Thinking out loud

I am constantly inspired by you readers who have been so helpful in responding to posts here at BNN. In particular, a number of comments on yesterday’s rant about Tracy Hogg got me thinking.

I am sorry to learn that some of my posts have introduced doubts or worries for some of you. One of the things I’m trying to learn to do is to take the advice of so-called experts with a grain of salt. They don’t know me or my baby! I’ve written a lot about that questioning stance here, from my book reviews and comments about lactation consultants to “conventional wisdom” in general.

But I still do struggle when my ideas conflict with ones that some fancy-pants babyologist wrote down and published. (Jon says it’s because I’m so friendly, I always give people the benefit of the doubt!) Most of the out-loud processing I do here on this blog is an effort to help me trust my instincts and to mother Lucy in the way that fits for me — something that you all seem to be doing already. So more power to you! My processing-out-loud style here is one that I hope never brings anyone else down.

My friend Deborah and I were talking the other day about the fact that a lot of the books we read about babies and sleep patterns come from a very Western point of view. Like Kelly said, independence is an American virtue, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we all need to pursue it for our children right now or at every stage of development. But it is okay if we decide that a bit more independence in our children is best for our whole family. I think children’s sleep is one issue where pluralism really makes sense.

The underlying question for me in all of my ponderings is, “What is the best way for us to provide for Lucy’s needs while taking care of ourselves at the same time?” I know that for me to be the best mom I can be, I need to pay attention to my needs. I’m on a journey of figuring out what Lucy’s needs are, what my needs are, and what are some good ways of addressing them all.

I know that you all are also working out this question, and it looks different for us all, since we are all different people. I really cherish the opportunity to learn about your experiences and choices. It helps me — and I hope it helps you — to feel free to make the best decisions I can for our family.

So, hooray for salt! And let’s take a grain of it with all that we hear and read — including what you hear from me! :) Let’s trust that God gave us the ability and skill and reason and spiritual fortitude to be exactly the kind of mothers he wants us to be.

9 Replies to “Thinking out loud”

  1. Ann, Amen to all that you have said. And although I have had questions I truly enjoy reading thes posts and gleaming new insights into parenting. Thank you for opening yourself up as a new parent to not only the book experts but for allowing us all to share candidly. You are a strong woman!!

    I have learned in my parenting journey is that we need to extend alot of grace to one another as parents…..because pluralism is parenting. The issues do not end with sleep. There will be eating, when to potty train, how to potty train, spanking vs not spanking, vaccinations vs no vaccations, circumcision vs non…if you ever have a boy, guns vs no guns, Barbie vs no barbie, Santa or no Santa, Halloweeen or all the varying degrees of it .I have found that as our boys get older we need to be even more pluralistic in our parenting or we wont not be able to be salt and light to the world the Lord has called us to. We know as believers what our constant is…and frankly have been so enriched by those who are open to dialogue. We also try to parent as a couple….yes we do have disagreements but we try to be consistant.

    Parenting is a wild, glorious ride. It has stretched me as a person. And I am thankful that God has entrusted us with Alex, Joseph, Charles and Naomi. Off to enjoy today’s part of the ride.

  2. Nicole I echo all that you said. Living here in a communty of 70 pastors and around 40 parents my biggest lesson has been to listen to other, watch how they do things and let them ride their ride how they find fit. This morning we had a worship meeting and we talked about being salty. It is true we want our children to be only in God’s perfect plan and not contaminated by the world..but then how do we become salt? Let’s pertect our kids, but don’t neglect them the opertunity to salt the world. These people will not be preserved without being salted.

    Ann, please know that I visit your site often because I am blessed by the openness, the information, the community and well I love hearing your voice behind the words and even the voices of other I know and don’t know.

    Thank you for your ministry here in Blog land!

  3. Nicole, you are so right! Pluralism is parenting. We need to feel free to vote our conscience on issues like food, vaccinations, etc, and be gracious to others who vote differently. Katrina, I can imagine that living with such a community of pastors would be an amazing place for learning about life and parenting.

