Here are more thoughts on this parenting issue.
Thanks so much, Molly, for you response. I appreciate it very much. I understand that AP parents really don't see their philosophy or its methods as child-centered. I understand that you see the grace in this philosophy. And I also see the various AP folks whose blogs I've read as people who are very determined to make a firm shift from previous parenting styles that they believe are damaging.
I also appreciate that you've also taken a good bit of time to evaluate AP and find places where you feel this philosophy mimics God's parenting. I do not know that that offers a solid Biblical support for AP in its totality; it only means that there are ways that you see it as a parallel.
Your repeated references to GRACE intrigue me. In the church today, this is a huge issue. Much of the modern church focuses on only this aspect of our relationship with God, as if believers have tunnel vision and can see only grace. There is little understanding of his judgment, or his wrath, or his immutability, or his power, or his discipline. Those are uncomfortable elements, and are avoided. Grace is a wonderful thing, and more pleasant to embrace. So, grace becomes everything. But it's a rather narrow way to view God.
Now, don't get me wrong -- Grace is HUGE, and is a foundational part of our relationship with Him. But grace itself is also more complex than most Christians realize, and certainly more complex than your comment implies.
When God allows my family to go without any income for 2 years, is that grace? Yes.
When God gives my mother cancer, is that grace? Yes.
When God causes my pastor's wife to die and leave 4 young children, is that grace? Yes.
When God allows an illness to plague my husband for 15 years and nearly destroy our lives, is that grace? Yes.
Where is that kind of grace, in your parenting? Or do you pick and choose what kind of grace applies? I know these are blunt questions, but they are honest ones. If you want to claim God's parenting as your guide, be careful. He's a mighty tough parent.
Now, many of the beautiful, individual points you made are rather general, and apply to many parenting styles: the importance of comforting and snuggling and physical contact; offering gentleness and forgiveness; not seeing the child as an enemy; servant headship/authority. I've used all these, and more "grace-based" concepts. They are not unique to AP. Some were even included in the Ezzos' philosophy. (And I remember, because I spent hours listening to their tapes!)
All I'm saying is that some AP methods concern me and seem child-centered. Just because a mom using AP feels tender, nurturing or comforting toward her child, doesn't mean that bad methods will be turned to good. Intent isn't everything. I do agree that, with tiny newborns, these methods are usually fine, and are used by almost ANYONE. We tend to hold, snuggle, comfort and protect newborns. I worry that AP parents don't necessarily see these methods as diminishing as the baby gets older. They wear their 3 year olds like they wear their 3 week olds. I think some AP moms love these methods as much for their own comfort as for the baby's.
J - as I've said before, I'm not an Ezzo advocate. Also, as I've heard you say of your own blog, this is my space, and I can state my opinions here. Yes, we disagree, but it's certainly not "unfair" of me to verbalize thoughts I've spent 20 years developing. I am addressing the aspects of AP, not that I've made up, but that have been described to me many times online, by its supporters. I do not agree that they are good for the child, or for the family.
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I do think I've explained much of my own parenting beliefs rather extensively in the past 2 days. But for a recap, here they are:
1) I believe in examining the Scriptures for instructions, and examining God's parenting for examples, as much as is possible, first. This includes discipline, tenderness, firmness, correction, punishment, and forgiveness. I need the discernment to know which ones to use in which situations. I think it's important to know in what ways I CAN imitate God's parenting, and in what ways I CANNOT, and should not, because I'm not able to.
2) It's important to consider always whether the traits you're training into your child are traits you want him to have long-term. It's important to realize that your actions toward your child are training habits and expectations in him. Don't train IN, things that you'll later have to train OUT.
3) Your children are sinners, and they are sinners from birth. You should assume that they will display selfish characteristics. You should anticipate that they will disobey. If you consider your child to be intrinsically good, then you've already violated #1.
4) Children need to be independent, both for their own sakes and the parents'. My parenting should produce children who can easily, confidently, and lovingly remove themselves from me, and attach themselves to a spouse and to God. This removal is a gradual process.
5) No parents have to "endure" the "terror years," indulging children when they are young. Children can be obedient and self-governed even when they are in pre-school. They will demonstrate the qualities you expect and require of them. If people move away from you in a restaurant, that's a bad sign.
6) God has designed the center of the home to be the marriage. Children are most happy and secure when they see their parents loving each other and focused on each other. Children who are the main focus of the home are unhappy and insecure.
7) Be flexible. There's no perfect, single recipe for all children, for all families, for all situations. People who say so haven't learned differently yet. The only standard is God's word.
8) Pray for your children. Be sure to ask forgiveness from your children when you've wronged them. Parents who have never done this need to begin. Allow your children to age and mature, so than as they pass into adulthood you can consider them to be your friends and equals.
--- Okay, so I waxed eloquent when I got going! Is that enough positive for you? These are beliefs I solidified with my husband well before I (or anybody else perhaps?) had even heard of AP, so they weren't formed "in opposition." I've seen the truth of these beliefs played out in my own children and others I know,and their neglect produce children who are painful to be with.
Enough for now! I've enjoyed this thinking and processing!