When you have a baby, everyone you meet has an opinion, whether it’s natural birth, epidural, finding out the sex of the baby, breastfeeding, scheduling, baby-wearing, the family bed, sleeping through the night, starting solids, immunizations, etc, etc, etc. It’s so helpful to know that others have been there and survived — but my personality lends toward people-pleasing, which is difficult with so many opinions around.
During Jones first Sunday at church, Jones squirmed in his car seat next to me in the pew, and though he was not fussing, I wanted to pick him up. I was filled with instant fear and dread — what would the other mom’s think? For some reason, I had this impression in my mind that if I was going to do Babywise, I needed to toughen up and not pick up my child as often as I’d like. I know that this is not a premise of the book or parenting style, but from my interactions, I was was worried that some women would think I was spoiling Jones if I held him the whole service. I started looking around at the other moms, wanting to see if they were holding their children. Is it really okay?
Today, I think, “How silly.” In my head, I know that no one cares if I hold Jones or not. But my heart does it’s own thing. In my head, I know that the principles of Babywise don’t intend to make me feel guilty and paralyzed in my decision-making (in fact, I remember a statement in the book that said I was the parent, and I could decide). But my heart did not feel liberated by these teachings — it felt bogged down, frightened, and guilty.
(And just so I’m clear, I was in contact with some mommies who were on the Attachment Parenting side of the fence, and I felt the same amount of fear and guilt with my lack of desire for “the family bed” and nursing upwards of 12 times per day.)
I think the issue lies less with theories and philosophies, and more with the hearts behind them. My heart has issues with guilt, fear, and people-pleasing. (Anyone else??) 😉 ..And I needed to just let go of all these books and opinions and do what I felt I needed to do. I’m still not sure what would take place if the LORD blessed us with subsequent babies, but I feel I’m starting to lean more toward the “other side.” If Jones whines, I want to pick him up. If he’s fussy, I don’t mind carrying him around the house in a sling. If he’s hungry, I’ll feed him. If he’s sleepy, he can sleep. If he’s starts crying in his crib, I want to be right there to pick him up. If I rock him to sleep, so what? For some reason, I felt guilty in Jones’s early days for wanting to nurture him in these specific ways. Now that I’ve thrown out the people-pleasing, I feel a freedom I cannot describe — I no longer feel guilty for doing the things I’ve wanted to do all along. Relief! The only thing Bryan and I have discussed with this is that we do not want to be slaves to our child or let him rule our lives in any way. We believe striking a balance will be difficult, no matter what parenting style we choose.
“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
NOTE: If you are a Babywise family, please don’t take offense to these posts. I feel in general that parenting styles have more to do with parent personality than with right/wrong, etc. If your personality lends toward that book, go do it, and do it well! I’m just realizing (FINALLY) that mine doesn’t — and that’s okay. 🙂