Spirit-Led Parenting: overcoming the fear of freedom


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:

top photo source

Megan Tietz wants you to join her on the front porch for some long talks and iced tea. She lives in the heart of Oklahoma City with her husband, two daughters, and twin sons. Catch up with her at Sorta Crunchy and join the conversation in her Facebook community.

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  1. This book sounds incredible. I hope I win a copy!

  2. I would love to get my hands on this book! Megan’s words here and on her blog have so often articulated what I have needed to hear.

  3. That does sound like a good book! I can totally identify with trying so hard to do things RIGHT. Especially with my first child.

  4. Bekah M. says:

    Im not a mommy yet , but know that I struggle with the “right way” to do things. I’d love to have a copy to help me prepare to be a free mama!

  5. Would love to win a copy!

  6. As a mom who fears sooo much and tries to control a lot of aspects in my parenting, I know I could use this book! Thank you soo much for the chance!

  7. Me, me, pick me! I would love a copy!

  8. I followed the rules with my daughters and thought they were working for our family….until I looked back and realized how stressed I was!! I’d love to be able to pass something like this on to my new mom friends!

  9. Just saw this on your reading list the other day and looked at it on Amazon. I would love to read this. I think even if I get it for free, I’ll be buying one for a friend who is due in June with her first. Thanks for recommending it!

  10. Sounds like a great book! My daughter is only 3 months old and I’ve been struggling with “the rules” vs what works for our family and also trying to listen to my gut-mothering instinct.

  11. BethAnn Rivers says:

    Thank you for this oppurtunity, I love the idea behind this book! Its definitely a new idea in the world of parenting books! Cant wait to read it, i have three little ones under the age of 4 and its so easy to get stuck on rules without thinking about the present situation, and losing grace.

  12. It sounds like such a wonderful book, I’d love to read it.

  13. I could really use some encouragement right about now — and this is my third baby, breaking all of The Rules.

  14. Oh, those rules….

    I prefer to think of them as guidelines. The kind I colour outside of.

  15. Sounds like just the thing I need to read at this stage of parenting 4 monkeys!

  16. oh my. i think this i need to read, here now in the thick of it.

  17. This book sounds great. With a 7 week old baby I think I need this!

  18. This book is amazing, as are Megan and Laura. I bought it and read it in one night thinking, I wish I had this with my firstborn. I think it will save a lot of new moms the pain and frustration of feeling like failures. It is a message that all new moms should carry with them. I agree with you, Tsh, this will be my new first mama gift for any upcoming baby showers.

  19. Sounds terrific!

  20. I really enjoyed reading your post, now my frinfgers are cossed for this giveaway!

  21. Anita B. says:

    As a YOUNG first time mom I sought out those Rules. Now I generally seek to break them. Funny thing, my husband has started calling me “crunchy”.

  22. I’ve been watching the progress of this book with much interest – it sounds like the book I NEEDED to read before my first, instead of the ones that I did read! I’m about to have baby 2, so it would be a big boost, and a great one to loan 🙂

  23. This is the book for me. Hope I win. Great post. I am a chronic rule seeker. There is something about raising children that turns convention on its head. That’s probably a good thing.

  24. Would love to read this!

  25. What a lovely post. This resonates with me, as our family always tends to go against the grain. I’ve grown to like it that way. Thanks for sharing your work!

  26. Thank you for the chance to win!

  27. What a wonderful post- I’m sure the book is just as amazing! Would love to win a copy to read and then pass on!

  28. What a wonderful perspective!

  29. God and I have been talking a lot about freedom recently. I would love to read this book!

  30. I can’t wait to read this!

  31. What a quietly powerful post. I’ve found it so hard not only to “let” others have that freedom for what works best in their families, but for myself. Thanks.

  32. this sounds wonderful. I would absolutely love to read it!

  33. I’m so happy the book is out! I’ve been waiting to get my hands on a copy since I read about the book months ago on Megan’s blog!

  34. Would love to win! I’m just coming out of year one and definitely could have used this perspective over some of the other “helpful” books I read.

  35. This book sounds great, I’d love to win!

  36. Sounds like something many new moms should read.

  37. I need to grasp this reality DAILY… no longer in the baby phase, but I have a 2 year old and a 3 year old… and it’s wonderful and exhausting and challenging to navigate these waters. Thanks!

  38. As we prepare for #2 coming in a few weeks, I know I’ve already learned so much from my 20-month old, but am definitely going to need to be reminded over and over again that what worked the first time won’t automatically be the same with this one. Definitely don’t know how I will balance it all without God’s help!! Book looks great 🙂

  39. I don’t have kids yet, but I identify with the fear of freedom! I need this book!

  40. I am due in 3.5 weeks with my first baby. Would love to read this book!

  41. Laura Choy says:

    Sounds like a great book. I can totally relate to this struggle. After having three boys And struggling to find how to be the parent that God created me to be I now have a passion to help other moms understand what this God given role of parenting looks like. Would love to read this book and then be able to point other moms to this resource. God bless!!

  42. I believe any parenting book or set of rules that makes parents believe that life with a newborn has any assurance of structure, stability and order sets us up for utter failure. I’m very excited to read this book. I too grew up as the good girl. Thankfully by the time I had a child I had broken free from some of the rules in other areas of my life that allowed me to fairly easily break free from the rules surrounding newborns. I did, however, find myself very lonely until I found like-minded people on the web. Thanks for sharing your stories.

  43. Sounds really interesting. I’ve survived my journey of parenthood to the 2 year mark so far, but I remember desperately reading everything in sight to try to figure what WHAT THE HECK I was supposed to be doing with this tiny creature.

