How will parenting change now the Y2K is here?
Looking around, we have to take notice that something has to change. We have kids far more disrespectful and violent than ever before. As Dr. Phil McGraw says, "If it ain't workin', why keep doin' it?"
We care about he future of our kids. This is evidenced by the fact that we buy multitudes of "how to" parenting books and try ridiculous means to get 'good' kids. We have swung full circle from spanking and letting kids cry it out (resulting in a generation who has trouble connecting/trusting) to mistaking 'child-led parenting' to mean 'child dominated...resulting in demon children not fit to be taken out in public.
I don't subscribe to a 'black or white' or 'all or nothing' mentality. For me, it's all shades of gray and validity rests with the individual. Will we all crash and burn? Will chaos reign until a chosen few remain, or until we annihilate each other, depending on the chosen paradigm? I think not.
I suggested that it isn't an either or proposition. My question is "Where has common sense gone?!" If it isn't working, do something different! "Child-led" is Instinctual Parenting. It's listening to your baby/child, but still being the parent. It's void of cruelty. It's premise is you can't love a child too much. A child can be spoiled from too much stuff and from lack of discipline (which is loving guidence, a far different thing from 'punishment'!)
I tend to think reality lies here in the middle and we just have to find the balance again. Stop listening to so many 'experts' and strangers and start listening to our hearts and our children. These are the cues Mother Nature has provided for the survival of the species, just as She has for all other species. We are the only ones ignoring the owners manual we have been provided with.
So, what questions should we be asking ourselves?
Why don't you tell me? I plan to elaborate on this line of thinking, but I'm really curious to hear what others think on this topic. Write to me at the addy below and I will encorporate your ideas into the forthcoming piece I'm working on.
What do babies need from us? Only the very best we have to give. Does that mean to be a good parent we need to spend a fortune on the latest and greatest baby "stuff"? Not at all. They need the very best of us. Face it, the fancy cribs, changing tables, toys, or anything on the must-have-for-the-ultimate-baby-room list is for the parents. Babies don't care. They need full bellies, warmth, stimulation and someone to attend to their diaper needs. Fortunately, Mother Nature knew what she was doing. She wrapped the source for all of these things into one neat package called "Mom". Someone to fall so in love with this helpless little being that not only would she not mind being all things to this small miracle, but would lay down her life for her child. At least that's the way it works if we follow our instincts.
But we've lost touch with our inner knowing. We put more stock in what someone else, anyone else, says is best for our baby than what our own heart tells us.
Few concepts hang on with such tenacity as that of being able to "spoil" babies by holding them. New mothers instinctively want to hold and touch their babies. We are genetically programmed for this bonding experience. We all believe our babies to be the most beautiful angels that ever existed. It feels good to hold them and smell their sweet baby-ness. It is such a deep thing that mothers who lose their babies to stillbirth or crib death often report that their arms physically ache to hold their child.
Yet despite the abundance of cues provided by Mother Nature to assure full attachment to our infants...as necessary now for our survival as to our primal ancestors...we turn away from our intuitive prompting. We listen to books that espouse the need to 'train' babies to be independent. We listen to well meaning grandparents and friends when they advise us that it's good for babies lungs to 'cry it out'. All the while, our hearts are breaking.
There is a reason for that we want to cry with them. A mother's heart is supposed to break when her child is in pain. It prompts her to pick up the baby...to hold, feed, burp or change the baby. An infant only has one mode of communication. If they are using their voice, it means that they need something. They lack the neurological capability to manipulate an adult. They are conveying a message. It's up to Mom to figure out what that message may be.
Babies need to be touched. They need to be held. They need the stimulation of loving conversation. Without these essentials, children will fail to thrive even if they have adequate nutritional intake. Lack of visual and tactile stimulation...lack of the instinctive love mothers and fathers are driven to provide...can kill a child. They are literally starved for affection. As they grow, if this lack isn't evident in their physical being, it will manifest later in other areas. Some experts suggest, and I agree, that it is one of the factors leading to the violence we now see so often in our youth. (I would add that there are other factors that go all the way back to birth, as well as a number of societal influences that contribute as well.)
Babies who have been put in baby constraint devices, those wondrous modern inventions that I once heard someone refer to as "super-duper-bounce-o-matic-baby-neglectors", may learn to walk, but skip crawling. Crawling stimulates a part of the brain that will someday do math. Researchers have discovered that if they have these 9 year olds crawl, they can make up for lost time and learn math. Other areas of development are not so forgiving.
