Infant/Child sleep

Happy parents = Happy kids?

I hate this argument.

I mean, I do believe that happy parents make happy babies. Babies pick up on our emotions and will react to them. If we are stressed, they will be stressed. If we are sad, they will be sad. If we are happy, that will be happy. As a human being, our emotions and what we project will affect the people around us. Depressed people will bring others down and happy people will lift others up.

However, this argument is something that comes up often in parenting discussions and most often it comes up to justify a parenting choice that puts the needs, wants or expectations of the parent, over the needs of a child and that is where I have a problem.

When we choose to become parents, we choose to accept that there will be differences in our lives and that there will be some of our needs, and definitely some of our wants, that are put on the back burner. Is it about being a Martyr? No, not at all. It is about being a parent. An infant is helpless and they simply cannot meet their own needs. As parent we must meet their needs for them. It is that simple. Of course there are times that our needs may come second, but we should be mature enough to accept that we have to wait sometimes.

So now I hear it:“Exactly, which is why we have to “teach” our kids that sometimes they don’t always get what they want right away”. No! this is not the way it works. It is actually the opposite.

If our needs have not been met, then it has been ingrained inside us to do everything and anything to get our own needs met now, because if we don’t do it, it won’t be done. But, If our needs have always been met, then we have the trust that our needs will come to be met even if we have to wait. This includes not only the physical needs but of course, and maybe more importantly, the emotional needs as well.

So to learn that we can wait, we need to have our needs met.

For an infant, or a young child, that does not yet have the capacity to meet their own needs (physical and emotional), If we do not step up and meet their needs, ALL of their needs, their needs will simply not be met, and that, is not acceptable.

Also remark that by putting our needs on the back-burner, it does not mean ignoring them or disregarding them completely. We do have needs but they may not always be done in the way that would want. We have to eat. We have to sleep. We have to go to the bathroom. In these cases, it becomes essential that we find a way to meet everyone’s needs and this is when the scale needs to be balanced but can easily be tipped. This is when we often need to make compromises with what we “want” to then meet every one’s needs.

The thing is, the more we meet our children’s needs, the more they will know they can count on us and the more independent they will become, because they always know there is someone to fall back on. This is the one of the fundamentals of a secure attachment and this type of attachment will flow into all of the stages of childhood until a child becomes an adult and is ready to be on their own and will make it easier to parent. (read my post on Discipline and how non-punitive parenting works) This is the exact opposite of what mainstream parenting practices which is why it fails and why so many adults have trouble putting others first when it counts.

Our society has unrealistic expectations. Babies are expected to sleep through the night, they are expected to not breastfeed as much as the need to, they are expected to sleep alone, they are expected to willingly and happily go with other people other than their parents, they are expected to adhere to a parental schedules. There are so many expectations. However, societal expectations are not congruent with biological needs. They are not natural and they are based on a point of view that has been manipulated and skewed over the years in favour of parental wants over biological needs.

This is when that instance of parental wants often supersede a child’s needs. This when the argument “Happy mom = happy baby” often comes out to justify the favouring of a parents want over a child’s needs.

The thing is, parenthood is not always easy…

A mom should be happy, but happiness is also a frame of mind. You have to be happy within what is handed to you, even in the worst of times and you must have realistic expectations and meet a child’s needs and understand that they’re the ones that know best what they need. And, no, I am not talking about giving kids everything they want, I am talking about giving then what they need. A cookie is a want, food is a need. Going to bed with the pink blanket and not the green one is a want,  Going to sleep cuddled or nursing is a need.

And before it comes up, I do think moms need to take care of themselves and keep healthy to be an optimal parent. That is very true. But it is a choice on how that is done.  Babies are only dependent for a short time in their lives and their needs are actually quite basic. The need to eat, the need to sleep, the need to be cuddled, the need to be loved and feel secure. Meet those needs now and there will be little tears, and pretty soon they grow up and can make their own breakfast while you get a few extra zzzz’s. They will even start making yours.

High standards and The Cycle of Coercive Parenting…

I saw this article linked to Facebook this morning…

Research shows 50 years of motherhood manuals set standards too high for new mums

New research at the University of Warwick into 50 years of motherhood manuals has revealed how despite their differences they have always issued advice as orders and set unattainably high standards for new mums and babies.

