Whenever I know a Christian lady who is pregnant for the 1st time I feel like there are a few things I wish I could share with them. And, that is why I sat and began to write this because I know such a woman "today." As I typed, I realized that these are all the things I'd want my daughters to know if something happened to me and I was not around when they had their own children...
I believe that God is real and that there is a force in the universe actively working against God and everything good. Everything good comes from God...and the force that works actively against God is working to steal, kill, and destroy all that good.
In this way I feel I've been stolen from...had things in me and my life "killed" and "destroyed"...and I feel like if I can take those experiences and help someone else avoid them that I've essentially taken that loss and turned it around into a victory.
When I had my 1st kid, I believed all of the "old wives tales" and I did everything that my culture dictated was normal and good. I had no one to tell me differently back then. But, 26 years and 8 kids later...and having read a lot of awesome scientific research that shows us more of God's creation...I now know a lot better.
I know I'd have done things completely differently in the beginning if I'd have known even one person who would have shared some of these things with me. Maybe in writing this I can "be that one person" for someone else? :)
So, here...are a few things I'd love to be able to share with every new mom before they have their baby...
1. STAY AWAY from the book by Gary Ezzo called, "On Becoming Babywise."
If someone gives you this book do not open it. Do not read even one page!! Throw it away!! Don't give it away…throw it away!!
Every bit of advice in that book goes against biology and against God. (books by Pearl, Dobson, and Tripp also should be avoided) There is a whole website dedicated to informing the public about the dangers of Babywise, also. It's not just a parenting preference when it comes to this particular book but this book has actually been linked to infant deaths. Check out ezzo.info
For new moms, we question everything we think and feel and often…what we feel IS RIGHT but we get led away from that because of our lack of confidence. God loves us so He built it into us to know what to do.
For example, when your baby cries it actually causes your milk to let down and causes other hormones to be released in your brain. Honestly, it feels like there is a huge magnet pulling you toward your baby. THIS is God. God designed us this way. And, therefore, it's what's best and what's right and what truly is God's way of parenting. BUT…you open up certain books (like Babywise) and it will appeal to that un-confident part of us that questions everything we do and it will tell you that following those God-given instincts will "spoil your baby" and create a "selfish tyrant!"
I had that book at one point in time and thought it sounded reasonable (basically, because it agreed with all the old wives tales I'd been being told) and I tried a few of its techniques. Thankfully, I did not fall for it hook-line-and-sinker as some do. But, even still I see negative effects in my kids fifteen years later from having done the little of it that I did.
God is the one who chose to call us His children and He our Father. He chose that analogy and so we can learn how to be parents and how to treat our children by looking at His example.
It's really also how it works in real life, too, because we usually look to "how we were raised" to decide on most parenting issues. But, no matter how much we LOVE our own earthly parents…they're flawed. No matter how well-meaning, awesome, or loving they were they were flawed. We all are.
None of us is the example that God is. He's perfect. If you could imagine making a photo copy of a photo copy…keep doing that and doing that. Eventually the photo copy is so blurry you can't read it. Better than copying our previous parenting photo copy (our parents)…we should go to the original and try to make our lives a photocopy of Him.
And, cool thing is that when we do as God would do He's actually programmed our bodies so that these interactions produce health and happiness for both of us. It's actually such an amazing beautiful picture! Nothing is more like God than a mom and baby!!!
And, remember Jesus said that "the greatest is the servant." The woman is the greatest in the family when she serves. Too often we start to believe that we're the "boss" of our family when we lord over them and tell everyone what to do and don't "let our kids get their way" but Jesus tells us we are great when we are like Him...and wash their feet. When we are the servant...People will remind us to make sure those kids "know who's boss!" But, what we need to remind them is "who is the greatest in the house" and we do that by serving them!
Once I had child 7 something that had niggled at me for years really hit me. I thought of Elisa napping on my bed crying out to me when the door was closed. From her viewpoint she was all alone and she could see NOTHING in her life changing. Just a closed door and all alone! But, due to that baby monitor…I heard her cry. And, though she could not see me I was coming! Every time this happened I came promptly. And, it struck me that…I'm teaching her what God is like. I'm teaching her what to expect from Him every time I respond to her.
So often we cry out to God and we pray and we think, "He's not responding to me!" and we doubt ourselves and sometimes God. We think He doesn't hear us or that He's not answering us but we "know" that's not true. We know God hears. Intellectually. But, do we feel it? I realized that I was teaching her that even when she could see nothing changing…that I'm coming. Someday, she'll be filled with that same confidence with God when she prays that even when she sees nothing changing…she'll "just know" that He's hearing her...she'll feel it...and know He's coming…
Everything we do with our kids before they're 4 is really "critical" to their foundation for all relationships in the future. And, the "template" for everything in their future is the mom/child relationship. It's why God's made it for them to attach to us like He has. And, so understanding the thing that God built into our brains to make babies attach to mom and vice versa can eliminate most questions you have in the future about "what to do" with parenting.
