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Most people would agree that respect, trust, and understanding are all parts of a caring and loving relationship. These are some of the characteristics that would be used to describe a good relationship. Indeed a relationship lacking in these staples would be considered a bad relationship. Bad relationships can cause us to feel depressed and even lower our self-esteem. Most people want to put in as much effort as possible to make sure their partners feel safe with them and that they can trust them. All relationships need these components, especially the relationship between parent and child.
When a parent/child relationship is built on a strong foundation of trust, respect, and understanding, it will thrive. When the same kind of relationship is built without these components it will soon crumble. This makes sense to most people. Yet, many people who would agree with this idea, practice parenting styles that lack trust, respect, and understanding.
There is more to it though. It begins before any parenting techniques are even begun. It truly begins at the very moment of birth. Instead of welcoming a baby in a calm, positive, and respectful manner we forcefully pull it from its mother, violently ”dry” it and actually want to cause it to cry. The room is usually very bright with a lot of loud machines and strangers. We clamp the cord and deprive the baby of needed blood. We take them away from their mother and poke them with needles. Then we strap their arms down in a tightly bound blanket and place them in a plastic tub and tell their parents it is to dangerous for them to carry their own babies. The babies are also supposed to sleep in those tubs instead of next to their mothers in bed. And that is if they room in with their mother at all.
There is a saying ” if babies could talk…” What would they say? This idea is very flawed. You see, babies can and do talk. If people listen to them their language is simple and easy to understand. But you have to listen! If you are capable of understanding the most basic of human emotions you can understand a babies language. Screaming and or crying usually means one is upset and unhappy. Quiet calmness most often signals contentment. Smiling and laughing signifies happiness. A mother will quickly learn the special sound that her baby has when they are hungry, tired, or need to use the bathroom or be changed. Just as a mother jaguar knows her babies cries above all others, so can a human mother. When a baby is born and it is not crying, we mistakenly assume something is wrong. We shake, rub, or even slap it to make it cry. A baby can breath without crying! A baby who is blinking and alert but not crying is ok. In fact, they are probably doing better than the crying infant.
Perhaps this is where the problem truly lies. When new parents are shown and told that it is good that their child is crying we send a horrible message. Many people quickly jump from it is ok and even good that a baby is crying to it is good for the baby to cry. This is a completely untrue and very dangerous idea. It is that mentality that allows parents to think it is ok to ignore a child while it cries for help.
When a mother responds promptly with love and understanding when her baby calls to her the baby learns a very important message. The baby learns ”I am important. My mother cares for me and as long as I make my needs known, they will be met.” Consider the opposite of that because when you ignore your baby you are performing the opposite action and are indeed sending the opposite message. A message of unimportance and unworthiness. The baby learns that no matter how long it begs, its needs will not be met. It’s mother will not help it. What a sad lesson to learn at such a young age. When we think in this way it is easy to believe the results of research that found these feelings and the subsequent effects on the brain are linked to adult depression.
In the most basic, primal way we are designed to listen attentively to our children. In the days of cavemen a crying baby would have signaled a predator to an easy meal and given away the location of the family. Because of this cave mothers were great at listening to all of their babies cues. Babies will make several smaller or quieter noises before they actually begin to cry. In truth a crying baby is one that is in its last desperate stage of trying to gain its mother’s attention. When a mother truly listens to her baby and understands their cues the baby has no need to actually cry.
There is even an easy to follow instructional video on “Baby Language” from Dunstan Baby. I think that this or other instruction should be given to all new parents as soon as their baby is born. Eventually it will just become accepted knowledge just as it used to be. How ever you learn your own babies language is up to you, but please learn it. Know that EVERY sound your baby makes means something and respond every time.
Respect your babies needs and feelings and do not write them off as meaningless noise. Help your baby to trust you by showing them that you will always be there when you are called. Understand that every sound has a meaning and a value and it needs to be responded to accordingly. I want to share a story about trust in children to help emphasize this point.