……

“Dr Davis found although the advice from these experts changed over the decades, the one thing that didn’t change was the way it was delivered. Whatever the message for mothers, it was given as an order with a threat of dire consequences if mother or child failed to behave as expected.”

“Dr Davis said: “Despite all the differences in advice advocated by these childcare ‘bibles’ over the years, it is interesting that they all have striking similarities in terms of how the experts presented their advice. Whatever the message, the advice was given in the form of an order and the authors highlighted extreme consequences if mothers did not follow the methods of childrearing that they advocated.”

“Levels of behaviour these childcare manuals set for mothers and  are often unattainably high, meaning women could be left feeling like failures when these targets were not achieved. Therefore while women could find supportive messages within childcare literature, some also found the advice more troubling.”

This article was shared by a group on Facebook that is against “Baby Training” in the form of sleep training such as CIO (cry-it-out) or controlled crying. And I completely agree with them that part of the focus of the article is to show that so many parents are coerced into trying to achieve unattainable standards when it comes to children’s sleep that goes against what is biologically and physiologically normal. I could go on and on about why controlled crying is harmful including the changes in cortisol levels and the long term effects on stress but I think that a previous article by Dr. Gabor Maté sums it up perfectly…

People cannot consciously recall what they “learned” in the first year of life, because the brain structures that store narrative memory are not yet developed. But neuropsychological research has established that human beings have a far more powerful memory system imprinted in their nervous systems called intrinsic memory. Intrinsic memory encodes the emotional aspects of early experience, mostly in the prefrontal lobe of the brain. These emotional memories may last a lifetime. Without any recall of the events that originally encoded them, they serve as a template for how we perceive the world and how we react to later occurrences.

Is the world a friendly and nurturing place, or an indifferent or even hostile one? Can we trust other human beings to recognize, understand and honour our needs, or do we have to shut down emotionally to protect ourselves from feeling vulnerable? These are fundamental questions that we resolve largely with our implicit memory system rather than with our conscious minds. As psychologist and leading memory researcher Daniel Schacter has written, intrinsic memory is active “when people are influenced by past experience without any awareness that they are remembering.”

The implicit message an infant receives from having her cries ignored is that the world — as represented by her caregivers — is indifferent to her feelings. That is not at all what loving parents intend.

Unfortunately, it’s not parental intentions that a baby integrates into her world view, but how parents respond to her. This is why, if I could relive my life, I would do much of my parenting differently.

However, the baby training aspect was not exactly the first thing that came to mind when I find started reading the article.

The first thing that came to mind was how much it shows that the cycle of coercion is being perpetuated; from the authority of the book (or people giving advice), to the authority of the parent, to the focus on punishment and reward to keep control, to learning to make decisions because of external motivation and in doing so, continuing that cycle of control and coercion.

 

flowchart

 

This cycle keeps coming up in parenting circles and discussions. It is the stern “reality” that if you are not “in control” then you are permissive and being controlled.

There is no middle ground and no alternatives. Everyone knows that babies and children are master manipulators and are masters of controlling so you can’t let your guard down for a second. You have to be in control. The parents that don’t use punishments or rewards are just letting their kids run wild and walk all over them and they will never to do things because internal motivation just doesn’t happen. Kids have to “learn” and the parents will have a “wake up call” down the road when they kid is doing whatever they please, jobless or even in jail because they never learned how things work “in the real world”. (I wish I was exaggerating, but I have seen all of these said in parenting threads… even just yesterday)

But I “get” it… the ideas that these parents have comes from this cycle. The whole tone of these parenting methods is by using rewards and punishments and warning that any deviations from the method will be punished. If you don’t listen to the authority and exert control, your baby won’t sleep, your toddler won’t learn to not run into the street and will get hit by a car, your child will disobey and become a delinquent and people will hate them and look down at you as the parent for failing to do the “right” thing. Following the rules of the book and the authority will in turn create “good kids”.

The parent’s behaviour is being controlled by the very ideology of punishment and reward and they are in turn is teaching the same to their children.

The problem though is that following the rules, especially when goals are actually unattainable, is that the parents and children are doomed for failure. Parents end up needing to step it up a notch to be more in control and are forced to choose between doing what they are told and doing what feels right.

I have never heard someone say that it feels right to make their baby cry itself to sleep. They say that it just needs to be done. They are taught that there is no other way, and are led to believe that these behaviours are not normal. The fact is that it is completely normal, but to admit to it or relent control is the equivalent of defeat.

