Probably the biggest paradigm shift I've experienced lately speaks directly to my parenting style. I have spent years in full-immersion attachment parenting, to the point where accusations of "enmeshment" are definitely accurate. Now, I'm not going to debate whether there is One Superior Way to parent, because if I have learned anything from parenting more than one child it is that you often cannot even reliably use one approach for all parties within one family. So please don't read this and feel judged or attacked, or proselytized to. I'm just documenting my experience.
That said...yes, I was enmeshed with the kids. And things were working out fine, thanks. BUT. I started seeing some disturbing trends. An often panicked dependence on me by my eldest. Irritability on my own part. And a general sense of "it feels like I should be doing things this way...so why aren't we happy?".
After much, MUCH soul-searching (which sidelined into the inevitable questioning of my commitment to, reasons for, and preparation for, homeschooling), I have made a slight yet siginificantly world-changing adjustment to my parenting approach and expectations. The best way to describe it is to say that I have changed from "child led" to "child aware".
Many detractors of unschooling or attachment parenting often argue about "who's in control", and speaking from experience I can attest that focusing on honoring the child can indeed sometimes lead to situations where indeed one party feels dominated by the demands or needs of the other. It's no fun. And not just for the parent, either, which may come as a bit of a surprise. Any unbalance in the family affects everyone negatively. It took some stepping back for me to remind myself that the world does not need to be made of extremes. As with everything else, my ultimate goal is to strive for balance.
The difference? When I thought "child led", I had a tendency to think, "Do what they want/need at all costs." When I think "child aware", I consider their needs/abilities/desires/emotions, but ultimately make objective decisions based on not only their input but what is good/healthy/possible/desirable for all parties involved.
It wasn't the end of the world. I am learning how to set and enforce boundaries without guilt. They are learning how to take "no" for an answer gracefully. I am feeling far less overwhelmed and tense than I had in previous years. What a difference!! I'm still a relaxed parent compared to the standards of many I know...but I no longer feel as though I'm lax. We are all thriving.
(Insert sigh of relief here.)