People always talk about "the terrible twos" but...they aren't terrible if the foundation that you laid in the 1st two years was healthy. I can honestly say I have not had a "terrible two" with the children who were allowed to properly attach to me.
It's good for mom. It's good for baby. I've done it both ways. There is no comparison between bottle and breastfeeding spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I know it's rare but that some people actually can't nurse, but, if it's possible, do it!!
And, whatever you do: don't do it by the clock! No matter who tells ya that! Sometimes it's even medical professionals who do! But the key to success is to let that baby suck and suck to get the milk going and then feed when they want!
Illness-wise...you and baby are both exposed to the same viruses and bacterias thru a day and your body will make antibodies just for those things that your baby is currently being exposed to! It's amazing!
It's been medically documented that when people follow the Babywise book that it often causes weaning to occur at 4 months...because the breastfeeding relationship fails. It causes the beautiful design that God created to fail. When I know Christians are using this book it upsets me SO MUCH. When you start imposing a schedule on the baby and not feeding them at night the body believes that the baby "is weaned" and stops making milk no matter how many home remedies you try drinking.
Humans for some reason value structure over relationship. We value schedules over need. We think that schedules are noble and we even "feed ourselves" that way like...we think we need "food" every Sunday morning and every Wednesday and for the most part…look at the health of the church? God will "feed" us whenever we need it…and that's our example of how to feed our children best.
I used to have to not really engage in conversation with other ladies at times when this topic would come up because they held "the clock" in such high regard. To them, to be following that clock meant they were doing things right! And, when I'd admit that I fed my baby when the baby's body signaled that it wanted food I almost felt like people thought I "was irresponsible." This is a really sad backwards way of looking at it.
Is feeding the baby when the baby signals it wants fed always convenient? No. But, neither was dying on the cross. ;)
One handy thing is that it does force you to have to "sit" and relax and that is good for those of us who are always feeling obligated to be up and working. But, eventually ;) you can actually be up walking around doing chores while nursing once you get the hang of it! I would even do it while shopping. You can get slick with it.
Also, as soon as you start tampering with what God's designed in us by trying to "schedule" your feedings your body thinks you're weaning and...<drum roll> ready to make another baby! Yep! Best way to keep that nasty period from returning right away is to just nurse the baby every time they want and all night long. Don't supplement/replace feedings with food, bottles, or pacifiers and your babies will be naturally spaced at 2-3 years apart! My period would usually not start back up for 18 months!!! That's 18 + 9 months of pregnancy = 27 months of NO PERIODS! Which...is awesome! Also, all my babies are about that far apart!!!
Don't let anything, anyone, or any book steal, kill, or destroy your breastfeeding relationship!
Also, a note in regard to feeding...Babies come into the world with drives and one drive is "to eat when hungry." In order to allow that drive to properly "format" in their brain we must feed them when they're hungry and not to feed them when they're not. Schedule-feeding sometimes has you depriving the baby of food when the baby is hungry and feeding the baby when they're not necessarily hungry. When a baby is "trained" that it has to go too long between feeds it "trains" them to overeat. And, so it teaches them to not associate the cues their body gives them to "eat" and "stop eating" with hunger. This sets them up for eating disorders in the future.
There is one simple thing you can do so that you are never sleep deprived. With my first few kids I was zombie-eyed for months after their births because I would…wake up…to feed them. Fully wake up. And, why is that? I had to fully wake up to feed them because they did not sleep with me…and because with 2 of my kids I bottle fed.
The key to not ending up sleep-deprived it for the baby to sleep in the same room as you and for you to nurse the baby. All the old wives tales will have ya dragging and up all night and your baby crying all the time when the way God designed our bodies is just amazing! :(
Your breasts are placed on your body where they are for a reason: they are perfectly placed for a baby to lie beside you and nurse comfortably.
Sometimes, if I was having a hard time getting to sleep at night, I'd actually "wake" the baby up and put them on a breast and it would put me right to sleep.
Men might be "threatened" by the presence of the baby in the bed feeling this will deprive them of their wife, but, there are 2 options.
Option 1: Baby is in the bed (or close) and therefore mom is actually there all night long. And, she's there unstressed and resting.
Option 2: Baby is not there and...many times during the night...neither is mom.
I think people don't think about this aspect of where the baby sleeps. One way of doing this nighttime parenting separates mom and dad and the other doesn't. Sadly, too many people (and the book, Babywise) believe that the best way to not separate mom and dad is to separate the baby...which ends up separating mom and dad anyway! Basically, it just carves the whole family apart and causes stress everywhere and actually permanently does something not good to baby's brain. So sad!
When considering this spiritually...when all is dark and we are at our weakest and most vulnerable...the last thing we'd expect God to do is leave us all alone to comfort ourselves. At times like that is when God pulls us in as close as we can go and He holds us so we can rest peacefully. The concept of baby sleeping in a crib in another room all alone does not fit with this truth about how God the Father is with us.
As I mentioned, I've done it both ways and the closer baby is to mom at night...the better mom sleeps! When I had babies who slept with me who I nursed I was NEVER sleep-deprived no matter how often they awoke in the night.
