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Are You A Tiger Or A Snowplow? How To Tell Which Parenting Style Is Yours

We all try to raise our kids in the way we think best. But our methods can vary widely, and each family has to figure out which way works for them. Which parenting style do you practice? Are you all about bonding with your children, or helping them become independent early on? Do you try to protect them from life's unpleasant moments, or prepare them to push past every obstacle? Whichever philosophy you support, there's a catchy nickname for you.

The concept of adopting a parenting style isn't exactly new. As pointed out, Dr. Benjamin Spock revolutionized child care back in 1946 with his book Baby and Child Care. Contrary to the parenting wisdom of the time, Dr. Spock urged moms to follow their own instincts, offer plenty of affection, and avoid corporal punishment. The decades that followed would introduce us to even more parent trends: the Ferber method of sleep training; the "slow parenting" method of letting kids explore the world at their own pace, as explained by The New York Times; and the "Touchpoints" approach developed by Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, also reported on by the NYT.

Today, however, the divide between parenting styles seems to be on how hands-on or hands-off parents choose to be with their children. These are five of the still-trendy styles most parents fall into. Which one are you? Read on to see which sounds most familiar.

You're An Attachment Parent If...

asian girl sleep on bed with mom, kid sick, child sleep Shutterstock

The attachment parenting style emphasizes creating close bonds with children through natural and compassionate means, according to the Attachment Parenting website. Some people thought Alicia Silverstone took the trend too far by feeding her child by "premastication," according to HuffPo (that's, um, chewing your food and then transferring it to your baby's mouth), but many parents have practiced this style at least to some degree. You might be an attachment parent if:

  • Your baby registry list included at least three baby wraps, ring slings, and soothe shirts. Only a kangaroo wears her baby closer than you do.
  • When your baby cries, you're there in a nanosecond, no matter what you're doing at the time. Dishes, phone calls, naps, and bathroom breaks can wait.
  • You feed on demand, even after your baby passes the fragile newborn stage. On the bus, at a restaurant, at 3:00 AM when you're fighting a cold — your milk is available 24/7.
  • Your 5-year-old child spends more nights in your bed than in their own. Co-sleeping from infancy on creates secure bonds, even if it means you get elbowed in the stomach every so often.
  • Your discipline method is more of the talk-it-out type and less of the swat-on-the-bottom type.

You're A Snowplow Parent If...

The newest of the parenting trends, the snowplow style involves "pushing aside" any obstacles to a child's success, reported Pure Wow, much as a snowplow gets rid of huge drifts in the road. Snowplow parents fear that their kids might not be able to cope with disappointment or failure, so they make sure the children experience it as little as possible. You might be a snowplower if:

  • You're the one at the busy playground dropping loud hints to the kids on the swings: "Don't you think it's time to give other people a chance to ride?"
  • You've ever negotiated with a teacher to add a few points to your child's grade, or give an extension for a late assignment.
  • You've actually done all or part of your child's homework. Well, it was getting so late, and frustration was setting in, and it's better than having them get an F.
  • You've ever driven five miles at 10:00 PM to deliver a toothbrush, teddy bear or snack to a child at a sleepover.
  • You totally relate to the mothers in Dance Moms who fight with Abby Lee when she doesn't give their girls a solo part in the lyrical competition. (Maybe you did something similar yourself.)
  • You've used your networking skills to find a job or internship for your teen, rather then leave them to navigate LinkedIn on their own.

You're A Helicopter Parent If...

Like snowplow parents, helicopter parents rush to step in on their child's behalf whenever possible. But like their name suggests, helicopter moms and dads are hoverers, as worried about broken bones and broken hearts as about failing grades. "Safety first" is their motto. You might be a helicopter parent if:

  • You're keeping your child in a crib as long as possible, and trying not to think about the day when they might be able to get out of their bed and sneak out of the house.
  • You still have the childproof cabinet locks in your kitchen, even though your children are well past toddlerhood. What if they found a sharp knife, a corkscrew, or a toothpick?
  • You share on your feed all the viral stories about kids who get abducted, accidentally drown, and become sick from food on the recall list. It's proof that you have to be on your guard every second of the day.
  • You won't let your child cross the street alone until they're at least 12. You never know what kind of crazy drivers are out there.
  • If your child has a fight with a friend, you sit them both down for a heart-to-heart. One way or another, you'll get them to make up.

You're A Free-Range Mom If...

Baby sitting on the barefoot lawn playing with a colorful toy to stimulate his senses.Shutterstock

This parenting style was popularized by author Lenore Skenazy, who faced backlash a decade ago by allowing her 9-year-old son to ride the New York subway alone. (He made it home just fine.) The idea behind the trend is to promote common-sense independence in children by teaching them how to negotiate the world safely in age-appropriate ways, according to Free Range Kids. This might be your style if:

  • Your baby registry is low on safety gadgets like doorjamb blockers, furniture padders, and baby knee pads. You survived without them; chances are your child will, too.
  • You let your kid ride their bike around the block alone for the first time without secretly following them a few paces behind to make sure they didn't fall off or get snatched up by a stranger.
  • Someone has called the police on you because you dared to leave your 4-year-old napping in their car seat for five minutes while you ran into the 7-11 for milk.
  • You're the one who always responds to those viral stories the helicopter parents like to post: "Statistically, kids are actually safer now than they were when we were growing up. And BTW, this story is five years old."
  • You're all for having your (older) kids join their friends at the park or another nearby hangout alone on a Saturday afternoon. They need a little taste of freedom, and there's safety in numbers.

You're A Tiger Mom If...

A few years ago, this term was all the buzz when Amy Chua's book The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom came out. Drawing from Chinese tradition, Chua raised her daughters to be superachievers by prioritizing their studies above everything else. Some parents shook their heads at her no-nonsense style; other moms nodded their heads in agreement. You might be a tiger mom if:

  • You taught your children early on that doing well in school comes before everything. Being an honor student will help them get far in life (not to mention that it reflects well on you).
  • You're all about scheduling, even on weekends. Everything just runs more smoothly that way.
  • You let your child participate in extracurricular activities, as long as there's competition or recognition involved. Winning first place in a gymnastics meet or debate team looks great on a college application, but what do you get out of acting in a school play except a little applause and a face full of makeup?
  • Your kids spend more time on their piano than on Snapchat.
  • You'd never think of arguing with a teacher. If your kids aren't getting good grades, they obviously aren't working hard enough.