I’m so excited to introduce you, friends and readers (who are friends I just haven’t met yet) to a dear friend and one of the first bloggers I read religiously: Megan Teitz of Sorta Crunchy. I so believe in the message of her and Laura’s book, Spirit-Led Parenting, that I have invited them here to share with you.
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Laura and I are so grateful that Allison has invited us into this sweet space. This is the second stop on our book club discussion of Spirit-Led Parenting. If you haven’t read the book, no worries! I’m confident you’ll be able to relate to the conversation here today.
It’s hard to believe it has been over eight years since I timidly posted a question on a hugely popular message board for parents about a book I had been given.
“This book says if you stick to its program, your baby will be sleeping through the night by eight weeks. Has anyone else read this book? Do you think it could be true?”
I remember asking that, and I remember that I didn’t know I was kicking over a hornet’s nest of controversy when I asked it. All I knew at the time was that I was getting closer and closer to the birth of our oldest daughter, and I was beginning to have that feeling of anticipation and dread that you get near the top of the first hill of a roller coaster.
I was on this ride and there was no getting off now and I just wanted someone to tell me it was all going to be okay.
I was already nervous about what life with a new baby would be like. It’s that fear common to all of humanity, isn’t it? The fear of the unknown.
In the pages of the books on life with a baby I had been given by family and friends, it began to occur to me that I didn’t even know how scared I should be:
Without a schedule for baby’s days, our life would certainly descend into miserable chaos!
Without specific time shared by mommy and daddy on the couch in full view of the baby, our marriage would endure great strain and our baby would try to usurp the natural authority of the parents!
Rocking a baby to sleep meant a lifetime of dealing with sleep issues!
If parents don’t direct baby’s days from birth, they are signing themselves up for parenting a tyrant!
And on and on I read as I began to be filled with more and more fears. And yet, I found the remedy for those fears right there in the pages of the book. In the words of these experts, I found the assurance I desperately sought: follow these directions and everything will be okay.
And then she was born. And we brought her home and she was healthy and big and needy and fragile and we set about working the plan.
And nothing worked.
The fears of what I imagined life with a newborn might be like paled in comparison to the fear that now plagued our very real life with a baby. I began to sink under the weight of failing at every turn.
What was I doing wrong?
What is wrong with me?
What is wrong with my baby?
Those dark months of wrestling against fear and coming up the loser time and time again formed the foundation for this book. I didn’t know it at the time, but God was doing a new thing in my heart, teaching me about the only place I would ever find the confidence to navigate the ups-and-downs of parenting: in Him.
What I find to be especially powerful and interesting is that in the months since our book was published, we’ve heard from parents who read the same books that we did and struggled against the same fears we struggled against … and we’ve heard from parents on the other end of the spectrum who read books touting the importance of natural birth and the necessity of practices like co-sleeping and babywearing in forming attachment to babies, and they, too, struggled under the enormous burden of the advice of the experts.
Tomorrow, we’ll be over at Just Wondering where Laura will share more about how we were able to shake off the fears of the first months of motherhood, and what God showed us as we moved out of that bondage and into a fresh start on our parenting journey.
Today, we invite you to share with us: what fears did you have as you prepared for and welcomed new little ones into your family? What were the source of those fears? Feel free to dig a little deeper and reflect on how fear impacted your relationships with your children, your partner, and with God.
Spirit-Led Parenting is the first release from authors Megan Tietz and Laura Oyer. Megan writes about faith, family and natural living at SortaCrunchy and lives in Oklahoma City with her husband and two daughters. Laura blogs her reflections on the real and ridiculous things of life at In The Backyard, and makes her home in Indiana with her husband, daughter, and son.
I Always tell pregnant friends that the bset thing I learned as a new mother is that I was a much better parent before I had kids. :) I had so many plans and so many ideas about how being a Mom would go. I knew a lot before I had kids or so I thought. One of the first things I learned is that plans are nice, but that children are real people and life has a tendency to only follow God’s plan regardless of what we do. Fears are a natural part of parenting I think. We love our babies so fiercely that it is normal to fear the unknown on their behalf. We don’t have total control and that can be unsettling. All the books and rules and “experts” have one thing in common. Most of them are trying to help but they are just trying to figure this all but like the rest of us. I believe we all have choices to make in raising our kids and we make those choices the best way we know how. We will all make mistakes, we will all look back and know that we would have done some things differently if we had the chance. I have made the choice that I will trust in God aabove all else and I will love my kids unconditionally and everything else will work out.
So true, Teresa! So true. You make a great point that so many of our fears related to parenting are directly related to how much we love our babies and want to be able to control everything – for their best. And you are so right – we can’t! Thanks for that insight.
Great reminder that I have a couple of expecting friends that I wanted to give the book to for Christmas!!!
Aw, thanks for the thinking of our book, sweet friend. That means so much. You know it does.
I’ve read and refer to that controversial book many times during these first 3 months of my daughter’s life! I had recommendations from people who followed it and their babies were sleeping through the night by week 6/7/8 (different kids). I liked it because it just seemed like a natural thing she would fall into and it would help keep me from guessing what she needed. And it has actually helped allay a lot of fear but not because I follow the book…because it taught me the importance of observing and listening to my daughter and trusting that as her mom, I can provide what is best for her. HOWEVER. I still struggle a lot with fear of messing up her “schedule” and trying to dissect why one night she sleeps 7 hours and the next she is up every 3. Similarly to what Teresa said, I have had to swallow a lot of pride from what I thought I would do/expected before my daughter was born. And I’ve had to adjust the way I talk to my friends-with-kids because I was frequently so judgmental of their methods. Ultimately, I have had to be reminded over and over again that it’s not really in my power to mess her up [ permanently=) ]. We’re learning and having fun and she is in the hands of God. I don’t have control nor do I need control.