And, there are compromises.
There is no "one way" to do this. Some people use co-sleepers which are cribs that sort of attach to the side of your bed. Some keep the crib in their bedroom. Some people (like me) push the king-sized bed up against the wall and the side on the other side of mom is "the baby's bed." Plenty of room! With our last, my husband built a (I dunno what ya call it) thing that we attached to the side of the bed so that the baby couldn't roll off the bed since it was not up against the wall. There was always plenty of room for all of us and the baby never interfered with "intimacy." To put it "bluntly" a rocking bed helps the baby to sleep ;) And, when mom is more relaxed and at peace and not sleep-deprived, men are more likely to "get lucky" anyway. ;)
It's one of the questions you'll hear most frequently, "So, how does he sleep?" Just reply that he sleeps fine and be done with that because if the person is inspired to give you their 2 cents on how your kid should be sleeping...this conversation will confuse you and make you doubt yourself.
EVERYONE seems to think that babies are supposed to sleep all night…right away. They'll brag that their baby did at X weeks. And, then they'll give you all kinds of harmful advice how to make this happen ranging from giving rice at night before bed to letting the baby lay there and cry itself to sleep! BUT…there are some interesting things about those little people (babies) that makes it clear why they are bit designed to sleep all night!
Funny thing was when I was living in Guatemala and I'd be about to have a newborn, being an American, one of my greatest fears was this dreaded SIDS! I would try to engage the local ladies in discussion about it and every single lady I ever talked to about it would just get a puzzled look on her face and say that she'd never heard of a baby dying in their sleep! Babies there are usually nursed and sleep with mom. Interesting, huh?
AND, a spiritual parallel. Put us in a "cage" all alone where we are powerless to help ourselves…in the dark where we habitually cry out and are not responded to by God…that would CRUSH us! Crush our hearts! And, it would lead us to "death."
The book, "Babywise" (back to that book again, sorry!) promises you a sleeping baby and lays out steps to get that to happen. But, basically, it's just all about leaving the baby to cry till they go to sleep. This is supposed to be an "accomplishment" that you should be proud of! But! This is not a developmental milestone! No! It's true that leaving babies to cry will get them to go to sleep...but there is a reason. A biological and psychological reason. It's called, "learned helplessness."
Studies they did with dogs help understand it. They took dogs and put them in boxes w/no escape and gave them electric shocks. Then, they put those dogs and dogs who had never been subjected to this into boxes with clear and obvious escape routes and shocked them again. The dogs who had never been shocked immediately upon being shocked just jumped right out of that box! But, the ones who had been in the boxes w/no escape before simply sat there and got shocked and didn't even try to escape.
This is how babies left to cry without any response "learn to sleep." They learn that no matter how hard they cry that you're not coming. That's a terrible lesson! Not like the Father at all!
They also learn that no matter what they do they cannot change their world. This...is another terrible lesson. Jesus says when we pray and have faith as small as a mustard seed that we can move mountains! A baby left to cry certainly has to have that faith that their mom is coming! Yet, left to cry with no response is learning the exact opposite!!! That's actually heartbreaking!!! :(
AND...not to mention the process before they get to the point where they give up kills brain cells like crazy due to the cortisol that the brain is washed in while they're crying!
Just don't even engage people in that discussion. Just nod and smile and move on.
An understanding of human attachment will explain so much of what people so commonly misbelieve to be "sinful" behavior. Romans 1 tells us we can understand God thru what He's made: Creation. God made amphibians, fish, insects, arachnids, birds, reptiles and mammals. Humans very easily could have been their "own class" of beings since we are, after all, special. So, why didn't God do that? He did that because because He loves us. As it says in Romans…we are to be able to look at the Creation and learn about Him. He did this to protect us against false teachings.
Do they separate from them?
How do they separate from them?
What happens to them when they are separated?
Do they carry them when they want to be carried?
Do the momma monkeys all sleep in one tree and the babies all sleep alone in another tree?
Also, looking at your baby as a "little sinner" will basically lead you to judge them. Yes. And, Jesus said "judge not!" Right? This is a crucial point when caring for a baby who is growing a brain like crazy that first year and is basically laying the foundation for their entire psychological/emotional/spiritual future!
But, how can you not judge them if you look at them as a "little sinner" and every time they cry just when you don't want them to...and you pick them up and they stop crying you judge them to be "manipulating" you. This is why you must not look at them that way. For one, their brains are incapable of the type of thinking that is required to be manipulative! (as in I do this and this will happen because mom will think/do this) And, the bodies that God gave them are evidence that they are not manipulating us. When we understand those bodies...we understand that God's designed them to cry to be held because being held stimulates all their bodily systems to stay alive and to grow! This is not manipulation it's God's beautiful design!
Did you know that science has even shown that babies who are held more end up being less "klutzy" when older? "Touch" has actually been identified as something more vital than food and great evidence of what happens when we're not touched enough is seen in the death rates and in the developmental disabilities in children in Romanian orphanages. Being held is a more important reason to cry than a wet diaper!
