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 sounds like exactly what I needed when I had my first. I’m still scared to have a second because of the failure I felt! Maybe this would help me overcome it!

  2. Oh I would love a copy, I will probably buy this even if I don’t win! lol

  3. I would love a copy of the book… it sounds like how I feel about parenting, and I’d love to have a copy to pass on to a friend who now has a two week old and an intense need for rules… and so far they aren’t working out very well for her, either.

  4. Sounds a little scary, but I’d read it!

  5. I have an eleven week old baby and spent last Wednesday sobbing because he’s not on a schedule. So I sent out a mass email to every parent I know asking for their advice on parenting books. I’ve started reading some of the recommendations, and I’m learning that maybe my baby really is on his perfect schedule, one that is tailored just to him. But I still feel pressure to follow all the books out there. This book sounds exactly like what I need!

  6. Danielle Harper says:

    I would really love a copy of this book. Me and my husband are seperated right now. He is building his relationship back with God. I am raising our daughter and he is visiting on the weekends. Im praying for God to restore things in our lives and bring our family back together one day. I think this book would really be the guidance I could use right now. Thanks.

  7. Sounds like a fabulous read! Thanks for the give-away!

  8. Oh yes please. This sounds amazing.

  9. Thanks for introducing us to Megan. Her ideas are so inspiring!

  10. Pregnant with #2 now! My son will be 3 in August, I would LOVE this!

  11. I would love to read this book!!

  12. Wow, I’ve been reading Megan’s blog for quite awhile, yet after reading this post my interest in the book is piqued more than ever! I’d love to read it myself and pass it along to my pregnant sister!

  13. I’m due in 2.5 weeks! How awesome would it be to win a copy of this?! 🙂 Loved the article!

  14. Oh, the stress of all the different opinions of parenting books! This book sounds like permission to be free from all the hard and fast rules and being able to follow your mother’s heart.

  15. Emily-Kate says:

    I want to be the best mom that I can be to my 9 month old son! But I can’t be the best, or at least I keep failing in my attempts to be a loving and submissive wife, a caring mom, a good manager of the home and a faithful friend. I would love some encouragement at this time, and wisdom from women and mom’s who have gone before me would be wonderful.

    love from a mom who wants to do her best.

  16. Would love to give this book to my daughter who is expecting her first!
    i might read it first though 🙂

  17. I’d love to read this book! I have a five month old and I think this book would be sooo helpful.

  18. Thanks for sharing your wisdom! Sounds like a great book to read!

  19. Jennifer Ott says:

    We tried “rules”, but they didn’t seem to work for our 4 different children, or for our life. This book sounds wonderful!

  20. oh boy, would i be so grateful for a copy of this wonderful book. thank you.

  21. Would love to win this! Thanks for the message and the post!

  22. Hayden Dunn says:

    We are expecting our fourth in August and have had a similar experience with “The Rules” and don’t want to go back again. Looking forward to reading this book and passing it on to other new Mamas.

  23. wow. i totally identify with this post in every way. thanks for sharing. i’m eager to read the book! thanks for the chance to win! i’m about to have my 3rd baby in a few short weeks and still haven’t figured it all out yet. 🙂

  24. I’m not yet a mother, but have been happily married for a year and half, and children are near in the future. I have so many fears, especially since everyone around me seems to be having babies and each has their own opinion (very strong ones, I might add) about how to raise a baby, children, a family… and it all seems so intimidating to me! All I want right now is to take a deep breath to step back with, know that God’s timing and way is perfect, and find a little advice that won’t make me want to crawl under a rock every time I hear the word “parenting.”

    Thanks for the encouragement to so many wonderful mommies out there!

  25. Looks like a great read!

  26. I can completely relate to this!! I hope I win. 🙂

  27. Stephanie says:

    I would love to give this to my sister who is expecting her first!

  28. Wow – being a first time mom with my little girl turning 4 months this week, this seems like a fantastic book for me to be reading. Thanks for posting about it!

  29. would love to win a copy!! thanks so much for the giveaway.

  30. I wish this book would have been around 20 months ago when my first son was born. Now that I’m expecting baby 2 in a matter of months, I am so excited to read this book as I step into this next phase of parenting!

  31. Spirit Led parenting requires such a reliance on Him and a trust that our hearts can discern His voice. It’s not easy at first. The rules often drown out the ability to hear His heart beating for us and our children.
    I recently told a friend I cannot imagine parenting my sons without God and the Holy Spirit to empower me. My 8 year old had just shared the considerable depth of his brokenness from the startling death of his beloved NaNa. I was asked to explain why God didn’t answer his prayers and make her all better. My heart broke, as did Father God’s. I was given the right words. We are making progress.
    This book is very important. And what is even more important is that we let ourselves (and each other) off the hook of shoulds/woulds/musts!

