Monday, December 31, 2007

On parenting, pregnancy, and making kids a joy....

Today I read a blog written by one of my longtime friends who is trying to start a family with her husband. It reminded me of the importance of preparation. I decided to write (hopefully) a quick blog on books I've read about parenting that I believe are helpful and useful. Of course, many of them are Christian books because those are the books that line up with my goals, values with parenting. Also, a few helpful tips that others passed along to me while I was pregnant.

If you're pregnant or trying to get pregnant:

1. Prepare now. Make a list of things you will need for baby regardless of the gender like baby wash, baby shampoo, lotion, diaper ointment, etc. and add one to two items to each grocery list. By time baby comes - you'll have a great supply. Warning though - don't buy too many newborn diapers because you never know how quickly (or slowly in Anya's case who can still at the age of

2 1/2 fit into size 2 diapers) baby will grow. We did this and we were well prepared into Anya's birth even.2. Write out your goals and values as parents now.

3. Research. Others have been through this journey called parenting, now that you've created a list of values and morals and goals as parents, go and find others with simiular views and read their books.

4. Create a support group. This is so important. As new parents, it was so easy for Steve and I to become total recluses. It also became so easy to automatically switch into the AP (Attatched Parenting) mode which if you value your sanity, the sanity of your child, and later breaking the children of this horrible learned way of living - do NOT do it. Within a support group, you can setup a babysitting co-op, or just a group of friends who understand if you haven't showered in a few days, if you have spit up all over you, if you can't finish a sentence, etc.

5. Research the benefits available to you around your community and in your local hospitals. Steve and I got so lucky that we chose Summerlin Medical Center (hospital). They have lactation specialists that are always there, breast pumps there, and support groups for after you leave the hospital. I was able to go to a Nursing Support group and from that was able to nurse Anya close to a year whereas with Paul was only able to nurse for about two maybe three weeks due to thrush and my ignorance on how to get past it and continue nursing. I also found a wonderful toddlers support group that I loved.

6. Contact your insurance and know which hospitals it covers - then research each one, plan a visit through the maternity ward, and find out as much as you can about it. For us, SMC was great because the laboring rooms were huge and you were able to labor, deliver, and recover there for awhile before being moved into another area of the maternity ward. They also don't take babies away to a Nursery (unless they're sick). They have a dynamite NICU - experienced this one first hand - and a great staff (we had a few negative experiences, but can't let a few bad apples ruin the whole thing...). Know what to expect.

7. If you don't have a support group that can be there for you when you first come home - be proactive and be prepared. Babies are expensive, so eating out the first month you're home isn't the wisest idea. Instead, make sure you have some easy meals already prepared in the freezer so frazzled mom and tired daddy can simply preheat the oven, pop it in, and serve. And for those instances when you will have buckle and order in - make sure to have on hand plenty of menus. Even the best laid plans can be pushed aside so be prepared.

8. Take note of your everyday routines and plan out the best way to either accomplish them or keep them from building up over time during those first few weeks with baby.

Okay, that list turned out longer than I expected. I'm no expert - but these were pricless pearls of wisedom that I have either learned or been blessed with. Now books. Some of the books I like are very contraversial.

Everyone I know who has read this book says their baby is sleeping through the night as early as three weeks old (most say by 6 weeks though). Not a popular book since AP has taken parents by storm but a great one none the less.

