This powerful word evokes strong feelings in each of us. For some, it conjure flag-waving and patriotism. For others, it speaks to the purpose of a spiritual faith. In Western culture, freedom is honored, cherished, and pursued.

Who would be afraid of freedom?

As it turns out, we were.

My friend Laura and I were good girls who had grown up to become good women, women who were relied-upon, predictable, and responsible. We were women who were highly invested in doing things the right way. When we each discovered we were pregnant with our first children in the spring of 2004, we began to ask around, seeking answers from trusted friends and family members about how, exactly, does one care for a baby the right way.

We reached out for The Rules.

And The Rules were what we received. These Rules worked wonderfully for many families, and The Rules were passed on to us with glowing smiles and the highest praise. As we read The Rules in the books that we were given, we internalized the instructions and found great comfort and peace in knowing that in all the uncertainty that parenting a new baby brings, at least there was the assurance of structure, stability, and order.

We wanted strong marriages, happy children, and efficient homes. It simply never occurred to us to wonder where freedom fit into the equation. Freedom seemed to run contrary to The Rules.

Freedom was for the families who let their kids stay up late into the night until they simply passed out on the carpet after a long day of play. Freedom was for the families who consistently showed up fifteen minutes late for every event with complete disregard for the schedules of others. Freedom was for mothers who nursed their babies anytime and anywhere, with no concern for the activities going on around them.

No, freedom sounded good on paper, but it was for other families and not for us. We had every intention of following the black-and-white instructions that worked well for others. When fears began to creep in about what life with a baby would look like, we found comfort in the pages that explained The Rules, and our fears were replaced with happy daydreams of order, harmony, and predictability.

And then our babies were born.

And as it turned out, trying to do things the “right way” was harder than we ever could have imagined. Every time we turned around, in every area of parenting a baby, we were forced to choose between following The Rules or following our hearts. As the disconnect grew between the right way in the books and the right way in our hearts, so did the internal anguish each of us were experiencing.

We had hoped to feel more deeply connected to other parents in our community who supported and encouraged The Rules; instead, we felt alienated and alone.

We had planned to strengthen our marriages by guarding against a child-centered home; instead, all of our obsessing over The Rules led to—you guessed it—a child-centered home.

We believed we would find comfort and peace in the instructions set forth by The Rules. Instead, we found ourselves sobbing nightly into our pillows, crushed by another day of failing miserably.

Breaking the rules left us broken and hurting, burdened by a sense of failure. And that is when God rescued us with His message of freedom.

Photo by {Charlotte.Morrall}

God spoke into our darkest days as new mothers and assured us that there was, indeed, a right way to parent a new baby. And this right way was one that was perfectly crafted for each individual baby, exquisitely tailored to meet the needs of each unique family.

The right way to parent a new baby was one that could never be fully captured in a set of instructions; rather, it was a way that meant stepping out into the freedom of following what we know to be best for our own children.

We’ll be the first to admit that at first we were terrified. The Rules looked like a master-planned community with row after row of pristine houses with smiling neighbors who waved to each other across neatly manicured lawns. The way of freedom looked like a narrow path through an unknown wilderness.

But once we found the courage to speak out loud about what we were learning as we explored this newly-found freedom, we discovered that there were others on the same path. We began to talk about how The Rules worked great for some families, but they didn’t work quite so well for us, and how every aspect of our lives had been changed by making the simple choice to do what we knew was best for our own children.

And from the discussions on this once-lonely path, a beautiful community grew. And from our own stories and the stories in our community, a book began to take shape. Oh, we’ve laughed and laughed, Laura and I have, over the two of us writing a book about parenting a new baby. It was, after all, those parenting books that caused us so much angst as new mothers.

But we truly believe that the message of Spirit-Led Parenting: From Fear to Freedom in Baby’s First Year is a powerful one, one of redemption and renewal and growth. It is our hope that when new parents reach out for The Rules, as we once did, that what they’ll receive in the pages of this book is not another set of instructions, but rather all the permission, encouragement, and support they need to confidently choose the way of freedom as they navigate the challenges and joys of baby’s first year.


This giveaway has now ended.

Megan and Laura are graciously giving TEN Simple Mom readers a copy of their new book! I’m so thrilled to bless you with it and to shout about this book from the rooftops. It’s so very beautiful, so comforting and encouraging; I kept saying, “Yes! Yes!” as I pored its pages.

This is one of the best parenting books I’ve read. Seriously. It’s my new first-time mama gift.

To enter to win a copy of this book, simply leave any comment on this post! (If you’re reading this via email, you must click over to the post to comment.)

This giveaway will end tomorrow night, April 17, and I’ll announce the winners soon after. I hope you win!

Spirit-Led Parenting: From Fear to Freedom in Baby’s First Year is the first release from authors Megan Tietz and Laura Oyer. Megan writes about faith, family and natural living at SortaCrunchy and lives in western Oklahoma with her husband and two daughters. Laura blogs her reflections on the real and ridiculous things of life at In The Backyard, and makes her home in Indiana with her husband, daughter, and son.

This post is part of a lovely blog tour—head to the rest of these sites for more chances to win a copy: