About the Author

Why I joined the Gentle Christian Mothers forum

It does seem a little peculiar, doesn't it -- an admitted atheist reading and posting at a Christian parenting forum? Well, first, let me assure you that I have no ulterior motives in posting. I'm not trying to "convert" people to atheism or lead them away from Christ. I have no intention of doing so; I outgrew my "evangelical" atheism long ago.

I found GCM through my website's statistics about a year ago. People were posting links to my patterns, which is great, but they'd always be prefaced with "I hope no one sees this link in my favorites" and things like that (since I was then using the tagline "Reverend Jan's Happy Atheist Page"). (As an aside, it was instances like that which led me to change my tag to "Jan Andrea at home on the web," so you may safely conclude that GCM has already done some good in my life ;)

At first I was a little skeptical, but reading what I was allowed to read as an unregistered user, I was drawn in by the forum's smaller size, friendly people, topicality, and above all its focus on gentle parenting. I had also joined Mothering Dot Commune, but rarely read there because it's just so huge -- I didn't feel I'd ever really get to know the posters there, and the board is so large I could never keep up with the topics I was interested in. I looked around for secular AP forums, but couldn't find one, and wasn't particularly interested in doing all the legwork to start one myself.

So I sent in my application to join GCM. Here it is:

What is your username? Jan Andrea

What does it mean? It's my first and middle names.

What is your email address? [email protected]

How did you find out about GCM? I was looking at my site's weblogs, and found a lot of hits from GCM.

Do you have a website, and, if so, what is the url? http://www.sleepingbaby.net/

Do you have a work at home mom (wahm) business, and, if so, what is it?Yes, I make baby carriers (slings/wraps) and design websites.

How old are you? Almost 30!

What are three words you would use to describe yourself? Joyful, thoughtful, friendly

How many children do you have? 2

What are their ages? Almost 4 (5/22/2000) and 7 months (10/2/2003)

Have you read the GCM statement of beliefs? Yes

Do you understand and agree with them? Um. I would have at one point in my life, but not so much now the Christian Beliefs part, and not wholy with points one and two of the Parenting beliefs part. However, I would like to be able to post to the forum not to provoke arguments or belittle others' beliefs, but only to share what I have learned about gentle parenting in general, and babywearing/sewing in particular. There have been a number of topics I found that I would have liked to have helped with.

Have you read our posting guidelines and the netiquette guide? Yes

Do you understand them and agree to abide by them when you post to the board? Absolutely.

Please describe your discipline style. That is, how do you discipline (teach, guide, correct) your children in your family? With Stephen (our nearly-4-year-old), we try to lead first by example (ie, I wouldn't expect him to use Please and Thank You if we say those things to him), and use warnings (1,2,3, then clear consequence). We definitely do not believe in spanking, and he has never been hit. I do my best not to yell at him, since I don't want him to yell back and feel that yelling is not respectful in *any* direction.

Do you know what attachment parenting (ap) is? Yes

Do you consider your family to be an ap family? Please explain how ap looks in your family. Stephen was breastfed until he was 2 years and 8 months -- we weaned gently at that point because I was pregnant with Sophia, and found that nursing was getting to be unpleasant. I co-slept with Stephen until a few months after weaning, at which point we transitioned him into his own bed (still in my room). I wore him in a sling until he was about 26 months, at which point he was more interested in walking, although when he is tired, I still carry him. Sophia (now 7 months) sleeps with me, is worn much of the time, and of course is still nursing. I am home with them, and when I have to go out, they are either with their father or with another family member (usually my sister and BIL, or David's parents).

What are three things you most want your children to learn?

  1. All people are deserving of love and respect, or at the very least, forgivenness.
  2. They are loved, not only by us, but by their extended family and friends.
  3. Life is worth living to the fullest every day, and the more they learn about the world around them, the more they can appreciate it.

Are you a Christian? please share your testimony/how you know you are saved? I was "raised" an atheist (that is, without any religious teachings), became a Christian my freshman year in college, but then (after reading the Bible) realized that it wasn't resonating as truth for me. I plan to raise my children somewhat differently from the way I was raised -- I want them to be aware of others' beliefs, so when they reach 7 or 8, I will bring them to religious services and allow them to learn about different beliefs with my aid.

Do you attend church? If so, what denomination/type of church is it? No, but attended a bible church (no denomination) when I was a Christian.

What needs do you have that you hope that GCM can help meet? My other online communities have a different flavor to them -- they are not as AP as GCM, and I enjoy the conversations I have seen here, even if I don't always agree with posters' beliefs. I'd also like to be able to, um, defend myself (not argumentatively, but at least give my side of my story), as most of the posts that have linked to my site are of the "I disagree with her, but her free patterns are nice" variety. Most recently, there was "The pattern I like is very Maya like, but it stays fanned out better than the Maya. I don't agree w/the lady's philosophy, but I like her patts..." and "I went to college at UNH with Jan. I do like her sling patterns, but her ideology hasn't changed much since then, I'm afraid " That sort of thing. I would like to be able to say to them that while I may not believe in a Christian god, I am still very much like them as mothers.

Please share any other comments or thoughts here: I hope that I won't be rejected out of hand because I'm an atheist. I went through my "evangelical" atheist phase long ago -- it's out of my system -- and I don't intend to get into any theological debates, unless other people are really, really interested. I have read the bible, and even if I don't agree with everything it says, I certainly agree with the spirit of the new testament (love your neighbor as yourself), and won't make an issue of my beliefs. Thank you for your consideration!

A couple of months later, the admins emailed and said they would allow me to join. While I don't post as often as I'd like, mostly due to time constraints, I do greatly appreciate the generosity of the admins in allowing me to join. I try to help where it is appropriate or possible (mostly in the sewing/babywearing threads), and I do also post in threads where there is a point that I feel I can clarify what "the other side" actually believes (as in the recent thread about having the Ten Commandments in courtrooms -- there is a misunderstanding that people like myself are offended by the mention of God, rather than by the elevation of one religion's beliefs over all others in a public building).

Thus far, I have received overwhelming support from GCM members via the Private Message system, which has been quite heartwarming. I have had just one "negative" email, which is what prompted me to write this. I recognize that there are quite legitimate questions about my presence at GCM, and wish to put to rest fears that I am out to sabotage anyone's religious beliefs, advertize my business, or sow dissent. I'm a mother like all of you, and simply seek fellowship with other gentle mothers.

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All content, barring that which is otherwise attributed, is ©2007 to Jan Andrea. If you wish to use my content on another page, please email before doing so, even for content with the Creative Commons licenses. Text/images used elsewhere must be attributed to me. Be advised that I will pursue copyright violations.