This is one big mistake people make is that they don't look at the baby as a tiny person. Person. They look at the baby as "a baby"…"a kid"…almost a sub-class of people. And, they look at the child as a job…and something to "control." People will remind you to "make sure you show that baby who's boss!"
But, it's not a dictatorship. It's a relationship. It needs to be nourished, nurtured, and cared for. And, just like any living thing the relationship will go thru spurts of growth, flowering, and some "death." Things need to be pruned away sometimes, but, it needs to be cared for as a living organism.
Like us with God. Sometimes we get to places where we feel AWESOME with God. Sometimes we realize there are things we need to prune away that are interfering with us and God. All along the way we are always working to preserve the health of the relationship. God's never trying to "control us" and "make us" be certain ways but is just trying to have a healthy relationship with us. And, sometimes we mess up. Same with the kids except more so with them 'cause they're brand new :)
If you believe that God listens to you...we have to believe that God is not a dictator. Even in the Bible there were times that God said, "I'm gonna kill all those ornery Israelites! Step aside Moses!" and Moses...said, "Yes, sir!" and stood quietly by and watched God kill them all, right?! "No! Wait!" Moses didn't just obey quietly and stand aside. He stood up for what he wanted and God said, "OK..."
That's because it's a relationship not a dictatorship!!
And, along with this I guess I can mention that focusing on "obedience" is not a good goal. Dictators expect obedience and compliance (which is where you agree to do something no matter what you think), but, we are not dictators. A healthy relationship should be the goal and once that is achieved your child will then want to please you and will be more cooperative with you. Cooperation is a willful choice to work together with you that sometimes requires discussion and compromise. Some parents look down on that word, but, when you com-promise you are com (working together) to do something you both agree on (promise). What can be more beautiful? Isn't that what we are doing with God?
Being raised with this healthy relationship with their parents will protect them from predators and molesters because if they are raised to "cooperate" and not "comply" they would never "cooperate" in doing something harmful to themselves. Sometimes the grown-ups around our children (who can even be pastors and Sunday School teachers) will not be their friends and will not love them and actually want to harm them, for our child to be raised in a manner where they are never obligated to blindly obey and "comply" with orders (as in a dictatorship) but rather have been raised to "cooperate" and feel free to disagree with grown-ups (as in a healthy relationship) will protect them. Following this example of God with Moses, they will be safer! Our children must be free to express themselves and say "no" to us without being judged "naughty!" Because, it's a relationship not a dictatorship.
It's so popular to say things like, "I'm a parent first and a friend second" and I realize it's well-meaning. But, it demonstrates a wrong understanding of "friendship." I wrote one very long blog post about it once and as of Feb. 2013 it's had over 3,700 views?! (Another shorter one is here)
So, therefore, the highest honor between parents and child will be if our children look at us and feel honored to be called our friends.
Can you imagine a modern teenager PROUD to tell their peers that their parents are their best friends? Sad that that is such a strange thing to imagine! :(
Have you ever noticed what kids do with their peers who they do identify with as their "best friends?" They emulate them, don't they? They do and try pretty much anything that their "friends" want them to. That's because when you are bonded to someone in friendship, you do want to be like them. If our children see us as their best friends...then the "job" of parenting is easy breezy because they will WANT to be like us. And, I guess the only time that would be a problem is if we tend to teach our kids, "Do as I say not do as I do!" because if they want to be like us they'll do as we do...
It's said that 80% of our communication is body language. And, this is cool. This is awesome because your baby can't speak yet. And, so, the baby is born and you wanna say, "Jesus loves you! He died for you!" But, you can't do that, can ya? In fact…you can't REALLY do that till they're WAAAAY older and have cognitive skills and can really comprehend what "Jesus dying for you" would even REALLY mean! Right?
Interesting thing is that really our babies can vocally say one thing, "Waa." This word has many triggers but mostly means, "I want you!" Or, almost like, "Help!"
It can be, "Help! My diaper's making me feel bad!" or, "My belly hurts!" or any number of things...but every time our child cries out they are acknowledging what we know as baby Christians and that is that "our help comes from the Lord."
We know as Christians that when we have a problem we are to cry out to Him and not "self-soothe." Our babies are an affirmation of this spiritual truth in that they are totally dependent on us and only look to us for their salvation from all their troubles. This is how we are to be as newborn Christians!
As the parent...we can look at the baby and learn that lesson from them. But, what are they learning from us to expect from us, life and about God?
Your baby is alone in the dark and cries out and you come and hold them close to your heart. What'd that just teach them about Jesus?
Your baby is crying out and you're BEAT! Your hair is askew and you can barely see you're so tired yet you stagger over and pick the baby up and love on them. What did that just teach them about Jesus?
Your baby falls and gets hurt and you come an offer comfort. What'd you just teach the baby about Jesus?
Your baby is naughty and you help them clean up the mess. What'd you just teach them about Jesus?
Your baby cries…and they just keep crying and you don't come. What'd you just teach that baby about Jesus?