There are other repercussions to not holding our babies. In recent years, doctors noticed a dramatic increases in a condition in which the skull grows flat in the back. It can be a problem in brain development. The treatment is surgery. What has been discovered is that many children were being misdiagnosed. They didn't have flat heads because they had this disorder...they had flat heads because they were never held! They were put on their backs in play pens, as they were carried around in car seats instead of mother's arms, as they were propped up with a bottle to be fed in those same car seats. As a result, their skulls were forming misshapen.
How sad is this? Where is our common sense? All of the above mentioned devices were developed to address a need that parents had. What seems to have happened, as it has even as far back as birth interventions, is that what was meant for a few specific situations has been applied injudiciously to all babies.
Cribs and playpens were devised so that children could be safely contained as mom took a shower, or made dinner, or tried to sleep with both eyes closed instead of alert for the sound of 18 month old Jimmy rearranging the furniture. When did it become OK to use them as cages?
Bouncers and walkers are just a seemingly good idea proved wrong. Both put a child in an upright position before their muscles can hold that position. Damage to the spine may result. Ask your friendly chiropractor for the ramifications. Not to mention the fact that warnings are issued regularly about the dangers of using walkers due to serious immediate injury.
Lastly, the car seat. A wondrous device that must surely have saved millions of lives by now. A mother's prayer answered when she returns from an outing with a sleeping baby and would be loathe to wake that slumbering beauty lest the silence be shattered. But what kind of logic says that hauling around five pounds of plastic baby bucket is easier than carrying the child all of the time?! There have even been new designs that curve the handle so that parents will be less uncomfortable hauling the thing around. So typical to treat a symptom while ignoring the problem.
A parents life does not have to be so complicated! (At least not for the first year or two, we hope) Why do we make it so difficult? When I see the list of baby's room essentials in some baby magazines, I just want to cringe. Must we spend thousands of dollars on all that STUFF? What is truly "essential"?
- Respect for your infant is top of the list. When someone we love is upset, our first reaction is to touch them...to hold them and hug them. Should we deny this to our most needy population a critical time in their development? Not if we give them the respect that we give each other.
- Source of proper nutrition. Fortunately, nature makes this easy. Mothers are provided with free hook up upon delivery of the very best fast food for babies. It's prewarmed, portable, completely balanced nutrition. A baby food grinder comes in handy later (not before 4-6 months) to grind up the food that the rest of the family is eating.
- A parents arms. For the busy parent, a sling type baby carrier provides a means to carry baby while doing almost anything.
- Season appropriate clothes. Babies need to be kept warm. Plain cotton jumpers are great because they stay warm and still breath. A good rule of thumb...dress your baby similar to yourself and add one layer.
- Coverings for baby's bottom. Preferably void of perfumes, chemical gels or toxins that can be absorbed through delicate mucous membranes.
That's pretty much it. Simple. For those that doubt, I will attest to the fact that those first couple of years can be enjoyed nearly free. I spent a about $200 dollars over a few months while I was still pregnant to get diaper covers and diapers (I did use a diaper service for the first six weeks so I could relax and enjoy my baby.) I never spent a penny on formula or bottles. I invested in an Over the Shoulder Baby Holder which I used until my daughter was over three years old. (Not all baby carriers are created equal...back/front pack type carriers hold a baby upright before the spine is ready, or that splay the developing hip bones out against the parent's tummy or back which can do a great deal of harm). I used about 3 unbleached paper and plastic diapers once on a cross country car ride. I probably spent less than $5.00 on baby food in jars, even though I bought organic. We didn't make our choices because they were the cheapest, but it sure was a nice side benefit!
Not every parent would want to make the same choices. Not every parent could. My point is not that everyone should take the same path that I chose, but that it is very rewarding and attainable. We seem to have become so enamored of all the extras, that now they are deemed essentials. But they aren't essential. Meeting your baby's needs, be they emotional, physical, mental, or spiritual, is all your baby requires to grow strong, healthy and well adjusted.
The Continuum Concept, Liedloff
Magical Child, Joseph Chilton Pearce
Zero to Three Foundation
Be Their Hero From Age Zero
National Fatherhood Initiative
Maternity Matters...Enjoying the journey and growing a healthy baby
Discomforts of Pregnancy & Helpful Hints
Nutrition in Pregnancy
But What If...? Questions often asked of homebirth-ers
Remove the paper towels from role of Bounty. Cut them in half and place them in zip lock bags or a plastic baby wipe container. Mix together (shake in squirt bottle or use a wire wisk to assure that the oil mixes with the water): 1/4 cup of warm water, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon liquid soap (Castile, baby shampoo or other mild soap), 1 tablespoon aloe. Pour the mixture over the paper towels to saturate and you're all set!