You reminded me of a comment my uncle made recently about parenting…it was at a very happy time when his son was marrying a wonderful girl and beginning a successful life together that he said over the years he has kept the mindset of “No Guilt, No Glory” which is a comfort to me also. We are ultimately not responsible for the failures or successes of our children- only to be obedient to follow Christ as we parent them the very best way we can.
Oh yes! I remember so well the days of worrying over messing up the schedule. And it’s funny … as they grow and change, there are always new worries about messing up OTHER things and so many ways we can give into fear. Our heart and mission for Spirit-Led Parenting is a view on family life that goes beyond the newborn years, so that as you said, we remember day-to-day that our children are ultimately in the hands of God!
Sounds like a seriously great book. Wish I could have held it in my hands four years ago!
Molly – it’s funny you should say that. As we wrote the book, one of the driving motivations was to be able to say what we wished had heard in our earliest mothering days!
Oh Megan, You are SO wise my friend!! Can I just say how thankful I am that we are having our babies at the same time so you can teach me some sanity??? :)
You are too kind, Kara-Kae! And let me assure you that I’m confident that after February and life with two newborns sets in, I’ll have lost the last shreds of sanity I have been clinging to! :)
I read so many books before my son was born, and fell into the trap of thinking that if I followed the program, everything would play out exactly as the authors said it “should”. It seemed perfect, as my husband and I are both routine-driven, schedule-following people. Then our son was born. He didn’t do ANYTHING by the book. He’s now almost four years old and I’m STILL struggling with guilt and second guessing. What if I’d followed a different “program”? What if I just relaxed and let him do what came naturally instead of trying to fit him into my ideal plan? Would our relationship be better? Did I create a monster that has to have everything just so? Now we are expecting our second baby, and I’m even more scared of screwing this one up!
My son was so high need if I had tried to parent in a scheduled fashion I can only begin to imagine the horror that would have followed in our case. I am so glad I ran across other books before he was born that let me know that it was ok to just follow my baby’s cues and trust my intuition. Even so 2 1/2 years later life is only now beginning to “normalize”. He has sensory processing disorder, digestive issues, and some allergies that have meant that for the first 2 years he was never up less than 3 times a night and more often 6 to 10. Now I’m expecting a second child in a few months. My biggest fear now is that she will be high need as well with similar issues. While getting through my son’s first two years was beyond challenging, it also caused in us an incredible bond that even many of his various therapists comment on (in a positive way). But I was able to ride out the two years as his mother, meeting his needs as best I could, and bonding that way because he was my only one. While he is now sleeping better finally during the day he is still a high needs child. I am so afraid of how I’m going to manage if baby #2 is similar. It will not be possible to parent her the same way as I also still have to parent my son. And yet she is just as deserving of everything he received, should she need it, as he was. I don’t want him to deeply resent her because his mama changes so drastically once she is born because there is only so much of me to go around and she is the littler more helpless one. It will break my heart if I see the incredible trust he has in me damaged because I simply can’t be there for him the way he needs me to be. When others, who know our situation with #1, ask me how I’m going to cope with two I answer that God will only give me what he has equipped me to deal with, but the truth is that just under the surface of that I am terrified.
I totally, totally hear you in this. Our oldest was EXTREMELY high needs as an infant and then went on to have some pretty serious speech delays that required all of my focus and attention. I worried, as you did, about how I would be able to parent another child as attentively as I did with her. In our case, our second (who was born when #1 was two years, nine months) was the EASIEST BABY ever. I didn’t even know a newborn could be as easy as she was. And I wonder, too, if the change in my own mindset, temperament, and philosophy helped her to be a more chilled-out baby than her big sister was.
I’m praying for you right now, Karen, that God will supply you with all you need as your family grows. You never know what He has in store!
I have a child just like what you described. High needs, sensory issues, diet issues, developmental delays. She was our 2nd child, after a 4 yr gap. I became pregnant with our 3Rd when she was 10 mo old, and our 4th when she was 3 yrs. I’m now expecting our 5th and she is 4.5 yrs. She adores her younger siblings. But there were times when “the Littler more helpless” one was her, not her younger sibling. And all three young children cope well. You adjust, you learn what works and what doesn’t, and never ever assume you know it..lol..never assume you know how they will react or behave. They will surprise you every time.
Something that surprised me as a new parent was that most of my fears only rose up in comparison to others’ and their expectations or experiences with parenting. I felt such peace when I would allow my parenting to be between me and my husband, God, and our new baby. Yes, it was scary, but I could felt such wonder at the miracle God had done to give us such a precious life and could trust that he would guide us and strenthen us for the journey. But, when someone else would mention that my 6 month old “should” be sleeping through the night, or napping for longer than 45 minutes at a shot- I was suddenly frustrated and distraught that I was doing something wrong and setting my child up for lifelong problems. As I welcome a new baby in a few months, I will try to remember from the beginning to let these voices roll off my back and keep going to God with my fears and resting in him to provide for our needs.
Oh how I wish I would have had this book (and this website) before I had my little one. When my son was born, I quite literally was bullied by my BEST FRIENDS in a prayer group to use a certain program. I knew it wouldn’t work for my family and ultimatly my friendships were permenantly damaged. I’m. So thankful for this group of women who encourage new mothers!
Take everything with a “grain of salt”. I would include parenting advise from experts,…and of course everyone is an expert, the advice they give is a good foundation but every baby is different and some may be more needy that others. Find what works for YOUR family and baby.