Tag Archives: Intuitive parenting

Groups

I am a bit of a loner. I cherish my individuality and the freedom to make personal choices. I am quite wary of group situations where my individuality might be compromised. To my mind I equate groups with The Lord of the Flies and Piggy. I see groups as essentially dangerous as people can do awful things when in a group – things they would not do if alone. (the present discussion in Israel about what happened in January in Gaza springs to mind)

And yet being part of a group is such an essential experience in daily life. Whether the group is your family, a group of strangers at the park or anything inbetween. There are dynamics that happen as soon as you have a group a people together. In many ways I am trying to master an understanding of these dynamics and what role I play in affecting the group dynamics.

I took DS to the local Gymboree group last Thursday. It was our first time and we didn’t know anyone there. I placed DS at the entrance and went inside myself and called him to join me. I know that he likes to observe before he participates and didn’t want him feeling like he had been plonked in the middle of something unfamiliar. Anyway, he was looking around, taking in this new environment and smiling at other children and parents – and no-one was really taking any notice of him (normally his smiles stop people in the street) – so he turned around and crawled out.

This made quite an impression on me. I do want DS to have positive group experiences – I want him to feel safe and accepted (both things I do not feel). And it tugs on my heart strings that he wasn’t getting any attention.

To put this all in perspective – he is only 13 months and hardly expected to be interacting with other children in a playful way. I am pretty aware that this is my issue – and yet as a parent I do feel it is my responsibility to give my DS the skills to feel like he can handle himself in a group.

To finish – we are still in couples therapy (with DS) and yesterday we spoke about my diffculty in groups. I remembered as a small girl owning a pair of purple shoes. I was so proud of them – I think it was the first brihgtly coloured item of dress that I had owned – with my mum preferring brown and even dying red shoe brown and dressing me in dark colours. These purple shoes just had me over the moon. Until my group leader in the Brownies group (little Girl Guides) that I attended shamed me for wearing purple shoes when the uniform says brown. The joy in finally having something so beautiful in my eyes was destroyed.

It is possible to see the connection between this memory and my dislike of the group – like I cannot be myself in the group.

Purple shoes

Purple shoes

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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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