person laying down on a rock wearing a red full lycra outfit
Thrive Blog

Two *New* Parenting Styles Defined

Dear Parents and People Who Judge Them:

Have you labeled your parenting style? Have you judged someone else’s? Are you a Tiger, Helicopter, or Lawnmower? Are they?

If your answer is no, you’ve either mastered the art of minding your own business, or the parenting style you’ve chosen (or judged) has not been named.

Until now.

At Thrive we have coined two new parenting styles: Quicksand Parenting and Lycra Parenting. As is de rigueur in therapy, let’s start with the dysfunctional one.

Quicksand Parents

Quicksand Parents are caught in the sinking sludge of comparing their children to siblings, peers, or the CDC’s developmental milestones. While “helping” their kids rise to the top, these parents panic and flail as if drowning in quicksand. This looks like hiring private coaches so their child stays competitive. Encouraging them to be more like [insert name of cool local overachiever here]. Packing their schedules, wardrobes, and lunchboxes with whatever the neighbors, influencers, and college gatekeepers deem essential. But comparison says more about a parent’s insecurities than their child’s “inadequacies.” If my child isn’t the proverbial pace car, will people think I’m a lazy-unattentive-ignorant savage?

In the wild, the trick to surviving quicksand is to lay on your back and float. This alleviates downward pressure and keeps one on the surface. Similarly, the antidote to Quicksand Parenting is to calm the F down. Stop trying to help them be, or beat, the pace car. Instead, teach the importance of besting themselves instead of others. Encourage them to see how far they’ve come instead of how far they have to go. And then, get honest with who you are trying to keep afloat: your child or your ego?

Pressure to “make mommy and daddy proud” manifests as codependence and people-pleasing. It erodes self-esteem, fosters insecurity, and breeds resentment.

Lycra Parenting

At Thrive, we preach Lycra Parenting. Like the stretchy material in underwear, socks, bike shorts, and sports bras, this stretchy fabric moves with you. It meets you where you are, not where it wants you to be.

Grades, awards, personal style, social standing, and extracurricular activities are your child’s business. Should you get involved? Absolutely. Guide them through a challenge and then give them enough room to succeed or fail on their own. If they succeed, avoid telling them how proud you are. That makes it about you. Instead, say you are happy for them. Ask what they learned about themselves. Admire their patience, perseverance, and grit. It’s their success. Let them have it.

And if they fail? Treat it as an opportunity to find out what still needs work. Then, infuse the moment with back-to-the-drawing-board energy and restrategize over mugs of hot chocolate.

Unlike the Helicopter, Tiger, and Lawnmower, Lycra parents can move and stretch with their children. They join the adventure but don’t choose it for them. They value curiosity, intrinsic motivation, trial and error, and failure. They promote learning for the sake of learning, not a means to an end.

Lycra Parents don’t move FOR kids, INSTEAD of kids, AHEAD of kids, or on BEHALF of kids. They move WITH kids. But they are also elastic and know when to back off. They understand that milestones and timelines don’t matter as much as the breathability, support, and acceptance their children feel along the way. All in all, it’s a wonderful fit.

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