Naptime and bedtime and Galatians 5
My husband said that his parents used to lock his older brother in his room, because his brother knew how to get out of the house. One morning, they heard him knocking on the neighbor's door at 7:00 am, asking if a friend could come out to play. And the lock went on. On the heels of that story, John would then say, to my horror, that he couldn't wait to lock his children in their rooms. I must say, I didn't want to lock my child in his or her room. Visions of the nightly news and the letters C, Y and S would parade through my mind, as I envisioned the potential ramifications of locking my child in...
But push came to shove, and Isaiah wouldn't stay in his bed or his room for any period of time. We tried laying next to him. We tried reasoning with him about why he needs to stay in his bed and sleep. We tried punishing him for getting out of his bed. We tried letting him get into our bed to sleep. We tried telling him that everyone sleeps, the neighbors, friends, mommy and daddy, everyone... But nothing would work, he wouldn't sleep and wouldn't stay in his room. The bedtime drama would inevitably last too far past bedtime, to the point where Isaiah was extremely overtired, and no amount of pleading or punishing would make any sense. Finally, we had to do what I said I didn't want to do. We had to lock him in his room and let him cry it out. And thus far, it has been the only thing that works. The first night or two he cried a lot and I felt like a terrible mom. I wanted there to be something else that would work, but I was at the end of my resources and was getting sleep deprived. And each subsequent night there was less and less crying. We still aren't to the point of no crying at bedtime, but maybe we will be there soon. In fact, the last few nights he threw a big fuss after our bedtime routine, cried for five minutes or less, and went to bed. Success is getting closer!
Other ladies out there - moms and moms to be - don't judge me. It's so easy - and so dangerous - to say that "I'll never..." or "I'll always..." do whatever action you deem worst or best for your children and to judge moms who do those things. We must realize that as moms, we are ALL trying to do our best. We ALL want to raise lovely children. And although we all have the same aim in the arena of child rearing, not all children are the same, not all parents are the same, and not all situations are the same. Something that works for one child doesn't work for another, and we can't judge other moms because we think our way is best. That just causes discord between moms and some severe cases of mommy guilt from fear of being judged. The worst part is it seems that there are a plethora of instances where moms judge each other: breastfeeding versus formula feeding, natural birth versus C-section birth, circumcision versus non circumcision, and Attachment Parenting versus Babywise Parenting, just to name a few. Discussions get heated, opinions get aired, and people get hurt.
Extend this to life outside of mommyhood... We often judge others when they don't do life like we do, forgetting that just because we do something doesn't make it the only right way. If I don't want to eat organic, but you do, what is it to you? If I want to cloth diaper my baby, and you want to use disposables on yours, who am I to judge you? If I like to shop exclusively at Aldi, but you think Giant Eagle is where it is at, do you look down your nose at me? If I want to stay home with my children, but you don't think it's best for your family, why should I say a word? If you want to date from a singles website, but that's not how I did it, who am I to say God doesn't work that way?
We all have our opinions, but they are just that, opinions. Armed with our opinions, we pass judgment on others. We judge because they aren't like us, don't do as we do, and don't agree with our methods either. We pass judgment without knowing the whole story, when if we knew the story, we would understand. Moms seem to do this a lot, Christian moms included. And it's sad. There IS an arena where we are called to judge each other, but that is reserved for the Christ follower involved in sin within the body of Christ, the church (I Corinthians 5 and a topic for another day). If we are talking about how we do our finances, our marriages, our child rearing, or any other area that doesn't involve sin, we are free to do what works best for us. If it's not a sin, we have freedom in Christ to live our lives (Galatians 5). And we are not to use our freedom to indulge in sin, but to serve one another in love. Where there is not sin, it's just a matter of difference of opinions. And people using those opinions as a standard to pass judgment on others.
So back to locking my child in his room. I would judge. Just being honest, but I would. And that's why I digressed to my little life lesson here in this blog. Because it applies to me too. Is it sinful to lock my child in his room? No, I'm just forcing him to stay in his room. If I had reason to think something was wrong, I'd check on him. Locking the door doesn't hurt him. In fact, he is better for it, because he is back to napping during the day, up to three hours some days, and sleeping at night, sometimes up to 12 hours! So before you judge so quickly in a situation, stop and think. Keep your opinions to yourself if sharing them cannot be done in a helpful, loving way or if they are not asked for. Do what you can to keep from passing judgment on others on things that really don't matter. Your judgments just cause dissension and strife. Seek to use compassion and understanding to discover why others do what they do in parenting, marriage, finances, and life and why it works for them. You may learn a thing or two. And what works for them, may just work for you.