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Anger revisited

Summer fun - aircon required

I have received another book by John Holt, Teach Your Own. It is a wonderfully refreshing look at children and how they can fit into our lives. He makes many points that I can identify with in how we communicate with children. One in particular were his comments on saying no.

I have been struggling with this. There are times that I have to say no. DS sometimes wants to do things that he can’t or that I would prefer he doesn’t do (like cut his own mango, draw on the floor with wax crayons, or empty the bath onto the bathroom floor cup by cup). I have found that when he is doing something that makes a whole lot of extra work for me, I get really irritated and manage to grit my teeth and keep my voice down while I say No, and Please don’t do that. But boy, am I irritated and having to work hard to control my urge to shout. Sometimes I do shout, and then feel awful. Like when DS put his glass of ‘cold coffee’ (coffee substitute with ice cubes) right on the edge of the table and it fell and spilt all over the floor. I have been repeatedly reminding DS that he needs to put his glass/cup *on* the table, not on the *edge* of the table.

Anyway, in these details, I have been aware of my experience being one where I resent my child for making a mess, and on some level blame him, as if he could have avoided it. I expect him to be able to predict the consequences of his actions with more accuracy than he can. And this attitude is not making for a happy home.

I have been working on reminding myself that he is still learning, and he is not deliberately trying to annoy me. It is my job to support him in his learning, not scare him into behaving how I need him to behave.

So, by moving away from the idea that he is deliberately annoying me, I have decided to see it as a learning opportunity. I can still say no, without shouting or feeling intense anger. He can understand the word no, without it being muttered, forced out through pursed lips or shouted. It is perfectly possible to say no in a supportive way. And it works. (So far)

I have had a rather intense way of ‘testing’ this theory. I have had to cut down on breastfeeding as it is physically unbelievably uncomfortable. I was feeling so guilty, that I would often tell DS in a very firm (but angry as I felt so guilty) way that it was enough now. He would react with crying and being really upset. As soon as I said that num nums are resting now (without feeling guilty, without resenting him for making demands on me that I cannot meet), and was still there to rub his back, snuggle etc he is much more accepting of this change. He doesn’t always like it, and DH is very much involved in supporting DS at the times where he is frustrated and angry and does not accept that the num nums are resting. However, for the most part, a key to us getting through this time, is me staying centered and not ‘loosing it’ inside as I rant in my head about how I just can’t do this anymore.

Having said all of this, I do not think it is necessary to never be angry. And I do not think it is dangerous for my child to see me get angry and then also get over it and life continues. I just do not want it to be every day that my son sees me getting angry or working really hard not to be angry.

I will no doubt post more on this, but anger isĀ  a BIG deal for me. Coming from a home where anger was not expressed, (I have seen my father angry maybe 5-10 times in my life) or it exploded, I have had to find my own way of understanding what it means in my life, as it does not work for me to pretend I am not angry when I am. It just makes it worse.

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A little More pondering on Anthroposophy and care of the Infant

credit: abutterflyemerges.com
credit: abutterflyemerges.com

To put my previous post into a bit more context, I thought it best to clarify just why this is so personal for me.

I was brought up in an anthroposophical home, by two anthroposophical parents. There are many positive qualities in myself that I attribute to the nurturing that I received at home. There is however a lasting impression that I have been left with in my life – one that emotions don’t count, or are secondary to intentions or spiritual goals/aspirations.

I found it very difficult reading about the Madonna Cloak that Joan Salter writes about in her book, the Incarnating Child. This thinking that the environment can play a protective role in the upbringing of a child and can essentially protect a child from mistakes the parents will make, makes me a bit nervous. I wholly believe in creating a loving, gentle and safe environment for babies and young children, and certainly do my best to do just that in my home. However to say that there is some sort of spiritual bond created between mother and baby that allows for the mother to respond in thought and not in action greatly distressed me. Babies need actions. They need the mothers physical body. I am quite sure that thoughts can be reality, but I am also quite sure that thinking how much you love your baby while the baby lies in another room alone is not the same as picking your baby up to snuggle and kiss it.

I know I was left to cry. I know that I did not breastfeed enough (although my mother did try with me and did pump for months – in 1977). I remember sucking on my dolls arms to get to sleep and my mother just replacing the arms when they got too damaged from the sucking. She never thought to ask herself why I was sucking my dolls arms so much or what I needed that I was not getting. Nothing in her anthroposophical environment would have told her there was anything to question. I was eating organic food, dressed in cotton and wool, sleeping on a sheepskin, playing with a doll she had made me. It was all as it should be.

To me it seems an injustice to babies to impose our reality on them with evidence (crying) that it is not working. It just seems so cruel to dismiss the cries of a baby as a fundamental approach to caring for that baby.