One day my father, my daughter, and I were at my parents pool. Another family came to the pool as well. They had a little girl with them that was close in age to my daughter. However her interactions with her family and my daughter’s interactions with us, were very different. My daughter was relaxed in the water with my dad or I. She knew that if she became nervous and wanted to return to the step she would be. She knew that she could trust both of us to care for her and she knew that we would not let anything bad happen to her. My daughter has always been respected and responded to. I have always done everything I could to make her feel secure and foster a strong attachment. The other girl was a polar opposite. She was visibly terrified even in the arms of her mother and other family members. She did not trust that she was safe. Her wishes were not granted her fear was not acknowledged and several times she was told to “shut up” when she cried in terror. To see a child that age who had no security in her own family, especially her mother was heart breaking. It was as if she were invisible. No one cared about what she wanted or needed. She was a side note to their life. My father and I decided to take my daughter inside and avoid this scene which seemed to be very upsetting and confusing to my daughter. Now I do not know how this child was raised. I can only imagine and assume. There may be other factors at play here. Still, in that moment she was not listened to. She was not respected or understood and she did not trust. My daughter has fallen in the water. She has slipped under when she didn’t want to. Accidents have happened that could have made her very afraid but every time something like that happened, someone she knew and trusted strengthened that trust by immediately stepping in to help her. My daughter knows that if anything does happen, she will be helped so she doesn’t worry.
Bottom line: Listen, respond, respect and understand your children so that they will grow to trust, listen, respond, respect, and understand you! It will also save you and your child from a list of problems! Happy Listening!
July 1-8, 2012
The US has some of the highest rates of depression, anxiety, cancer, and other diseases in the world. Every year our government puts billions of dollars into funding programs that attempt to address these issues. The efforts are consistently ineffective. We are the leaders of the free world and we must remain healthy to stay that way.
There is a cost-free, efficient, and fulfilling way to heal our nation. This simple change requires no permission, program, or rhetoric, and it can start with you, today. By listening to our babies and accepting that their needs must be met, we can reduce disease and promote healthy members of society.
If you are skeptical, we understand. So for one week in July, a group of knowledgeable and respected bloggers are coming together to share how listening to our babies can heal our nation.
We invite you to join us in learning how to raise healthier children. We do not promise it will be easy- at times it will be difficult to hear what is being said. The United States of America has never shied away from the difficult, though. Instead, we choose to do the right things “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” (John F. Kennedy)
“Listen To Our Babies, Heal Our Nation” agrees that meeting the needs of our babies is the most patriotic thing we can do for our country.
Will you join us?
How you can participate: We are looking for submissions of all sorts; blog posts, artwork, vlogs, videos, original movie clips- anything that shares why or how you came to believe that we must listen to our babies.
Everyone: Have you always wanted to share your thoughts, but never had a venue to do it? E-mail submissions to: email@example.com
Sponsors: Opportunities available. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Experts: Have something interesting to chat about pertaining to understanding and listening to our babies? Host a live chat on a Facebook page. E- mail: email@example.com
Bloggers: Publicize this event; share it on your Facebook page and Twitter;
Post this Press Release as an entry on your own blog.
Submit something previously written or create something fresh.
Listen to Our Babies, Heal Our Nation: Bloggers Unite to Humanize Babies
Lately it seems that I am in charge of multiple people’s lives. I must be because I seem to have the power to change their feelings and emotions. I dictate their happiness. This is of course a ridiculous idea. I cannot cause, force, mandate, or otherwise control other people’s feelings. The same is true in reverse. I am responsible for feeling happy, sad, angry, or guilty. What I may feel guilty about may be silly to someone else and likewise what another feels guilty about could be no big deal to me. It is all internal. It is a choice. now before I get to deep into this I want to put a side note on my above statement. I do not believe that people with true depression or other mental illness can simply “feel happy” and they will be happy. There are always exceptions but for the purpose of this post, the focus is on guilt and I do believe that you can control that within your self.
Many of my fellow bloggers, writers, or just outspoken advocates for natural parenting, pregnancy, and birth etc. have been faced with someone saying “you are judging me” or “you made me feel bad about my choices.” That is not what we are here to do. I have said (and I know others have as well) countless times that mothers from past generations are exempt from feeling bad about what they did in the past. The reason for this is that it is most likely that they made the decisions they did with the best knowledge available at the time. They may have even been following the advice of a doctor. On top of that, there were simply not as many options or support. I have to say also that even today there is obviously exceptions for medical reasons. To me that goes without saying but recently I had to explain that to someone.
