Sunday, September 2, 2012

People-pleasing Parenting

Being a couple married 15 months with a 5 month old draws a lot of things: stares, raised eyebrows, counting on fingers, "woah's," and yes, scrutiny. I feel like our life and our decisions are under a microscope a lot of the time.

When you have a baby people start giving you advice on everything. I.mean.EVERYTHING. Diapers, when to do food, what foods to do, sleeping schedules, formula versus nursing, clothing choices, what toys your baby needs, how many toys you need....the list is endless. Most of the time I appreciate advice. But I have discovered that, because I am a people pleaser, too much advice overwhelms me and often makes me feel guilty about the decisions I make as a mama.

I take my baby out of his carseat sometimes on extremely long trips after he screams himself hoarse.

I let him lay in his bed by himself and talk a few minutes so I can shower.

I have let Gracin watch a cartoon for a few minutes so I can finish housework.

I let Gracin have water when he was tiny just to keep him flushed out.

Gracin had juice at just a few weeks to help constipation.

I can name a few dozen other things I have done as a parent that would (and has) drawn scrutiny or pointed questions from friends.

I have struggled so much with being a defensive parent. Part of it stems from the fact that I am a brand new mama. When I hear people question my decisions for our baby I put up a guard and then lie awake wondering if I truly am a good mama.

I hate my people pleasing nature. Tonight I found an article that brought my defensive heart to a resting place. I hope it encourages you as it did me.

"You have seen the looks. Looks of disbelief, shock, judgment, wonder and confusion. These are the looks I often get when I tell people about some of my parenting techniques. I have received such looks many times during the past four years of being a parent, but recently I started getting them for one reason in particular—my four year old son does not attend preschool. And I have no plans for him to do so before he starts school next year.

Inevitably while talking with other mothers the topic of preschool comes up. And until recently I was defensive in these conversations. I felt I needed to give a list of reasons as to why my son was not enrolled.

And then, one day I was at the park with my children. Two other children were there with what looked like their grandmother. We started talking and she asked me if my son was in preschool. I said no and then started firing off my laundry list of reasons I keep him home. Refreshingly, the woman did not give me any of “the looks.” She stared hard at me and said, “It’s okay. I understand.”

Her words went straight to my heart and I felt like God was speaking to me. I felt him saying, “You don’t have to defend yourself.” In my twenties, I experienced great freedom when I realized that the only person I needed to please was God. Somehow, in my thirties after becoming a mother, I had lost that freedom. I was too caught up in trying to be the “best mommy” and wanting and do what society deemed as good, whether or not it was the best thing for MY child.

This woman, an angel to me, reminded me that at the end of each day I only have to please God with my parenting. And, God, as our father, is the most gracious, loving and understanding parent of all.

The Bible says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will.” {Romans 12:2} I have spent time renewing my mind through prayer and feel I know God’s will regarding schooling for my son.

How about you?

Do you pray to understand God’s perfect will? Do you parent in a way that is unpopular compared to modern culture and how do you respond to others when they question your choices? Are you defensive or do you rest in knowing that you are doing exactly what God would have you, whether it is popular or not?" (

Oh, may I awaken to the dawning of each day praying to please my God, and not my peers. That's the goal anyway, right?

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