What Every Mother Knows - Page 2
|What Every Mother Knows|
Parents, the Real Experts
Sometimes our intuitive connection can be clouded by insecurity and selfdoubt, which divides our wholeness of being and sends us looking everywhere else for the answers, separated from our own actual experience where the true answer lies. We can respond in the most natural and authentic way when we just take it moment to moment, bringing our awareness completely into the present, fully embodying our senses and being open and receptive to what our baby is telling us.
It is also worth bearing in mind that not only do we have countless generations of nurturing already encoded into our experience of mothering, but also that each child is a totally unique human being with unique characteristics and temperament; so are their parents, and so is the family environment each child is born into. For this very reason there is no expert in the world who knows more about a child when it comes to determining strategies of discipline, education, and health than the mothers and fathers (and other consistently present caregivers) who have been deeply committed and lovingly attentive to that child from the moment they are born.
Not even doctors, claims Robert Mendelsohn, the author of How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor (and he should know; he was a practising pediatrician for over 30 years!) He reassures parents that they are the ones best suited to care for their children in almost all cases, rather than handing them over to the conveyer belt in their pediatrician’s office; to someone who doesn’t have the knowledge about the child’s medical history and behaviour that the parents have, doesn’t have the time to find out, and who is implicitly expected to intervene in the child’s healing process which almost always is unnecessary. (This is a very reassuring book in worrying moments!) Know Your Child is also the core axiom of effective discipline that is built on trust, according to Dr. William Sears, a pediatrician, a father of eight children, and a prolific author on attachment parenting, including The Baby Book. When we help our children to maintain a sense of well-being by understanding and responding to their needs, they feel “right,” and a child that feels “right” is more likely to act right, and eventually operates from a set of inner controls rather than external force. He advocates that children are also more likely to be respectful of the boundaries that their parents set for them when they have been treated respectfully themselves.
Trusting the Children
Perhaps we already trust our children to let us know when they are ready to start walking; but do we also trust that they will let us know when it’s time to start toilet training? Or to be weaned from breastfeeding? Or to sleep in their own beds? How about trusting them to let us know when it’s time to learn to read, or write, or any number of things that we currently believe need to be imposed on them “for their own good”? John Holt, who was a leading social and educational critic who spearheaded the 1960s education reform, advocates in several of his books that small children will indeed learn how to read, write, count, and investigate the world all by themselves, without ever needing to be taught. His classic child development books, How Children Learn and How Children Fail are very inspiring and insightful examinations of the incredible aptitude children have for self-led learning when they are trusted to set their own curriculum.
I am not suggesting that we keep our kids away from schools or doctors or other external influences per se; I am suggesting that we re-examine our basic assumptions of who knows best when it comes to raising our children, especially in the most crucial early years of life.
Neither do I mean to say that we should reject all advice; there is also much wisdom to be gained in listening to those who we trust within our community and who have a wealth of personal experience to draw from. It is also very much our nature to collaborate as a unified group, especially in matters of child-raising. As our children grow, the choices we must make become more and more complex and often no longer within the scope of our own personal experience. It is profoundly supportive to share our resources and experiences with others who have similar interests.
We are in a most fortunate and unique time in human history when we have more creative choice than ever before about how we live and therefore, how we raise our children. We have an incredible wealth of information and possibility available to us regarding means of education, discipline, health care, and development. There is perhaps much to be said for keeping it simple and prioritising what is of overall importance in our lives. If we wish to nurture the most secure attachment possible with our babies and to fulfill the biological expectations they are born with as a solid foundation, a little voluntary simplicity in our lives will be an enormous investment in our children’s emotional well being for the entirety of theirs.
Life becomes much simpler when we know we can trust Nature’s plan to inform us on how to nurture our children in a way that supports the unfolding of their being according to their own inherent design. We can trust our own experience and make informed decisions about our life choices that will shape their early development, apply our cognitive as well as our intuitive faculties in making the most informed, conscious choices we can. We must also be willing to trust ourselves with these choices and stand for them, even if our choices fly in the face of modern notions of child-raising. And we can look to our children, who behold the world with such innocent wonder as they discover who they are, and know that it is definitely worthwhile.
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #15.
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