Pin It

Spirit-Led Parenting: The Importance of Connection

15 Comments

If you’ve been around this space for—oh—a nanosecond, well then you’d know that I’m all about empowering women. Especially new or struggling mamas.

When author Megan Tietz (SortaCrunchy) invited me to be a part of the book tour for Spirit-Led Parenting (co-authored by Laura Oyer) it was a no-brainer. This life-giving, empowering book has become one of my go-to resources when new or expecting moms ask for recommended reading. These pages are filled with hope, freedom, redemption, and practical big sister advice given through real-life stories and backed with sound research and age-old wisdom.

The only negative thing I have to say about Spirit-Led Parenting is that it was released late. A couple of years too late. (Um, where was this book when I was the first-time-mom of a newborn?)

Please welcome Megan, the beautiful and talented mama of four, as she shares about the importance of connection – a topic I’ve grown passionate about through my own short journey in motherhood.

In April of this year, my co-author and dear friend Laura and I released Spirit-Led Parenting: From Fear to Freedom in Baby’s First Year. We’ve been traveling the blogs of friends, inviting readers from all over to share in conversation about life with a new baby. We are so thankful to Adriel for allowing us a moment to speak into her beautiful space!

Spirit Led Parenting the importance of connection

The newborn phase of parenting is often hazy in the memories of most parents. I’m no exception to this – trying to recall the specifics of what life looked like in the earliest days of our oldest daughter’s life presents some challenges to this middle-aged brain. It’s even harder for me to remember what the earliest days and weeks of parenting a toddler and a brand new baby were like!

But there is one thing I remember so very vividly, one sweet part of those early days and weeks that I know I’ll never forget: how much I would just sit and stare at my new sweet ones. The television could be on, others might be having conversations around me, but I found myself compelled to just sit and study the incredible, amazing miracle that new life is in the form of a brand new baby.

I found that I instinctually wanted to be near my babies, specifically that I wanted to hold them all the time. I wasn’t prepared for how strong that pull was for me. Isn’t that why we had bouncy seats and swings and Moses baskets? And sure enough, after the first few days at home with our oldest, I began to get messages both subtle and direct from others that I needed to put that baby down, that all that holding and cuddling was going to spoil her for sure.

I didn’t know what do with these mixed messages. Inwardly, there was no doubt that even as she grew out of the newborn phase and into babyhood, I wanted her to be close to me, to engage with her when she was awake, to include her in all the aspects of the days we shared together. But outwardly, I continued to hear that wearing her in a baby carrier would only impede her development and that too much time at Mama’s side would make her monstrously dependent on me.

You can imagine my sheer delight when Laura and I began to do the research for Spirit-Led Parenting and I stumbled on to article after factually-based article heralding the pivotal importance of connection for baby’s growth and development. We go into much more detail in Chapter Eight of the book, but one article I found to be so enlightening is from Zero To Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families. It states:

Most adults (and children) find infants irresistible, and instinctively want to nurture and protect them. It is certainly no accident that the affection most parents feel towards their babies and the kind of attention we want to shower them with – touching, holding, comforting, rocking, singing and talking to – provide precisely the best kind of stimulation for their growing brains.

Oh, if only I had those facts on my side as I navigated life as a new mom almost eight years ago!

The more I thought about it, the more it made sense within the context of God’s beautiful plan for human life.

Just as God created in babies a need for connection to allow their developmental needs to be met, He also created in us a parental instinct that is driven to meet those very needs. A baby born to indifferent parents would be significantly less likely to experience healthy brain development. And so there is a reason that parents find their babies to be so consuming, even people who do not get warm fuzzy feelings for other babies: it is part of God’s grand design for healthy growth and nurturing that is pivotal throughout the months of infancy. — Spirit-Led Parenting, page 152

Unlocking the connection between why we want to hold and be near and engaged with our babies so much and what the research says about a healthy baby’s growth development allows us the freedom to know we aren’t spoiling our little ones – on the contrary, we’re helping to give them the best possible start in life!

Unfortunately, there are still remnants of the “don’t spoil the baby” mindset in Western culture today. But our generation of parents can find confidence in knowing that creating a close connection with our babies is simply one way we can follow the leadership of God’s spirit in our lives to parent them in ways that will not only nurture them in the moment, but will also reflect the love our Abba Father has for each of us.

