent, you know how that goes …  But now, though I am always concerned if my kid is hurt, I have a little more insight into my reaction to the situation. In other words, not every wound is a 5-alarm fire.

Ultimately, regardless of parenting style, we all want our children to be safe, healthy and happy.

Last night on the drive home from the airport (my mom was visiting–post on that to come!) I had to stop myself from asking Maya so many questions. She does love to talk … but sometimes kids need to just be.

We can all learn from that lesson …

How about you? What kind of parent are you? Alpha, beta, gamma?

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4 thoughts on “alpha, beta, gamma

  1. I’m not a parent (though I hope to be one day), but after professionally nannying after college, I’m inclined toward “gamma” as well. Your balance seems very like me.

    I realize when I have my own children, I’ll likely parent my own kids differently than I cared for other families’ children, but I primarily nannied as a beta with some alpha tendencies.

  2. I’m realizing that with my oldest kids (now 21 & 18) I need to let go more as far as having them doing certain things for themselves. They’re never gonna learn if momma keeps holding their hand! And besides, the extra time that frees up for me could be better spent couch-azzing. heheheeee

  3. Also definitely a mix, but increasingly beta as time passes. I definitely make it a point to intervene less when he’s playing with his cousins now, preferring to let them figure out how to resolve an issue (within reason) and things like that.

    I love to be quiet in the car, but I also love to talk with Nate and hear what he has to say so sometimes I realize he’s been quiet and I’ll go to ask him something, but then look in the rearview and see he’s just looking out the window, thinking who-knows-what and I just leave him be… but, man, would I love to know what he’s thinking about in those moments.

    1. I totally know what you mean, Candice. My mom left Sunday night and I happened to be walking down the hall with my camera Monday morning to take a vid of Ben. I noticed Maya standing in the dark, peering into our guest room (where my parents always stay). I said, honey are you OK? She looked crestfallen and went into her room, threw herself on the bed and mumbled “I want my warm blankie.” (her lovey). Without saying a word, I knew and understood exactly how she was feeling. I just gave her a hug and, as you said, let her be. Other times I’ll ask what she’s thinking about and she’ll say “nothing” and it’s so hard not to pry but you’re spot-on … they sometimes just need that silence.

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