Are You a Silky, Crunchy, or Scrunchy Parent? (And Does It Really Matter?)

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These days, there are so many parenting philosophies – and trendy, tongue-in-cheek parenting memes – that it can hard to keep track of what’s what. For example, is koala parenting good or bad? Is gentle parenting still in vogue? We know almond mom-ing is definitely one to avoid.

More recently, the terms crunchy mom, silky mom, and scrunchy mom have popped up in parenting circles. The idea of “crunchy” parenting seems to have come first and is basically a way to refer to parents who strive to use natural, holistic products. (Although more recently, it’s gotten a lot more nuanced – more on that later.) “Silky” parenting popped up in response, referring to parents who were the opposite of crunchy parents in every way. Then came “scrunchy” parenting, a kind of middle ground.

All of this begs a bigger question, though: why are we so obsessed with “naming” parenting philosophies in the first place? The truth of the matter is, most of us fall into a pretty vast middle ground. What’s more, almost all parents hold the beliefs they do with the best of intentions, and that’s because they want to protect their kids and help raise them into happy, kind, fulfilled adults. In that way, we’re much more similar than we often give ourselves credit for.

Here, we dig into what crunchy, silky, and scrunchy parenting really means – and whether the terms are as at odds as social media might have you believe.

What Is a Crunchy Mom?

The term crunchy mom is a spinoff name for hippies, and in the parenting philosophy discussion, crunchy moms prefer practices and products that are as close to nature as possible. Crunchy parents might prioritize holistic, natural, and organic approaches when it comes to the food they feed their kids, or the healthcare they choose, for example.

One website for crunchy moms defines the term as one that refers to parents who are “environmentally, health, and socially conscious” who are not afraid “to speak their minds when necessary to help or protect someone. A mom who fosters a strong, positive bond with their children through natural living.”

But over the years, the term crunchy has gone from a relatively in-vogue parenting philosophy to one that’s slung around as an insult.

On the lighter end of the spectrum, crunchy parents might be ridiculed for being, frankly, exhausting or smug. On TikTok, for instance, @areallyverycrunchy parodies crunchy parents as holier-than-thou types who look down on other parents who sleep train or are hypercritical about the ingredients in an organic snack. Her videos, which have been viewed more than 53 million times, are funny because they’re based on the real beliefs of a crunchy mom, but are turned up to the extreme.

Crunchy parents can be seen as snobby and elitist, given that many of their philosophies – like eating only organic food – are available only to financially privileged people. They can also be seen as extreme, with views regarding food and healthcare that can, at times, border on dangerous – such as being critical of traditional medicine or even vaccines.

But many parents who identify as crunchy parents don’t necessarily hold extreme beliefs at all. They just think of the term as a way of summing up their natural-when-possible-is-best approach to life. Emily Morrow, the creator of the @areallyverycrunchy account, exemplifies this. In an interview with BuzzFeed News, she said she identifies as a crunchy parent. “But the thing about my crunchiness is that I’m also pragmatic,” she added. “I’m not going to make my kid eat a banana at a birthday party, but I am going to find the piece of cookie cake without red frosting.”

What Is a Silky Mom?

As the “crunchy” moniker began gaining more backlash, the term “silky” sprung up in opposition. Silky parents are “modern” and are “into using advances in science, medicine, and technology to aid her in her parenting,” according to Urban Dictionary. They follow “the advice of established medical authority; often tend to be working moms who rely on modern products for convenience and time management.”

In some ways, silky parents position themselves as stigma busters. In a world where there can often be extreme pressure to do things “right” – and where “right” is very narrowly defined – silky parents are the ones who are standing up to remind people that there’s nothing wrong with doing what works for you and makes your life more convenient. That includes having medicated hospital births, using disposable diapers, sleep training, and bottle feeding.

This stance didn’t arise in a vacuum. Even today, parents who don’t breastfeed can be criticized and vaginal births are referred to as “natural births” (as if C-sections are somehow “unnatural”).

In other words, silky parents are the opposite of the worse parody of crunchy parents. If crunchy parents exclusively use cloth diapers for their kids, silkies are proud to use disposables (and cheap ones at that). If crunchy parents brag about only giving their kids essential oils when they’re sick, silky parents rattle the bottles of Tylenol and Motrin in their faces. If crunchy parents are ardently anti-screen time, silky parents happily park their kids in front of the iPad.

What Is a Scrunchy Mom?

Perhaps a natural outgrowth of the crunchy-silky debate was the rise of the scrunchy parent. These parents embrace the idea that we don’t have to be all or nothing in parenting, and that there are some good things about crunchy and silky parenting philosophies.

Mom blogger Hilary Rose explained scrunchy parenting as a “balance.” “We love nice wooden toys, but will for sure buy the fun, plastic, light-up ones as well,” she shared on Instagram. “And while we like to mainly use glass bottles, it’s necessary for us to have plastic ones as well for traveling or on the go. Whatever you feel like doing in your mama heart is best for your babe, whether full crunchy, silky, or scrunchy. All the love to the mamas out there today!”

Another mom on TikTok, who goes by @lovewyns, highlights the balance scrunchy moms strike. “Had an unmedicated labor at home … that ended in a C-section,” she wrote in a TikTok video. “I breastfeed in public while drinking cocoa-cola,” she added before reminding parents that parenting is all about finding a balance that works for your family.

Are Crunchy, Silky, and Scrunchy Parents Really At War?

While extremely crunchy and silky parents do exist, the truth is that most parents fall into that nebulous scrunchy territory, when it comes to the question of how “natural” they intend to be with their kids. So why does it sometimes feel as though the most extreme versions of each “type” of parent are being pitted against each other?

Having conversations and pointing fingers at who is “doing it right” has been happening since the beginning of time. It’s been called the “mommy wars” or “combative mothering,” which one research paper defines as “mothering ideology that normalizes constant competition between mothers, especially in terms of parenting philosophies, practices, and choices.”

Of course, the nature of parenting means not everyone is going to see eye-to-eye on how to raise our kids. It’s also understandable that people passionate about their parenting beliefs will butt heads against each other from time to time, especially if they’re on opposite ends of the parenting philosophy spectrum.

But arguing over the “right” way to parent and demonizing parents who do things “wrong” – based on faddish parenting trends – is often unproductive and downright harmful. While there are certain practices that are dangerous or even abusive, for the most part, parents are just trying to do right by their kids. And that’s hard to criticize.

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