Sunday, December 4, 2011

Let's Talk! {Part 1-Our Journey Into Gentle Parenting}

When I decided to post my second anniversary giveaway, I did it with all of you in mind. I wanted to thank you all for taking the time to read my blog each day and I also wanted to connect with you on a deeper level. So I asked what you wanted to read about.

My friend Mandy said: "I love hearing about your journeys in gentle parenting, and your homeschooling. I'd love to hear more on those fronts."

Since I've written a bit about homeschooling and more alluded to our journey into gentle parenting, I will share a bit about the latter.

I actually get butterflies in my tummy when I write about this because I know for so many people, how we parent is incredibly personal and a post in which one shares how they parent as a family, can often be perceived to come across as judgemental. That is not my intent. But I also do want to share because it was someone sharing with me that brought us to the journey we are in today.

Before I was a parent, I thought I knew exactly how I would parent. Someone gave me a rather controversial infant raising book, and I read it, thought it made sense and planned to use it, that is until we had Zoelle. As we began our journey as first time parents, our hearts cried out to God about how to handle the night awakenings, the seemingly endless feedings, and the scheduling that everyone told us we just had to do in order to have a happy baby. However, the more we prayed on it, the more uncomfortable we felt. We just kept feeling like God was telling us, "this time is so short, cherish it". So I threw it out and never followed it, with any of my girls. I can tell you today that I do not regret that decision at all! Instead I've tried my hardest to cherish the night nursing, not worry about putting my babe on a schedule, and just enjoy the moment. Sure we have had tough nights, but co-sleeping has made them better, and looking back 4+ years later I can only truly remember a few.

It was during this time that we became what one would call attachment parents. We co-slept, we extended breast fed, we wore our babies, we were anti/delay vaccinations. We researched everything and I mean everything before we made a decision!

As Zoelle grew, I would get the dreaded "S" question: Do you plan on spanking her? It was our intent not to do so. By this point, I had read extensively into whether or not spanking was biblical. I also had read the other side of the coin, again regarding a very controversial pro-spanking book. And again, everything in me was uncomfortable with what I was reading. The more we prayed, the more we studied the Bible, the more we felt from God that spanking was not a biblical mandate for raising Godly children.

Then she turned 2, and often the very hardest thing to change is to step away from how you were parented and step into your own parenting style. We messed up big time. Or rather I did. Anytime I spanked her I felt horrible. I knew that if this is what God wanted from me that He would not bring guilt with it. I also found myself parenting in fear (something I believe can happen very easily when one spanks). Meaning, I would find myself telling her, "Zoelle if you do ________, you are going to get a swat". This to me seemed to go completely against what 1 John 4:18 says about perfect love casting out all fear!

I spent hours praying, studying more of God's word on this subject, and exposing my heart to the Lord. God lead me to some incredible articles that I had never read before on spanking including this one.

To make a long story short, we have chosen not to spank our girls. I know the next question is, "Well then how do you discipline them?"

My answer to you would be with one word: LOVE

After searching God's heart and reading His word, I kept finding instant after instant where God would show love to His children. Grace to His children. Mercy to His children. Even when it was not easy.

And trust me, it is not easy. I readily admit I struggle with self control and parenting in a gentle parenting way has me relying on God more than I ever have before in my entire life.

It is hard. Plain and simple. But it's what God has laid on our hearts as parents and we intend to do it.

Oh and if you are reading this and you parent the exact opposite of me, I still want to be your friend. After all, different opinions are SO good.

So that is my heart which is what my friend Dulce asked of me when she said: "Just keep writing from your heart!"

*All image sources courtesy of Pinterest


  1. Awesome post and thanks for being honest and sharing! I'm sure it took a lot of courage.

    Honestly though, that is the most non-confrontational and most gentle explanation about gentle parenting and how someone got there that I've ever read!

    We have similar stories, thanks for inspiring me to share mine in the near future!

  2. I need to read this over and over and let it all wash over me... what a beautiful, honest, gentle, breathtaking post! I'm in awe of your words and heart, Vanessa.