  44. I would love to win this book to give to my daughter-in-law, whose baby is due in two weeks.

  45. I wish this book had been available when we had our first baby.

  46. Megan and Laura, your book sounds so wonderful! My kids are teens now, but your words still apply perfectly. I would love to win a copy of your book!

  47. I would love to get my hands on a copy to pass on to a friend who just had her first… I might read it before I give it to her 🙂

  48. Yes please!

  49. Hannah D. says:

    Your experience sounds a lot like mine. I am SO GLAD there’s a book like this and the word is getting out!!

  50. I would love to win this, it seems like an amazing resource!

  51. This book sounds fabulous!

  52. sounds like a great read!

  53. This sounds perfect because, yes, I have been THAT mother…

  54. I can really relate to a lot of what’s written in this post. I was a little obsessed with The Rules with my first child & life got so much sweeter when I just let go of some of The Rules. I try to encourage new moms to do just that, and to not feel like they need all the new baby ‘stuff’ in the mega stores. It is freedom, and I would love to read Megan and Laura’s book.

  55. Heidi Felton says:

    Oh my. This sounds like just what I need to read and then share. So much Mommy guilt over my “failure” to do things right!

  56. A friend just recommended this book to me a few days ago after she heard about it! How fun to see it previewed here as I check in for some “Mama encouragement” this morning. Would LOVE to read it and share it with my friends! =)

  57. Please let me have a copy! I am in need of this resource right now with my 4 month old! I feel like it will really help!

  58. Thanks for the opportunity to win this book! I’ve been eagerly waiting for its release! 🙂

  59. I’d love to win a copy!

  60. I would LOVE to win this book! I will be a first-time momma soon. This is the kind of thing I have been looking for!

  61. Katherine says:

    Can’t wait to read this!!

  62. I would love to win this book.

  63. I read all the books with my firsts (twins) and would love to read this book with my next baby, due in July.

  64. I felt like this post was speaking directly to me!

    • My 3 children are now 7,9,10 and I still have those ‘ crying under the covers’ moments. How can this be when I followed all the rules? (sarcasm intended)

  65. Christine S says:

    I’m having my second baby this June. I would love a chance to read this and share with other new moms!

  66. Mollie A. says:

    I would love to win a copy!

  67. Heather M. says:

    Oh I would love to win this book, my third boy is due in 4 weeks!

  68. Kimberly says:

    Struggling with this right now . . .

  69. Sarah B. says:

    I just happen to come across this and it is just what I need. My husband and I were just talking last night how hard it is to have things go by “The Rules” with our little loves being 20 months apart. Adding more seems that it would make it impossible and yet I long for more children. I can’t wait to read this!
    I think I need two, one for me and one for my sister in-law

  70. I’m so excited about this book! I resonate with Megan and Laura’s experience so much, and am so thankful they’ve written this book for moms like my younger self.

  71. I would love to win a copy. I’m looking for a good parenting book to read!

  72. Sounds like a very interesting book. I’d love to read a copy.

  73. I would love to win a copy of this book. I’m always searching for ways to ‘improve’ or just analyze my parenting…even though my kids are getting ‘older’, I still find myself struggling with things that I’ve struggled with since they were newborns…a glutton for punishment, that’s me! LOL

  74. Kristen Rowe says:

    Sounds like a great book! Hope that I win a copy!

  75. I’d love to read it!

  76. Sounds great!

  77. This sounds really interesting. And good timing–I have a newborn right now. My third child was born just 7 weeks ago!

  78. Beautiful story!!

  79. well if i don’t win a copy i’m definitely going to buy one. it actually sounds like a breath of fresh air to read -Amy (new mama soon to be)

  80. I would love a chance to read this book!

  81. That sounds like a great book!

  82. I would LOVE to have a copy of this book to share with new moms!

  83. Becky Marshall says:

    I would love to win! Thank you so much!

  84. I love this post. That is it, exactly.

  85. I have only heard good things about this book … definitely sounds like one to be on the shelf of every parent!!! I am looking forward to reading my own copy … it will definitely be bought in the likely event I don’t win a copy. Thankyou SimpleMom for hosting such a worthwhile giveaway, and thank you to the authors for writing such a needed book for first (or really, any)-time mums!!!

  86. I love reading parenting books for new ideas; the best advice I ever read was in William and Martha Sears The Baby Book: “if it’s not working for you, change it!”

  87. Yep. This sounds wonderful. Mom of a 4 yo, 3 yo, and 5 month old. 😉

  88. Looking forward to checking out this book. You have to follow what feels right to you.

  89. Sounds good! Would love to get a chance to read a copy!

  90. I’d love to win a copy!

  91. Celina Green says:

    Lovely – wish I would have had it with my first . . . but there’s always the next time 🙂

  92. I love Megan’s blog, and I’m interested to read this book – I’d love to win a copy!

  93. I would LOVE a copy of the book — I’ve been waiting for it! I would love to find some encouragement as I continue to navigate the way of freedom in my own baby’s first year (she’s currently 9 months). 🙂

  94. oh, pick me pick me!
    We are having our first next month!

  95. Kim Hochstetler says:

    I’ve heard good things about this book.

  96. I know just the first-time mama I would love to give this book to. She is a sweet woman in my life group and would love the message from this book.

  97. This sounds like a wonderful book. God willing, my husband and I hope to start a family soon, and I’m sure the benefits of reading this book would be far greater than allowing myself to feel trapped by the rules in so many other parenting books out there! Thanks for the giveaway!

  98. I’m having my first baby in September, and I’d love to have this book!

  99. eeee I hope I win too! if not I’m sure I’ll be buying it though…

  100. I would love to win this! One of my good friend’s and I are going through a very similar thing and this sounds so encouraging! It seems to fit right in with what God has been speaking to me lately!