In some ways it’s what I want, what I crave. Just tell me what to do. Give me a fool proof plan, some kind of formula; a 10 step program. Because this being mom thing… it can be a little scary, it can leave me feeling weak and unprepared. There’s a lot at stake, many ways to go wrong, so much unknown. Surely there is a “best way” to parent, and all I need to to is find it and follow it to the letter.
But the longer I walk this path of parenting the more I am convinced that there are no “one size fits all” methods to raising children. And chasing that idea is a waste of my precious time. In fact I might even go so far as to say that there are as many good ways to raise children as there are good moms. I believe that God equipped each of us with unique personalities, a functioning brain, intuition, and His Holy Spirit to accomplish this important work we are doing. What’s best for my family is going to look different than what is best for your family, and that’s okay.
Please don’t mistake my meaning, I’m not anti-structure. I don’t believe that parenting books, schools of thought, or formulated methods are evil or useless. I’m a practical, rubber-meets-the-road kind of gal. I understand the necessity of having a game plan. From the minute you bring that tiny human home from the hospital you have to start making decisions and choices. Nurse or bottle feed? Scheduled or unscheduled? Let them cry themselves to sleep? Sooth and rock them? And the decision making never stops, in fact it only becomes more complicated. To spank or not to spank? Home-school? Private school? Public school? How much TV is too much TV? It’s not wrong to seek advise or to have opinions. Choices must be made.
Here’s where I start to see trouble. When choices and decisions cease to become practical necessities, and are allowed to become divisive tools of the Enemy. When our passion and excitement for our own chosen methods are twisted into superiority. I’ve been there, I’ve done that. I like my methods and it’s easy for me to loudly proclaim their virtues, while at the same time undermining those that don’t fall in line with my personal preferences. It becomes this dangerous undercurrent that can erode the love and support I should be giving to the women in my life. Being mom is important. We make the Devil’s job easy when we tear ourselves apart from the inside out. When we stand toe-to-toe, glaring at each other over lines dawn in the sand, instead of standing shoulder to shoulder facing the real danger. Is my personal preferences really worth the damage I might be doing? We must not loose sight of the big picture. We must see each other for what we are, sisters who are all in this together. Each of us with our own strength and weaknesses. Be careful of how quickly we are to criticize another woman. We should be united, but unity should not be confused with complete and utter conformity.
So here it is in a nutshell. We should be passionate, excited, and yes, even confident about our own parenting styles and choices, but that should always be balanced with an equal amount of graciousness for those who have chosen a different way. To trust the Holy Spirit at work in the lives of other women. To not see her as a rival, or a superior, or an inferior to yourself, but as your fellow companion on this journey to love and protect.