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