There are plenty of weird things about being a content creator. Something I’ve experienced for years is people reaching out to me with in depth questions. I’m always happy to share my personal experience, as appropriate and as long as I’m comfortable sharing, but I always try to make it clear: I am not an expert. (How many times have I had to make that disclaimer in a blog post, ha!) I never want anyone to think I have it all figured out. I don’t. There’s really nothing special about me. Even things I really love, like needlepoint, I’m still not an expert and I still Google things and make mistakes and ask for advice.

Parenting is no different. For starters, we have one relatively easy toddler who is only eighteen months old. Every day I feel like I’m navigating new waters. (Honestly, every hour brings something new!) I am, quite literally, the farthest thing from a parenting expert. I’m just some other mom figuring it out along the way. People still ask though…. and because of that I thought I’d share some of my own personal parenting beliefs.

(And I also want to note that this is something I’m just genuinely fascinated by! I love learning what other cultures and other families do, even if none of it personally applies to our family. It’s just so interesting and something I could deep dive on every day.)


This is partly my parenting belief and partly a disclaimer…. but I absolutely believe every kid and every family is different. There is no one size fits all and I think that’s a great thing, and a stressful thing– especially when you feel lost and want guidance. I think one of the worst things you can do is compare your situation to someone else’s (whether it’s a family on your block or a mom you follow on Instagram). It’s the quickest way to feel like you’re failing or you’re not doing a good enough job or that life isn’t fair. There are parenting experts and people who can help you navigate hard challenges (as a mom and also as a family), but I think that needs to be done on a personal level. Someone who can get to know you and your kids and who gets to understand your family. And, again, while this can be frustrating at times, I think it’s a bigger gift. To know that there’s no one-size-fits all and that you get to decide what’s best for you. I find comfort in that when I catch myself comparing myself as mom to someone else I see in our community or online.


When I was pregnant, I tried to avoid reading parenting books and I’m glad I did. I think I was so largely focused on being pregnant, that I couldn’t really see much beyond that and, maybe, the “fourth trimester.” Looking back, I think it was a good thing. Nothing can really prepare you 😜.

Now that I am a mom though, I find myself gravitating towards learning more about parenting beliefs and styles. With a human right in front of me, the stakes feel high in that I don’t want to “mess up.” I know I’ll continue to read parenting books because they really interest me and I find that I learn something from every one that I read. When it comes to parenting books, though, I remind myself (again) that every family is different and each book is not a bible that needs to be followed to the tee. Instead, I take everything with a grain of salt, I make notes of what resonates with me personally, and also recognize that not everything will work for us. I think that’s helpful because sometimes, even in a book I largely love, there will be some parts that are a “nope!” from me. It doesn’t make the book bad and it doesn’t invalidate the parts that do resonate!

Bringing Up Bebe: A bunch of my friends recommended this to me and it’s the one book I read while pregnant. I think a lot of Americans romanticize French parenting, and in theory I do as well, so I enjoyed learning about what French parents prioritize from the perspective of an ex-pat. Mike read this one as well and we each remind each other of various things from the book as we continue on our parenting journey. (Honestly, now that I’m typing this, I think the idea of “la creche” was what was subconsciously going through my head when we ultimately decided to go with daycare for childcare!)

Hunt, Gather, ParentThis is a book I’ve continued to think about, especially now that Jack is out of babyhood. This is really about bringing up children in a way that encourages cooperation, and independence based on research about childrearing in various cultures around the world. It really spoke to me with the different values I want to raise children with. That they are part of the family and, therefore, contribute to our family too! Jack is 18 months old and he already has a few chores that he loves doing. (Also to be clear, again, TBD on whether or not this works. He’s obviously not a teenager yet so I’m not claiming to have found the holy grail for parenting 🤣.)

– To Raise A Boy: I read this because I have a boy, but I have to say I think every parent should read this. I had a lot of preconceived notions as a woman about boys, but overall, boys are kind of a mystery to me! I do not know what it was like to be a boy, or a teenage boy, or a man. This book helped me understand boys so much more, what they go through, the challenges they face growing up, what they experience, what they miss out on. etc. It put to rest some of the fears I had as a “boy mom,” and gave me new things to be aware of as well.

