I have been thinking yet more about gentle parenting . . . maybe someday I will get all of my thoughts for posts in one place at one time in one coherent post, but for this season of life that is not to be! I also should note I am not by any means an expert on gentle parenting.
I also had this ready to post already and lost it, so here goes again (this time typed in Word first)!
In my last post here I forgot to mention Leland’s other amazing concoction: peas and ranch dressing in his honey/raisin/cinnamon oatmeal! He ate it all up – I’m glad I didn’t stop his creativity!
I am wondering if we spend so much time concerned with our children’s sin natures that we don’t take our own into account. Any parenting method would probably work if we were perfectly sanctified already. I have found myself struggling with anger since becoming the proud owner of a 2-year-old, whereas I never would have thought of myself having any anger issue or temper previously. And when I am angry is when I am most likely to be a less than gently parent, including yelling, and some physical punishment. I know that when angry is the very time to not use physical punishment! My main trigger (other than fatigue) I found to be when I was trying to put the baby down for naps. For a while Leland would play quietly enough, but then he started willfully being loud when he knew he needed to be quiet. My solution for now is he watches a video while I nurse the baby down for his nap. It goes against my ideals for limiting screen time, but it is keeping me sane and helping the baby nap. At most he watches 2 videos a day. (We don’t have a tv so limiting screen time is a little easier!)
Something I have thought about for a long time is how often as Christians, in an effort to fight the sin nature, we reject all things natural. I notice this in how gentle parenting methods tend more to embrace age appropriate behavior. Is it sinful for a 2-year-old to act like a 2-year-old? My Aunt has a theory that Jesus himself acted as any 2-year-old might. I also thought about this concept when Leland was little and I nursed him to sleep. There is a popular Christian parenting method that would call this a “prop” for sleep. But what would I do then with the little baby who fell asleep nursing? I was told it would get harder the longer I waited to stop doing this, but he eventually just started staying awake after nursing and I could lay him down. Now he loves going to bed! I know Elliot will eventually stop as well. I think it helps to wait until they are old enough to understand when you talk to them about going to bed and what is happening. Anyway, other examples of “natural” things many Christians might reject could be chiropractic care, acupuncture, yoga, herbal remedies, babies waking up at night, etc. I’m not lumping those all together as the same type of thing, just thinking about what things might fall into this broad category of rejecting natural along with the sin nature.
The Christian parenting book I am reading now is not my favorite. I really like many of the overarching principles that focus on the heart of the child and the Gospel, but I do not necessarily agree with the “how” that the author comes to from those principles. Although the Bible is sufficient for all things for life, it doesn’t give a specific, comprehensive manual for parenting. We have to be careful that when we hear or say something is the Biblical way that is not just one person’s specific interpretation. We also need to take into account the whole Word of God and not create an ideology based on one verse in isolation.
Side story: I learned the phrase “it’s not my favorite” from one of the missionaries that led the music camp trip to Namibia I went on in 2004. She taught her kids to use that phrase if they were served food they did not like. I love how it rides the balance of honesty and tact!