Discovering Peace and Freedom in Parenting by Learning to Surrender

When I announced the birth of my daughter last week, I mentioned that being a mother is a lot harder than I'd anticipated. I knew it would involve less sleep and lots of diaper changes. Those were the practical things that I knew came with the territory. But what I didn't expect was to feel so unprepared and lost at how to mother this daughter of mine. I'd read so many books and listened to so many other moms share their stories and tips and tricks, that I felt really confident going into this motherhood thing.

Then, my daughter was born and all those tips and tricks and instructions proved useless. Obviously, my daughter hadn't heard about them and how they're supposed to get her sleeping and eating like clockwork, settled down in seconds, and contentedly cooing in her crib.

For the first couple of weeks, I fought to follow all those rules. I fought to try to get her to fall asleep on her own, to stay asleep without a "prop," to nurse full meals, and to have "awake" time. I fought because that's what every professional said to do if you want your baby to develop healthy sleep habits and fit into a nice routine.

It sounds so lovely, to have a baby sleeping through the night and who can fall asleep on her own. Wouldn't that be so nice, so convenient? Absolutely, which is why I fought for it.

But with the fighting came frustrations and feeling like a failure. Because it wasn't working for my baby. They made it sound so easy, but for us, it wasn't. Already I can tell she is a sensitive soul with a tender heart. She craves being held and kissed and fawned over. She craves to know she is loved; don't we all? And so as I fought to get her to follow the rules, she fought back against them with buckets and buckets of tears.

At some point, when too many tears were shed on both our accounts, my husband reminded me that all those professionals might have good ideas but their ideas are not gospel. The Bible does not tell us to put our babies down drowsy and shush them to sleep or else. It does not instruct us about when to wake the babes up and when to make them eat. It doesn't tell us that we should make them sleep here or there or let them cry for a certain amount of time.

No, the Bible's instruction on raising children is sweet in its simplicity. It tells us to love our children, to sacrifice for them, to teach them about the Lord, to model the ways of Jesus to them, to discipline them as they grow, to instruct them in the way they should go. Those are the priorities we ought to strive for in our parenting.

And then one night, as I stayed up with my baby, lulling her to sleep the only way I knew how—by nursing—I felt the Lord whisper to me: Surrender. Surrender these rules and instructions to Him, to her. Look at her and who she is. She is a real person with real emotions and real needs. She isn't simply a piece of wood to be whittled into submission.

She has a heart to care for and tend to. A heart that God has entrusted to me and my husband to love and guide and protect. I cannot afford to neglect that, because that heart can someday change the world and surely will bring glory to God. In the end, isn't that all that really, truly matters?

With that—with a single word and a single reminder to surrender—I felt a new sense of peace take hold in my parenting. I free to mother her as I like: To listen to her rather than to a stranger. To listen to God rather than to a man.

We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. 
We must not just please ourselves.
Romans 15:1

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Introducing My Daughter!
Waiting on God and Praying for a Child


  1. amen to this! it's good to learn early on that our expectations are often disappointments in training. today, as my almost 1 year old flung poo around his room and refused a nap that whole "surrender" thing became my lesson all over again!!!!

  2. So great! I didn't learn this lesson until my 3rd child!
    God bless!

  3. Beautiful! I am awaiting the arrival of our second child in April. I just finished reading a book that talks about this very thing. It was an excellent book, in my opinion! It was called "Spirit-Led Parenting: From Fear to Freedom in the First Year", by Megan Tietz and Laura Oyer.

    1. I was going to recommend this book too! Our 5-month old is still not a great sleeper and I can still get frustrated, but I am learning to lower my expectations and enjoy these days when it seems like all I do is rock and nurse, because soon he will be much more independent!

  4. I have the fears of this and not being able to let go and care for my baby in a way that is unque and a fit for us as an individual family. This post is refreshing and I applaud your honesty! After being a nanny for many years, I fear that all the tricks that had worked wont work and I'll find myself craving. I choose to remind myself that my strength comes from The Lord. I loved your comments on child rearing philosophy isn't the bible.

    Much love!

  5. So I read your blog in Feedly but I had to click over for this. A big THANK YOU! Your honestly is so refreshing. Here is the thing I have learned: most babies are just exactly like your baby. Truly. I have had two now and they are like that. They want your love and they want to be connected to you literally 24/7. And you know what? That is ok. I like it. Heck ya, it is a burden sometimes. Motherhood is hard. But it is worth it. I have a loving, happy 5 year old who I nursed every night for 2 years. She weaned and is in her own bed. Now I have a 9 month old who is laying right next to me while I catch up on blog reading. He is fast asleep. If he wakes up, I will nurse him to sleep again very quickly. I love it. (Most nights...)

  6. Thanks for sharing your heart about this, Carmen. I know that in a few short weeks, I will be needing this reminder.

  7. Congratulations for trusting your own instincts. Let me give you hope and confidence for the future. Your daughter sounds a lot like my oldest. I surrendered and parented the best I could for my baby. And I took a lot of flack for it from friends and family. My daughter is now a teenager and she is the most confident, considerate, independent in a good way, caring, self possessed young lady you could ever hope to meet. I am so glad we parented her with the closeness and attention she demanded as a baby.

  8. Oh I LOVE this! Thank you!!!

    I wrote a similar post when my little guy was about three weeks old and still - at 20 months - I am reminded to "surrender" every day. :) Beautiful!

  9. Wow this is so wonderful. Thanks for sharing such a personal experience so truthfully. After three kids, I have found and am still being reminded that all answers to every parenting issue - sleeping, eating, balance with the rest of life, etc. - can be found through studying the scriptures and turning to the Lord. (2 Nephi 32:3 - ...the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do) He is the perfect parent, the parent also to our own children, he loves them as much and more perfectly than we do, and he wants to help us and teach us how to be the best we can for them. But the answers definitely do not come right away and not without work and trial and error on my part. But they always come, the problems become resolved, I learn and grow. I loved when you said to listen to God rather than to man, so true. We should study and educate ourselves and learn from other's experiences, but ultimately it comes down to you mothering and parenting the way you feel you should, so when you go to sleep at night you can feel positive about your work in nurturing your children. Thank you for letting your light shine! :)


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