– Good InsideMy most recent read, Good Inside spoke. to. me. I have so many good things to say about it. I really love her approach and it’s filled with practical tips and scripts to follow for a host of challenges you might face as a parent from separation anxiety to perfectionism to sleep issues. I listened to the audiobook, but it’s so good I’m ordering a hard copy to I can dog ear pages and highlight sections I want to return to as Jack grows up. This book is like a big, fat hug to both parents and children alike. I often struggle with feeling like I’m not doing enough to be “a good mom” and this book made me feel more confident in my parenting abilities. While I really appreciate reading this book as a mom with a toddler, one thing I love about the book is that the author assures you it’s never to late (even if your children are grown!).


My “chill mom” phrase started as a joke when I was pregnant and turned into my absolute #1 personal philosophy as a parent. It’s what gets me through my days and gives me confidence. Is it a perfect system? Not really. Am I always chill? Definitely not. Overall though, I know I’m a better mom because I try to emulate being a chill mom and even more than that? I enjoy motherhood so much more. I won’t repeat myself here, but you can read about my whole mantra here.


I’m trying to keep this post more of a bird’s eye view because, again, what works for us might not work for someone else. I also don’t want to get into the nitty gritty and be judged for our choices or have someone else feel like I’m judging them for their choices. (Should I add the disclaimers here again that I am no parenting expert myself and I fully recognize that every family is different and what works for one might not apply to another?)

But some schools of thought I like to keep in mind:

– Trusting my gut: With so much noise in the parenting industry (yes it’s an industry and also yes, this post falls into it!), one thing I keep in mind is that I need to trust myself first and foremost. I do have a gut feeling and it’s important to tune into. (I learned this the hard way with a couple of things early on, but I’m glad they happened because it confirmed the importance to trust myself, speak up, and advocate for my child because no one else is going to do it as fiercely as a parent will!)

– Hugs: From day one, I wanted to give Jack as many hugs as possible. I don’t know why it felt paramount to me. Maybe, if nothing else, it’s a reminder to hold onto and be grateful for each moment as a mom because life moves fast.

– Speed Bumps: Before I was a mom, it felt like a no-brainer that I didn’t want to be a helicopter mom or a “snow plow” mom (someone who paves an easy way for their kids). Then you have a baby and, wow, the temptation to save your child from any kind of discomfort is real. I fight the urge daily!! Instead of snow plowing or bulldozing the way, I try to keep in mind that I want to instill the confidence and life skills to handle the speed bumps and road blocks that are a part of life!

– Independence & Confidence: This is going to be a tiny blurb that can only just barely scratch the surface. But I see my role as a mom to be there to help shape a child who will eventually be an adult. I see Jack as his own person, not as an extension of myself. He will have his own experiences and interests and struggles and strengths; he has his own values and passions (yes, even at eighteen months old). What I experienced as a child isn’t what he will experience as a child. His life is different than my life and I hope I do a good job at allowing him to grow into someone he’s proud of!


This is probably one of the hottest and most controversial topics. I’ve even read parenting books that pick apart how influencer portray their lives on Instagram. There is certainly a lot going on and not everything is positive. I actually see it a little differently though. You don’t have to follow anyone you disagree with or anyone who makes you angry or (worse!) feel less then. (And to be clear, there’s a lot I do not agree with that I see online, but it’s not my family and I don’t need to be invested.) BUT…. I love seeing different families on Instagram, in the country and around the world. It doesn’t even have to be that deep, either. Like what are they wearing, what’s their routine, what activities are they doing? I love getting glimpses into other people’s lives, especially when it comes to motherhood.


Something so important that I cannot leave off of this is the importance of community to me in my parenting journey. I’m sure it’s technically possible to parent alone, but community is invaluable to me. (And before anyone comes for me I don’t mean parenting with a partner or without a partner. Families come in all shapes and sizes and grow in all kinds of ways. There is no one path to parenthood.) What I mean is the friends and family you can rely on for guidance, the childcare providers that become family. Your village. I understood the concept before becoming a parent and now that I’m in the throes of parenting, I cannot imagine doing this without emotional and physical support. I don’t believe we were meant to do this without support. I’m grateful for Mike, our families, Jack’s teachers, his activity instructors, my mom friends who have older kids, my mom friends in the same stage of parenting. 🙏🏻

No one blog post is going to be able to cover parenting comprehensively, but it was kind of a fun exercise to write and kind of put some of the things I think about on a daily basis. (I’ve been keeping bullet points in a note on my phone.) Highly recommend wherever you are on your parenting journey! I wish I had written things down before I had a baby to compare and tweak and revisit. I plan on comparing and tweaking and revisiting this post further down the road too.

Would love to know any of your thoughts on parenting!

