Thursday, February 13, 2014

The policy of adaptive response

When Frank and I drove to New Jersey over the holidays to visit his family, we took advantage of our time in the car to talk over some big topics for the future. You guys know how much I love those introspective, life-lesson-filled conversations, and Frank is a good sport and puts up with it when I come along on road trips with lists like this one.

We talked over how we might handle things like childcare and discipline and our kids' education. To each of these topics, I found myself coming to a similar conclusion:

"Well, I guess we'll have to see what things are like when we get there, and decide on a child-by-child basis."

Finally Frank said, "So basically, our plan is to make it up as we go along?"

"No no," I said. "That sounds terrible. We can't say we're just going to make it up as we go along. What kind of parenting philosophy is that?"

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that's kind of what we plan to do. We are interested in a lot of parenting strategies, everything from Montessori education to using cloth diapers. But we can't say for sure that we're going to do any of those things until we get there, since we don't yet know our baby's personality or what twists and turns our lives might take.

"I have a better idea," I said after thinking it over. "We're going to practice a policy of adaptive response."

"A what?"

"We'll respond to each situation as it arises, and if something doesn't work, we'll change our response and try something else," I said.

Frank laughed. "Trust you to come up with a really fancy name for something so simple. Ok, we can do it. We can say our parenting policy is 'adaptive response.'"

I couldn't stop grinning. What a perfect way to describe "making it up as we go along."

So now Frank and I have our official, fancy-sounding plan. Do you (or your parents) have an official parenting philosophy? Would you say you follow the "adaptive response" strategy too?


  1. Adaptive response all the way. Y'all are going to be excellent parents as you've already figured that part of it out. ;)

  2. Our philosophy is "whatever works". haha! You and Frank really are ahead of the curve in realizing that it's just silly to box yourselves into a parenting philosophy. You truly can't predict the various needs of your child! Adaptive response all the way! Let's make it a thing :)

  3. We're definitely going to incorporate the use of temperaments for our kids (choleric, sanguine, melancholic, phlegmatic) as well as understanding differences in gender in order to know how to parent them as individuals. :) There is actually a book called "The Temperament God Gave your Child" (Part of the series of books: "The Temperament God Gave You" and "The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse). Also, we're hoping to take time aside each year to review each child and see how our parenting style for that child is working and if anything needs to be tweaked.

  4. After 14 years and multiple children, I assure you that you are wise! If you want to have some sort of philosophy set in stone, however, you could go with "keep the faith" and "stay married", which are always good things to do as parents.

    1. Thank you, Colleen, it's good to get your endorsement! :) That's so funny that you mentioned "keep the faith"—I actually chose that for my "phrase of the year" for 2014. Good to keep in mind!

    2. Well, great minds and all that, you know... :)

  5. we've found that having a basic anthropological understanding of human behaviour and adaptation and how and why infants behave how they do is extremely helpful. After that - just love all the way and you know, you get more at ease with the fact that you haven't a clue!

    Lots of luck xx

    1. That sounds great, mamacrow! Do you have any favorite books to recommend?