Tag Archives: infant crying

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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Cry what out?

It has been a while since anyone in the extended family of grandparents and aunts/uncles has asked how DS sleeps at night. I have been giving elusive answers as the honest answer would only encourage judgement and advice.

Yesterday I slipped up. I mentioned that DS has gone off the bedtime routine and we have had a couple of nights of wide awake infant at 11pm or even later. Despite my firm resolution not to leave DS to cry it out (CIO) and my clear explanations as to why, MIL brought it up again. After mothering 3 boys, her experience taught her that babies have to be left to scream and scream and eventually fall asleep exhausted and desperate and ignored. Her doctor and no doubt mother and well meaning friends all encouraged this action and it seems to have worked for her. She cannot entertain the idea that a child might get through his life not being left to shriek alone in a dark room.

And here is the irony for me. Her 2nd son is almost 21 and has sever sleep disturbances. He sits in his room 24/7 on the computer or TV , unable to sleep. When he does sleep, he can only sleep during daylight hours. Professional consultation resulted in suggestions for a behavioral approach of setting boundaries and both parents cannot bring themselves to do that to their son. And yet they didn’t think twice about leaving him shrieking as an infant. It boggles my mind it does.

To be honest the situation is much much larger than I am painting here – but my point is that I do not get why you would think it is OK to set boundaires for an infant. When infants have *no way* of even understanding what a boundary is let alone undersand that their parents are doing it because they love them. It just does not make sense. Most infants do not even undersand that their parents are there if they can’t see/smell/feel them. So it escapes me how this idea of essentially abandoning your child can make sense. The baby experiences abandonment – even if you are in the next room. Why would you want to put your child through that kind of suffering? All your baby can do is cry and scream in protest. They cannot exactly start explaining to you just how scary this it, or get up and walk out. They depend on you to protect and love them. And you take that away….

I guess I am ranting a bit. But I am very happy to be loving my DS wholeheartedly now. In a couple of years I will have to say no and there absolutely will have to be boundaries. Not when he is an infant. Not when he couldn’t possibly be manipulating me.  You have to be a cunning sneaky person to manipulate. Babies are not. An older child maybe – not a baby.

This is not a new question, but worth thinking about *what* the baby is crying out when left to cry ‘it’ out. I think along the lines of trust. My baby is crying out his trust in me to be his parent. I would never chose to create a situation where my baby looses his trust in me.

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Filed under Baby care, My Musings, Parenting, Rant