So, if you circumcised, formula fed, had an elective c-section, chose to be induced, or practiced “detachment parenting” principles let it go and move on. When I post or discuss a scientific study on any of these topics or I encourage and educate new parents not to practice these principles, I am not saying you are a bad parent. I am not saying that you are an awful person and that your children should hate you. I am saying that there is now scientific evidence showing that these past practices should not be continued. I am saying that today there are many more options and therefore fewer excuses or barriers. I am saying that the ideas of the past have been proven to be damaging and dangerous and now that we know that we should do better in this and future generations. Now there is tons of research showing that circumcision should never be preformed on infants. Every workplace must allow pumping breaks for working mothers. Mothers can pump, use milk donation, and even a wet nurse instead of formula. Every study conducted shows that early inductions and elective c-sections are damaging and dangerous. They simply should not be done except in medical emergencies. There is much evidence showing that parents should never let their babies cry alone and that practicing Attachment Parenting principles where possible is truly best. These are not opinions, they are facts.
I am not telling you to feel guilty. I am not judging you. I am asking you to do one thing. Now that you have been made aware that those past practices are very damaging and that science backs up that idea, do not continue to encourage them. Do not say “I’m fine” or “my kids turned out fine” or any other justification for continuing out dated parenting styles or practices. If you feel guilty about your choices, deal with that internally. No one can MAKE you feel guilty and no one else can lift that guilt off of you. You have to do it. Maybe, one of the best ways to make amends would be to help new parents not make the same mistakes. Help promote science based parenting principles.
“I did my best with what I knew then. Now that I know better, I do better.” Maya Angelou
I am not perfect. I am not super mom. I have made and I am sure I will continue to make mistakes. I have done things that I will never do again and I have done things with my oldest child that I have not done with my second child. I am sure that if I have a third there are more things that I will do differently. You learn as you go. I want to share a bit of my story so that people can understand where I am coming from. Here are a few things that I have done, how I changed them, or I what I would change.
1. I allowed Pitocin to be used to speed up labor with my first child. I regretted this so I stayed at home most of my labor with my second and achieved a fully natural birth.
2. I encouraged my daughter to wean at 15mo. because I was about to deliver my son and I was told that I had to wean her 3 months before the birth to avoid any problems. I will nurse my son until he self weans regardless of his age or if I have another baby.
3. When my daughter was 18mo I tried a “gentler” controlled crying program to get her to sleep alone in her room all night. I didn’t do very well with it because if she cried I picked her up but I still made her sleep away from me and go to bed alone as long as she wasn’t crying. I now room and bed share with both of my children. My son is always in my bed and my daughter moves back and forth between her bed in my room and my bed.
4. I had always planned to circumcise my son. I just thought it was supposed to be done and i was actually irritated when I first heard of people trying to outlaw it. Thankfully I found all of the information I needed to make the decision before my son was born and he remained whole.
As parents we all make mistakes. We simply have to do better next time. So stop feeling guilty and especially stop blaming that guilt on others. It is no one elses fault or responsibility. Let it go and move on. Make amends by not continuing to promote these outdated ideas. Encourage new mothers to follow science and trust their maternal instincts. That is all you can do now.
I know that this topic has a tendency to get very heated. I tend to get enraged myself when talking about the “cry it out” philosophy. I know several people who still practice CIO today. In 2012. That is insane to me! Let me be up front. I am very passionate about this subject. I make no apologies for my “opinions.” I know that my “opinions” are backed up by science. Don’t you just hate that. I know it sucks. Trying to argue with someone who has every bit of scientific research on their side. It must be very frustrating trying to defend a position against science. I have an idea, try listening to and following the research. Stop holding onto out dated ideas just because you do not want to deal with the fact that you made the wrong decision. You chose to not put your child first. You chose to ignore your babies screams for help and sent them the message, “you are not important enough to respond to.” Deal with the mistake, forgive yourself and hope that your child will forgive you and move forward by not defending it any longer.
I read yet another article today about the effects of CIO.
There are really countless studies documenting the negative effects of CIO. Yet people still do it and doctors still recommend it. It is mind boggling to me! The biggest argument is “it worked for me and my kids are fine.” Are they really fine? Have you done brain scans before and after? And even if they are “fine” don’t you think your children deserve more than to be just “fine?” I hate that argument so much. Think of all of the things that are justified in that manner.
