Bonding Part II & Grace for Us in Parenting

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I recently wrote about bonding and I have just a few more thoughts on the matter that I wanted to throw out there. You see, we just adopted a sweet little 7-year-old boy. And oh my, what a journey we’ve been on. A wonderful, heart-wrenching, beautiful, messy journey. As I wrote about in my last post, I have been amazed by seeing the difference in my attachment to my biological children and my adopted son. I don’t think we can quite wrap our minds around this huge gap until we get the opportunity to stare into the face of it and look at ourselves honestly. It has truly allowed God to begin to clean out some ugly parts of me that I didn’t even know existed.

So many wonderful ladies have rallied around me since that post, and I’m so appreciative. It’s not easy to put yourself out there for everyone to know your struggles. But, I think it’s really important for me to do. I think that putting myself out there and learning to be vulnerable is a small part of what God wants to teach me through this experience.

As I have scrolled through Facebook a million times in the last several years, I’ve seen article after article telling moms what parenting method works and what parenting method will forever scar your children. In recent years, I’ve seen a flood of “attachment parenting” articles. Unfortunately, rather than focusing on the benefits of attachment parenting, so many of these articles are so harsh and cruel.  These articles and posts have made me feel awful many times over and have caused me to question and feel so much unnecessary guilt simply because I chose a different way to raise my babies. So I thought I might offer a little more encouragement for new (and even us veteran) parents out there, since God has enlightened me with a whole new perspective on the issue. I think He has give me a really unique perspective on parenting, having three children from birth and having one child come to us at 7 years of age. Things roll through my mind every day, but the element that has stuck out so clearly to me lately has been the stark contrast of the bond that is so present with my biological children and so very absent from my adopted son, James. Now, let me just interject here and say that James and I have made huge strides in the last few weeks. I am so enjoying this new experience of bonding with him. But I think about the years we missed a lot.

So, on to the encouragement that I promised earlier….here it is. I was a Babywise parent. Yes, I was! All three of my bio babies were raised by Babywise principles. Yes, I let them cry it out sometimes. Yes, they were on a schedule. No, I didn’t wear them. And guess what….we are still very connected and very bonded. We aren’t perfect (after all, who is but Jesus?), but the bond is absolutely there and very strong. That method of parenting was the best choice for us at the time and for our family, and I don’t regret it because we prayed about it. And if you’ve chosen it as the best method for your family, then Good. For. You!

Here’s the thing…I’m not encouraging Babywise principles. I’m not discouraging attachment parenting principles or any other method of raising children. I know a lot of wonderful people who use attachment parenting principles and other parenting methods who have wonderful children and wonderful families. Here’s what I am saying…pray….pray hard…pray often about parenting. Ask God, and not other bloggers, Facebook posts, or even friends, how you should raise your children. Lately, the motto of my heart has been, “I trust You, God.” And that one statement has transformed my life-literally. It’s what I wake up saying every morning since “the turning point” in our adoption (more about that further down), and it’s been amazing to see God work through that small, but really meaningful statement. We need to trust God with our parenting, and with our families.   Pray about the tough decisions that parenting is built on, and then stand firm on those decisions, knowing that God lead you to them, because He knew your children before you knew them. He knew the mom they needed. He knew the dad they needed. And He chose YOU.

That thought is both exhilarating and heavy. But Jesus says, “My yoke is easy, My burden is light.” You know, since I’ve decided to let go and allow God to steer the wheel of my family, I have felt so much better. It’s as if a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders, and I have experienced this verse in a very real way. I still remember the turning point-the night that it began to all click for me. Tim finally, wearily, said to me, “You’re just not trusting God!” and then he very sweetly prayed for me as I sobbed loudly on my pillow. See, I was worried about how James was adjusting, how Isaac was relating to James, if I was giving enough attention to Hannah and Lydia, whether or not James liked me, did we even do the right thing and 500 other things….and through these destructive, pointless worries amongst plenty of worthless guilt I had built up in my mind, I had spiraled myself into a deep state of post-adoption depression that made it difficult for me to even function for the first month of our adoption. And let me just say that for a person who generally sees life as a series of rainbows and butterflies, that was SO hard. (Depression is real and it hurts) But that night, as Tim prayed for me so intently (I am so thankful to have such a wonderful husband who loves God even more than he loves me), I felt all of it melt away, and I realized I hadn’t been trusting God after all. Tim was absolutely right. I needed to hand it over. And I did and I am on a daily basis-and it has made ALL the difference.

So, parents-let’s start making it a practice to hand it over. I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to better our parenting, that we shouldn’t read healthy articles and books that strive to build up, rather than tear down families. I’m simply saying let’s trust God more than we look to Pinterest for parenting. Let’s stand firm in our decisions that were prayerfully made, and above all, let’s follow God.  If we do those things, how can we go wrong?

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