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Elspeth Mizner

I’m not a mom but i really love how your shared your experience and what you learned along the way. I think it’s important to acknowledge that every family is different but i appreciate how you shared your experience.


So excited to read these books! I’m a boy mom to a 3 month old, and I start back at work this week. I’m looking forward to listening to these books in the car on my drive from daycare drop off to work.


Could you elaborate on how you avoid being helicopter mom? My husband and I are expecting our first child in August and I feel like this is something I’m going to struggle with. Thank you for your thoughts!


Did you happen to read Bringing Up Bebe? They talk about “le pause” in letting babies sleep but I’ve kind of implemented that into daily life. I tell myself to take a pause and see if Jack can do something on his own or to give him more time to figure it out! I also remind myself that me jumping into help in the immediate is NOT helping him long term!


Bringing up Bebe really helped shape my motherhood journey as well. You’re doing awesome momma!!


While I don’t have a baby, I hope to some day. And this post offered some really valuable insight, and a perspective to think on. I personally love your thoughts Carly, and am so grateful you published this. I can’t wait to bookmark this and refer back to in the future.


I recommend “The Montessori Toddler” and “Love and Logic Magic” also. Both are about raising curious, independent children.

Amy D

Second the “Love and Logic” recommendation – I found it particularly helpful as my kids moved into the 2s and 3s.


One thing I’ve learned from having two kids (now 9 and 5) is that it’s okay to just be in survival mode sometimes. If the house is a mess, the laundry isn’t done, and you’re trying desperately to find a small space for yourself but can’t, that’s a normal experience. I was way too hard on myself, expecting A+ effort in all areas. So long as your child is safe, fulfilled, loved, fed and nurtured, it’s okay to give yourself a bit of a pass on the rest sometimes (and ask for help)!

Audrey m

How to keep house while drowning is definitely a good book. The TLDR of it is that a clean house isn’t a moral success and a messy house isn’t a moral failure. I think that’s a pretty vital thing for people to get into their minds. And try to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.


I agree with so much of this but I love that you listed hugs as a parenting philosophy. I had never thought about it but I agree 100% and it’s easy now with a 9 mo but I want to continue the hug philosophy too! And kisses!


As a teacher and someone with 2 boys in college, I wish parents rethought the constant “good job” as a reaction to what their child does. It teaches kids that there is judgement on what they do and that there conversely is a “bad” job. Specific feedback such as just reflecting their actions back “I see you stirring that yogurt” is so much more empowering.


My husband and I don’t have kids yet, but we have been watching “The Parent Test” on Hulu and it’s led to some really good convos! They feature 12 different parenting types (with some definite overlap) and it’s led us to talk about what approaches we like and don’t like and why.


this show is so entertaining! it’s fun to see how judgemental the different parent sets are of other parents.

for the compliments thing re wording to question: are you proud of yourself? how does you feel after doing this ____? are great ways to affirm that aren’t external validation.

I LOVED Good Inside and tips for perfectionist kids. my niece is 10, she is the definition and it’s heartbreaking. she’s mvp, etc and WILL NOT EVEN TRY anything she won’t win immediately… like a game etc. immediately shuts down and gives up. It’s awful. Her mom just retired at 44 (so obviously perfection ethic can reward financially, this is where it comes from) but ah. I’ll be interested to see her career path.

also loved Dr Becky talking about no teasing, removing the words dramatic, shy etc from your home. and how confidence isn’t being happy, it’s internal stemming from the ability to know you can sit with discomfort do hard things and be alright.

I loved the now extinct podcast “Feel good effect”- asking yourself, how do I want to feel? is such a great daily question regarding action.


I try to abide by “always mean what you say,” which is very simple on paper but can be hard to execute. When you say something to a child, you mean it, and your words have weight. For example, you tell your child you’re leaving the park… even if they tantrum, you pick them up and leave bc you meant what you said. It’s led me to be very careful with my words! Especially making sure I don’t say: “If you don’t listen, we are never coming here again!” because that’s not something I can stick to. This blog post (non-religious content) has more:


Love that you mentioned allowing a child to experience discomfort! As an elementary teacher, I work so many kids who haven’t been taught coping strategies for feeling sad, mad, bored, frustrated, disappointed, etc. It’s so important to validate these feelings and show kids how to work through them (instead of avoiding them)!

