Tiger Moms Are So 2011: Meet the New Dolphin Parents

A cheat sheet of trendy parenting styles


Remember back in 2011, when Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother both infuriated and inspired American moms with its tough-love techniques for raising a successful child? Consider Dolphin Parenting the softer, fuzzier approach.

"A Tiger Parent believes if a child becomes successful, THEN the child will be happy. A Dolphin Parent does the opposite, and believes if you raise a child's level of happiness first, then success rates rise," Shawn Achor, the positive psychology guru who coined the term Dolphin Parent, tells FitPregnancy.com.

During eight of his 12 years at Harvard University, Achor counseled incoming freshmen and observed which approach to school led to the best results. He described the research on the "happiness-success formula" in his 2010 book The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work.

"I coined 'Dolphin Parent' to describe the Harvard parents who understood this research from positive psychology and knew that creating a positive child first was the smartest way to increase their long-term levels of both success and happiness later on," he says.

In fact, you can start being a Dolphin Parent long before your little one is working on her Harvard application, Achor says.

"This research is valuable even during pregnancy. This is the time to start practicing being a Dolphin Parent by creating positive habits that buffer you against the negative and help you create positive inception (rippling your positive reality to your child)," he explains, suggesting techniques like writing a positive email to someone in your life once a day for 21 days in a row. "Dolphin Parents benefit as much as their kids do, and it creates a feedback loop of positive chemicals between you and your baby (by decreasing cortisol levels)," he adds. Achor also co-wrote a children's book, Ripple's Effect (Little Pickle Press, October 2012), in which a dolphin named Ripple is able to create a more positive tank and overcome bullying by a shark named Snark.

Do you think you'll be a Dolphin Parent? A Tiger Mother? Or a different kind of mom altogether? Use this cheat sheet to catch up on some of the "styles" that have gained traction recently, and let us know what kind of mom you want to be:

Dolphin Parent

You believe that if your child is happy, success will follow (let's face it, you're a little bit of a hippie-dippie idealist ... in a good way!).

Tiger Mom

You already have your son signed up for violin lessons — and he hasn't even been born yet! You believe that hard work leads to success, which leads to confidence.

French Mom

In her 2012 memoir Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting, Pamela Druckerman outlined what she learned while raising her daughter in France (in short: the French train babies to "do their nights" before they are out of their newborn onesies, allow kids one — and only one — snack per day, and think grown-up time is a good thing).

Attachment Parent

Attachment Parenting has been around for quite a while (pediatrician William Sears coined the term in 1993), but it gained buzz all over again last year when Time magazine displayed a photo of a mom breastfeeding her 3-year-old son on its cover. The three main tenets of attachment parenting are breastfeeding, baby-wearing and co-sleeping (the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends room-sharing without bed-sharing), with the goal of giving the child a secure attachment to mom. However, critics say it puts too much pressure on mothers to be with their babies all the time.

CTFD Parent

This tongue-in-cheek "method," coined by David Vienna in a post for TheDaddyComplex.com, has been making the rounds on the Internet since it was featured in The Huffington Post earlier this month.

"I've stumbled upon a new technique that will guarantee your child grows up to be an exemplary student and citizen," Vienna writes. "It's called CTFD, which stands for "Calm The F--- Down." And that's not a message to give your kids. It's for you."

He continues, "Using CTFD assures you that — whichever way you choose to parent — your child will be fine (as long as you don't abuse them, of course)." Well, that sounds ... simple.

Keep Reading: 25 Ways To Accentuate The Positive >>