The thing about this cycle is that if someone breaks it, they actually have to have a whole paradigm shift. It is a completely different way of seeing things when you start trusting in yourself and trusting that children will thrive and succeed without being controlled. It also means that we must be able and willing to accept and forgive ourselves for the choices they we may have made in the past that have had negative effects. It is easy to become defensive and say that it didn’t happen, or minimize the effects, but it is not constructive to do so.

It is time that we stop this cycle.

If there is anything that we wish to change in the child,

we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves. 

~C.G. Jung

Continue to read: Discipline and How Non-Punitive Parenting Works

control…

Imagine living in a household or even a society that wants to control everything you do… what and when you eat, when you sleep and for how long, when and what you read and learn…

I think after a while… I would probably rebel… wouldn’t you?

So why do so many parents want to control their kids in such a way? And don’t they see what the consequences will be later on?

In the last few weeks I have heard once too often about children’s “sleeping problems”… and it has made me think about something that I have wrote before about sleep and CIO and well it brought me to the idea of control…

I think many parents seem to be under the impression that they must be in control… that it is in their best interests to control the way their kids behave, when they sleep, how they eat, what they learn, and just everything they do…

And not only do they believe that… but they also believe that if they do not control those things then it will be a free-for-all because the kids will then have complete control…

Not only does this put an enormous amount of unrealistic pressure on parents… but then when they can’t have that complete control (which is normal) then just makes a them feel more “out of control” and then they seem to start spiralling…

Spiralling into making bad decisions that lead to trying more, punishing more… and consequently being more detached and just making everything worse in the end… because being in control of someone is not showing them to make the right decisions for themselves…it is making decisions for them without learning why… so the more you try to control someone, the less they learn for the themselves… so when they rebel, they do so with a lack of skills…

Children do have a lot to learn, and yes,  might act on impulse and might not make the right decisions all the time… but they do not need to be controlled in order to learn, but instead need to be guided…

And if we guide well… then the funny thing is… we are essentially  “in control” of the situation…

and honestly… when that happens it is quite a great feeling…

By |October 5th, 2008|Alternative Parenting, Awareness, Infant/Child sleep, Misc Ramblings, My Rants|Comments Off on control…|

The Label of Attachment Parenting (part two)

This post is just a bit of a continuation of a post I wrote in Jan 06…. you can read it Here.

Though most of that post still applies to what I believe, my views have evolved over the last year and a half since that post and as much as I have evolved, the AP community online has changed…

AP has become trendy… babywearing and Cloth diapering is stylish and continuing in the mainstream point of view of children, just more accessories. Mainstream parents that enjoy the tools that once were considered AP, and have flocked to AP support sites and have infiltrated and many times conquered them, rendering the sites to being full of people who call themselves AP but do not practice the theory.

For quite a long time now I no longer want to be identified with AP because of the skewed perceptions that people have.

I think the big problem is that people start out right… know that CIO doesn’t feel right for a good reason, know that breastfeeding is best… but aspects such as babywearing and even cloth diapering have become stylish and since the boards that host that discussion on a large basis were mostly of gentle mindset in the past, those subjects attract all…

It is GREAT that people want to wear their children more, use cloth etc… it truly is… but those are not the ways to be attached, nor are they the goals of being an attached parent… to wear your baby is a tool that makes things easier, as is co-sleeping and even gentle birth.

There seems to be a sad misconception that Attachment comes through the physical stuff in infancy but that at a certain age things just can’t work that way anymore… as kids grow up the unrealistic expectations of what a child “should” be doing step in… weaning, too big to be carried, parents think that the child should be in their own bed etc… the physical practices that defined what AP was in the past just fizzle away and AP can’t be practiced anymore. The problem as I see it is that people get stuck on the physical stuff and don’t learn or haven’t been modeled the theory of attachment.

