Whether you’re approaching motherhood for the first time or already have years of experience under your belt, a little self-reflection never hurts. Circle the answers that fit you best to discover your true parenting style. (For fun, give your partner a turn, and see if your perspectives line up.)
How did you feel when you found out you were expecting?
A. Worried about the many risks and challenges that lie ahead.
B. Excited to add “motherhood” to my resume.
C. Concerned about how a baby would affect my social life.
D. Prepared and enthusiastic about the future.
E. Like my life was finally beginning.
Did your baby registry include …
A. A fully loaded first-aid kit?
B. Baby-grade flash cards or foreign language learning materials?
C. A bottle of wine for mama and papa?
D. Diapers in various sizes?
E. There was no registry— I’m all my baby needs.
Before I left the hospital, I found myself crying because …
A. I was afraid I’d fall short as a mother.
B. My baby scored a 9 (rather than a 10) on the Apgar.
C. I already missed life as it used to be.
D. My baby’s infancy was already going by too quickly.
E. I felt so complete.
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What’s your biggest parenting fear?
A. It’s hard to name just one—so many things could go wrong!
B. Having a child that doesn’t keep up with her peers.
C. Losing my sense of self.
D. Facing the unexpected.
E. Letting my baby leave the nest someday.
When you meet a friend’s baby, what do you secretly think?
A. “Look at that runny nose. I know she’s going to get my baby sick.”
B. “All right, my baby is way cuter! And she holds her head up better too!”
C. “Big whoop, another baby. Let’s talk about something else.”
D. “I can see it now: Our babies grow up together, share a dorm room in college and become lifelong BFFs.”
E. “I’m OK with your baby, but my baby and I really have something special.”
Breast or bottle?
A. I’ll breastfeed until age 1 because that’s what the experts recommend.
B. If breastfeeding will give my baby a leg up, then that’s what we’ll do.
C. I’m bottle-feeding to make life easier for all involved.
D. I plan to breastfeed, but I keep bottle-feeding supplies on hand just in case.
E. I’ll breastfeed until my child decides to stop, even if that’s at age 3.
What’s your approach to baby’s bedtime?
A. I watch the video monitor constantly and go in to check on baby if she fusses or I can’t hear her breathing.
B. Cry it out. This baby will be sleeping through the night by 12 weeks, no doubt!
C. We try to help baby conform to the schedule of the household, even if that sometimes means crying it out.
D. When she’s old enough, we’ll begin a consistent sleep training routine.
E. We practice co-sleeping, with baby in a bassinet next to the bed. I nurse her or rock her when she fusses; we never leave her to cry.
What is your baby’s nickname?
A. “Honey” or “Sweetheart.”
C. I call her by her name.
D. A shortened version of her name.
E. She has a unique nickname that is meaningful to us.
What is playtime like at your house?
A. We have an area set aside as the play space, completely babyproofed and stocked with sterilized toys.
B. I work with her to build skills through play, and I’m a sucker for Baby Einstein and Little Pim.
C. I provide the toys, and baby entertains herself.
D. I try to maintain a balance between child-directed play and adult-directed learning.
E. I’m usually involved in playtime activities.
How would your friends describe you as a parent?
How do you prefer to get around with baby?
A. I use an inward-facing front carrier or sling, so strangers aren’t tempted to touch her.
B. I like to keep her in an outward-facing front carrier or stroller, so everyone can see how cute she is.
C. Stroller. Babywearing isn’t for me.
D. I use different baby carriers for various situations.
E. For the first few months, I wore baby in a wrap or sling almost constantly.
Which motto best fits your parenting approach?
A. Safety first.
B. In it to win it!
C. Easy does it.
D. Slow and steady wins the race.
E. All you need is love.
What are your thoughts on potty training?
A. Potty training sounds messy. I’ll hold off until she’s 3; then, hopefully, she’ll get the hang of it quickly.
B. My sister’s kid was potty-trained by her second birthday. I’m pretty sure we can beat that!
C. It will happen when she’s ready. No rush.
D. I’m reading up on various approaches and devising a schedule.
E. We began elimination communication in baby’s third month. She’s no stranger to the potty, and the cloth diapers have helped.
