My advice to new mommies is often this: don’t read the baby blogs. Take the parenting advice articles with a grain of salt.
Because, y’all. It can be maddening. It can be exhausting. It can be terrifying. You can’t feed your baby this too early. No, wait, you can’t feed your baby this too late.. Don’t hold your baby too much, don’t put your baby down. Don’t medicate your child. Limit screen time. Get your kid outside as much as humanly possible. Don’t let your kid eat sweets. Don’t let your kid eat RED DYE. Don’t be a helicopter mom. Don’t let your kid go barefoot, or play in the river, or drink from the water hose! Social media and the news are stuffed nauseatingly full of LOADS of “helpful” parenting advice, how-tos, reviews, forums, answer columns, Facebook video rants….
I’ve read them. And you now what? Three kids later……I DON’T KNOW. I just don’t know.
I second guess myself every day. My oldest is nearly underweight, but I cannot bring myself to let him eat when he asks 10 minutes til bedtime. My middle boy will refuse to eat supper, because about 60% of the time, we go somewhere other than home, and he cons his way into candy or sweets from someone (I swear, it’s his super power). Which means 40% of the time, he probably goes to bed hungry.
I let my babies cry, for a reasonable amount of time, before I go to check on them. Every time this happened, I remembered a lecture I heard once about the trauma this instills in babies.
I put my child on ADHD medication before his 5th birthday. We got lots of raised eyebrows about that.
We have a very strict routine. We try real hard not to deviate from the routine. I’m positive that we’re pretty darn irritating with how routined we are. It definitely gets in the way of socializing, that’s for sure.
I have three kids all under the age of 6. (Yeah, I know, what were we thinking?!)
I know I was raised differently. I know that while I do many things following the example of my excellent parents, I do not do everything the same. We probably disagree on some things, I don’t know.
Daily, I sift through what I know from my own raising, what I know from my own experience, what I am supposed to know as a child development expert, what I know from a plethora of parenting articles and literature, what I hear from real people every day, what I hear from my children’s doctors and specialists… I probably have more sources.
Who’s right? I don’t know.
I. don’t. know. There’s a lot that I just don’t know.
But I’ve figured out some Important Things: First, and this is huge for me, I don’t have to know! Who am I, that the God of all Eternity and Creator of the Universe needs to fill me in on every little thing?
I also know another Very Important Thing: my purpose. I was put on this earth to glorify God, in all that I do, in all that I am. And one of the things that I am is a parent. And I strive to be a godly parent.
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord , And He delights in his way.” Psalm 37:23
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
Parenting. Walking out a life of godliness, day in, day out, in the face of so many wear-you-down frustrations like extreme hyperactivity, like incurable wiggles, like incessant questions, three-year-old hunger strikes, poopy pants 20 minutes before church, three children crying at once, public temper tantrums… A life of godliness, joy, patience is attainable! Even for slightly neurotic, peace-loving me. Not by my own doing, but by the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of me. All my decisions and responses, right and wrong, are wrought together for GOOD, for God’s good! For the glory of the Lord! And anything that brings glory to the Lord is good for me. Because He loves me and He created me for such a purpose.
So. I’m hear to tell you. I don’t know how to glorify God when all three kids are screaming bloody murder. In fact, I literally said those words out loud in the car this week. When all three kids were screaming bloody murder.
But I’m learning. And I serve a God full of grace and love. I don’t get it right all the time.
I know another Very Important Thing: There’s not a one-size-fits-all parenting solution. Every child is different. “Train up a child in the way that he will go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 It doesn’t say to do it in this one way, it says in the way that he will go. The way God made him or her to go.
God is sovereign. God is Grace. And while I don’t know the answers, that doesn’t send me a panic like it used to. Because He orders my steps. And when I have a quick cry in the car, hoping I don’t smell like the poopy baby that required a bath before we could leave the house, or when all three kids are yelling at once, or when I give up and let the middle child eat Twizzlers after refusing to eat breakfast, I remember that beautiful word….that beautiful concept that God is illuminating more and more to me every day.
And I remember that He orders my steps. That I am saved, I am a Christ-follower, and I seek righteousness. I am made righteous. “The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.” Isaiah 32:17.
So, don’t listen too much to social media. Don’t get hung up on the right book, the right author, the right doctor. First, make sure you’re square with the right God, who is calling you and seeking you. Then, fall upon His grace. “For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:16
And then, lead by godly example. Pray for your kids. Pray with your kids. Pray with your spouse for your kids.
And let Him order your steps.