Your baby is alone in the dark and cries out and you…don't come. What did that just teach them about Jesus?
Your baby falls and gets hurt and…where's mom? What did that just teach them about Jesus?
Your baby is naughty and you swoop in angrily and hurt them somehow (smacking patties or butts). What did that just teach them about Jesus?
When looking at this spiritually that makes perfect sense. The more we're touched and held by God the more we'll know (smarter), happier, healthier and more at peace we will be. This is true physically for our babies.
It's shown most dramatically in the cases of premature babies. They will put preemies skin-to-skin on mom's chests because it regulates their temperatures, heart rates, breathing and EVERYTHING. Babies who are given this skin-to-skin contact go home from the hospital MUCH earlier than their un-held counterparts.
Last year (2012) there was a story going around in which preemie twins were born and the hospital "gave up" on one of them. The baby was dying. So, in its last moments they allowed mom to hold it and guess what? Once that dying baby was lying on mom's chest...it revived!!! That baby lived!!! THAT is how powerful the mother's body is when in contact with the baby. That is how powerful God is when in contact with us!
Studies have actually shown that babies who are held more excel in every area of development! Being held more will even make you more coordinated when you're older! It's like more powerful than vitamins! And, those who are deprived of touch are retarded developmentally to some degree in every area and can even develop odd quirks that they do to compensate for that lack of touch (like rocking, self touching and other things.)
And, THAT is why the old wives tales always do their best to try to separate mom and baby because satan...came to steal, kill, and destroy and the mother/infant bond is the most powerful thing to lead us to Jesus and make us grow up happy and healthy and that's exactly what he doesn't want!!!!!
So, when your baby is "just crying to be held" guess what? It's the most valid reason your baby could cry because being held and touched by you is that powerful and important. Never dismiss the baby when he cries and say, "Oh! He JUST wants to be held!" Because, that is the best reason of all to cry out to you! Every time you touch your baby you are promoting his immune system, brain development, emotional development and the list goes on!
Again, the Christian mom just has to ask herself how God treats us? When will God pick us up? Does God expect us to have a good reason every time we cry out to Him? Do we need to have a mess (like a dirty diaper) before He'll "hold us?" Does He only tend to us or hold us close if we have some tremendous need? Is He analyzing our needs always to determine if it is something we really can just do for ourselves or does He hold us whenever and whyever we cry out to Him? Does He refuse to hold us if we're resting (sleeping) so that we don't get too spoiled by being so close to Him and at peace? Does He not want us to get used to being at peace resting in Him? Does He want us to find rest and peace in other things besides Him?
Or, imagine this...Does He ever see us holding our arms up to Him and roll His eyes and say, "You're not fooling me! I know you don't need anything right now you're just getting spoiled and clingy thinking you can hold Me all the time! I'm not stopping what I'm doing for you all the time, you'd better get used to it!" And, pick us up and stick us somewhere and give us a material object and say, "There! Play with that now leave me alone!"
Ugh! Just imagining Jesus saying that to us is insane, isn't it?
He's our example. If He would hold you...then it's good and right for your baby to be held by you...no matter what the old wives or any parenting books have to say about it...
Not only is touch important...you not being gone is just as important. One thing well-meaning friends ALWAYS do is try to convince you to SEPARATE from your baby to "go have a night off" or "have fun." I always felt guilty and like there was something wrong with me because I was not eager to do this. Now that I know better I know why I was right to hesitate!
If you run this thru the "God/me relationship filter"...is it EVER good and healthy to purposely separate from God? Do you need a "night off" from God? Do we need to separate from God to go "have fun?" Or, does God ever need a "night off" from us?
When you are attached to your baby in a healthy way...you should feel pain separating from your baby! And, the baby feels this pain too and will cry! If you or your baby get to a point where you don't feel this pain at separation...if your baby is totally cool with you walking out of the house or out of the room without him...something's been ruined.
Studies on humans show this to be terrible. Look at Romanian orphanages as an extreme example.
Separation is painful because it is physically detrimental to both mom and baby! Studies on animals have shown that even short separations from mom start to shut the baby's bodies down. Their digestive enzymes dwindle and all kinds of stuff starts to go wrong. Stress hormones begin to skyrocket (which actually cause brain damage). Separation is very bad. And, would be another cause of what happens to babies in SIDS or CRIB DEATH because the babies are separated from mom for 8-12 hours a day!!!!
Something I don't think Christians ever really consider because they've lost their focus on what the "Good News" really is. Christians today seem to think that the Good News is that people get saved from hell. But, the Bible never says that. It says we're saved...from sin. And, "your sin has made a separation between you and your God." (Isaiah) Hell is separation from God. And, so, when our children are separated from us they feel legitimate pain. They feel a tiny taste of hell.
Nothing is more awesome than spending time with and enjoying every precious moment you get with the eternal beings that have begun their eternal existence within your own womb. These tiny people for whom Christ died are unique and made in God's image. These tiny people are the people who will be with you by your bedside when you pass away someday. Nothing compares to the time spent with them. Jesus died to restore us to a right relationship with God so that God could enjoy spending time with us...that's how valuable our time spent together is.
