How Contact Leads to Independence

How Contact Leads to Independence

When a child is born, many parents are often told not to hold them too much, to avoid sleeping close to them, and not to respond immediately to every cry. But are we really sure that listening to children's needs means spoiling them?

Ideologies, following "Preset Care Plans," or an Emotional Approach?

Many parents face a dilemma when it comes to deciding how to raise their children, because they receive conflicting advice and guidance. Even healthcare professionals often disagree on what advice to give, leading parents to search for information on the internet. However, the internet is a mixed bag, and relying solely on it can be misleading and risky.

Some parents adhere to predefined models of childcare, viewing them as a kind of "care package" that, if followed, will yield predictable results. It's crucial to emphasize that just as there is no one-size-fits-all approach to raising children. There's no instruction manual for our little humans, which is a good thing, because the solution lies in the unique relationship we build with them, free from the influence of cultural biases. Every family is different, and preserving the individuality of relationships and individuals leads to diverse and personalized choices. It's not about blindly adhering to specific ideologies as the best approach, but rather about coming to terms with our own experiences as parents and as the children we once were. It involves considering our individual expectations and resources, both as individuals and as part of a couple or community.

Cultural Norm vs Biological Norm

Cultural norms and biological norms do not always align, and there are many misconceptions surrounding infant care. When a baby is born, many parents hear recommendations not to spoil them. Some common behaviors that are often discouraged include holding the baby too much, co-sleeping, rushing to respond to every cry, carrying them in a sling or stroller, breastfeeding on demand, and breastfeeding beyond the first few months or even years (think of the term "weaning," which literally means removing the habit). Some even suggest allowing the baby to cry a little, to encourage them to develop self-soothing skills, or using methods to make them sleep alone like an adult. It's important to note that these methods lack a scientific basis and may even be potentially dangerous.

So, what are the real risks associated with these behaviors? The multitude of advice offered by various “consultants”, who invariably appear around new parents, often promotes these practices in the name of good parenting. They claim that it's about teaching the child independence through frustration and safeguarding the freedom of the adults, who might otherwise become slaves to a demanding infant. The truth, however, is that these recommendations are often tainted by cultural prejudices that do not align with the physiological needs of the human being.

Looking at the Past with Today's Knowledge

A few decades ago, emotional education was often considered unnecessary. Fortunately, today we are experiencing a transformation in our understanding of emotions that aligns with human physiology and our innate emotional needs. For instance, some mothers worry that nurturing their children through close contact might create challenges when they eventually return to work. In reality, children are remarkably adaptable. They can grasp the differences in people and situations they encounter during their parents' absence, and, in most cases, they adjust smoothly, welcoming their mother upon her return, as is entirely natural.

It's important not to deny the practices of the past, when our own parents did what they believed was best for us, even if their advice differed greatly from what is recommended today. Bridging the generation gap, especially between grandparents, parents, and grandchildren, can sometimes lead to conflicts that strain family relationships. Many grandparents may feel that today's parents maintain too much closeness with their children. It might be useful to recall that they, too, faced challenges in following advice during their time, making it challenging for them to accept different approaches now without questioning their past choices.

With patience, self-assurance, clear communication, and perhaps some guidance from a pediatrician, parents can create an environment of mutual respect and understanding that benefits both children and families.

Respect the Needs of Children

When our little ones sense danger and their biological alertness system kicks in, they experience a strong need for security, contact, and protection. In these moments, they urgently require someone to restore a sense of normalcy by tending to their needs. It's crucial to understand that a child's crying should always be considered a meaningful communication, as it is typically their last resort. Additionally, children's sleep patterns differ from those of adults, with physiological awakenings occurring until at least the age of three. Therefore, the needs of children are consistent across the board: they require physical contact, nurturing care, and the opportunity to trust their own emotions while expressing them through appropriate responses.

In our culture, there is a tendency to underestimate a child's competence in both feeling and communicating their needs. It often appears as if children are perceived as "blank slates" upon which parents must write external rules and educational principles. However, it's incorrect to assume that children raised with respect for their need for contact lack rules or become spoiled and ill-mannered as a result. Growing up, rules and boundaries are just as essential as affectionate gestures.

Understanding the importance of staying close and creating a loving atmosphere means treating the emotions of both kids and adults with equal respect, even though their roles are different.

Independence Arises from Contact

Detachment and independence arise from contact, from the security of being welcomed and heard when needed, and from trust in those who care for us, not the other way around. As long as mothers are judged solely for their choices based on ideological reasons rather than for valuing affection, in our society, we will miss the great opportunity that every newborn child brings: the chance to give value to an education of emotions that embraces contact as a human biological right and norm

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