My Parenting Style is Different Than My Mother's But We Both Lead With Love

Parents magazine editor-in-chief Liz Vaccariello shares that leading with love means learning what makes the most sense for your child.

vintage photo of two women outside

I need to know what my mom just said to make my daughter look at me with wide eyes—and Sophia is happy to spill: “Grandma told me that when you were in third grade, you had an outfit you loved and refused to wear anything else. She said that one night while you were asleep, she took it out of your room and threw it away!”

I am shocked. First of all, I have zero memory of the outfit (apparently it involved a color-block shirt) or its disappearance. But mainly, I think: “That sounds severe. Why didn’t she tell me a story about a child who needed clothes more than I did? Was there no chance for a gradual phaseout?” I start to fall into my usual spiral, overthinking all the ways my mom did not overthink.

Then I stop myself. Just tossing the whole outfit was undoubtedly an efficient way to deal with the pain in the butt I was being.

I’ve heard it said that children either become the parents they had or they swing to the opposite extreme. My mom and dad were both only children in homes where good behavior and being quiet mattered as much as good grades. Family was not a democracy, and tantrums were not tolerated.

This is certainly fertile ground for therapy, and I navel-gazed enough in my 20s to realize that I wanted my home to be a place where everyone could have their own reaction. If my own mother wasn't obsessing over my every emotion, when I became a mom, feelings would be my focus.

But that was as simplistic as it was judgmental. Just because she made different decisions than I’d make today doesn’t mean my mom was any less thoughtful.

Since becoming a mom, I’ve been able to appreciate the wisdom—and the love—in her parenting style. I was a child who loathed change, and I used to spin myself into quite the frenzy at even the thought of someone moving my cheese. My mom knew that talking about taking away the darn shirt would have upset me more than just doing it.

Leading with love means learning what makes the most sense for your child. (Don’t miss The 5 Love Languages of Children).

“Grandma was smart,” I tell Sophia. “It sounds like she did exactly the right thing.”

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles