December 13, 2005
She Turned Ten Today!
Please note: It's December 2007 now, and I wrote this two years ago, but never published it for some reason. I probably wasn't quite finished. I'm going to go ahead and publish it now. My dear daughter is 12 now, and such a wonderful blessing to me and our family.
Today is my oldest child's tenth birthday! Wow, it's so hard to believe she was born ten years ago!
She was such a high need baby. She was very sensitive and cried a lot even that first day, especially after her hep B shot! We found that she needed lots of attention and loved motion. She loved being held, and though at first her daddy was worried about her learning bad habits if she was picked up when she cried, we decided to go ahead and hold her lots! One of the best things I discovered the first week at home with her was that if I nursed her she would often stop crying, and that really helped. She really had a hard time sleeping in her crib. When I learned to nurse her lying down and decided to bring her to bed with me when we slept, those things sure made life easier.
Back then I didn't know anything about "high need" babies, or much about babies at all for that matter. She was a huge shock to me! But she taught me so much those first days. As she grew older she developed into an amazingly spirited little girl, and God has worked through her to teach me innumerable things over the years.
These days she's still "spirited" and sensitive and full of spunk! She's grown into a strong ten year old girl with personality, creativity, high values, and a huge heart who loves God. I still learn great things from her today, and by His grace the struggles over the years have been worth it -- and will continue to be worth it, praise God -- and have brought much joy and growth to both of our lives. I am honored and blessed to be her mother.
December 06, 2005
Why are you called "Gentle" Christian Mothers?
Way back about nine years ago when I first got on the 'net hungrily searching for info about attachment parenting, there weren't really many (hardly any?) attachment parenting online resources that were particularly Christian in focus. I eventually decided to start a webring to help connect Christian AP moms, and I decided to call it "Gentle Christian Mothers."
I chose the name "Gentle" because the type of parenting I espouse sometimes goes by the name gentle parenting. I guess it's called that because. . . well, I guess because parents who parent in this style try and make choices that are gentle. *shrug* (Sorry my explanation is not more deep than that. LOL) They are choices we make because we are attachment parents, and some are more along the "natural parenting" side of things.
I really didn't have any grandiose ideas or long term thoughts about the name. As I mentioned, GCM started out as a webring. As I was thinking about what descriptive name to call the webring I was starting, I thought of "Gentle Christian Mothers" as a name that fit what I desired to be and what I believed in, and I knew there were other mothers like that out there, and I wanted to encourage them and help us find one another and support one another.
By choosing that name or by creating GCM, I had no desire to be devisive to Christian mothers in general (and would love to reach all mothers with the message of grace and love and acceptance to be found in parenting this way!). I saw, though, and personally felt a huge need for support for Christian mothers who practiced gentle parenting. God gave me the desire and capability to step in and begin in a small way to help fill that need.
The name wasn't/isn't meant to give the impression that mothers who don't agree with us are't gentle or aren't attached. In fact, there is quite a variance on the specific ways that this type of parenting looks in each family because each family is unique. That is one of the beauties of this type of parenting -- it's so customizable, so to speak. Also, the truth is that many of us who are part of Gentle Christian Mothers hesitate to actually call ourselves "gentle"! We make mistakes so much of the time! We fall, we are human, we fail. But we keep on keeping on and cling to truth that God's grace is sufficient even for us!
This was the description of the webring:
This webring is for Christian mothers who listen to their God-given mothering instincts and strive to respond to and meet the needs of their children with a servant's heart. I hope to have this ring filled with sites that contain information on subjects such as parenting (attachment-style, natural, responsive, gentle parenting), pregnancy, childbirth, infant care, breastfeeding, gentle guidance, health issues, etc. Sharing personal experiences moms have had with their children that support the ideals of gentle, godly parenting is encouraged.
I also began accepting mothers to join GCM who did not have websites. I had short list of questions they could answer, such as "What does gentle mothering mean to you?" and then I listed their names and email address and their answers on a members page so people could contact them should they want support. On that page I wrote, "I would like Gentle Christian Mothers to be a kind of 'support group' to help moms who practice gentle parenting. I would like us to be able to provide encouragement to those who need it."
Eventually I saw that I needed to add some clarifications and wrote out the beginnings of our statement of beliefs. On Feb. 11, 1999, in regards to those who wanted to join GCM, I wrote,
You must agree with the following statements:
* Parents should not put an unnecessary emphasis on schedules (i.e infant feeding/sleeping/playing schedules)
* Children greatly benefit from lots of physical touch (i.e. babywearing, holding your children a lot, etc.)
* Breastfeeding is God's design in infant nutrition (see Breastfeeding in the Bible)
* Breastfeeding is much more than just a way to feed a baby...
* A child's nighttime needs are as worthy of being met as his daytime needs... parenting does not stop when the sun goes down (i.e. being open to the family bed, nursing at night, etc.)
And another requirement I had listed was that "You must be pro-life."
Well, God chose to work through GCM and has helped it, despite setbacks, to grow and to be able to help many mothers and many children. That He decided to give me a part in this is beyond my comprehension, and I've wondered why many times. I can only guess it's one of those situations where God has used the foolish and the weak to confound the wise. *blush*
I feel the name "gentle" fits our group and what we stand for even more than I realized so many years ago. To be a "gentle mother" is a worthy and Christ-honoring goal. There are many good verses about being "gentle" in the Bible. Our theme verse is I Thessalonians 2:7 -- "we proved to be gentle among you as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children."
If you have any questions about GCM, please ask! You can read our current statement of beliefs here: http://www.gentlechristianmothers.com/aboutgcm/beliefs.php Make sure to read the last little bit at the end. I'll go ahead and post it here:
We are not perfect mothers, and we make mistakes all too often, but we believe that our children are a gift from God. God chose us to parent our children, and we can be sure that He, by His grace and mercy, will provide the tools necessary to do so in a way that will bring glory to Him.
That is our ultimate goal. . . to bring glory to Him. God, we rest in your arms, in your grace. Please help us to bring glory to you. Amen.
December 05, 2005
some thoughts about attached parenting
Parents who do what is often called "attachment parenting" put especial emphasis on making parenting choices which build and strengthen the bond between them and their children. They commit to avoiding unnecessarily doing things which weaken or hinder the growth of (or break) an attached relationship. We all fumble along the way and will forever fall short of the elusive "perfect parent" role we might wish to play, but nurturing an attached, connected relationship is a main goal towards which "attached" parents strive.
Examples of choices parents sometimes make which do not nurture a healthy bond between them and their children -- things which can be very harmful and hurtful to the bond -- are leaving their baby to cry alone or ignoring their baby's cries (even if they are sitting near him). Making their little baby wait to nurse until a certain time or refusing to comfort-nurse their wee babe bring disconnectedness to the parent-child relationship, as do refusing to hold their baby when he wants to be held because they are afraid of holding him too much, slapping his hand or swatting his leg, yelling harshly at their child, spanking their child.
Doing disconnecting things tend to come most easily to us parents when we are not truly listening to our child and not responsively and lovingly meeting his needs. They are things we do when we are not listening to our God-given mothering intuition and the Holy Spirit's guidance and the clear direction we receive from God in His Word.
These types of choices are sometimes made from selfish motives. Other times many of them may just as easily be choices we misguidedly make out deep love for our children, and sometimes we make these choices by default. We may have read faulty information about the importance of making these choices, or heard about it from a friend, or lived these choices as a child at home growing up. Our culture is so full of detached parenting choices that many of us have been immersed in this way of thinking our whole life.
Though change can be painfully difficult, it is wholly worth the struggle -- and praise to our gracious, caring, untiring Father that He is by our side carrying us, and our children, through the rough spots. Having an attached relationshiop with our kiddos brings both parents and their children a feeling of "rightness." And the benefits of parenting this way continue from the start off point to grow in leaps and bounds.
Is our goal for an attached relationship selfish on our part because we desire it ourselves? It could be selfish, but in a healthy relationship these choices are not made from selfish motives. To parent this way takes a deep commitment and focus on the future. As servant-leaders in our family, we often have to lay aside our desires and, through God's strength and by His grace, give selflessly in ways we never before thought possible or could have imagined before having children.
Is our goal for an attached relationship something that puts our children first before our husbands, and what about our own needs? There are admittedly times when rightly our children's needs come first before our husband's, and many times our children's needs will come before our own. But a healthy family works together to meet everyone's needs the best they can. Still keeping in mind the goal to meet everyone's needs the best they can be met, there are seasons when our little one's needs will necessarily and rightfully be at the forefront.
For instance, little babies are so helpless and fully dependant on their parents, and they are so very newly born from their safe place of warmth and consistancy to this overwhelming world with it's bright lights and harsh sounds and confusing feelings that their needs should be responded to as quick as can be! This level, though, of focus on meeting their needs in this immediate and quite consuming and rather tiring (and full of joyous rewards!) way will change as they grow older. In a heatlhy, attached relationship where a child's needs have been consistently met, they learn to trust that their needs will be met and they learn to wait and eventually to work together as part of the family team.
Does our goal for an attached relationship put our children first before God? Just as with anything important to us, it could happen. A better question would be, should our children ever be put first before God? The answer to that is a resounding NO. Does this type of parenting make us more likely to put our children before God than following, for example, a parenting philosophy which says that babies should be on a feeding schedule from birth, or that says babies should be left at home while their parents go on a weekly date night, or that says that babies need to be trained with switches? Not at all. Parenting is a ministry. We are following His heart's desire when we take precious care of His blessings! When we care for our little ones, we are obeying Him, loving Him, serving Him, sacrificing for Him. We are caring for the least of these. . .
"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? . . .' The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me for you are cursed, . . . for I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, . . . I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'" ~ Matthew 25:37-40