“My parents beat the shit out of me all of the time and I’m fine”
“I’m circumcised and I’m fine!” (both men and women)
“I’ve done drugs and I’m fine”
etc etc etc. Come on people! When new research comes out on a subject it should be reviewed and thought about. When A LOT of research is done and they all find the same thing to be true it is time to acknowledge it’s truth. From there new recommendations and policies need to be put in place. Just because something is not illegal doesn’t make it safe or good in any way. Look at cigarettes. They are perfectly legal and perfectly deadly.
It is unnatural for mothers to learn to ignore their children. I cannot even imagine hearing my child cry and not immediately going to them and trying to fix the problem. From an evolutionary stand point if early humans parented the way some people parent today our species would have died out long ago. A crying baby signaled predators to the location of an easy meal. This crazy idea that children should be on a strict schedule from the second they are born even it means letting them cry is a new idea. Most parents in past generations would have thought you were crazy if you had said “just let them cry! They are fine!” Why have mother’s today decided that ignoring your natural instincts is the way to go. Is the need to be modern and hip so ingrained that we actually choose to harm our children to keep up with the Jones’?
I believe that there are many factors of today’s society that contribute to this dangerous parenting style. For one, mother’s have no support. Women are constantly told that they cannot do things still or that they should listen to the “experts” (usually male) in order to make any decision. It starts in pregnancy. Women are told for nine months (and one could argue, their entire lives) that they are incapable of delivering their baby without assistance. They are told that their bodies are broken and frail and that they just need to sit back and let other more “knowledgeable” people handle the birth of THEIR baby. They are lied to and coerced. This does not end with the birth of their baby. Every where a new mother turns she is met with someone who “knows better” because they’ve “been there.” Mothers are told to ignore their instincts and follow someone else’s ideas.
Not only does everyone around them know better than they do when it comes to THEIR baby, but working mothers are told the most important thing is getting back to work fast. Not the needs of their child, not their own wants or needs, not what would be best for their relationship. Getting back to work. The United States is awful in its world standings on maternity leave. Most other countries give mothers weeks of paid maternity leave and even more unpaid leave without fear of job loss. Some countries give mothers an entire year off to bond with their babies. Those countries see the importance of the bond between mother and baby. In the U.S. a mother is rushed back to work after only 6 weeks to bond with her new baby. Then she is expected to deal with a newborn who is not ready to do without its mother yet and is therefore very clingy trying to stay close to the mother that it misses during the day. That same baby is in no way equipped to sleep through the night and needs to nurse often throughout the day and night. So now you have a baby who is trying to adjust to not having its mother most of the day and a woman who is working all day who then has to come home and continue to “work” as a mother. She doesn’t get much sleep especially if she is having to get up several times a night and walk into another bedroom to get to her crying baby and nurse it then get it settled back to sleep in its crib. Ideally all working mothers would be able to practice Attachment Parenting including breastfeeding and co-sleeping and make their lives and their babies’ lives so much easier but alas, that is the type of thing that is thought to be an extreme idea that will cause problems later on in life and will cause the mother to be more drained than ever. Let’s see real quick:
Option 1: Give up breastfeeding and crib train your baby… Baby cries in the middle of the night. Mom wakes up, goes to get baby, prepares bottle, finally gives the hungry baby the bottle then soothes the baby back to sleep which usually takes at least a few minutes then go back to bed and try to sleep until the process begins again.
Option 2: Breastfeed and co-sleep… Let me start by saying while I do bed-share with my children I understand that it is not for everyone. In this scenario i use the term co-sleeping to mean sleeping in the same room as your baby. Whether they are in your bed, a side car attached to your bed, a bassinet, or a crib as long as they are in your room. Baby wakes to eat, mom either simply offers the breast if baby hasn’t found it if bed-sharing or quickly picks baby up at the first peep even before the baby begins to actually cry and then offers the breast. Baby nurses and quickly goes back to sleep in the comfort of knowing that its mother is near and responds promptly when she is needed. Baby either goes right back to sleep where it is or is gently placed in its bed. Repeat when needed.