Super Baby Food
This is one I own and to this day still love. The author teaches the parents how to create their own baby food, helps parents be on the look out for food allergies, and it's so healthy. I made 99% of Anya's food when she was a baby and added several of the items the author encouraged parents to add. Partly because Anya was in the NICU the first two weeks of her life, but also because I wanted her to be super healthy. The book includes home remedies, and recipes for both adults and toddlers - from how to make your own playdough, to your own fruit roll ups, to many other expensive yet convient foods/things that toddlers enjoy.
Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp
These two books are not very well liked by many. If you look them up on Amazon they both have low stars, they are tagged under, "abuse, cruelty to children, torture". They are not generally accepted, even supposedly amongst "Christians". In September 2007 Haven Today interviewed Pastor Tripp - I'd link you except that they've been archieved and no longer work.
I personally listened to the interview and found it very helpful in understanding the book.TTUAC and Shepherding a Child's Heart are not easy reads. They require discpline on both the parents' part as well as the children. They are not popular because they do not only support but flatly state the spanking is the only (Biblical) way to discipline your children. Both address that discipline has acquired a negative idea behind it and redirect our thinking.
Punishment and discipline are not the same things. TTUAC does in fact compare training a child to training an animal - which many do find offensive. I have no problem with it because in no way is the author demeaning children, they are in no way instructing the parent to treat the child like an animal - but reminding them that as parents we do train our children. We can either train them behave poorly or we can train them to obediance. Obediance should be our number one goal - not to have a well trained animal, but to ensure the safety of our children.
Tedd Tripp shares how he asked many children what was worse - disobeying their parents or breaking a vase? Many stated the vase. When in reality the worse offense should be disobedance. If children are allowed to be disobediant they are a danger to themselves.
Now, I'll be the first one to say - I have disobediant children, I do not have well trained children. I battle with becoming easily frustrated after two days and then giving up and returning to comfortable AP style tatics. This defeats everything I'll have accomplished in this time. Add to it that my kids are now 2 and 3 and it makes the task that much more dificult. However, it is far better for me to get my children trained now than at 4 and 5, 5and 6, or so forth.
Tripp also brings us to the key - finding the heart of the matter. Which is awesome. It doesn't matter if we've trained the children well if their hearts are in constant rebellion. The example I always share with others (from his book) is this: two children are fighting over a toy, what do you do? The common reaction, he writes, is to ask, "Who had it first?". To then execute justice. I nodded while reading this and agreed. However, this is incorrect. We should be addressing heart issues here, not justice. The heart issue: one child is too selfish to share, one child is greedy and stole from the other. Both are at fault. Both should be punished. I was taken aback, but as I thought about it I realized how true it was.
Finally, communication is vitually important. If we as parents don't establish that now with our children, then it becomes harder and harder as they grow up. Tripp addresses this as well. For all the contraversy surrounding it, I love this book. I would gladly purchase this book as a shower gift for any expecting parent - Christian or not.
To me, these books above are invaluable resources. I've also been recommended the following books about being a wife and a SAHM (Stay at home Mom).
Created to be His Helpmeet (by Debbi Pearl) - it's a really hard read, especially for non-Christians and/or liberals (yes I'm still one). But the advice is sound.
The Excellent Wife (by Martha Peace) - read after Created to be His Helpmeet.
Passionate Housewives Desperate for God by Jennie Chancey - I haven't read this one yet but have it on my Amazon wishlist. I've heard nothing but amazing reviews about it.
And for anyone who like me, enjoys downloading podcasts or sermons to their iPod and going - then here are some great links about parenting.
The 10 Commandments to Child Rearing
Manna Church/ Pastor Michael Fletcher
The two part series below is really great in reminding me what my priorities should be as a parent.
PM me for more recommends. Or subsribe to podcasts like Haven Today, Focus on the Family, Family Life Today with Dennis Rainey, or Parenting with Dr. James Dobson. Again, I don't claim to be a perfect parent or have perfectly behaved children. I do believe this struggle is because of the lack of information or wrong information that I went off of for over 2 years. Make sure you know what you're plan is and then stick to it.
Proverbs 22:6Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

1 comment:

Livingsword said...

Hi Maggie…I dropped by to say Happy New Year to you as I missed Christmas….

I can add a few more things to this article from a different perspective….be sensitive towards those around you who can’t have kids, the Church sometimes exclude Child-free couples at times…always remember that kids are not to take the place of God in your life, don’t make idols of them which some in the Church do since family is so heavily promoted in most Churches….to the wife I say remember and respect your husband, kids will squeeze him out if you are not careful…to the husband I say love our wife and do your share of the work, things will be different with children around, grow up and get used to it…

Take care Maggie…