Labeled Parenting


I’m not opposed to labels. They’re valuable and have a very real place. Labels help sum things up so you don’t have to explain yourself every time you want to have a conversation about something. Labels help you find people going through similar things to you. Labels can help people feel normal and acceptable and that’s a beautiful thing.

Labels are also dangerous.

I gave up on labels awhile ago. I still don’t know how to express my attraction. Orientation labels were not made with trans people in mind, especially not non-binary trans folk. Trying to find a label was frustrating, made me feel like something was wrong with me, and ultimately pointless (for me). A queer parenting blog I’m fond of  is called “Labels Are For Jars“- and that’s the way I feel.

I feel the same way about labeling parenting- it works for others, but doesn’t seem that great for us.

Part of that is because labeling is dangerous with parenting just as much as orientation and gender.  It doesn’t bother me when people use it to find like-minded people with similar parenting styles- it bothers me when people get it into their head that their way is always the best, shaming and looking down on those who don’t parent their way.

Labels are also political. Taking a label is making a statement that this is an important enough part of you that it deserves a label.  Labeling parenting can mean aligning yourself politically, some parents become activists who try to spread the benefits of their parenting style (as long as they aren’t saying their parenting style is The Way, this is fine). Taking a label often means saying that you more or less agree with the values that are associated with that label.

Our parenting style probably fits some labels- but I find it easier not to use them.

We co-sleep mostly because it’s easier to not have to shuffle to another room when the baby gets fussy in the middle of the night. Sometimes we bed-share. For the first 3 months, the baby was in our bed basically every night, sleeping better and longer than otherwise. Not because of any of the politics or beliefs that sometimes prompt bedsharing- because it’s what our baby needed and it’s what worked for our family.

Now, that doesn’t happen so much. Our baby’s getting better at sleeping without being in our bed. They fall asleep before we go to bed, then we leave them when we go to bed and it’s working out alright- sometimes they need to be taken to bed later in the night, but not always.

Even though we did bed-share, I never really considered us to be bed-sharers. Now that we aren’t, I don’t think there’s been a huge shift in our parenting dynamics or viewpoints. Sometimes I’m sad about this change- not even 4 months and already getting more independent. Sometimes I’m glad about it- having a baby in the bed isn’t the easiest thing ever, neither my partner nor I sleep as well with them in the bed.

Will we bed-share with our next kid? I don’t know, it depends on what that baby needs and what our situation is.

I’ve been reading a lot about different discipline styles- again, most tout themselves as The Way. I don’t know what discipline style we’ll end up using, because I don’t know what our child will need or what will work best for our family.

I can appreciate the value of labels- I have nothing against people using them. But I’ve found labels to be more difficult than helpful, just for my personal situation. I’m doing my best to remember that my baby’s an individual, trying not to compare them to other babies, and trying to do right by my baby. What works for other people is helpful for trying to figure out what will work for us- but it doesn’t mean it will work for us.

I don’t know if there is a label for that, I’m not really bothered if there is, though.

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