    My prayer all through pregnancy was, and continues to be, that I would be a gracious mother, making good decisions for our family but never being dogmatic about my choices. I want to be humble, because I know there are a lot of shades of gray in this life, and what might be a black-or-white choice for me isn’t necessarily so for another. I’m so glad to have this awesome community to help me grow into the mother I want to be. :)

  4. I do the best I can… and my son has developed the habit of biting his finger at me! In the Italian style. NO ONE I KNOW IS Italian. We hardly see anyone… ever… where did this little gem come from. And in case you are wondering – it is veeeeeerrrrrry clear what he means. See the wonders never cease….

  5. hmm. much food for thought. Yes, thanks, Ann for being transparent and (whether you intended it or not) hosting a discussion group on parenting and pluralism. :o)

    I’m not sure I can say with confidence that we should “allow others to vote differently” or “ride their ride how they see fit.”

    One wise friend challenged me on my parenting style, NOT because she thought the style itself was wrong… but because when she asked questions, she could see by my answers that I was doing some things out of fear that my kids wouldn’t love me, rather than out of love for my children, or a desire to model Christ’s love, or a sense of God’s call in this particular area.

    This same woman challenged another friend who made different choices (I heard this from the other friend long after the fact), because she saw that this other woman was anxious to have “a ministry” and saw the needs/wants of her kids as distracting from the ministry rather than being an unsung, unappreciated (by the world and by the community) part of what she was called to do.

    I thank God for my friend and I am so glad that she did not simply “allow me to be different” even though this would have been easier (short term) for both of us.

    Obviously this type of confrontation is best done with fear and trembling, and with lots of discernment and soul-searching and Godly wisdom. I have only once that I can think of felt any sort of ‘permission’ from God to challenge another mother’s decisions about how to raise her children, and then only because I could see that she was clearly struggling with whether or not the choice she was making was the right one.

    I think that God sometimes does call us each to particular (and sometimes unique) things in terms of parenting. Not necessarily pluralism in terms of “each makes their own choice” but perhaps “each, before God and with His wisdom and guidance, makes different choices.”

    And that not only do we need to respect each others’ decisions, we also need to challenge them sometimes as God directs – to be willing to ask questions, to sometimes take on the frightening job of being the iron that sharpens the iron.

    And having said that I also have to say that I’ve learned a lot in a community of about 15 Christian families and singles who work together at a Christian camp – that God uses different parenting styles (including some I used to find unconscionable!) to do His work in their families and in His body and in the world. It is so cool to see the different parts of the body and how one family can reach out to a particular person where nobody else could, simply because they operate the way they do…. and another person is attracted to and matured by being with a completely different family.

    It feels to me like hearing snatches of some gorgeous orchestral song being played on the radio of a car driving by. I catch enough to know that it is beautiful, but not enough to know or understand it in its entirety. How good it is that the orchestra includes both flutes and timpani, both violins and bassoons, and that they each have their own parts to play. And I’m so grateful for the cello player who nudged me in the back with her foot when she realized I was on the wrong page of the score! :o)

  6. Baby experts are great, unfortunately no one told the babies. Not one of them has read the books that we have. Each baby knows what he or she needs, and as parents we provide what our individual child needs. A happy baby makes happy parents.

    You are doing just what you should be Ann

  7. small addition/correction… I fear I came off more spiritual than I am. Actually was thinking that I myself often hide behind the excuse that “we all parent differently” and I live with much confusion/frustration about my friends’ differences rather than ASKING them (with tact and with humility) why they do what they do. If I asked, I might uncover sin… or I might learn some truths that transform me.

  8. Kelly, you always add so much depth and thoughtfulness to our conversations. I agree with you, that in true community one must be able to ask good questions and probe into each others lives, even if that means meddling a bit. This is one way that we can love each other, learn about each other, and open ourselves for growth. The challenge for me is to not get defensive when people ask me questions, trusting instead that they are curious and want to know and love me better. Man, the opportunities for personal growth in parenting are really rich, huh? Parenting seems to tap into all of my deepest issues!

    And Tysa, well put! nobody told the babies about the experts. :) They should get on the job of writing a book for the babies to read.

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