And my last thought for this morning on this issue.

I was talking with my father about searching out bio-dynmaically grown food as I am sure that it is superior in nutrition to organic food, as well as being more sustainable and earth friendly. (this is just a hunch mind you) Anyway, I was saying that I have no idea what the spiritual significance of biodynamic agriculture is, but practically it seems to care for the earth and encourage biodiversity and nutrient rich soil. My father responded that in his experience the spiritual is made evident in the physical, so if it is working in the physical, you can find the spiritual there too. Which took me in my mind back to the issue of breastfeeding. If it makes sense physically (nutritionally and immune system development wise) and it makes sense emotionally (as long as it is working for both mother and child) it cannot be a spiritual truth that it has to stop. At least not to the way I am thinking.

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Anthroposophy and Infant care

This has been a post waiting to happen for some time now. And having recently received the Incarnating Child by Joan Salter, I have finally started to get my head around some of the issues that bother me about how anthroposophists (some, not all) approach babies and how to care for them.

My biggest issues are with breastfeeding, crying and sleeping. I think the broad anthrophosophical approach with toys, clothing, decor, rhythm, toiletries, media, parent staying home, not vaccinating babies etc is pretty much spot on – but weaning at 6-9 months, leaving babies to cry and forcing babies to sleep in their own beds just does not sit right with me. I suspect that anthroposophists who choose to parent their babies in this way, using justifications put forward in anthroposophical literature are missing the developmental needs of babies. As soon as the child is independent in the sense that s/he can get to where they want to be and ask for what they need, then I am more supportive of the anthroposophical approach and I think there is much wisdom there.

Weaning a baby at 6-9 months as his spiritual needs recquire him to be independent of the maternal forces of inheritance, giving him a good start in life to be a strong independent person just boggles my mind. Authors who suggest this are obvisouly not up to date with the significance of extended breastfeeding when it comes to developing the immune system and protecting the infant. I was absolutely floored to read that while breastfeeding does offer superior nutrition and it is relaxing and comforting for mother and child, on a spiritual level it is not the right thing to be doing for a modern baby with a modern conciousness. How can someone recommend weaning when it makes abundant sense to breasfeed as it is superior nutrition and it is meeting the emotional needs of the child. How can you turn your back on those truths for the possibility that spiritually it is not a good idea. That just seems ludicrous to me. If physically and emotionally it makes sense, I personally would want a lot more evidence of just how potentially dangerous breastfeeding can be on a spiritual level. So, here is a mother who is most decidedly not weaning her child any time soon, and definitly not for any spiritual reason. (I realise I may eat my words one day šŸ˜‰ )

On the crying issue.

Joan suggests leaving a child to cry as it is not really distressed, not like an adult who is wracked with grief and cannot be comforted. As soon as you comfort the baby s/he stops crying and this is proof that they are not really that distressed. Again, my heart just plummeted. I am still not sure how to get my head around this. It really is just unbelievable that someone could justify ignoring the cries of a baby as it will stop when you pick them up and is therefore not that serious! Again, I have to just be thankful for my child that I have had the sense not to do what I have read/been told (that pretty much goes for any book and any person). I cannot fathom how this can be in line with the developmental needs of a baby. I get that it is hard as a parent to have a crying infant. I have been there, admittedly only with one, but I was there for 16 weeks of daily crying that did not stop no matter what I did. But for an approach that claims to be child centered and in tune with the developmental needs of children, I have to say that ignoring a babies cry is not in line with it’s developmental needs.

And lastly, sleep.

I think that where a child sleeps in a cultural expression. This post does not have the scope to go into the history of the family bed, but it is worth noting that it is relatively new that babies get their own bedrooms and are expected to go to sleep alone. I personally am wary of this drive to make babies independent before their time. They need us, our love and our attention. Emotionally and physically they are relying on us – and it is not enough to have good intentions. It helps. But an intention is meaningless to a baby. You as a parent need to respond appropriately and honestly.

As a final word. This rant may come across as passionate. It is. I am passionate about the care of babies and the power of the mother baby entity.

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A brief note on mourning

I am not fighting the mourning process, and like birth, it is such a huge and life changing event that it takes time to get your head around it and make sense of it.

I still feel numb or devastated when I think of my mother and the fact that she is no longer here with us – but I am also starting to feel a little bit alive – a little bit at peace. This morning my son woke up and snuggled his cheek to mine and I felt a moment of happiness. This after some nights where I was going crazy with the invasion of my privacy by a needy toddler looking for some midnight comfort. I am glad I did not decide to night wean in a moment of desperation.Ā  Although I realise this option is still on the table if that is what I need. I see no benefit to suffering through breastfeeding if that becomes an all too frequent occurance at night.

