The Great Parenting Divide

Before I had children, I just KNEW exactly how I would raise mine once I did have them. I had all my plans, all my ideas, all my theories lined up neatly on the shelves of my mind just waiting for the moment I held my first baby in my arms. As it happens, 99% of what I thought I would do went straight out the window into the garbage heap once I actually became a mother.

There are just factors that you don’t realize are an issue when you do not deal with your own children on a daily basis. Every kid that you see throwing a raging tantrum in the supermarket isn’t just the product of a home with no discipline. A child that isn’t potty trained at the moment he/she turns two doesn’t necessarily have inattentive or lazy parents. There is just so much that you don’t know until you have children yourself. It’s a humbling experience.

Another thing that I failed to realize is that even once you are a parent, there are still so many rifts thrown in between you and other parents due to differences in parenting beliefs. Breastfeeding vs. bottlefeeding; Cosleeping vs. sleeping in their own bed; to spank or not to spank; when to feed solid foods, when to wean, etc., etc., etc. It’s insane.

Recently, I’ve become aware of a battle within even Christian parenting groups. There is the traditional, “spare the rod, hate the child” group and the “grace-based discipline” group(which is really attachment parenting from a Christian perspective). I have felt at an impasse myself with Sweetpea. She is submerged in being a three year old, testing me at every opportunity, sassing, being deliberately disobedient, lashing out at her brother, etc. This is all typical behavior for her age group, but I feel the desperate urge to get a handle on it, lest I lose what few marbles I still have rolling around in this head of mine. So, of course, I want to find the biblical truths behind raising children.

I’m an AP mom in many, many ways. I babywear, I cosleep, I breastfeed, I cloth diaper, I don’t allow my children to cry it out, etc. Before I even knew what “attachment parenting” meant, I did most of those things. It was just my natural mothering instincts. I had also decided prior to being a mother that I was not going to spank my children. Not because I saw anything inherently wrong with the practice if not overused or overly forceful, but simply because it didn’t suit me, personally.  On the other end of the spectrum, all of my traditionally AP tactics are having zero effect as well. Here lies my impasse.

So, I started researching. Of course, living in the South, in the midst of the Bible belt, spanking is a common occurrence, and if you don’t do it, you are against the grain. After all, the Bible tells us too, right? Well, I’m not so sure. Yes, I’ve read the Scripture. I’ve prayed over them and I don’t know if I believe that the “rod” in Scripture is intended to be metaphorical or not. I fell upon grace based parenting during my research, but I disagree with some points it makes as well. Many AP parents do not like the idea of “training” children, likening it to animal training, but this is something that the Bible clearly tells us we are to do:

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
Proverbs 22:6(emphasis added)

There’s no getting around that. I agree with ideas from both camps. From the “spare the rod” side, I agree that there should be first time obedience. I believe that children should obey their parents the first time something is requested of them.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right”.
Ephesians 6:1

If a parent has to repeat themselves, it isn’t obedience. However, I disagree that the child should be physically reprimanded each time they do not obey upon the first request. I agree that a child should obey whether they like it or not and whether they fully understand the reasoning or not, but I disagree that being an authority figure means that enforcing discipline means being harsh and unloving. So what is a good Christian parent, seeking to raise children who will obey and follow the Lord without question?

The sad fact of the matter is that even amongst the Christian groups, I find very unChrist like behaviors. The separate groups belittle one another, accuse them of twisting Scripture, and dissect the different philosophies until there is NO way to believe but their own. What’s wrong with this picture? As Christians, we have but one person to please and answer to, and that is God. We should be treating each other with respect and love, even when we disagree, and we should read our Bibles and ask GOD to show us the right answers rather than depending on a “parenting guru/expert” to do it for us.

The greatest commandment in the Bible is to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It is listed EIGHT times, so it must be important: Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 19:19, Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27, Romans 13:9, Galations 5:14, and James 2:8. I don’t believe that loving your neighbor includes degrading them, slandering them, and turning others against them. Just a thought.


  1. Hi Dusty! I have this exact dilemma with Jack, so if you find out the magic answer, let me know! I so want to raise him to have an obedient spirit, not just for my sanity (although that’s a big plus too!) but so that he ultimately learns to listen to and obey God. That said, I hate the idea of spanking him, and on the few occasions I’ve swatted him (instances where he’s in danger like repeatedly running out in the road) I feel wrong and he’s inconsolable, which is NOT the impression I’m trying to make. Where I find myself getting caught up too is wanting other people to look at him and think, “What a well-behaved child.” I know I need to spend more time praying for the motivation behind my training of him so that he will understand one day that it is God he is to honor, not rules that make him sit quietly in church.

  2. I’m just checking out blogs, looking for Christian ones mostly, and other things besides. Yours is beautiful to look, and I enjoyed reading some of what you wrote. You are very blessed to be getting a handle on things at such a young age!
    I have a new blog, feel free to check it out if you ever have time!

Speak Your Mind