Parenting Like Christ

(my mother, brother and I)

My heart is just broken when I see/hear/read parents fall into the ugly parenting traps of this world. I'm going to be blunt: children are hurting from this. If you are reading this, and you are parenting with a 'detachment' method; please do not take personal offense. This is not about pointing fingers and saying you are purposely hurting your baby. We parented like this for the first six months of our second daughters life and two and a half years of our first daughters life. Through it all, we did not, in anyway think we were hurting them. What did happen, I will explain in another post, soon. Anyways, mothers, this is not to hurt you -- just to inform you. Pray about this. At first introduction, it may seem a bit crazy, it did to us -- but the more I tuned into God's desires for our parenting the more I realized that this was how He wants us to teach our children -- how He wants everyone to parent their children. I know in my heart, and from conversations with God, this isn't just a personal choice -- first of all, what choice as a Christian is your personal one? Doesn't everything revolve around God and what He knows is best for our lives? And secondly, God designed us perfect from the start of creation -- and I know that means He created crying, breastfeeding and every hormone, caress, look, tone of voice . . . everything as an individual puzzle piece that fits together to form a bigger picture to your child's heart.

Our Disciples: Shaping the Image of God into our children's Hearts
Babies were designed by God to be close to their mother during their first years of life. It is with her that they find safety and they learn through their dependence on her; to be confident in themselves. Jesus himself said that what we build our foundation on is a clear depiction of how our lives will be. Through their young years, our children are given a clear picture of God by how WE treat them. They are literally our disciples. How much tolerance we have for their needs and wants; is how they learn about who God is. Just like in a marriage -- when the Husband is Christ and the Wife, the Church; in parenting the children are the disciples and we are Christ. They learn who He is through us. Do you envision Christ having 'enough whining' for one day and telling His disciple to go away until he is better disciplined for His teaching? Do you think that Jesus would have ever 'trained' another human being to better fit His life?
Then why, as the image of Christ to our children, do we think that babies should be sleep trained because of our needs? Or that if they don't behave a certain way, spanking is appropriate? Do these things show Christ and God as a forgiving, loving, gentle, merciful, gracious person? Or do they show our children that love is only earned by behaviors and that our needs are far more important than our children's?
Your choice is whether you will adopt a servant attitude towards your baby and express a Christ-like authority by ministering to them sacrificially, or whether you will try to express an ungodly authority by 'lording it over' your newborn and ignoring their cries of distress." ~ Rebecca Prewett

"Your children are your disciples, so part of your responsibility is to model for them the character of Christ. Your children will learn what He is like from your example, and they will want to become like the Christ they see in you. Physical discipline is not a part of the biblical portrait of the Savior. There is good reason that you should find it difficult to imagine Jesus raising His hand to strike a child in punishment. It would contradict the biblical portrait of Jesus as the Loving Savior and the gentle Shepherd, laying hands on the children to bless them. But a punitive Jesus is in part, the picture you draw in your children's minds when you use physical discipline. No matter how loving you try to make it, in a day of 'What Would Jesus Do?' it is hard to make the case that spanking is what Jesus would do." ~ Clay Clarkson, Heartfelt Discipline, page 176

Attachment Parenting: About it and How it fits God's design
When I first read about attachment parenting, I was very skeptical. All I had been taught was that we needed to control our baby. That they needed to be on a schedule or they'd ruin our lives and we would never be able to do anything. Then, the more I looked into the heart of God and saw how perfectly He designed mothers and babies; I started to realize how wrong I had been.
Just like the sunflower turns toward the sun when it needs nourishment, a baby will cry when he or she needs food or comfort or love. Remember, we represent Christ to our children! We are the first image of God that they will know! No matter how 'unreasonable' our needs are -- does God turn us away? When I am overly upset and having a temper tantrum because things just aren't going my way (which happens more than it should), and I break down in a crying fit -- does God reject me because my needs aren't good enough for His loving embrace?  No, he doesn't. When my 15 month old daughter is playing with something she shouldn't and I gently take it away, she usually screams and cries and throws a fit. Should I yell at her? Or take her into my arms and let her know that, I, like God, will give her my love even when she is just having a temper tantrum. When my six month old son refuses to be set down on the floor to play, and instead wants to sit at my breast -- not eating, just cuddling and loving me; should I put him down anyway and make him get used to playing by himself because I have dishes to wash or work to do? Or should I be there for him when he just wants to know he is loved? What does God do?

There are many people who say that attached parenting causes children to become spoiled and dependent. That they will never be able to take care of themselves and always rely on Mommy. Lets again, relate this to our relationship with God. We are confident in ourselves because we are confident that God truly knows us and that He truly loves us. We are sure of ourselves because we are sure of where we came from. In that same way, children who are sure that they are loved by their parents; and that their mother loves them unconditionally, they will become the most independent. Building a foundation on rock: security, love, understanding, having their needs met, ensures that they will go out into the world willing and sure of who they are. Most of all, they will be sure of who God is -- because they have been shown God in their mother and father.

Attached parenting is simply accepting this:
responding to your baby's cries
 disciplining in love - not violence
 recognizing and respecting that God made babies to eat and sleep according to their needs
 sleep sharing to provide security for the baby and sleep for parents
 holding and playing with your baby as they need it
 not putting rules on your baby --every child is individual
sacrifices your wants for your child's needs

And it Rejects:
 parenting methods that tell parents they must 'lord' over their children and be in control
methods that only put distance between parents and children
 methods that have a biblical 'twist': the author twists scriptures to fit their ideas
methods that encourage you to 'de-sensitize' yourself to 'train' your baby

I will be writing more on parenting. Until then, I encourage you to buy/find a copy of: 'Chrisitan Parenting & Child Care: a medical and moral guide to raising happy, healthy children;  by: William and Martha Sears.'

"Babies who are 'trained' not to express their needs may appear to be docile, compliant, or 'good' babies. Yet these babies could be depressed babies who are shutting down the expression of their needs, and they may become children who don't ever speak up to get their needs met and eventually become the highest-need adult." ~ Dr. Sears in Parenting the Fussy Baby and High Need Child, pg 39

 ‎"There may be occasions when you wonder if your baby's high-need stage will ever end. It will! The time in your arms, at your breasts, and in your bed is such a relatively short while, but your message of love and availability lasts a lifetime." ~ Dr. William Sears

"I believe the best thing I can do for my mothering is to hold myself to the standards that God put before us for how we treat our neighbor. My children are my neighbor, they are my fellow believers, they are God's, ultimately, and I am accountable for how I treat them. They actually get the behavior that reveals the secret me to myself--so how I treat them is always an opportunity for self-discovery and growth."

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