Spirit-Led Parenting – A Guest Post

One of the great joys of blogging the last two years has been the discovery of a rich community life out here in cyberspace. Megan Tietz and Laura Oyer are two of the many women it has been my privilege to come to ‘know,’ courtesy of the internet. I read a review of their parenting book early this year and was really impressed. So, I ordered four copies! There were four expectant couples in our church community at that time and I could  think of no better gift than an ‘instruction’ book that basically said – listen to your baby and to your own heart and toss out all the ‘shoulds.’  They’re entering round two of the required (and important) PR work for their fine book and I am delighted and honored to host this essay from Laura as they make the rounds of about a dozen blogs in the next few days. I encourage you to interact with Laura here, to think about the questions she asks, and to reflect on your own parenting experiences (if you have children) or about parenting you’ve observed (if you don’t have kids). Just opening the door and saying,  “Hey, I’m not sure about this…what have YOU tried?” can be a tremendously freeing experience. So, go for it!

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  2 Corinthians 3:17
I’ll begin with an honest admission:  I like rules.  I share in the opening chapter of our book that my nightmare assignments in school days were those with an open structure.  Options?  No, thank you.  I prefer guidelines and no-fail directions toward certain success. 
I expected the rules I’d heard for parenting a new baby to lead to that neat-and-tidy success found by so many.  Instead, they didn’t work for me or my baby, and I lived for a time in terror over the implications of what that failure would mean.
As Megan shared yesterday at O My Family, one of the bonds that deepened our friendship and led us to write this book was that we both entered parenthood bound as slaves to fear.  Our purpose in sharing our tear-stained stories is to encourage others navigating life with an infant, inviting them to the pursuit of another way. 
There is an approach to parenting that looks fear in the face and boldly speaks an answer:  Freedom.  Freedom from required formulas, unrealistic expectations of our children and ourselves, and the belief that we must force our babies to fit into a mold that may not have been designed for them.  
– Spirit-Led Parenting, page 42
When we live in fear, we resist the freedom that serves as a banner proclaiming the presence of the Spirit.  Yet Megan and I each found that in spite of our resistance, God beckoned us through the heartache of frustration and failure and offered us an approach to caring for our babies that we desperately wish we had known from the very beginning.  He was calling us into freedom.
  • Freedom to follow His lead first and foremost in our parenting.
  • Freedom to trust in the example of God’s Father heart, Christ’s call to servanthood, and the Spirit’s constant presence as we care for our babies.
  • Freedom to extend grace to those who parent differently, knowing that our Lord leads us individually, according to His flawless will and timing, to answers perfectly suited to our families.
  • Freedom to fail – understanding that perfect parenthood is unattainable, believing that God’s redemptive grace covers our missteps, and seeing our insufficiency as opportunity for our surrender and His refinement.
It was a rocky road, learning to live out what He offered.  But as we began to let go, we gained something unexpected:  a deepening perspective on the glorious, mysterious paradox of dying to self and gaining abundant life.  As two control-loving, perfection-seeking new mothers each woke from a fear-driven haze, we discovered that the cost of our new freedom in parenthood was not at all what we’d expected. 
Where once we believed we would find spoiled children and splintered marriages in the wake of our decisions to turn from the loud-and-popular advice, we found instead our own expectations and desires bowed low.  Where we once held fast to the notion that the “right” methods of baby-care would bring success, we learned that releasing our expectations gave us the freedom to truly follow the Spirit’s lead in every area of our lives.
It’s an approach that welcomes an often messy journey.  One that comes with sacrifice, as is always the case when we pursue a life of serving God and others.  It may mean less predictability and more time.  It may bring the uncomfortable realization that you are parenting off the beaten path, if that path where He has led some is not where He is leading you.  It may mean laying down that precious sense of control. 
But what if as that first year of babyhood winds down and a toddler stands where your baby once lay, what if you looked in the mirror and realized that the one who has grown by leaps and bounds in the past year is you?  What if you could see that in most every situation you encounter, your first response is no longer selfish retreat, but rather selfless embrace?
Would it make you smile with humble gratitude to recognize that in each moment you chose to approach your baby with a heart filled by the Spirit, you were able to more closely relate to and identify with your Lord Jesus Christ than you ever had before?  If you found, for perhaps the first time, that you were truly free in Him? 

– Spirit-Led Parenting, page 54

Living and parenting in freedom is a daily – and often difficult – choice.  We have heard from countless new parents through the years at different points in the journey, and believe that safe and honest discussions can encourage one another along the way.  Will you share your thoughts here today? 
What aspects of parenting in freedom appeal most to you, and which do/did you find most uncomfortable or hardest to embrace?  How has God used your role as a parent for your own spiritual growth, or how do you suspect He may want to do so?