Parenting isn't a job. It's a relationship. And, when you are properly attached to your baby...you don't feel like you "need a break". Sure, sometimes ya wanna take a shower or go to the bathroom in peace! But, you don't feel like you "need to get away" from your baby. You also have the MOST FUN being in the presence of your children. Just like us with God. We have the most happiness and joy when in His presence not away from him.
Going back to #1...in my life's experience...ladies who use the book, "On Becoming Babywise" (or take any of the Sunday School classes that were designed by the same man which are called, "Preparation for Parenting" or "Growing Kids God's Way") are always the ladies who feel the need to "get a night away from the kids." That book really robs moms and babies from experiencing the parent/child relationship the way God intended it and by extension...rob God of that experience because we are preparing kids to have that Father/child relationship with Him.
Don't let anyone trick you into losing your joy in that relationship!!!
14. Don't ever hit your child.
It's a common belief in the church that the verses in Proverbs about "the rod" mean that we're to take a wooden spoon, spatula, switch, belt, or hand and hit our children on the buttocks when they do things we don't want them to. I was raised this way and was a firm believer in this for 20 years and did so with 7 of my 8 kids.
Modern shepherds carry a staff (for guiding the sheep) and a gun (for protecting the sheep from predation which is a serious threat.) Ancient shepherds carried the staff…and since guns had not yet been invented they carried a club that had spikes on the end of it: the rod. The rod was for the predators not the sheep!!!
This revelation horrified and grieved me!
Most parents who "spank" will insist that it's different from hitting. Buuuut...you can't spank without hitting, can you? And, some say that they use something to do the hitting because "their hands are for loving." But...kids are not fooled. It is the parent's hands that hold the instrument that does the hitting and kids know that it is the parent who is doing it.
Worse still is that this is done "in love." Why don't we realize we're teaching kids that love...hurts?
You know it says that "when we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness?" Hitting our kids when they do wrong makes them afraid to confess and prevents them from being forgiven or cleansed. This is a sad and grievous thing! If they are afraid to confess to us they will also then be afraid to confess to God and will quickly learn to justify and deny their wrongdoings.
Hmm…maybe I'll take that as a challenge right now and see if I can…
2. Jesus said, "let the one who has no sin cast the first stone (punish her)." I am not demonstrating this by being the judge and jury for my child and casting "those stones" at my child.
3. This teaches my child to "cast stones" at others and judge others.
4. There is no fear in love…perfect love casts out fear! Being hit/spanked causes fear of the parent. Therefore, if we're to model ourselves after Father God who IS LOVE…we must not do anything to make our children afraid of us.
5. When our kids make mistakes we want them to run TO us so that we can show them how to fix the problem they've just created by their misdeed. If they're afraid of pain they'll run away and they'll have a hard time being forgiven and cleansed (as in that verse).
6. The fact that they'll run away from us due to fear of pain is part of how God wired our brains. Our brains are wired to avoid pain. Therefore, I can't believe that God wants the children to ever associate pain with us because He certainly does not want His children to run from Him nor our children to run from us.
7. If perfect love casts out fear, then, fear must cast out perfect love…which is what I want with my children. And, if God is love...if I fill my children with fear of being caught doing wrong...which they will do...then the fear I instill in them will cast out Love (aka God).
8. The things that are in the world are more scary than me but if my kids are more familiar with the pain they associate with me they'll be more inclined to seek solace and safety in those other things.
Like, as show I saw on tv where a 7 year old girl was hosed down by a 16 year old boy as she passed by on her bike. She stopped and was so upset. She didn't want to go home because she was afraid "she'd get in trouble." So, she actually went inside this boy's house…TOOK OFF HER CLOTHES in this stranger's house…and he then tied her up (hog-tied) and left her under his bed for 2 days. He did unspeakable things to her and she finally just died from the horror of it. He didn't kill her she just died. ALL BECAUSE for some reason this little girl had learned that messing up = pain from her parents and to avoid that pain she ended up trusting a stranger!!!
9. If I had to fear being hit/spanked by God for making mistakes I don't know if I could live. He's the only refuge I have when I mess up. I need to model that!
10. It lowers IQ (and there is a developmental biological reason this happens)
11. It has been studied and proven that it leads to more aggressive behavior in children.
12. It models that "when you're bigger than someone you can get what you want from them by force."
13. It models that inflicting pain on another human being to get what you want from them is OK. This is not teaching children how to put others before themselves.
14. It teaches our little girls that it's normal to be in a relationship where the person bigger than you will hurt you or hit you when they don't like what you are doing. It sets girls up, therefore, to be abused by their husbands.
15. It models behavior for our sons that it is OK to be that bigger person and hit or hurt the smaller person in the relationship to control behavior.