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Preventative Medicine

This has been on my mind somewhat and I am hoping to make a bit of sense now as I think things through.

I am very much at the beginning of my path into understanding how to create and protect the health of my family, with a lot of focus on DS. So far I have had a very strong sense that vaccinations are not the simple preventative medicine that they are presented as being. The more I look into it, the more I am learning that it is definitely not as simple as getting the vaccine and now I can rest assured my child will be free of disease and essentially healthy. There are a myriad of issues surrounding this complex issue.

While I have so far chosen not to vaccinate DS, I have not decided that I will never vaccinate him. I am looking into this carefully and have asked my DH to give me time as I try and unravel what role I want vaccination to play in our lives. It is such a personal decision.

Largely what got me thinking again about all of this was offering information to a friend who was trying to decide whether to offer her 1 month old the HepB vaccination after having declined at the birth. I ended up giving her information I had read about and she based her decision on my information. I do not feel comfortable with that. I fact checked myself and found my information to be true, but not up to date and the up to date information to have many problems with it’s validity. Anyway, the moral of the story is that each family has to choose for themselves. While I am sad that so many babies are being vaccinated without a second thought – it really is none of my business.

Back to vaccinations and the issues that I am trying to get my head around.

My attention was caught when I found out that there have never been any double blind placebo controlled studies done on the safety of vaccinations. No one actually knows what the long term affects are and from what I am understanding, trials are measuring one vaccine against the other – not against a placebo. Now, there are very good reasons for this. It is not ethical to give a child a placebo instead of a vaccine and possibly risk that child contracting a preventable disease for the sake a science. So, the scientists have their hands tied so to speak. Except that there is a growing population who choose not to vaccinate or to partially vaccinate or to delay vaccinating. But then it is not double blind….. It’s a bit of a mess. However, I am concerned enough to not rush into vaccinating my DS with a list of extra materials found in the vaccines such as aluminum, mercury, formaldehyde, bovine serum, gelatin, etc etc the list is quite scary. Of course the question arises as to what is a safe dose of these materials. Can it be determined what is a safe dose of aluminum for a newborn (who I understand metabolize aluminum differently from adults and older children – although I am still looking into this)? for a 2, 4 and 6 month old?

Anyway, the safety of vaccines is something that is by no means established – as far as I have found so far.

Another issue that I have been looking into is the efficacy of the vaccines. No vaccine has 100% efficacy. But some are more effective than others. And not all vaccines contribute to herd immunity for the disease they are vaccinating against.

Another issue is the diseases themselves. Are they the killer diseases that we are told they are? Perhaps the doctor who saw DS days after he was born and the other doctor who saw him 2 months after he was born really do beleive that my DS was sure to die without the vaccines. This is what they told me in very clear and scary terms. I have to assume this is what they beleive if this is what they told me so passionately. From the very little that I have managed to read, I am not convinced that the diseases that are vaccinated against are all the death sentence that they are made out to be. Nasty and sometimes very dangerous. But not a death threat or necessarily the threat of permanent disability that I was led to beleive. And something that I am only starting to look into… but what are the circumstances around children developing complications with childhood diseases? I cannot beleive that it is a matter of purely luck as to whether one child develops a serious complication and the other does not…. as yet I do not have any answers that fully satisfy my curiosity – for now I breastfeed DS, keep to an organic diet most of the time, use environmentally safe cleaning products, avoid white flour and processed sugar. These guidelines seem to cover my bases and the more I read, the more these guidelines are justified.

A case in point. Almost 6 months ago I had a meeting with the Developmental doctor who asked me if I was giving DS his vit D and iron – to which I honestly replied no. I was then told that I have to give iron as if DS becomes anemic, it has a long term irreversableĀ  impact on his overall development. Scary, right? What kind of an awful mother would I be to wish to permanently impair my child by not doing what the doctor told me to do?

Anyway, I read a bit and found out that babies at risk for anemia in the first year are premature babies, babies under 3kg birth weight and formula fed babies (from what I can remember). DS does not fall into any of those catergories. I read some more and I found out that supplementing iron actually impairs the absorbtion of the iron in the breastmilk, and makes iron available to bugs in the intestines – while breast milk chelates the iron in such a way that it is only bio available to the infant and not to any bugs. Brillaint!

Back to the good doctor. She obviously had no clue what she as talking about, and yet for the last 6 months I have been fearful that perhaps DS is anemic and I caused it if he is. Well, he is not. His Hb is 11.9 and he is doing just fine without any of the precribed iron supplements. Her preventative medicine was not what my DS needed in our circumstnaces.

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