We are deeply honored to share in this space today, and look forward to hearing from you! Find us tomorrow with a post at Narrow Paths to Higher Places

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.

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Comments

  1. Luckily for me, I had several examples of spirit-led parenting to model myself after when I first became a mother. That was a God-send, especially since one of the individuals who most shaped me was my pastor’s wife!
    Still, each time that I made a choice to respond to my baby as my heart told me to, I felt emboldened as a mother. Just as when one breastfeeds there is a release of hormones that help to bond you to your baby, responding naturally and freely as my heart guided buoyed my feelings that God had designed me perfectly to raise this very child. Even though I had doubts and was often tired and weary, my heart seemed protected because I felt, in my deepest places, that I was responding from a place of love and acceptance. No heart can learn to love deeper when it is shrouded in shame. I became a better parent each time that I responded in freedom.

  2. Laura_InTheBackyard says:

    Holly, I was going to pick out a line from your comment to highlight, but I couldn’t decide on just one piece! Gorgeous thoughts here. It is just so true that when we can get out from under the shame and respond to our children in the way God leads our hearts individually, it strengthens our faith in that leading and secures our peace. Yes!

  3. Hi, Laura! How great to run into you here! I’m thankful for how you’ve been sharing this journey. Parenting pushes us into all sorts of impossibilities. We discover challenges we can’t answer on our own. And Holly’s so right: guilt and shame can hinder our freedom as parents, but we can still give birth to love. We just have to hold the Spirit’s hand and breathe our way through it.

  4. I raised my children in a generation quite different from this one. And I was very far away from home when our first baby was born. I was both enthralled and terrified. My mother would write with advice – which basically consisted of ‘let her cry it out.’ Which I did when she was only six weeks old. It nearly killed me to close the door of her room at 7:30 p.m. and then stand there at 10:30 when she began to rouse. She only cried for about 5 minutes and then slept through the entire night from then on. My next two? Not a chance. That’s when I learned about parenting from the gut. As I look back – and most especially as I watch my children parent their kids so beautifully – I wish I’d done a whole lot of things differently. That’s why I am delighted to host Laura here today and to encourage the reading (and the giving!) of this fine book. Thanks for sharing your own story, Holly – you always say things perfectly. :>)

  5. Thanks so much for your lovely writing in this space today, Laura. I hope there will be some good conversation as the day progresses.

  6. Yeah, Matthew, you’re so right! Parenting challenges us in ways we never even dreamed about before our kids arrived on the scene. Thanks for stopping by here today – always glad to see your name, just about anywhere.

  7. Laura_InTheBackyard says:

    Well, hi there! Good to see you! 🙂 And you most definitely hit the nail on the head. I’ve been driven to the end of myself in parenthood more than any other role or situation in my life. But that’s a gift, because it forces me to admit that my own strength and control is insufficient. Thanks so much for your comment! I always appreciate your wise perspective.

  8. Laura_InTheBackyard says:

    Thanks for opening up your home here to us, Diana! So wonderful to be here.

  9. You’re so welcome, Laura!

  10. Glenda Childers says:

    My mom grew up in a super crazy family, yet she was a loving mom who was pretty countercultural. She had her first baby at 18 and her 5th at 38. She followed her heart. When we were in highschool, she told me that her goal for parenting teens was to always say YES, unless it was a sin issue. How fun is that!

    I love being a mom, with its’ sweet and horrible moments.

    I look forward to reading this book … freedom in parenting sounds delicious.

    Fondly,
    Glenda

  11. What a great attitude for a mom to take! LOVE that story. Sounds like you don’t need this book and never did. :>)

  12. I feel like I’m reading my very own thoughts here – SO, so glad you invited these women to post here, Diana, and for opening my eyes to their book. I recently got one of those how-to baby books, and have spent the last week feeling like all I’ve been doing was all the wrong things. It gave me no confidence whatsoever, and my attempts to undo my own ideas and implement the books’ totally left my son in a tizzy. I think I shall have to pick up a copy of “Spirit-Led Parenting” – thank you, thank you for this gift!

  13. Oh, good, Lauren! That is exactly their point in this book – all those how-to books (especially ones with a “Christian” label attached) end up piling on the guilt and paralyzing you. Just listen to your baby and to your own heart and go for it. Their words are wise – it’s available on Amazon.

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