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A baby’s smile says a lot. It’s their way of letting mom know they’re happy and healthy.

Many terms are popular today - attachment, natural, empathic - to describe a way of parenting that is really not new at all. Being with children in the way that these terms describe is what parents all over the world have done since the beginning of time.

The cultural voices of fear tell us to distrust the neediness and dependency that children so naturally express. By modeling this acceptance, she makes it easier for us to accept our children and ourselves as well. When we make up new names like attachment parenting for old ways, it is because we are looking for more enduring wisdom than adversarial customs offer.

We know that the bliss we feel parenting from the heart means that it is right. In regards to our children, it is not only wisdom we seek, but also an acknowledgement of our participation in a deeper process.

The great anthropologist, Margaret Mead, studied tribes all over the world. She said that the most violent tribes were those that withheld touch in infancy. To me, it is very simple. The propensity to act aggressively is related to unmet needs.

When we objectify our babies and manipulate their legitimate needs to meet our own comfort level or prescription for living, we may unknowingly put them at risk.

We can instead choose to surrender to the mystery of our baby’s needs and the surprises he or she brings just as we would surrender and adapt to the surprises brought by new love. A baby is our new love.

Can we choose love by accepting our baby’s legitimate human needs and responding to them with an open heart?

This requires that we trust our babies and ultimately that we trust ourselves. Each of us is an original. We are equipped for the job even though we are still learning how to use our equipment. Most of our decisions as parents are more about our state of mind than about the particulars of the situation. When we choose from love we act very differently than when we act from fear. Children and adults are not different.

We have the same feelings. Children who are disciplined with love respond lovingly. Parents are not perfect, but we can continually recognize the critical importance of how we behave toward our children.

Crying is the language of babies. Co-sleeping is safe and smart. Children need to be involved in the problem-solving of the family. Punishment interferes with the bond between parent and child. Children have a natural love of learning and do not have to be coerced. Learning “disabilities” may be learning differences. Children deserve to be acknowledged in public. Children deserve to be treated with respect. Many of us have been raised in cultures and families where control is highly valued.

Our children are often our first teachers in this regard. In learning to trust them, we learn that we can be trusted as well. It is the potential limitlessness of simply trusting our children that frightens parents. We ask how we can maintain order and harmony in the household without control, without punishment.

 

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