There is a whole new world past infancy and attachment doesn’t wane after but needs to grow stronger. Living concentually, being a parent, a guide, a teacher to our children… discipline should not divide, no time-outs (love needs to be unconditional) and of course no physical punishments (smack, tap, spank all equal hit and is abusive behaviour and will lead to power struggles, insecurity and doing things for the wrong reasons). Respect should be earned both ways and modeled. It is hard to break the cycles for many, but it must be done to give the next generation a chance.
The GOAL of being attached to your child is to raise a child with respect, to raise a child that makes decisions because they are right, not because they are afraid of the concequences, to raise a child that sees the parent and not their peers as teachers or as guides… Of course that parent needs to do the right things also… not be perfect, no one is perfect but be able to admit their faults and work on them… that is what is important…

Gentle birth makes bonding easier, makes breastfeeding easier and women have less chances to have PPD…

breastfeeding gives bonding and health… Child led weaning is about respect for not only the physical needs of the child but the emotional needs as well…

When we co-sleep we teach children how to sleep by mimicking and they are able to feed easily and both get more sleep…

Babywearing fulfills a babies physical need of contact for the first few months, reduces colic, helps digestion, even teaches babies balance and the skills for sitting and walking later on… it also teaches children how to talk and communicate with others all while mom or dad has their hands free to do other things…

These are all tools that are part of the continuum from infancy, to toddlerhood and into the child and teenage years… the tools of attachment change as children grow but the attachment itself needs to survive until the day that the child becomes an adult and has the skills to continue through life on their own.

By |June 13th, 2007|Alternative Parenting, Gentle Parenting (discipline), Infant/Child sleep, Misc Ramblings, My Rants|Comments Off on The Label of Attachment Parenting (part two)|

Psycho Doc strikes again…

So If you remember I talked about the psycho doc in the past… here and here

Well… a few times now I have gotten a few phone calls from moms that got really bad advice at the docs… and it was always her… her breastfeeding advice is horrible….
Anyways… A woman called me today and said that she is worried about her dd not gaining enough… the ped has her coming in every 15 days to weight her and is making her freak out… (guess who the ped is…)
Then of course she tells the mom that she has to switch breasts often because all of the protein in in the foremilk ???!!!! Tells the mom that at 10 weeks her dd should be sleeping through the night and should not have to eat at night and to just let her cry! Tells the mom that she is very worried about the weight gain (the baby was born at 6p 4 oz, went down to 5p 9 oz and was back up to birth weight in a week and now at 10 weeks is 9p 10 oz) she has the wet and dirty diapers, she has a good tone and is flourishing and is following her growth curb… nothing is wrong!! She also tells the mom to supplement… not at the end of a feeding of course, but at the beginning!!!
I have heard so many things about her… all from different moms and I experienced her too!! She tells moms that they have to Supplement until milk comes it if not baby will starve, not feeding at night by two months old, they have to use a paci if not the baby WILL die of SIDS etc…

It has gotten to be too much… I have had more then a few moms with problems and I have had the experience myself… so I KNOW that this doc is the problem…

So I called the center I volunteer at and told the secretary the problem and she was flabbergasted (she is part of the governing board at the center and had to get breastfeeding training also) and told me that she would pass the message along to the director and she would call me back… I know that the nurses union have already planned or had a meeting with this doc because of all the bad info and the director meets with them once a month so I know that this will go somewhere… I am just so mad!!! She seems really nice and so many people love her so I can’t imagine how many mom and babies are getting bad info and being made to starve and CIO from 2 months on!!!

* update…

The director at the center called me back and said to call the head nurse in charge of the family unit directly, since it would be easier and more precise (less heresay etc…)…

So I did, and I told her all my concerns and she was great… she took down the list and we talked a bit… she then said how she is going to go about approaching the issue without making a big deal of it so that the doc is not automatically on the defensive… first she is going to hand out the new WHO chart with the breastfeeding growth curb to “remind” her if she hasn’t seen it yet so that breastfed babies are looked at against a chart that is made for them….

Then, in a joking matter, she is going to say something like “can you believe that someone has been telling moms that babies should be sleeping though the night at 2 months” and then talk about how is can be detrimental to the nursing relationship/ mom’s supply etc… and she hope that it will open the way to other conversations about breastfeeding… It also seems that she was with the doc when she gave really bad advice to a new mom… of course since she is “just” a nurse she couldn’t say anything….

It seems that they really like the doc because she is good at finding problems that others seem to miss or can’t find… but her breastfeeding info sucks…
Personnally I think she Sucks!!!

By |June 22nd, 2006|Infant/Child sleep, Medical Maladies, My Rants|Comments Off on Psycho Doc strikes again…|