In addition to our Statement of Faith, Apple Tree Family Ministries adheres to the following Basic Principles, which provide an overview of ATFM’s programs.
- God created the world and human beings perfectly for relationship with God, but the human "fall" into sin marred God's design. God did not "curse Eve" to suffer in childbirth, but God's judgment on the earth has lifelong consequences for all humans, male and female.
- God invites us to live as closely as possible in harmony with God's design as revealed in the Bible and in creation(1) and to deepen our dependence on God, especially when that harmony is disrupted by the fallen nature of our world.
- Husband and wife both benefit from understanding the bodily symptoms of fertility. Their childbearing decisions should reflect openness to God's plans even when they differ from our own, respect for God's involvement from the moment of conception, and God’s creation of each child as a blessing.
- From the moment of conception, the child is a reality affected by his or her spiritual heritage and by the parents' choices.
- The experience of giving birth deeply affects a woman for the rest of her life, so it is important for her to learn about God’s design for giving birth naturally, comfortably, and joyfully.
- Under most circumstances(2), women who have learned how to cooperate with the intense sensations of childbirth and who receive skilled emotional support do not need to "escape" through distraction or medication. Intense pain is a signal that a problem needs to be corrected.
- Medical interventions are beneficial when complications occur or when the laboring woman is unable to cope with her labor, but they can do great harm when applied indiscriminately.
- Parents have the right and responsibility to make informed, prayerful decisions for their birth and their baby, including the choice of attendants, location, and procedures.
- Both mother and father have unique and important roles that are encouraged by prenatal bonding and by continuous contact with their child beginning immediately at birth.
- Breastfeeding is the most natural and beneficial way of meeting the emotional and physical needs of both mother and baby and ideally should be continued until the child outgrows the need.
- Responsive parenting practices that reflect God’s own character and nature by encouraging strong parent-child attachment(3) are the foundation of God’s design for parenting.
- God’s people are called to encourage and support one another in all these things and, when any of them is not possible, to aid in the God-designed and important process of grief and healing.
(1) Theologians call these “special revelation” and “general revelation,” respectively.
(2) ATFM believes this ideal should be pursued whenever possible. However, we also recognize that past sexual abuse and other psychological stressors can make it difficult and should be responded to with compassion and appropriate support.
(3) The “attachment parenting” approach developed by author and ATFM friend Dr. William Sears suggests tools he calls the seven “Baby Bs”: birth bonding, breastfeeding, “babywearing” (using a cloth carrier), bedsharing, belief in baby’s cries, beware of “baby trainers,” and balance/boundaries.
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