(Fair warning for the guys–I’m talking about birth in this post. Just wanted to give you a heads-up. Skip the third paragraph if that squicks out you.)
When I think about all the parenting decisions I’ve made–especially the ones that raise eyebrows or draw criticism–I see that trust is integral in why I do what I do. In some cases, it’s about trusting God–trusting Him to draw my children to Him, trusting the Spirit to work in their lives, trusting the Scriptures that tell me there’s nothing I can do to *ensure* my children will follow God, but that the decision is up to God. It’s my job to point them to Him.In some cases, it’s about trusting my instincts. I find it fascinating that the loudest voices in parenting advice have been men–Spock, Dobson, Ezzo (*shudder*)–and yet women are the ones whom God has called to be the ones in charge of raising their children. I also find it sad that women have chosen to ignore, stifle, or silence their instincts, rather than trust them, simply because of what they’ve read in some book. God designed us to be life-bearers and life-nurturers, and along with the ability to grow a child in our wombs and produce the perfect nutrient for them once they’re born, He also infused in us that sixth sense/mother’s instinct/women’s intuition that allows us to connect with our child on a level that most other people never will. On more than one occasion my instinct has told me that conventional wisdom didn’t make sense given my child’s temperament or personality, and had I quashed that instinct I would have found myself fighting a losing battle against the child whom God created to have that temperament and personality.
In the case of PJ’s homebirth, it was about trusting my body. Western medicine has done so much to damage women’s trust in their body’s ability to birth. And while c-sections are an absolute necessity in some cases, they are an unnecessary risk in far, far more. The very fact that there are some OB’s out there who believe a first-time mother *must* have an episiotomy (and yes, there is at least one doctor out there who thinks like that; a woman in my hypnobabies class had him for a while) or that twins or breech babies simply cannot be birthed naturally, or that mothers who have previously had c-sections cannot deliver vaginally shows a frightening trend towards disempowering women from believing they can do something Go designed them do and which the vast majority of us will have no problem doing, contrary to popular belief. My c-section with Abby was, it turns out, medically unnecessary; the only reason I had it was because my OB literally did not know what to do about a baby that didn’t want to engage. When I asked my midwife what she would have done had she been attending Abby’s birth, she gave me a whole laundry list of activities that could have helped her engage fully so she could be naturally birthed. Not once during my labor with Abby did my OB or attending nurse touch my belly to try to reposition or coax Abby into a better position. I can’t tell you the anger and grief I felt when I learned something could have been done to prevent a major surgery that left Abby unable to nurse for a week and left me with an incision that refused to heal. I refused to go through that again with PJ, and I thank God that there was a midwife in SoCal who was willing to take me on when my OB slowly began to go back on her promise that I’d be allowed to attempt (gotta love that–*attempt*–it screams, “Well, you can give it a shot, but we don’t really think it’ll work) a VBAC. I knew my body could birth naturally, and I wasn’t about to let some uber-conservative hospital policy tell me otherwise. I prayed, I researched, and in the end, I trusted my body and baby to be able to work together for a successful natural birth.
And in many other cases, it’s about building my child’s trust in me. Not leaving my child to cry alone or making her wait until some arbitrary time to eat shows her that she can trust me to address her felt needs when they’re bothering her and not only when it’s convenient for me. Not forcing her to detach before she’s emotionally and developmentally ready (for example, forcing separation during times of separation anxiety) helps her to trust that I will always be there for her and to feel safe and secure–which, ironically, will help her to detach with confidence and be more independent later in life. And disciplining her with grace shows her that she can trust me to be a safe person to be honest with, even when she’s messed up big-time.
But, most importantly, I parent the way I do to help my children build their trust in God. We as parents are the first concept of God our children have, and the way we parent will eventually be projected onto God (if we teach them about God, that is). An interesting fact is that all the “big name” atheists throughout history have either had no earthly father, or had a father who was either abusive towards or neglectful of them. Is it any surprise those men hated the concept of a Heavenly Father? I can’t teach my children that God is merciful and full of love and grace if I’m also telling them the Bible says I have to hit them when they’ve made a mistake. Besides setting children up to accept abuse as normal, it gives them a completely warped idea of God’s love and character and can hinder them from experiencing a truly loving and intimate relationship with Christ as they grow to adulthood.
Again, feel free to leave sincere questions, concerns, and critiques in the comments, or to email me them through the website, but please refrain from making judgment calls that you have no right to make (about how my children will turn out, about my beliefs or faith, etc.) or your comment will not be approved and your email immediately deleted. I see this post series going on for a few weeks at least, so I welcome any requests for topics or discussions.