Giving Up Control and Finding Freedom as a Parent

The following post is from Laura Oyer, co-author of Spirit-Led Parenting:

schedules and babies

Schedule.  Pattern.  Ritual.  Oh, they make me feel so safe.

Each morning, I apply my makeup from the right side of my face to the left, and curl my hair from the left side to the right.  Always.  My husband and I have a standing date of snacks and recorded sitcoms most evenings at 10:00, and I get a little rattled if he starts poking around in the kitchen at 9:30 instead.  Crazy?  Probably.  But I just really like to know what to expect.

To be a little more honest, it all has to do with control.

Structure, Control & Babies

When I was handed parenting books by friends during my first pregnancy, I found in their pages a strong validation of my preferred approach to life.  Schedules!  Structure!  Sign me up!  Frankly, this new venture into motherhood came with a few too many unknowns, and I just wanted someone to tell me exactly what to do in order to wrangle all of those questions into neatly-ordered charts, boxes and answers.  In my life, systems worked.  Structure worked.  And for every mother around me, it seemed, these particular methods were the way to make motherhood work.  So I studied the books and felt safe again.

May I make a really embarrassing confession?  I vividly recall a conversation during this time period in which I chirped confidently to a friend, “I’ve decided that my baby is going to be adaptable.”

(I don’t know whether to laugh hysterically at that memory, or go bang my head against a wall.)

Maya was born, and every single expectation and plan I’d previously held slipped through my grasp and shattered into piles of failure.  Major breastfeeding struggles threw me off from the start, and as time went on I couldn’t figure out why my baby girl wasn’t conforming to the eating and sleeping charts in those baby manuals.  Schedule?  Um, no.  This child ate constantly, woke often, and basically did nothing by the book.  And for a rule-following, control-freak mama, this was a recipe for some serious heartache and frustration.

It wasn’t working.  And even more unsettling was that I was starting to feel as though maybe – for me – it wasn’t supposed to work.

My personality and preference leaned far more toward the scheduling concept.  My heart, influenced by the strong instincts I felt as I observed my baby’s needs and temperament and the strong sense of God’s direction, was pulling me out of my comfort zone into a different outlook – not just on parenting, but on daily life.  One that asked me – in some new ways – to lose control.

~Spirit-Led Parenting: From Fear to Freedom in Baby’s First Year

This was new and scary.  And it was one of the best things that have ever happened to me.

From Fear to Freedom

spirit-led parenting

In Spirit-Led Parenting, Megan and I share the real, raw struggles we each faced as we entered motherhood.  Both of us trying to conform to the infant-care methods that promised strong marriages, obedient children, and God’s order.  And both of us paralyzed with the inevitable fears that came along with our inability to implement those methods in our homes.

Thankfully, God eventually breathed redemption into our stories, turning our tears to trust, setting us free to embrace His lead, and countering fear with beautiful new truths:

  • That it was safe to shake off our failed expectations, step outside our comfort zones and venture onto less-worn paths.
  • That God’s order is concerned with paving the way for Kingdom work, not with the specific ways that families are led to approach their infant’s sleep and feeding plans.
  • That His way for each family is as uniquely-designed as the people He’s woven together within the home.

Learning these lessons did far more than just release me to find freedom in motherhood; it had a ripple effect throughout my spiritual life.

I know for certain this is not true for everyone.  But for me, personal comforts such as perceived control choke out my reliance on Christ’s sufficiency. By giving me the gift of a child who needed to be cared for differently than I had planned, God saved me from myself.  In teaching me to release control, He brought freedom to my life, offered me a real and tangible example of what it means to die to myself in order to serve Him and serve my family, and showed me the beauty found in setting my days to the rhythms of the Spirit.

~Spirit-Led Parenting: From Fear to Freedom in Baby’s First Year

I’m so thankful that my plans didn’t work.

Routine’s Aren’t Bad

I still feel most comfortable within a familiar routine.  And that’s okay.  In and of themselves, schedules and systems and plans – all of those things in which we creatures of habit find comfort – they’re fine and good.  It’s when scheduling is elevated above seeking and planning pushes aside prayer, when the charts and instructions and pre-formed expectations become idols and careful comfort becomes clinging to control – that’s when we run the risk of living under fear instead of following God into freedom.  I’m looking, daily, to let Him teach me the difference.

Maybe someday I’ll even try curling my hair from the right side.

(But probably not.)

Spirit-Led Parenting Blog Tour

Thank you so much for allowing us to share our hearts and message with you today. Please join us as we continue our blog tour in the upcoming weeks:

Where have you had to give up your control and pre-conceived ideas as a parent?

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 western Oklahoma 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.
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