Jennifer Record

Wonderful post! A majority of the parenting philosophies my husband and I share are centered around “the gift of time.” There is nothing more valuable than time, and a majority of our gifts are experiences, memberships to museums, and travel adventures together… <3

Judith Hume

What a great post! My 4 kids (2 daughters and twin sons) are grown and I have 4 grandchildren, but your comment about the importance of hugs was spot on. We always gave our 4 lots and lots of hugs, and even when they were teenagers, all 4 wouldn’t hesitate to hug me hello or goodbye, even when I was dropping them off at school. And we still hug every time we see each other!

Aislinn Santoyo

Loved this post! My husband and I also read Bringing Up Bebe and we remind ourselves about parts, Le Pause was a big one at the beginning! And the part about snowplow mom spoke to me so much, we are currently sleep training and it breaks my heart to see her struggle but I try to remind myself that when she is older she will face these challenges in life and all I can do is be there to cheer her on and teach her to trust her abilities.

Theresa Magliozzi

I loved this! My oldest son is 4.5 then I have 19mo old twin boys. I had saved a few books on raising boys and I’ll start with this you recommended. I feel like I never liked reading books besides fiction and biographies but lately as a mom, I am craving more books like this and just learning as much as possible to be the best I can be for them. Really enjoyed this as well as the comments 🙂

Katie Smith

As the parent of a 16 year old boy who has overcome medical and developmental complexities, I’ve learned a LOT – from my child, from the many, many experts and clinicians along the way. My best advice: be the parent your child needs you to be, and that might not be the parent you want to be…


This isn’t really a philosophy but my favourite parenting tip is “smell the flowers, blow out the candles” to teach young children how to take deep breaths. I would practice during calm moments and then use it during not so calm moments. I try to teach them it’s ok to feel angry, sad etc but not ok to hit/bite.. (still working on it) but what you can do is smell the flowers, blow out the candles. I get anxiety so I want to help give my girls tools to cope.


Thank you for sharing your philosophy. I agree with everything!
My toddler, husband and I were having a really hard time after our boy turned 2 and our ray-of-sunshine-baby turned into a mess of tantrums, much more than the normal amount. In the end we signed up for a parenting class and it’s the best thing we’ve ever done. It was a program based on The Incredible Years by Carolyn Webster-Stratton and I have been recommending the book to every parent I know.
It was so useful to learn specific tools and examples to use to guide both our boy and ourselves. The book/methods are evidence based, and I think they align with everything you believe in as a parent.
I wouldn’t have felt a need for any of this at 18 months, but at 2 it was a whole different life. They change so fast! He’s 3.5 now and I am loving this age.
You can Google The Incredible Years Parenting Pyramid to get a quick overview of some of the philosophy and topics covered in the book.

Just a potentially life-saving tip for any parent who is struggling! 😉❤️


You mentioned you like seeing different parenting accounts from around the world. I’d love it if you did a post sharing your favorite ones. You shared Lindsay Pinegar’s account a long time ago and she’s since become one of my favorite follows on Insta.


More parenting books to think about: The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey and her most recent book Addiction Innoculation (title is scary but its science based advice on how to speak with your children drugs and alcohol, prompts for them to refuse drugs that help them “save face” in front of friends, lots of statistics, evidence based facts on the negative impact of the European method of alcohol introduction, etc.)


We joke that our first kid was raised by google, as we were the first of all of our friends to have a kid, and we had no idea what we were doing! I really wished we had had more of a village. (I think the lack thereof was one of the triggers for my postpartum depression.) It is a blessing to have people in your lives to help out and be supportive. We have two kids, and we really did have to parent them differently, as they were so different. There is not really one perfect approach for everyone, other than parenting with love and kindness (and as you said, hugs)!


Hi! I enjoy learning about parenting styles as well- it’s all so fascinating! What examples of chores does Jack accomplish each day? It’s a great idea to contribute to the family & would love to implement this ideal too!


Right now (18 months): putting dog food into the dogs’ bowls, bringing his dishes to the sink after meals, wiping down his table after meals, and putting his dishes in his drawer from the dishwasher. A lot of time it’s a bigger mess (dog food spills, etc!) but he LOVES having tasks to do!


Really enjoyed this post! My son just turned 3, and I’ve leaned on Dr. Becky, Dr. Siggie to get me through some of the tougher parts of toddlerhood. Another book I highly recommend is “How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen.” It has SO many helpful tips for how to encourage independence while also getting your child to cooperate when you need them to do things they don’t want to do (hint: make it fun!). Lots of parallels to Dr. Becky’s approach!