16. It associates pain with love in a way that has shown can lead to sadomasochistic ways in adults.
17. The spanking can stimulate the genitals (unintentionally because they are "right there" where the spanking occurs) and has been shown to cause weird sexual associations/problems in some people. This being a possibility tells me God could not possibly have intended us to do this!
18. The fact that the buttocks is a "sexual" area of the body is demonstrated by the fact that I would not rub or massage my child's buttocks without feeling weird...nor would I feel OK with seeing someone else do it to my children. Therefore...I see this as evidence that this is not an area to be hit either.
19. In the book of Proverbs, the word used for the type of "child" that is to be struck with a rod is a very specific word. It's the word for "male teenager." Biblically, there is no foundation or instruction to hit toddlers, small children, or babies in any way...and NEVER a female.
20. In the Bible people were always and only struck on the back not the buttocks and no one in the modern world would be OK with parents whipping their children's backs.
21. "The Rod" in the Bible was a weapon used for predators…not sheep.
22. Jesus is my example as to how to live…and He had 12 disciples. They were called disciples because He disciplined them. And, nowhere in scripture do I see Jesus hitting or threatening or punishing the disciples.
23. The fruit of not-spanking is incredible…because all of the things the kids do RIGHT you know are coming from a good heart and not because of fear of punishment!
24. Instilling a fear of punishment to control behavior works against us because bad behavior is a symptom of problems inside our children's hearts and if those symptoms are repressed when they are little then we can't deal with them and help them and those things…reappear once the fear of spanking is gone…It's commonly thought of as "teenage rebellion" but it is actually just those symptoms that we repressed in our kids when they were little.
25. Spanking/hitting…even as a "last resort"…teaches kids that when you run out of words and you still can't get your way with someone it's OK to resort to force.
26. Spanking/hitting…even as a "last resort"…still leaves kids living in fear and focused on acting the way you want despite how they truly feel inside…which again…leaves them in fear and hides their true hearts from you.
27. Spanking/hitting is too arbitrary. What inspires the parent to think a child "deserves" having some pain is not etched in stone like the 10 Commandments, but, varies from parent to parent. And, in some families where children are spanked by other family members (like grandmothers, etc) this makes it even more confusing to the children.
The spanking rules then are not really teaching the children what is "right and wrong" but rather what "inspires so n' so to spank me or not." This puts the focus of the child's behavior on pleasing the person in authority over them for fear of getting a spanking or not. The lessons of "right and wrong" are missing in this and this type of learning to navigate life fails the child once there is no one "over them" to judge their behaviors all the time.
28. Since a parent hitting a child is a huge deal, God would have paid better attention to it and given more serious instruction concerning it. The lack of instruction as to when and how to hit a child in the Bible is alarming. But, there is a verse that says that if you, "Cause a child to stumble it'd be better for you to have a huge stone tied around your neck and for you to be tossed into the sea." This was said in the days before horror movies. These would have been strong words!
29. The Bible does say that fathers are not to frustrate or anger their children. Biology (the study of the bodies God created) shows us that being struck does stimulate us to frustration and anger. Therefore, God could not have intended for us to hit our children if He built their bodies to react to pain as He did and He told us not to make them mad?
30. Part of the natural learning process involves being hurt. Kids fall and get hurt. We expect them not to quit but to keep trying despite the pain. But, yet, when they do certain things we expect them to STOP doing certain things when they feel pain. This doesn't make sense.
31. People will try to say, "I was spanked and I'm OK." God made our bodies with kidneys, spleens, livers…all kinds of "filters" to filter out toxins in our diets to keep us safe and healthy. And, likewise, we are able to turn out "OK" even if we were spanked as children. Jesus, my example, came to give me LIFE and that more abundantly. He wants me and my children not to just "turn out OK" but to thrive!
32. Romans 1 says we can see truths about how God is in the Creation. Nowhere in nature do we see anything that's "thriving" that does so due to pain. Some things necessary to help growth cause pain but the pain is a byproduct of the real thing. No physical illness or anything is cured exclusively by "pain." All spanking is is the administration of "pain." Discipline sometimes is quite painful but the pain is the byproduct of the disciplining. True discipline is not "pain" but sometimes causes it. Jesus disciplines us. Our Father God disciplines us. Sometimes this is painful but the pain is not the cure. Spanking is not discipline. Spanking is only pain.
33. It IS possible to have a happy healthy child who is not a tyrant without ever hitting/spanking them! I have one! And, the fruit of that is awesome!! (check link to the right that says "Fruit of Not Spanking")
34. God is concerned with our hearts not our actions, and, spanking only addresses the actions. Discipline addresses the heart.
35. There are things in the world that are equivalent to discipline like jogging. Many people freely enter into the discipline. We look at those people and admire their healthy choice to discipline themselves this way. Jogging can be painful. Jogging is an example of true discipline.
If we know someone who freely enters into things to cause themselves pain…someone who engages in acts of "self-harm" just for the sake of feeling that pain, we do not admire those people and think they are making a healthy choice because seeking pain would be a sign of a psychological problem. Pain is punishment. Pain is not life giving. You can cause pain quickly and easily. Spanking is pain. Discipline, as in the discipline of jogging…is time consuming. The pain comes on slowly and is a "good pain" that leads to health and life.
