I received this story from a sister named Rebecca Williams. I plan to include it in the book, but also wanted to post it here because it is an excellent illustration of how we as Latter-day Saints can also use the scriptures and personal revelation in conscious parening.
How the Scriptures Helped Me in Motherhood
by Rebecca Williams
When Caleb was eight months old, we moved to a new ward. A few weeks later, my husband and I were asked to speak in sacrament meeting on the topic "Biblical mothers." I loved preparing for this talk. There were obviously too many women in the Bible to be able to address all of them, but I highlighted four: Eve, Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel. I referenced much of my talk from a book I had called Daughters of God by S. Michael Wilcox.
About two months before this, Caleb had started waking up 1-3 times during the night, after several months of sleeping 9-11 hours straight. I didn't know how to help him return to his good sleeping habits that he had originally acquired on his own, without any "sleep training." What was causing him to wake up all of the sudden? Was it teething? Was it hunger? (We had recently started solids, and he was slow to adjust to them.) Had he started waking due to a mild cold and then just continued waking out of habit? My pediatrician told me to let him "cry it out" and he would stop waking up so much. I didn't like the idea of letting my baby cry if he needed me for something, nor did I want him to feel like no one heard or cared when he cried. I consulted various books, each providing a different approach for good sleeping and eating habits, and each seemed to shout "This is the way to do it! If you don't follow this, your baby will never sleep well." Likewise, each friend and relative had a different method that they believed in.
Lost amid all these theories and philosophies, I began to feel much like Joseph Smith, when he was confused about so many religions and said, "In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be aright, which is it, and how shall I know it?" (Joseph Smith--History 1:10)
I felt so inadequate as a mother during this time, not only in regards to sleeping, but suddenly about feeding, napping, and parenting in general. I wanted us all to sleep better, but not at the expense of Caleb's well-being. Was he going to be psychologically damaged, or hungry, or in pain if I chose to let him cry? Was he ever going to sleep through the night again if I continued to respond to his wakings? Was this all going on because I didn't "put my baby on a schedule"? While each book had general theories and reasons for this behavior, none of them knew my baby and situation.
I was working on my talk and reading about Rebekah in the Old Testament, who was the mother to twins, Jacob and Esau. While she was pregnant with these two boys, she felt them quarreling within her. She may have been anxious about her children, as most mothers are. The scriptures tell us she inquired of the Lord about this and received an answer. "And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the Lord" (Gen. 25: 22)
As I read this, I applied it to myself, and understood that each mother should inquire of the Lord about how to raise her children. Each child is unique and has different needs for love and discipline.
Elder M. Russell Ballard spoke about this in the April 2008 General Conference talk “Daughters of God." He said: "There is no role in life more essential and more eternal than that of motherhood....There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. "
After talking to my husband, I finally realized that discussing my concerns with the One Perfect Parent is the best way to address these issues. I began to believe that Heavenly Father gave me my baby because Caleb needed my mothering methods and not my friends’ or anyone else. If there is a parenting method that doesn’t seem right to me, then I don’t need to do it, even if a book (or doctor) tells me otherwise. I believe it is very important for mothers and fathers to counsel with the Lord as they raise their children and then trust in the answer they receive.
This experience and realization gave me so much more confidence as a new mother. I prayed about my concerns with more faith that I would really receive an answer. I brainstormed ideas that might work to improve our situation. I chose one idea that seemed like a good compromise; it was something I thought of, not one I read or heard about. After just a couple nights, Caleb's sleep habits began to improve. It took some time, but he eventually returned to sleeping through the night again.
I have come to believe, like Elder Ballard said, that there is no one perfect way to be a good mother. What works for one child in one family, may not work for another family (or even another child in the same family). It is, of course, important that we do our best to make sure our child is healthy and safe, loved and cared for, but how we do that is up to us with the guidance of Heavenly Father.