  32. Oh, I need this book!! I am pregnant with my first baby – at 35 years old – and I am already overwhelmed by “The Rules”. I even wrote about it on my blog! I guess one thing that age has brought is an realization that everything won’t be perfect, but I find myself researching and striving and trying to find all the “right ways”. I can’t wait to read your book!!

  33. Hoping to start a family soon… this would be terrific! 🙂

  34. this sounds like my kind of book 🙂

  35. Would LOVE to read this book!

  36. Oh would LOVE to read this! Thanks so much for the chance!

  37. I just commented, but don’t think it went through. 🙂

    Oh, I need this book! I am pregnant with my first baby at 35 years old, and I am already feeling the pressure of “the rules”. I just wrote about this on my blog! The benefit of age is that I know everything will not be perfect, but I find myself researching and reading and searching for all the “right ways” to do everything. I cant’ wait to read your book!!

  38. I had the same epiphany after I had my three sons. Parenting does include structure for practical things – eat, sleep, etc. But, raising children is a process of letting them unfold, while nurturing their innate interests and gifts. Yes, gentle nudging is required at times. However, to let a child blossom is one of most beautiful experiences a parent can have. Our sons are musicians, writers, swimmers, woodworkers. Their toys always included plenty of dirt, string and tape.

  39. Miriam Rashleigh says:

    I’ve enjoyed the idea of trying to live by the Spirit, and yet come up with some sort of order within the freedom of that, which is very enlightening, and doesn’t fit or make sense to others who don’t “do” that. However, there is a very tricky path when following the Spirit, which is finding what is the way for me and for my family, and then slowly relinquishing control over time as they grow, and also allowing the rule-makers and rule-followers the freedom to choose their path.

  40. Caroline Evans says:

    Sounds great! Thanks for the giveaway

  41. romasummertime says:

    Sounds fabulous – hope to win a copy as I raise my 4 year old and 4 month old!

  42. Generally what helps me to lead a good parenting life is praying to the blessed mother, Mary, to help me be the kind of mother she was. I also pray ps.am 143:8
    “show me the way I should go, oh lord. For to you I lift up my soul”

  43. What an important message. I had a very similar experience with the Rules and Freedom and I am so thankful for God’s grace to me. I’d love to read the book.

  44. Rachel Chapman says:

    I would love to read (and then lend out) this book!

  45. I love the sound of this book! I can relate with this concept. I have 2 girls that I tried to follow the rules with as they were very young and have loosened up quite a bit since then! We now hav a baby boy and I am finding my parenting skills have changed quite a bit and the fact that I lead a spiritual based life now is a huge contributor.

    I would love to win a copy so here’s to hoping!
    Be Blessed!

  46. I am a new mom and I am always open for encouragement that does not leave me feeling like a failure. I want a copy!!

  47. This book sounds like just the thing I need to read as I’m expecting my first little one in 7 weeks!

  48. Just want to say that the idea of parenting based on the unique child is right on. We didn’t realize this until we adopted our youngest two years ago when he was 9 and our biological son was 11. Two VERY different children that require to VERY different approaches. Haven’t got it all figured out, but you are absolutely on the right track with this. Great job!

  49. oh yes please, something I am struggling with right now.

  50. I would love to read this book!

  51. Michelle Killpack says:

    Sounds like an amazing book!!

  52. Oh, Woman! I would love to get a copy! And lots of my friends are preggo, too 😉 Best wishes to us all!

  53. Keli Elkins says:

    I absolutely NEED THIS BOOK! As I frantically search for a way to leave a comment, I know that I’m a rule maker and have tried desparately to live by the rules but they’ e only made me feel like maybe I’m not cut out for this. My husband will be frustrated with me if I spend one more dime or hour on parenting books. So please pick me to get a copy of this book!
    Signed, Mommy of a 4,3& 2 year old 🙂

  54. Marita H. says:

    Looks like a wonderful book for a new mom (or dad)!

  55. I would love to win a copy of this book. I have a 6 month old and a two year old. I am in the trenches and would love to have this book as a reference as I try to navigate those questions in a Christ-centered, true to myself way.

  56. I would SO love to win this book! And thank you SO MUCH for this post! I mean, you’re SO right that we need redemption and freedom in every aspect of our lives, and that includes dealing with babies and raising them and stuff 🙂 Thank you for this new point of view! I’ve tried The Rules with my first baby, and was VERY frustrated that it didn’t go the way i wanted, and that I wasn’t good enough and whatever. I’d love to read this book and be inspired by it with baby #2!