  3. You are absolutely full of awesome! What a beautiful post. Thank you so, so much for sharing it with us! <3 <3 <3

  4. almost every time i go into reading one of your posts on something controversial, i think "oh boy...." and wonder what "controversial" thing you have to say. HOWEVER! i have found that as i get into each post, most of the things you consider "controversial" are the very things i do or have done. i have to say that altho i'm a single parent, my parenting style is not much different from some very loving 2-parent families. i have also co-slept (after swearing i would NEVER!!! EVER!!!), i wore my babe (and he learned to walk at NINE MONTHS thankyouverymuch), and i chose not to spank after trying it unsuccessfully (i found i spanked out of anger, only scaring him into obeying, not actually obeying from the heart). i may be biased (but i have been told this by many MANY people, friends AND strangers), but i think i have a fine, young man who loves God and honors and respects EVERYONE he meets. all this being said, i think each individual child has his/her own unique way of being raised, that may or may not work for another.
    thank you Vanessa, for your honesty, your insight, for telling it like it is in your house. and for being "controversial" :)

  5. Awesome post Vanessa! As someone who is not a parent, and who came from a home where spankings were the "norm" (at least for me), I'm curious about how you discipline your girls, since you don't spank them. Do you just use time-outs and stuff like that?

  6. I really like how you put your views out there in a completely peaceful way. I am often afraid to post about our parenting style, in case I seem offensive to others. I wish we could all just accept that different things work for different people. We all love our kids and are doing the best we can. =)

  7. Beautifully expressed. It is obvious that you write from a standpoint of humility, gentleness, and grace.

    Your girls are certain to thrive with such a thoughtful and kind mama. :)

  8. Great post, Vanessa - and you expressed yourself honestly without condemning anyone or attacking anyone who may parent differently than you. Thank you for sharing so truthfully - something I am so needing to be reminded of daily as I have such passionate children in my home and perhaps a similar personality as you I think ;)

  9. Gen-Thank you. That was my goal in sharing this!! <3

    Mandy-Thank you dear! <3

    Dulce-Thank you for encouraging me to keep being open and share my heart.

    Dawn-Once again your words to me were so incredible, timely, and needed. And I LOVE your son and have said many times that he is a wonderful young man. You have done well.

    Stephanie-I can maybe blog more in depth about it all, but I have found Love and Logic parenting and the Nurtured Heart Approach to be 2 of the best resources for disciplining the girls. Of course, we do lots of redirection as well. I also tend to find that the times they get in trouble typically is when I'm not giving them the attention I should be at that time so they are getting into things, fighting, etc. If I commit my attention and time to them as much as I can, we have a lot less issues.

    Camille-It has taken me 2 years to finally blog about it for fear of what others think. And then I realized that was wrong to hide it. After posting this post, I finally feel like I can be "me" fully on my blog. ((hugs)) to you hon, I hope you can come to that same point. Know that there will always be some who disagree, but that is ok too.

    Stephanie (Metropolitan Mama)-Thank you dear for your inspiration and input in my life! I appreciate it! <3

    Tami-Thank you SO much Tami. I was very, very nervous to post this, but felt I had to do it. And I agree, I think we have similar personalities and maybe even some similar kiddos! ;)

  10. This was awesome. Something I've learned too is that not every child can be disciplined the same way. The way Ethan responds is 100% different than Abram. Spanking didin't work in our home either, it just made my boys mad and more upset, defeated the purpose IMO.

  11. Salena-I've learned that with my 3 girls too! Each girl has a different discipline style that seems to work specifically toward them. Thanks for the encouragement! :)

  12. Vanessa, you have a gift of saying things without it sounding controversial! I'm simply amazed of your dedication to do what is best for your family! Your confidence has grown the last two years you have been blogging! Remember everything you are learning now, because when they become teenagers.......well you'll know what to do!! :)

  13. Thanks for answering my question Vanessa! :D

  14. Charlene-That is one of the nicest comments I have ever received! And you are right, two years ago I would have never had the confidence to post this. And I really am hoping that is true (about when they are teens)! :)

    Stephanie-You are welcome!! :)

  15. Love the post. Question: did you make the "teach me" board or buy them somewhere?

    1. Angie-I found that on Pinterest somewhere. Maybe you can search for it?