Monday, August 29, 2011

Spirit-Led Parenting : What Our Book is Not

Megan is sharing again today (Yay!), with an important addition to recent conversations. Her words here reflect some heart-felt clarifications from us both.

* * * *

This whole thing is quite terrifying, actually. Writing a parenting book, I mean. And for two people who share in common some painful experiences stemming from trying to follow the advice of parenting books, the idea of writing a parenting book is almost as nonsensical as it is daunting. And yet, the burden that God has placed on our hearts to share what He has done in our lives is clear - and carries us.

And yet, it is because of those painful experiences that Laura and I shared that we are particularly sensitive to how a parenting book with the title Spirit-Led Parenting could raise some eyebrows as well as some skepticism. Let’s be honest, it raises some questions: “Are you saying that if you follow the direction of the Spirit, then parenting a new baby will mean practicing the methods that have worked best for you?” and “Aren’t you just writing another book that is saying THIS is God’s way of parenting?”

I’m glad these questions are coming up because these are good and important conversations for us to have. Following the discussion on Laura’s story, she and I thought it might be a good idea to lay a little groundwork by clarifying some of the aspects of this book that would prompt these kinds of questions. This is by no means a definitive list, but it’s a start.

Spirit-Led Parenting is not a rebuttal to other parenting books. While there certainly may be moments when we specifically examine what other parenting books advocate, it will be done in a way that portrays the impact these books have had on our lives and on the lives of others. Any criticisms of other parenting books that we offer will be done so in a way that is organic to telling our stories or the stories of other parents.

We have purposed from the beginning that this is not an anti-Babywise book, nor is it the anti-Baby Whisperer book or anti-Ferber or anti- any other of a number of parenting philosophies that are popular in our culture. Rather than create a point-by-point counterargument to the advice of other books, our desire is simply to offer an alternative. From its inception, that idea has been the backbone of our message.

Spirit-Led Parenting is not a criticism of parents who have had success with other methods and practices. Throughout our early discussions on this book as well as in my Babywise series, we’ve done our very best to carefully point out our concerns with practices, not with the people who practice them.

This is an extremely important differentiation for us to make. I’ve written on more than one occasion that the people in my life who encouraged me to follow Babywise or the Baby Whisperer and other philosophies in that vein are people who are not only dear to me personally, but also are dynamic, faith-filled people who have loving, happy families. I never would have trusted advice from people whose parenting I found suspect, and in my circle of friends, I know many who have implemented aspects of books like Babywise with great success.

Spirit-Led Parenting is not our assertion of The Right Way or God’s Way. It’s just not. And I can see how from where you sit, the title could almost imply that we are offering The Way to follow after God in parenting. From where we sit, however, we know we are offering an idea with so much more freedom than “this is how you do it.”

We do not want to be another voice that contributes to the "Mommy Wars" in today's parenting culture. What we have often found in parenting manuals is an implication that not adhering to methods in line with the ones they recommend could cause [insert calamity] to happen to your child, or your marriage, or your family. We will not take this attitude in our book. What we will do is speak encouragement and freedom from fear for those who feel the Spirit leading them a different direction from the way others are being led. We will speak boldly about the blessing and growth we’ve experienced personally and in our families as we have parented this way, understanding that others have found the same things down other roads.

One sentence jumped out at me from Laura’s story: I was going rogue, and had no idea where to turn for direction.

Before Laura and I even knew each other, we were traveling on a parallel path down the same road, feeling lost and alienated and isolated. What worked for others just wasn’t working for us, but we felt sucked into a vacuum of failing at the accepted ways practiced by (it seemed) everyone around us. In that place of flailing and grasping, God met each of us in an extraordinary way. And from that place of epiphany that there is another way, Spirit-Led Parenting was born.

We fully understand that the ideas we will share in Spirit-Led Parenting are not for everyone. Daily, we are working on toughening our skins and preparing ourselves for misunderstandings and criticisms. We offer this to you today to begin the process of answering some important and valuable questions, and this is a conversation that we look forward to engaging in the weeks, months, and years to come.


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