Now in case you still don’t believe how easy it is, let me tell you a story. When my daughter was born we had her in a bassinet right next to our bed and she occasionally, though rarely, slept in our bed. At 6 months i thought I was “supposed” to move her into a crib in her own room so we did. I would never let my baby cry it out so every time she woke I got up, walked into her room, nursed, rocked, danced, walked and did anything else that would let her get back to sleep. Then as I would set her down, she would frequently wake up again and I would start all over. When she finally did go down I stumbled back to my bed for the short amount of time between then and her next feeding. I was exhausted!! When my son was born I already planned to bed-share. Let me tell you, what a difference! I have never gotten so much sleep with a baby. We both sleep so well and he has from a much earlier age. When he is hungry he nurses and I often don’t even wake up then he slips right back into a deep sleep. If i did wake up, I fall back asleep quickly and peacefully. He is now 8mo old and I have no intention of moving him out anytime soon. I should add that my daughter was moved back into my room and sometimes my bed as well. And you know what. All 4 of us sleep better than ever! I could not be less drained!
Back to my point. When a mother becomes so exhausted that she can barely function at all and has little to no support you can see where she might want to try anything to get some sleep. Combine that with people telling her to let the baby cry it out and to think of herself first the baby will be fine and you get a recipe for abuse. Yes, I think that letting your baby cry alone is child abuse. Even Ferber the so called “father” of the cry it out movement said that knowing what he knows now he would not use that method on his own children. Think about that. The man who first championed the idea would not use it on his own children. That says something!
Now if we offered support to those women and helped them create a strong attachment and not get to burned out maybe they would not feel so desperate. Maybe if a woman felt empowered throughout her pregnancy and birthed in a strong not fearful way. Perhaps if she was given a year off to bond with her baby without fear of setting back her career or being fired, she wouldn’t be so overwhelmed and she would be able to put her baby first. The truth is that is what is most important. If you are not prepared to put a child before everything else. Do not have one. Babies are time consuming. Babies need a lot. These are not secrets. The secret is that you will be all alone. No one will help you. That has to change!
Soon there will come a time when things like CIO and spanking will be legally considered child abuse. Until then the more women who can learn other ways the better. I cannot wait until these ideas are things of the past and people who practice them are thought of as low class child abusers just as people who beat children are today because to me, they are the same thing.
Hello fellow hippies and hippie lovers. I am putting together a collection of stories from different periods in the parenting journey. If you have a story about your journey of trying to conceive, pregnancy, childbirth, and early child care that you wouldn’t mind sharing I would love to read it and possibly include it in the collection. Thank you in advance for all submissions!
All submissions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Today is Father’s Day. A day to honor all of the men out there who have contributed to the raising and nurturing of children. I think that is the true definition of a father. A father is not merely a donator of genetic material. A father is a man who contributes to the growth and development, both physically, emotionally and mentally of a child. No matter if he is the biological father as well or a step dad or an adoptive dad. A dad plays an important role in the life of the children that they father. Father’s come in all shapes, sizes, races, religious beliefs, and sexual orientations. What makes a father a father is the time and care that he puts into the relationship he has with his children.
I am blessed to be married to a wonderful man, husband, and father. He, like many other dads out there is in the military. This places a different dynamic in the mix. Whether he wants to or not, he must leave his children for months at a time. This situation is not something that is ever enjoyed but rather, handled and gotten through. When there are times that fathers and children must be away from each other, it is important to make the most of time together. We have been very lucky because my husband has been able to be there for both of our children’s births. We planned both pregnancies specifically for that fact. However my husband’s next deployment will be right around my son’s first birthday. Due to that fact he has been doing so much to make my son’s first year special and to form a strong bond with him before he leaves again. My husband believes as I do in forming strong attachments with your children. To do this he reads to them almost every day that he is here, he cuddles with my son in the morning after my daughter and I get out of bed. We all sleep together and he cuddles with my daughter a lot at night too. Almost as soon as he walks through the door after work both my son and daughter want to be with him right away. My daughter wants him to chase her and tickle her and my son wants my husband to carry him everywhere. The last few nights my son has screamed at me until I give him to his daddy. My husband proudly wore my son around the fair the other day in our sleepy wrap for a few hours. Not every man is man enough to wear their baby and I am so happy I got one of the good ones!
So to all of the dads out there who know what it means to be a REAL dad and who know that forming a strong attachment and bond with your children is the manliest thing you can do, Happy Father’s Day! Enjoy your children and all of the time you have with them especially when they are young. A man shows his son what kind of man to be and shows his daughters what kind of man to love. So keep on making every moment count. Your kids won’t be kids forever. Happy Father’s Day!