A few weeks ago, I received an advance copy of Spirit-Led Parenting: From Fear to Freedom in Baby’s First Year by Megan Tietz and Laura Oyer. My baby turns five this summer, but the guilt and fear of the baby years left bruises and scars that I still carry today. Those wounds began to heal as I read this book. Friends, “Spirit-Led Parenting” is far and away the most grace-filled, encouraging, find-your-God-given-parenting-style book I’ve ever read (and I’ve devoured countless parenting books these last twelve years). The writing is excellent, and the stories and wisdom within will free you to follow God’s leading as you raise each individual child in your home in the way that best fits them and you.

Megan (who blogs at SortaCrunchy) and Laura (who blogs at In the Backyard) start at the beginning — our fear of failure. They know it intimately and how that fear drives us to prescriptive and rigid approaches to parenting with their promises of perfect children. But they also know first-hand how those approaches may or not may not be right for us and our children. In fact, rigidity and rules fail to recognize the uniqueness of each individual, even as infants.

“Just under the surface of every unexpected turn on the parenting path is the gripping fear that we are failing these little ones who are so desperately dependent on us to do this the right way.” (p 18)

As they address specific topics we face in baby’s first year, including feeding, sleeping, marriage, and sex, Megan and Laura encourage parents to avoid the trap of applying one-size-fits-all parenting rules to the challenges we face with our babies. They point us to God, remind us that He promises, through the Holy Spirit’s direction, to guide us and equip us for everything we will face. They free us to follow our parenting instincts as God-given and to step outside of the rigid rules if that is what seems best for our specific situation. They walk the line between widening the array of options and advocating any one approach, and they share how different their approaches were from one child to the next.

Here are a few quotations from the book that caught my eye.

On night-time feedings:

“Could it be that the time we spend caring for our children in those dark, quiet hours have more impact than we realize in shaping their security, trust, and confidence in us? And that such deepening of our relationship with them could be an incredible asset as we seek to guide them, with God’s help, to new level of emotional and spiritual growth in the future? (p 68)

On marriage:

“As we reflect back on our own fears about the negative ways that parenting can affect a marriage, we’ve discovered a core issue: somewhere along the way, a false dichotomy has been created, one that says you must either give precedence to your spouse or to your children. This dichotomy creates a view on family life in black and white terms, when the reality is that life with children often ends up lived out in the gray areas.” (p 79)

On bonding:

“Such an unfathomable sacrifice on the part of Father who couldn’t bear to be disconnected and separated from His beloved children because of their sin. It should be no surprise that a God who loves us so intensely would create us to desire that bond with our own children. To ignore the emotions that compel us to meet the needs of our infants would be to ignore part of what makes us image bearers of Him.” (p 121)

On co-sleeping:

“Sharing sleep space is primarily an act of emotional intimacy. The emotional safety of a shared sleep space does make it a natural place for sexual intimacy, but it is the emotional connection, not the sexual one, that determines whether or not people feel safe sharing sleep. The sign that a marriage is truly on the outs is not that sex stops, but that someone starts sleeping elsewhere – like the couch. Even in our promiscuous culture of casual sex, “spending the night” – co-sleeping – is reserved for couples that have finally made emotional commitment to each other.

 The emotional safety intrinsic to sleep sharing is why we tell secrets at sleepovers, why we bring sick and frightened kids to bed with us, and why lazy Saturday mornings are so wonderful. Sharing sleep allows families to meet a very natural and normal need with their children – nurturing an emotional bond.” (p 127-128)

On growing closer to God:

“Parenting a newborn helped me develop a particular insight into my relationship with God. In the early days of my son’s life, I remember holding him close, enjoying the warmth, cherishing those involuntary sleep smiles, but, oh, I longed for him to reciprocate my affection. Of course, I continued to care for him as best I could, but when I finally saw his first real smile and felt his first hug (I melted with each little pat on my back) I was thrilled. I wonder if this might be how it is with God. his love care for us is never failing, but he also longs for his children to turn our attention to him in worship. I’ve been challenged to be more aware of my expression of love and gratitude toward God. And though my attempts pale in comparison to the love I have received, perhaps they are like the hugs of an infant, sweet delight.” (p 119)

This is the perfect book to give to any couple expecting or caring for a baby (whether their first or their tenth). I can’t recommend it highly enough. Spirit-Led Parenting: From Fear to Freedom in Baby’s First Year is published by and available from Civitas Press. (and of course, on Amazon).

Win a Copy!

I’ve been given a copy of this excellent book to share with one of you. Enter to win your own copy of Spirit-Led Parenting by leaving a comment. Leave additional comments for additional entries if you share this on Facebook, Google +, and/or on Twitter.  You may enter until 10pm EDT on Tuesday, April 15. I will select a winner Tuesday night. Let’s chat — what were or are your biggest fears or areas of guilt about caring for a baby? Mine were spoiling them and setting a destructive pattern so early that I couldn’t change it later.

***UPDATE: Congratulations to Pamela, who posted comment #33! Her comment was selected by random.org.***

This post is part of the Spirit-Led Parenting blog book tour. To read more reviews (and enter to win a copy elsewhere), visit these blogs:

This post contains affiliate links. I received a review copy at no charge. All opinions are my own and cannot be bought via free books.