Grey is all the rage these days: from home decor to fashion accessories to books about the many different shades of the color.

However, one area where grey isn't all too welcome is parenting. We're expected to parent in an all-or-nothing, black or white universe, fully committed to one philosophy, technique, sleep environment, feeding method, or disciplinary theory.

"If you're breastfeeding, you can't use a pacifier. If you like wearing your babies, you can't sleep train them. If you do baby-led weaning, you can't use store-bought purees."

In parenting, as in life, things are very rarely black and white. Yes, it's wonderful when you find a parenting philosophy that resonates with you, especially when it helps you to find support from other like-minded parents. However, it can be oversimplified to categorize certain parenting tools as "good" and others as "bad". For one thing, a system or choice that might work really well for one family would possibly not work for another family. Secondly, labeling certain choices as "bad" will "otherize" parents who are making that choice for their family.

This judgment that we pass on other parents who make choices that don't go along with our own parenting philosophy can lead to internalized self-judgment if we ever come to a place where we need to make a similar choice for our children. For example, a parent who highly values feeding their baby breastmilk and judges those who feed their babies formula is apt to be much less at peace if they ever need to give their baby formula, either by necessity or choice. 

Out of all of the choices we have, there may be a few that would work equally well. This is not to say that these decisions shouldn't be taken seriously, or that we shouldn't decide on our own family's values to guide our decisions. But there are only a few really, really bad isolated choices that can traumatize a child. The rest might be a toss-up! We need to give ourselves the grace and permission to change plans when one or more items in the set of parenting guidelines to which we've ascribed isn't working for us. It's not a slippery slope to get rid of a tool that is no longer serving you.

It's really wonderful to be able to consider all of the different theories and parenting styles, pick and choose the best of the best from each style, and build a pot-luck of tools that work for your family. Don't be afraid to consider a parenting choice that doesn't seem to align with the philosophy of your other parenting choices. Embrace the grey spaces so you can parent in full-color!