Before Beatrice was born, JD and I were already discussing how we wanted to raise our children. We both had love, we both had consequences to bad behavior, and we both had respect for our parents (and the pain they could potentially administer if we were out of line - eek). For the most part, our upbringings were pretty similar. We knew we wanted to bring up our children in a Bible reading, faith based, church going household. And we wanted to have fun doing it. And keep our marriage before our children......shudder at the thought, such antiquated notions!
Rearing a child is the biggest responsibility ever. I love the way our pastor puts it. He says that children are not our possessions. They are loaned to us by God and we have to return them back to Him. It is our responsibility to make sure that the next 18 years are spent teaching her to know Him so when we give her back, she knows how to live a life that honors Him. The only problem is, we don't know how to do that. We have never raised anything other than our cat, and he has major behavioral issues. So we read books.
The first book we read was Babywise. I loved this book. It promised to have our baby sleeping through the night by 12 weeks and our family life structured around a predictable routine with the marriage and God at the center. JD and I loved the biblical principles in the book and were committed to adopting this plan for our new baby's upbringing blueprint (for her infancy at least).
Well, Beatrice was born and on week 2 of her young life we were ready to put our plan into action. The basic principle of the book was to establish an eat/wake/sleep cycle for the baby to regulate her metabolism and teach her to go to sleep without having to be fed (nursed in our situation). We just knew it was going to go off without a hitch. After all, we read the book and did the study guide. We were prepared.
Um, yeah. That week was a big fail. And so was the next week, and the next. Every week was a fail which only made me feel like a failure. I never took into account that Beatrice was not just a chubby little blob that I can mold; she is an individual person with her very own (strong) will. She fought me on every nap, fell asleep during every nursing session, and only when I stopped trying to force this system on her, she slept through the night. Sigh.
Sigh, you say. Wasn't getting her to sleep the point? Well, it was part of the point. The big point was finding a clear manual on how to approach parenting in a way that honored God. If Babywise failed us when we were so confident in its methodology, how would we succeed at the rest of her life????
Note: many of our friends have had success with Babywise. Don't let my failure deter you!
I began sending frantic emails to pastors and begging grandmothers to impart on me their wisdom (or simply tell me what is right). Will letting her cry make her develop attachment issues (or send me to hell for child abuse, or worse: lazy parenting)? Will giving her a pacifier disrupt her ability to self soothe and teach her to rely on objects for comfort? Will bringing her into our bed be the end of intimacy and the downfall of our strong marriage? Will forgetting to put socks on her really redirect all of the blood away from her feet causing them to fall off? I kid. But with all of our hope in Babywise diminished, our wisdom went out the window too.
I still don't know the answers. What I do know is not to put our faith in a book or a person, instead I am looking to The Book and The Person. Surely the Word of God gives clear instruction on how to raise children (and what happens if you do it wrong: