WIT: A Parenting Style For The Rest of Us

by Annie Reneau
Originally Published: 
Nataliia Budianska / Shutterstock

When I was pregnant with our first kid, I devoured books on parenting philosophies and practices. Like many new moms, I was determined to arm myself to the hilt with knowledge and expertise, to tackle motherhood like a pro. Any issue that came up—from sleeping to potty training to motivation—I had an expert opinion for that. I found a few favorites that resonated with me, and we rode off into the sunset together, happily raising three kids without incident or complaint.

Except that’s not at all what happened, of course. Children don’t give a rat’s patootie about what parenting experts say. Oh, all went fine with our first child. I could have written a horribly self-righteous how-to book based on what worked with my daughter. She made this parenting thing look like a piece of cake. But we found upon the arrival of our next bundle of joy that what had worked wonders with our firstborn was totally ineffective with our second. My genius, and the stellar skills I thought I’d honed with first time around, took some serious knocks the second time around. By our third kid? Forget it. All bets were off.

Now, with 15 years of parenting under my belt, I am proud to say I’ve got it all figured out. I even created my own parenting style—WIT Parenting.

All parents need wit, of course. The combination of quick thinking, inventiveness and humor that defines “wit” is vital to successful parenting. But that’s not what “WIT” means in WIT Parenting.

WIT is “Whatever It Takes.”

It’s Whatever-It-Takes Parenting. That’s it—my late-night, sleep-deprived brainchild. You’re totally welcome to steal it. Just plop it right there on the shelf beside Attachment Parenting, Scream-Free Parenting and Unconditional Parenting.

The beauty of WIT Parenting is that it encourages creativity and ingenuity, and aside from anything truly harmful, rules nothing out. Does your baby sleep best in the car seat in the bathroom with the fan on for white noise? Groovy. Does your kid only eat green veggies if they’re served in a vat of ketchup? No worries. Have you tried every potty-training trick and found that junior only poops in the toilet when you pump him full of Skittles? Bring on that rainbow of fruit flavors.

This is your official “use what works and ditch the rest” parenting style. Aside from anything abusive, dangerous or truly potentially damaging, WIT Parenting bans nothing. It recognizes that every child is a totally unique individual with a totally unique temperament. What works with one child won’t necessarily work with another, and sometimes all you can do is throw your entire parenting arsenal at an issue and pray something sticks.

One kid might be super sensitive, and a simple stern look is all they need to correct their behavior. Another kid couldn’t care less about your stern look and may need some other kind of consequence. Yet another might respond terribly to any negative reinforcement but shape right up with a little humor. WIT Parenting recognizes this reality. Whatever it takes to help your child get from point A to point B in whatever area they’re learning and growing is fine and dandy.

Of course, don’t do whatever it takes in the moment if it’s going to turn them into a monster later on. Like actual wit, WIT Parenting requires some smarts. And there are some parenting universals everyone should probably follow. Love your kids, and show them you love in whatever way they feel it best. Keep the end goal in mind. Don’t give in to whatever they demand (that falls under “potentially damaging” and will make your life harder later). But never let them pick their nose and wipe it on stuff. That’s just gross. Aside from that, there’s no wrong way to lovingly and conscientiously parent your children.

The bottom line is this: Whatever it takes to nurture your little people into productive, caring, educated, contributing adults without losing your sanity, just go for it. Whatever it takes to make it through the day without throttling one of your offspring, I say, more power to you. Whatever it takes to get enough sleep so that you can actually enjoy your kids and not be a zombie all day, do that. Whatever it takes to get them to stop whining and eat their veggies, knock yourself out. On top of that, please share your tips with other parents.

WIT parenting encompasses whatever it takes to keep on keepin’ on, Mamas. For me, that’s an afternoon chocolate fix and Netflix binges after bedtime, but hey, whatever floats your boat. WIT Parenting all the way, baby.

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