Disciplining children is like jogging. It takes time, effort, sweat, and sometimes tears but it is all good pain. Healthy pain that you can be proud of and admired for. Pain…spanking…is not the same.
36. Spanking does not demonstrate the forgiveness Jesus suffered to give us. If I must get payment for my children's misdeeds then I am not being like the Father who is my example how to be a parent.
The best time to cut down an oak tree is when it's a sapling. When it's just sprouted. And, so satan's attack on children is swift and sure and the best way to convince someone to do something is to say it's of God…and so this attack is most powerfully coming from the church and protected by the, "the liberals just don't want us to be able to discipline our children" way of thinking. Spanking is not discipline. And, God never intended for us to hit our children. Everything He created in nature points to this and it is a darn shame that we…the church…the cream of the crop…the friends of God…are not leading the way in the world for respecting children and "using our words" and demonstrating how the Prince of Peace who died for us would treat them. It's a darn shame that Christians have come so far as to believe that one is LESS like Christ if they fail to hit/spank their child.
37. Being raised being hit for wrongdoing puts it inside a person that when someone does us wrong they must be punished. This impedes our ability to forgive as Jesus does because we grow up expecting that people who wrong us need to pay.
38. Being raised being hit for wrongdoing puts it inside us that when we do wrong we are not at peace with ourselves if we do not get punished. Jesus said that as we forgive we shall be forgiven. We are impeded in feeling and being forgiven. This is really sad.
39. Having a fear of being caught in our sins helps blind us to our sin because we instinctively and automatically jump to justifications and excuses for our own sins because of the God-given fear of pain. If we justify and make excuses for our sins we aren't confessing them and if we're not confessing them we can't be forgiven, cleansed, and healed!
40. Once you cross the line and follow thru on purposely inflicting pain on your helpless child something huge changes in your relationship which you can't fix. Can you imagine if God would cross that line and start hurting us to teach us lessons?
41. Oh! That's another point! Being raised this way, when satan does enter someone's life and steals, kills, and destroys...God will get the blame for it if the person came to believe growing up that God hurts us to teach us lessons. This is, in my opinion, a crime.
42. It's difficult if not impossible to know the line between what you think is "discipline" and what is actually "abuse" because each person has different pain tolerances and sensitivities so it's impossible to know how many times or how hard a child may be hit before it's crossed the line into "abuse."
43. For those with any hint of "temper" there is always the danger of really hurting the child. It will never happen if you just don't start going there to begin with. Better safe than sorry.
44. It's a "slippery slope." When a parent has never crossed the line and decided they were OK with hitting/spanking their child the chances of abusing the child are slim. If the parent has crossed the line the line of where the spanking is turned into a beating is blurry.
45. The child learns that they have no right to protect their own body from pain if the person is in authority over them who wishes to inflict that pain. By the time they are 18 many different adults will have had authority over them and not all of those adults will have that child's best interest at heart. To protect the child from abuse by other adults when we are not there to protect them the child needs to know that they have a right to say "no" to something they don't like happening to their bodies.
46. Children who are spanked are more likely to then use the same technique for getting submissive behavior from smaller siblings or playmates.
47. Children who are spanked are usually also taught to hug the parent afterwards and to even be "thankful" for the spanking. To turn lovingly toward someone who has just hurt you is a bit weird and would definitely confuse what love is. And, this seems to be more like something satan would come up with than God because God IS LOVE. And, the perversion of what love is in our country (world) is something satan would be behind.
48. Due to the fallibility of the parents there is always the possibility that the parent will execute punishment on an innocent child. Or, that you will not take the time to fully understand why the child has done what they've done and this will only fill the child with resentment. (getting back to that verse about not exasperating our children!)
49. Due to the fallibility of parents...if #48 happens too often, the child can become a person who likewise jumps to conclusions and "judges" people before hearing whole stories.
50. Along with #'s 48 & 49...if the children see the parents as very fallible and exercising judgment on them they could come to reject the parents because of "hypocrisy" and also reject their teachings which for the Christian parents is a tragedy!
Hmmm. So there are my um..20...things :)
I guess I'll be turning that list into a blog post of its own!!!
15. Just keep it to yourself.
Over the years the more I became sensitive to things I now know and understand the more I noticed that I was no longer "in agreement" with most of my mom-friends. Especially, sadly, the Christian ones. Presenting ideas that are culturally out of the norm to people who are not yet sensitive to them can lead to bad feelings and even arguments. A lot of Christians will even go so far as to think you're not a Christian anymore if you've strayed from certain old wives tales!
Worst of all, sometimes it can lead to you questioning yourself and backing down and giving in to doing things the culture expects which are harmful to your baby and your relationship with the baby. If you're not prepared to "make a stand" for a particular thing, don't bring it up.
And, that…is the...short note...of a few things I thought I'd wanna share...Scary what I might do if I TRIED to write a book on the subject, huh?!