Back when I only had one child, a spirited, spunky, wonderful little girl, I did a lot of things parenting-wise that many people seemed to looked down on, and I did other things that people just chalked up to my inexperience. Some thought I’d change as my child grew older. . . . I was just a new mom with one child after all, and what did I know?
Some of the “unusual” things I did as a mother were to respond to my little girl’s cries, wear her in a sling and try to carry her as much as she wanted, and try so hard to discipline her with gentleness. Though some looked down on certain choices I made, the choices felt right to me. Discouragingly, many of the warnings against the type of parenting to which I felt God leading me came from Christians, but I knew that the intentional parenting choices I was making fit with how I knew God to be — loving and gracious and responsive.
When my daughter was only a couple months old, there was a time when I didn’t respond to her cries, and I left her to cry alone to try to get her to sleep better at night, and I regretted it deeply. I felt that I made that choice due to worries brought on by outside influences, when instead I wish that I would have had the confidence to follow my heart and my God-given mothering intuition. I wish I hadn’t worried when my daughter was younger that I was spoiling her by answering her cries, by nursing her on cue, by holding her as much as she wanted. So when my daughter was a toddler, first I started a personal website encouraging responsive parenting, which is often called attachment parenting. Then about a year later, seeing a specific need to encourage Christian mothers, since often it’s in church or from Christian parenting gurus where we hear warnings about spoiling our children if we answer their cries too readily, I started a group called Gentle Christian Mothers (GCM) to help encourage other mothers to listen to their mothering intuition and to responsively meet their children’s needs and to help show that indeed it is biblical and God-honoring to responsively meet the needs of our little ones.
GCM actually first began simply as a webring. As I was meeting other mothers online through my personal website and coming across websites belonging to other Christian mamas who also parented in a responsive, natural, attached way, I thought it would be good to build a support network through linking together websites of like-minded mamas. So in 1997 I started the Gentle Christian Mothers webring. I hoped it would encourage other gentle mamas and would help to spread the word that Christianity and attachment parenting are more than compatible and that attachment parenting is biblical.
As the internet changed so did GCM, and in 1999 I started the Gentle Christian Mothers message board and closed the webring. Our message board is still around. It’s a wonderful community, and our message board is 13 years old now.
And I am no longer a new mom! My little girl I mentioned is now 16 years old, and she’s such a wonderful, beautiful daughter. I also have 3 other wonderful children–a 13-year-old son, an 11-year-old daughter, and an (almost) 8-year-old son. And have I changed my views over the years? Not on the core things I mentioned above. I still strongly believe in the importance of attached, responsive, gentle parenting. I believe in it more even more strongly today than I did back then. Parents won’t spoil their little ones by answering their cries, or by carrying them a lot, or by feeding them on cue. They won’t spoil them if they use gentle discipline. These things build trust and connectedness. They are not quick fixes, and they won’t create children who “snap-to” and listen to our every command, and it’s not always easy, at all, but they are things that help build a beautiful relationship with our children, and Lord-willing, prayerfully, we hope that this helps model, in a small and limited way, the gracious and loving way our Father parents us, and how we can have a wonderful relationship with Him. Our God is a gracious God, and above all I want my children to know that and to know that He is always there for them, and loves them, and accepts them, and is waiting with open arms for them.