At my house, TV happens …
A. Rarely, when I need to keep my kids occupied, but I feel guilty every time.
B. When I turn on a learning program.
D. Only until we’ve reached our preset limit for the day.
E. Never. It would interrupt our time together.
What’s the biggest parenting challenge you’ve faced so far?
A. Babyproofing and sanitizing. B. Meeting developmental benchmarks on time (or early).
C. Fitting baby into my busy schedule.
D. Rearranging priorities to keep the household running smoothly.
E. Sharing baby with others —I like to keep her all to myself!
If you scored mostly A’s, you’re a … By-the-book Betty
Doing things “right” is very important to you. You’ve gathered lots of parenting advice and follow it to the best of your ability. Baby’s doctor appointments are scheduled right on time, and her clothes are organized by size, color and season. You go to great lengths to ensure baby’s health and safety (and your excessive worry may have earned you a few gray hairs before your time). Others likely notice your parenting vigilance and respect you for it.
While it’s admirable that you want to do your very best, don’t be too hard on yourself when you make mistakes (because, like it or not, you will make mistakes). Remember to relax every now and then—even the most responsible adults are allowed to have fun!
If you scored mostly B’s, you’re a … Cutthroat Cathy
You’ve got a competitive streak a mile wide. You’re proud of your pint-sized offspring and want to see her succeed—in school, in sports, even in newborn accomplishments like crawling and clapping.
It’s natural to want the best for your child, and having high hopes isn’t a crime. However, the other moms in your playgroup may start to resent your competitive ways unless you can keep them under wraps. It’s not that you have to downplay your own child’s greatness—just look for ways to compliment the other tots too. Your kid can be amazing without necessarily being the best in every arena.
Also watch out for your babe’s emotional well-being. Even as a baby, she can feel mom’s disappointment. Aim for unconditional love and approval.
If you scored mostly C’s, you’re a … Laid-back Lucy
You’re taking this whole parent-ing business in stride. While you do love your baby, you’re not about to let her stomp (or drool) all over the life you’ve built for yourself, so you provide for her needs without giving up more than you have to. She’ll adapt to the household, rather than the other way around.
To her own advantage, your child will likely become self-reliant sooner than she would with a more micromanaging mama. But then again, she may feel insecure if she’s not getting the parental time and attention she craves. Show her she’s important to you by spending extra time with her, and make it quality time with plenty of interaction and eye contact. Even the best nanny in the world can’t—and shouldn’t—replace baby’s No. 1 favorite person: you.
If you scored mostly D’s, you’re a … Plan-ahead Polly
You are one pulled-together parent! Long before you ever laid eyes on your baby, you were making plans for her future. You chose her name early in the pregnancy and put it on the waiting list for the best preschool in town. You run a structured, orderly household, and you likely have a five-year plan that you take very seriously. This isn’t to say you never have fun—you just have a proper time and place for it.
Your children will benefit greatly from your organization and planning. They will feel secure, though hopefully empowered as well. Do give your family’s future some flexibility—you know what they say about the “best-laid plans.” And remember to enjoy the moment. Babyhood is brief, and the future will soon become the present.
If you scored mostly E’s, you’re a … Hands-on Hattie
Are you a Dr. Sears disciple? Whether you know it or not, you’re following his “Attachment Parenting” (AP) doctrine to a “T.” To you, raising an infant means babywearing, breastfeeding (even in public), co-sleeping and (very) early potty training. You and your baby have a tight emotional bond. She cries very little because her needs are promptly met by a very attentive mother (and perhaps father, too).
The downside? You put the “moth” in “mother”—as in, you’re hovering. Baby will eventually need to be put down, so she can learn to walk. And, someday, she’ll want to sleep in her own room. Make sure you have the independence to keep it together when baby no longer needs you every waking moment, and also ensure she has the space to learn and achieve on her own. Doing things for oneself builds confidence at any age.