Let’s face it—no matter how much we trust our pediatricians, love our mothers and value our friends, Dr. Google is still our go-to resource for all the things—especially when it comes to parenting.
So we scoured the web and found the 10 most frequently asked parenting questions you asked Google... and answered them:
1. What is attachment parenting?
Attachment Parenting International defines attachment parenting as “an approach to childrearing that promotes a secure attachment bond between parents and their children. Attachment is a scientific term for the emotional bond in a relationship.
“How parents develop a secure attachment with their child lies in the parent's ability to fulfill that child's need for trust, empathy, and affection by providing consistent, loving, and responsive care. By demonstrating healthy and positive relationship skills, the parent Provides critical emotional scaffolding for the child to learn essential self-regulatory skills.”
Here are some of our favorite articles about attachment parenting:
You can’t love too much: How secure attachment helps kids thrive
The good news about infant attachment—you’re probably already doing it
It’s science: Having a secure attachment with your kids helps make them smarter
2. What is a custodial parent?
The custodial parent is the parent with whom a child lives most of the time. This is usually determined in court with the help of a child custody attorney.
Custodial parents are generally the ones responsible for more of the day-to-day care of the child (getting them off to school, homework, doctor appointment, etc), but certainly this varies by family.
3. What is co-parenting?
Co-parenting is also called joint or shared parenting. It refers to parents who are both involved in the parenting responsibilities of raising a child, but are not in a romantic relationship together, and usually not living together. Co-parenting usually occurs when parents are divorced or separated (but not always, it depends on the family).
Franziska Foerster writes that “sharing custody means sharing a child. It means sharing a child’s life.”
To learn tips about how to co-parent, read The 4 co-parenting secrets that made my whole family happy.
4. What is a Godparent?
A Godparent is someone chosen by a child’s parents to accept an extra level of responsibility and involvement in raising the child. The term is often used in Christianity and refers to someone who is present at a child’s Baptism, but it can also be used to describe people who will become guardians of a child should something happen to the parents.
Many parents choose their own siblings or close friends to be their children’s Godparents.
If you have a sister who’s super involved in your child’s life, you’ll love To my sister, you’ve guided my way through motherhood.
5. What is helicopter parenting?
Helicopter parenting is when a parent "hovers” over a child’s life, often to the point of over-involvement and over-protectiveness.
Certainly this comes from a place of love, though research has found that the children of “helicopter parents” are more likely to be anxious and have learning difficulties, especially as they get older and the parents are no longer as involved in their lives.
To learn more about what it’s like, read I’m the helicopter mom I ‘never’ wanted to be. And it isn’t so bad, after all.
6. What is a narcissistic parent?
Preston Ni of Psychology Today reports that “a narcissistic parent can be defined as someone who lives through, is possessive of, and/or engages in marginalizing competition with the offspring.”
They may have an inflated self-ego, be very concerned about appearances, and have an inflexible and controlling style of parenting.
This style of parenting can have consequences for children, so professional mental health therapy is strongly recommended for everyone involved.
7. What is authoritative parenting?
Amy Webb writes, “In the research world, this label encompasses the ‘ideal’ parent. Of course, in the real world, there are no perfect parents, but the philosophy underlying this approach is helpful because it is all about balance.
“Authoritative parents are not too strict, but not too permissive. They provide boundaries, but are also open to some (age-appropriate) negotiation with kids. The classic definition includes a balance between being high demanding and being highly responsive. This balance helps kids feel safe but also gives them room to grow and develop a sense of independence.”
To learn more about parenting styles, check out From hummingbird to helicopter—what’s your parenting style?
8. What is a foster parent?
Foster parents care for children when their biological parents become unable to do so. This can be an informal arrangement made by the families involved, or a legal one arranged by social services and courts. Children can live with foster families for a range of time, for just a few days to long-term.
Want to learn how to best support foster parents? Read 7 phrases not to say to a foster parent—and why.
9. At what age can a child decide which parent to live with?
In the event of a divorce or separation, one parent often becomes the custodial parent (the one with whom a child lives with most of the time). The age at which a child can decide which parent to live with varies by state—but in many cases there is no “magic number” at all.
For example, in California, the age is 14—however a younger child may be listened to, and an older child’s wishes may not be granted if it’s determine not to be in their best interest.
Attorney Eric S. Solotoff of New Jersey writes that “a child’s preference is only one factor a court must consider when deciding custody. Why is the child’s preference not absolutely determinative? Because it is not always reliable and may not be in their best interests.”
This is of course a very complicated issue that attorneys and counselors can help with.
You might be interested in Adjusting my heart and my life to my new role–single mom.
10. What is a surrogate parent?
A surrogate mother is a woman who carries a pregnancy for another family. She relinquishes her rights of the child after birth.
For more on surrogacy, read Kim Kardashian West accidentally reveals baby #3’s gender.