Spirit-Led Parenting is the first release from authors Megan Tietz and Laura Oyer. Megan writes about faith, family and natural living at SortaCrunchy and lives in Oklahoma City with her husband and two daughters. Laura blogs her reflections on the real and ridiculous things of life at In The Backyard, and makes her home in Indiana with her husband, daughter, and son.

image source

 

Dear friends, we would be honored to hear from you on this topic. Do you find that warnings about spoiling babies through holding, wearing, and cuddling are part of the perspective of your family or circle of friends? What about within your faith community? What are some ways you have (or plan to) encourage connection in a practical way with your little ones?


15 Comments

  • Reply Adriel Booker 5 December 2012 at 12:18 am

    Megan, I think this is such an important topic. I really do.

    I definitely had the mentality that if I held “the baby” too much I would spoil him. That was my understanding before I had him and also in the early weeks. I gave myself a “free pass” the first few weeks but then began to blame sleep problems etc on “too much holding” and so backed off a little. I still held him a lot of course, but sometimes had a bit of guilt (the LAST thing a new mom needs to start feeling already!!). It was confusing for me. It didn’t take me long to realize that was ridiculous – he was used to be held IN me, so why in the world shouldn’t he be held in my arms as much as he or I wanted? I also used a sling, then wrap, then Ergo with Levi and loved it – both for practical reasons but also to promote connection.

    With my second, I held him as much as I wanted and never felt a smidgen of guilt about it. I was so much more free to do what I wanted without worrying what “they” would say. I also wore Judah constantly, especially in the first 10 months before he started walking. This was partly because of his temperament, partly due to the fact that I also had a busy toddler, AND partly because I just wanted to. 🙂 We also co-sleep far, far more with Judah than we did with Levi and I don’t regret that one bit – I feel it also adds to connection.

    I think one-one-one time with the littles is important in building connection too. This is much harder now that we have more than one child, but it’s definitely do-able if we’re intentional about it. Of course breastfeeding, for women that are able. And lastly, how we treat our children—namely discipline—can really make or break connection… but that’s getting into a whole other issue completely. 😉

    Thanks again for this post. Love to see your important message (and Laura’s!) spread far and wide.

    A x
    Adriel Booker recently posted..Because He never stops giving. Ever.My Profile

    • Reply Megan at SortaCrunchy 5 December 2012 at 3:23 am

      Thank you, Adriel, for sharing what this looks like in your family! I have found that after the first baby, so many of the things I felt guilty about or afraid of just weren’t issues … I had the confidence in knowing that everything was going to be fine. 🙂 Also, babywearing and co-sleeping are two practices that have worked wonderfully in my own family to promote connection. And babywearing REALLY becomes a matter of practicality after the first child!
      Megan at SortaCrunchy recently posted..SLP discussion continues & a note on a delayMy Profile

    • Reply Beth 7 December 2012 at 2:12 pm

      I love this! Babywearing with our first was so natural and Owen just loves being along for the ride.
      I would be very interested in your thoughts on discipline and how it can make or break the connection. We have a two a half year old and are having a hard time knowing how to discipline while still maintaining a solid connection, we were both spanked growing up but I am having a hard time knowing how to do discipline with our little guy and having a hard time with the idea of spanking. It’s so much more difficult than I ever imagined it would be.

  • Reply Sarah 5 December 2012 at 12:29 am

    This was wonderful to read! I have a 4 year old daughter and 15 month old son. During difficult times of putting them down for naps or bed I was often told they wouldn’t go to sleep because they were spoiled by me holding them all the time. I’d reply that they are only little for so long and when they are 5 or 6 they’re not going to cry for me to hold them all night. I can see how my nurturing has paid off. I have 2 extremely affectionate kids, that sleep in their own beds. They love to snuggle with my and their dad, and their grandparents, aunts and uncles. My daughter is also so sweet and loving with her teachers and peers. Those same people that told me I was spoiling them are the ones that are loving every minute of affection they receive; now who’s spoiled?

    • Reply Megan at SortaCrunchy 5 December 2012 at 3:25 am

      Oh, I love this sweet picture of connection in your family, Sarah! And it is so interesting to see how all of the warnings about being spoiled and not sleeping so rarely come to anything. I love how you turned it around by noting that well-attached, connected kiddos are often so affectionate with others. Hopefully that has brought a new perspective to the ones who were so concerned for you!
      Megan at SortaCrunchy recently posted..SLP discussion continues & a note on a delayMy Profile

    • Reply Adriel Booker 5 December 2012 at 1:03 pm

      such a lovely story sarah!
      Adriel Booker recently posted..Because He never stops giving. Ever.My Profile

  • Reply Jessica W 5 December 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Love this book and the heart behind it! Such an important message for new mamas!!
    Jessica W recently posted..An OB/GYN’s Guide to Contraception Part 8: Condoms, Diaphragms & Natural Family PlanningMy Profile

