Because Facebook is creepy and analyzes my every click and post, my feed is now full of links relating to babies. Every time I log on, I either see an article about SIDS in my feed, or it is magically trending on the sidebar.
When I saw that there has been a new study linking swaddling and SIDS, I got click-happy and descended into the black hole of SIDS info. I read that I will increase the risk of SIDS in my baby if:
- he sleeps swaddled
- he sleeps on his side
- he sleeps on his stomach
- he drinks formula
- he co-sleeps
- he is dressed too warmly (but never let him get cold)
- he sleeps in a different room from the parents
And if all that isn't confusing/guilt-inducing enough, we've specifically been advised by doctors that it's best for Ben to have some formula feeds and that side sleeping is fine.
Y'all. I've basically come to the conclusion that my baby should sleep upright while I hold him and stare at him, because anything else might increase the risk for SIDS, and what mother would want to do that? (Excuse me while I formula feed my baby and then wrap him in a swaddle.)
And it isn't just SIDS that makes us fearful, and the fears don't necessarily ease as kids get older. I don't leave my kids alone in the car ever, even if I know to do so would be an appropriately safe choice because I'm just never in the mood for an overbearing passerby to call the police or CPS. It's become so rare to see children unattended for any length of time that I do a double-take when I see a kid riding a bike or playing at the park without an adult until I remind myself that it's fine.
How then should we parent in a culture consumed by fear? Should we fear? Yes and no.
We are to fear the Lord. "You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him." (Deuteronomy 13:4)
We are not to fear man. "The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe." (Proverbs 29:25)
We are loved by God and are to trust in Him. “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." (Matthew 10:26-31)
What does this look like practically? For me, the best thing to do is to limit my time on social media and news sites (except Instagram. I love Instagram and all its beautiful pictures.). I block fear-mongering links and tell Facebook, "I don't want to see this," when something like yet another SIDS article is trending. (Sometimes I mark it as "offensive" if I'm feeling a bit snarky.)
I have to continually lay down my idol of control, because the truth is I can't guarantee my kids' safety or keep some nutter from calling social services if I take my eyes off my kids for 3.8 seconds. My soul is safe in Christ. Nothing else is guaranteed.
I have to walk the line between not bowing down to our culture while also not taking pointless risks just to prove a point. This means that sometimes I unload everyone for a thirty second trip into the post office, and sometimes I just wait until I'm by myself.
Like all of you, I'm doing the best I can to mother my kids and shepherd them through this fallen world that fears man but not God. Press on with wisdom as you navigate these crazy time, knowing that, "He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it." (1 Thessalonians 5:24)