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!
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.
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?