  • Reply Beth 7 December 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Hi Adriel, I just was led to your blog from Pinterest. I’m so glad I found it! I am mama to two little boys 22 1/2 months apart, now 6 months and 29 months. THanks for sharing about this book, I’ll have to check it out. This excerpt made me tear up a little bit since both of my sons were born very premature, the first at 26 weeks and the second at 28 weeks and both growth restricted at that so they spent the first few months of their lives in the NICU and I got to hold them so much less than I wanted to. I feel like they missed out on so much from not getting to be held and bond in those early months. After I first got to hold them for the first time, for both of them it was when they were two weeks old, I only got to hold them once a day for half and hour to an hour. I feel like we all missed out on so much no getting a normal newborn experience, both for the boys and my husband and I. We are immensely grateful to the Lord for their lives and that they are healthy now, though I am still in the midst of processing they’re early lives. I am so thankful that I can breastfeed my baby and that we can now cuddle whenever we want, I just hope the physical attention they get now makes up for all the time we lost during those early months in their lives, I don’t want them to miss out on any benefits of being close physically to their parents. Now that our baby is home I don’t like to let him out of my sight for long. I got to take a nap curled up with him today and the sweetness of his baby breath and his little hand of my arm, reassuring him that I was right there- it was all so perfect.

    • Reply Adriel Booker 3 January 2013 at 2:24 pm

      Oh, you dear mama, Beth!

      I’m sorry for those early weeks and how terribly difficult that must have been for you – twice over. 🙁 You are a strong woman to have made it through that. (And I’m so glad your boys are both thriving now!)

      You know, I just don’t think we can wreck our kids as easily as we sometimes think. You are obviously a good mom – I can tell that just from your comment – and your children are so blessed to have you.

      God doesn’t expect perfection from us. If he did, why would he be needed at all? Our “job” is to represent him as best as we’re able in whatever given circumstances we find ourselves in. It sounds to me like that’s exactly what you’ve done.

      Although you will never get to go back and have a “normal” newborn experience, I am also certain that you would have bonded with your boys (and family) in ways that the rest of us “normal” ones could never relate to. There’s a mixed blessing there Beth, I’m sure of it.

      I’m so glad you can now breastfeed and care for them normally now. But remember to give yourself grace as you process those vulnerable early days. AND continue taking the time you need to process those newborn days. That is hard, I’m sure, but will be so life-giving for you as you let God speak into your story and redeem the days you perceive as “lost”.

      I’m praying for a wise and compassionate friend to be a listening ear and encouraging soul for you as you process!!

      much love,
      adriel x
      Adriel Booker recently posted..With love & cheerMy Profile

  • Reply Samantha 1 January 2013 at 8:42 pm

    I’m so glad I have found an ‘Aussie’ that is a big fan of spirit led parenting. They don’t seem to sell it here. I order it and give it at every baby shower. We must spread the word. So happy to find your blog 🙂

    • Reply Adriel Booker 3 January 2013 at 2:01 pm

      hi samantha. nice to “meet” you.

      i haven’t seen it available here either. but you can order it from book depository in the UK with free shipping!

      what a perfect baby shower gift – i agree!

  • Reply Megan 9 January 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Such a wonderful, groundbreaking book for a new generation of mamas. I wonder how our childhoods might have been different had our mothers had this book, because it feels like in Christian circles, we’re supposed to battle their “sin nature” from day 1, so very Us-vs-Them. So I am incredibly refreshed and inspired by this book and give it to all my new mama friends. I also recommended it to the bookstore coordinator at our church, and are hoping hoping hoping they start carrying it! Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, Megan, and you too, Adriel! I have learned more from you two ladies about spirit-led parenting than anyone else, and I’m so grateful.
    Megan recently posted..Movement.My Profile

  • Reply Jen 22 January 2013 at 10:49 am

    So what about those of us who feel confined by having to hold a baby all the time? I have a 2yr old and a 6wk old and love my boys with my whole being but them needing to be held all the time or having to hold them for extended periods of time makes me feel claustrophobic and confined. I don’t feel like I get anywhere because I am constantly attached to one child or the other? This is not at all how I pictured myself mothering. I thought I would be one of those mothers who just adored little people hanging off me but the reality is quite the opposite. What advice do you have for us? How do you reconcile the need for your own personal space and caring for you kids?

    • Reply Jen 22 January 2013 at 11:32 am

      Since God is faithful and meets our needs right where we are, and since I asked I have received – just found a wonderful resource for mums in need of some encouragement http://desperatemom.com/ . God is good.

    Leave a Reply