  57. Thanks!

  58. I would love a copy. Thanks!

  59. I would love to read this book, and to share it with my sisters and friends.

  60. Emily Huff says:

    YES! I totally agree with this and would love to read this book. When my kids were little, I had to fight against the voice of the “expert” in my head and just go with what seemed to be best for my child.

  61. Parenting as a Christian has been a bit of a struggle for me over the past few years. I was saved almost 4 years ago and have gotten to the point in my relationship with God that I know I just can’t do anything without His Holy Spirit. Praying I win a copy! God bless you all!

  62. Emily Huff says:

    When my kids were little, I had to fight against the voice of the “expert” in my head and just go with what seemed to be best for my child. I’d love to read this book!

  63. I’d like to win — seems like a great book for me 🙂

  64. This sounds like a wonderful book! My husband and I are expecting our first in June and feel so bombarded with “the rules” that everyone wants to tell us to live by. Sounds like this could provide some much needed encouragement to rely solely on God!

  65. this book sounds great. a friend has been reading it and telling how how much it has helped her.

  66. Sounds like something I really enjoy reading!

  67. I’d love to read this!

  68. This is such a beautiful concept. I’d love to read more about it!

  69. I’m saying “yes, yes” just reading the blog post! So , yes, please!

  70. Sounds like a great book! Hope to win one! 😀

  71. I am very intrigued by this book. It sounds very interesting to me, especially as I am close to having another baby.

  72. Oh how I know that struggle with The Rules! Wish I’d had this book with my first child! Now I am due in Sept with #2 and would love to win this! Thanks!

  73. Planning to be a first time mommy. This could be really helpful as I am terrified of picking up said “rule books” and stressing myself out. I want to be informed, but free to carve my own path. It sounds like this book will help me in that effort. Thanks for writing a book like this!

  74. Thanks for the post- I’d like to give this as a gift!

  75. I would love a copy of this book.

  76. This book sounds amazing! Wish it had been around when my kiddos were little. If I’m privileged to win a copy I will certainly read it and then share it with my doula clients!!!

  77. I would love to win a copy of this book. I have a 3 week old and a toddler. I think to myself all of the time, “I hope I’m doing this right” – the pareting thing that is…

  78. This would come in handy for my doula clients! Sounds fantastic!

  79. When I was a new mother I also wanted to follow all the rules and be the “perfect mother”. Now I am more concerned with loving my children and praying about them and doing what is in God’s will. As my husband and I look forward to having more children in teh near future, I would love to read this book and glean more wisdom on how to let God be in charge of my childrens’ lives and futures.

  80. This is an epiphany! Sometimes patenting can feel very lonely. Besides the comfort and company of children, it is hard to find another adult in the world that fully understands! I hope to win a copy of this book!

  81. Jes Beachy says:

    As a mother of four girls this post blessed and encouraged me! So thankful that I can look to my Lord for directions 🙂

  82. The book sounds so wonderful!

  83. Kristi Cornell says:

    This book sounds awesome. I think I would love it. Thanks

  84. Can’t wait to read this book!!

  85. Sounds like a wonderful book! I would love a copy!

  86. Holly Elder says:

    A great book for my daughter who just gave birth……

  87. Jessica Carlson says:

    Beautiful intro…I definitely have my collection of “parenting” books that have been my guide in this journey. It’s certainly a leap to step outside of those and follow your own intuition.

  88. I love it. But while identifying and learning to love our differences, the most important thing is to remember that deep down, we are all the same – we all have a desire to give and receive love and to have happy, healthy children.

    I’m guessing I can’t win as I’m outside of the US, but sounds like a great book!

  89. I’d love to win a copy. Thank you!

  90. As I lay here on my couch with terrible Morning sickness I was brought to tears while reading your blog. Oh how I long to be set free from all the should dos and must haves. I literally was feeling this time like I don’t even want a baby shower bc it seems to be one big advice giving festival. So much to bear as a new mom. If we could only look inside to follow The
    Mommy instincts the Lord has given us. Thank you for writing such an inspiring work.

  91. I would love to win a copy of this book! It sounds wonderful!

  92. I have heard so many good things about this book. I would love to win one!

  93. Danielle says:

    I have a friend in mind to gift this book to already!

  94. I would love to win a copy!

  95. I would love to read this book! Due in september with my second and all my friends are having babies now so we could pass this one around.

  96. Amy Mathison says:

    The parenting book I wish I would’ve had when beginning my parenting journey! Thanks for sharing!!!

  97. Jennifer D. says:

    You’ve hooked me. It sounds interesting!

  98. Shellie Bowman says:

    Sounds like a GREAT book! Would love to get a copy!

  99. How true – what a great reminder that every family (and every CHILD) is different! Would love to read this book.

  100. I’ve heard so much about this book and can’t wait to read it!