Monday, January 25, 2010

Parenting programs or Jesus?

I like this concept of abandoning "programs" and following Jesus moment by moment. Isn't that what the Christian life is supposed to be about? And no, MU is not me, although there are similarities between her story and my experiences parenting thus far...


What We Learned: Follow Jesus, Not Methods
by M. U.

I read Babywise while pregnant with my first son. At that time, I was a proud, over-achieving, controlling, perfectionist of a mother who was thrilled that I had stumbled upon the "perfect" and "godly" parenting method. I felt that by having control over my baby's schedule, I was setting them up for a solid relationship with Jesus Christ because they would naturally bow to authority.

Everything went according to plan with my son. He was on the schedule and sleeping through the night at nine weeks. I glowed beneath the array of praise we received for our contented child. I was constantly asked for advice from other new moms and I encouraged them to do just as I had done.

But then I blinked, and we had three out-of-control toddlers. What happened? All three had been raised on the schedule, and although each child looked skinnier (with my third being sickly) and more ravenous when foods were introduced, they seemed pretty happy.

I had chosen a method instead of Jesus. My children were not my treasure but something to be managed and controlled. They didn't bring joy but stress, and they only pleased me so they could avoid punishment, not because they delighted in me.

Here's where I am today: I've repented out loud to Jesus, to my husband, and to my children. For me personally, I like the concept of scheduling, as long as there are plenty of feedings in there when baby is hungry - not just once every rotation if that's not enough. There are other little things I can still use from their material, but it is never wise to follow someone who says, "This is the God's way" unless they are quoting Scripture. I also have decided not to cling to another parenting method (i.e. attachment parenting) but instead to live in communion with my Lord Jesus and seek him on each decision.

Now, as I love Jesus more and more, I love my children more and more, and our family is beginning to see a reversal of some of the negative effects of my sins of legalism, frustration, and control.

I believe there is room for many different styles of parenting within our culture and throughout all cultures in history. We are to follow Jesus, not methods. Jesus is life. Everything else suffocates life.


No comments: