I have wanted to write on the subject of parenthood/child rearing for a while.
I am not a parenting “expert”, I’m not a “perfect” parent, and I don’t purport to have all the answers; however, God taught me some lessons early on in my parenting experience that I have seen change my children and myself. I hope by sharing these revelations I can simplify someone’s journey towards a peaceful home.
I have a 2 year old daughter and an 8 month old son (at the time of writing). Before they were born I absolutely “knew” how I was going to parent. I had a degree in elementary education, consistent nannying, coaching and babysitting experience, and a love of kids to boot. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, I don’t have to regale you with the tale of my sleepless newborn, post partum depression, food insensitivities, painful breastfeeding or any of the other more sordid events for you to guess how my “have it all figured out” approach went.
I was sinking quickly.
While sitting on my bed one night early on in my parenting journey I was tearfully crying out to God for answers. My daughter wasn’t sleeping, as was typical, and I felt as if I was at the end of my emotional threshold. Some well meaning mothers had coached me to “let her cry it out”. Instinctively it didn’t feel right, but neither did living in sleeplessness. I was at a total loss and felt like a bad parent with either decision I made.
That night as I cried out to God for the answer I felt an overwhelming peace and a distinctly clear response,
“daughter, I am the best parent there is, emulate me. How do I respond when you are crying out?”
That night the answer was clear. My God who had never left me crying alone came yet again, showered me with peace, and solidified the feeling that was already brewing in my heart. I went into my daughter and my presence gave her that same peace.
That one encounter didn’t change the sleepless nights. Sleeplessness is still quite a bear at times. My 8 month old is still not sleeping through the night, and my oldest only began sleeping through the night days before the baby arrived. I haven’t had an uninterrupted night of sleep in over 2 years.
But, something did change that night.
When God’s presence became tangible that night, I was reminded of the simplicity of parenting. Amongst all the debates, discussions and decisions that seem overwhelmingly complicated God cleared it all away and gave me two choices. Do I parent like Him, or do I listen to the world?
Is it always easy to figure out exactly how God would have me respond? Of course not. Even the simple example I gave becomes conflicting when the mother is at a breaking point or the child is older and trying to test boundaries.
But, if we are willing to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, to turn to Him rather than another mommy-war argument or guru’s article, then perhaps he will clarify the way he would have us go in even the most complicated decision.
I’ve heard many categories of parenting that seem to somewhat fit my approach. Mindful parenting and peaceful parenting are two of these approaches I most closely emulate. But, I do resist labeling my approach because it really is an actively evolving way of parenting that is based on communication with Holy Spirit first which then overflows into decisions based on relationship prioritization, clear communication and unshakable love towards my children.
Nothing is easy in this journey called parenthood, but with the guidance of the Holy Spirit it certainly is a lot more simple.