I was looking through my Word files, and I came across this article I wrote ALMOST FOUR YEARS AGO!! Did I ever publish it?
Current-day Preface: I am a pastor’s / missionary’s wife. I have my own strong opinions about mothering. I’m almost 11 years into this deal and in the stages where I need convictions. I love my opinions and my convictions. They are hard won. But I love more that God taught them to me. And I recognize that He still is in the process of teaching me. I love even more that God loves all His children and teaches them all in His own way. I respect that— I respect Him!
I mean, I really respect that. It hurts the ego to respect that He teaches others and in His own ways.
I have actually lived out the advice I give in this article. I have kept my mouth shut when I wanted to argue. To bite off someone’s head and prove forever that I. Am. Right. I have kept my mouth shut when I WAS RIGHT but the moment was not right. I have waited. I have prayed. And you know, …. God gives the moments to speak. He works to open hearts. He gives ears to hear. I let Him do it in His way. I try my best not to control others’ choices AT. ALL. And to respect who they are. For me, this is kind of an “old hat” topic, but it’s not old hat for everyone. And so …. here it is (from 2012):
Not long ago my husband and I birthed our third child at home, alone. Just Vitaliy and me. God was there. And the baby. It was one of the most memorable experiences of our life together. And it was a pretty controversial choice, but I had my reasons for choosing to birth unattended, and so did my husband.
I just know you’re all drooling on your keyboards now, avidly awaiting the gory details about the placenta and whether or not I ate it, as more and more moms are choosing to do these days (no joke!).
Well, OK. Fear not! The fate of our baby’s external organ will remain a mystery. And that’s the end of that topic, sorry if I grossed you out. Basically, I just had to juice up this article somehow and get you reading because I want to write about a boring, usually-comment-less topic:
Specifically, peace among Christians. And even more specifically, peace among Christian parents. (The hullabaloo around TIME magazine’s recent attachment parenting and “mommy wars” article got me thinking.)
One of my main take-away verses from Hebrews 12 is verse 10: “For they [our earthly fathers] disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them.” (NAS). Today, parenting is a really personal topic, and this is both good and bad. It’s good in the sense that at least we care deeply about parenting our children—we care enough as Christian parents to want to do what seems best for our kids.
It’s bad when we hurt each other over it. I confess, it’s exciting and somehow self-satisfying to harbor stereotypes, myths, and misconceptions toward those who make different parenting choices. And it’s polarizing. . . . The titillation makes for great ratings and website traffic, that’s for sure—a lot more than say, the peaceable acceptance of others’ differences or friendly dialogue about the why’s and wherefore’s of others’ choices.
It’s easy to feel judged as a parent by other parents’ choices. And it’s easy to judge those who are making different parenting choices. (I know: I have to pour my judgmental thoughts into a humble pie crust at least once a day and eat it. By God’s grace, love will rule me fully one day. Until then, I’ll keep swallowing.)
I’ve had to think about peace and unity in the church concerning parenting choices considerably in the last few years as our very youth-oriented church now has young married couples having children. A few years back, I started a weekly group for moms of young kids. (Repeat 1000 times: Moms of young kids need lots of encouragement. Moms of young kids need …)
A mommy group can be a minefield of pushy parenting advice (but it can also be an enormous blessing). So I’ve tried to be extremely careful not to let one birth option or one parenting style become the standard by which moms feel judged or accepted or spiritual. We don’t promote any certain parenting books. Why add more stress? We poor parents face a labyrinth of choices: where children should sleep, should we vaccinate, where to birth, how to teach children, etc. I have my personal opinions, but I don’t often talk about these things because I don’t think that they should be issues of division among Christians, and couples in our church make varied choices. And good for them.
Many parenting issues today fall into the Romans 14:16-22 arena: “Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.” (NAS)
So, I’m offering a few observations about “making for peace” among parents (and maybe you have more to add in the usually-comment-less-thread-after-a-boring-topic):
Guard the unity of your church—don’t promote one way for all. As hard as this is because we are so convinced in our own consciences that our way is right (and I mean right, right, R.I.G.H.T.), it’s better for the church to give freedom on these issues. I’ve come to think of it this way: that ____ is right for me and my family at this time. Other families have different living circumstances (like a 4-person family living in one miniscule dormitory room with the communal kitchen and bathroom down the hall), so they will make different choices—choices that I would also consider if I were in their place. And other families are a mixture of different personalities than my own family (shocking that not everyone is the serious “philosophic” that I am—I never get the joke, much less make one myself! And my husband and I recently discussed how we could laugh and smile more because those are things that don’t come naturally to either of us). So, for our church, for example (warning, bomb ahead), there are families who spank their children, others who don’t. Spanking children is not the Biblical command; nurturing, loving, and teaching them is. And parents have freedom to seek God about how best they should do that.
There is a time to speak and a time to refrain from speaking. Honestly, in personal, face-to-face situations, I usually refrain from speaking about my parenting choices with other parents. That’s me. Others can talk pretty freely about it. For me, it’s probably too deep, and too hard to express verbally.
However, when should we speak up? When we’re sincerely invited, when others are binding the consciences of parents with unbiblical teaching, and when children need to be protected.
Finally, evaluate advice with your sanctification in view. One of my personal acid tests for parenting advice is evaluating how incorporating this advice will lead me further into Christlikeness. For example, is doing or saying ______ promoting my personal growth in Spirit-dependence, gentleness, joy, patience, self-control, faith, sacrificial love, humility, etc.? If yes, then I will be more likely to hold to that standard in a peaceable way before others because I will, in general, be becoming more like Christ. Remember: Acid test=encouraging Christlikeness, because we’re all parenting somehow, and it’s going to change us one way or another in a way that influences eternity.
I will now come to an abrupt end because writing about parenting is also a minefield and I’d better vamoose before the shrapnel flies J. And maybe you have some more observations of what will “make for peace” for Christian parents for the usually-comment-less-thread-after-a-boring-topic.
And here’s a funny to leave with:
“A perfect parent is a person with excellent child-rearing theories and no actual children.” ~Comedian Dave Barry