written by Sam
Parents are one of the most highly targeted groups in terms of marketing and selling “stuff.” From even before conception, there are products we can purchase to aid us in our new venture. Throughout pregnancy we are asked “do you have everything you need yet? Are you ready?” Which usually means, “Do you have enough stuff?” rather than “Are you emotionally ready for this journey?” Of course, we then worry that we don't have enough, we haven't bought enough toys, nappies, furniture, we should get round to decorating the nursery with a colourful and adorable theme...
How have we become so confused? An expectant mother need not stress over not being able to afford that beautiful wooden cot from that expensive department store. Your true needs are actually incredibly simple. In fact, a quick look around the other mammals of our world will show you just how simple they are. A safe, warm and dry place to sleep and to live, access to healthy and varied foods, fresh air, clean water, bodily eliminations, sex, and freedom from disease are the things we humans need for basic survival. Add to those, love and community, acceptance of self and by others, freedom, individual passions and intellectual stimulation and you have the ingredients to not only survive but to truly thrive. Evolution sets us up for success. It enables us to procreate and parent our children all by ourselves. Evolution has not factored in to our needs catalogues, credit cards, flashy rattles and vibrating teddy bears. The very fact that our species has survived for all these years, while others were dying out should tell us that we were doing something right.
The reality is that our babies do not need things, they need you. An attachment to a blanket, teddy or muslin is much more serious than it looks. It is so common that many parents just laugh it off and talk of weaning them off of their comforter. But this bond to a comfort item, signifies a far deeper issue. A child needs to form strong attachments and if you stop them from attaching to you by setting limits on how much comfort you will provide, how much you will carry or cuddle or feed them, then they will turn to material possessions to fill that need. This will lead to them developing in to an adult who finds joy in things rather than people.
And what about discipline? It is a big issue in our culture – the number one parenting complaint being “our children don't listen to us!” We need to see the connection here, parents who enforce independence and separation, from sleep training, to sudden or early weaning from the breast, from time outs, to unrealistic expectations, are going to struggle maintaining that strong connection that is necessary for your child to respect and listen to you. If you have an unbreakable bond, if you are consistently on your child's side, if you treat their needs with respect, then they will reciprocate.
How to get back to basics.
- Replace singing bears with cuddles and songs from mum.
- Get rid of the dummy and let your baby comfort suck on natures pacifier at the breast.
- Forget the vibrating rocker or bouncy chair instead, provide your baby with the movement and stimulation they desire by wearing them in a sling or carrying them in your arms.
- Ignore the baby entertainment centre, If you have an active life and include your baby in all of it, wearing or carrying them, they will get all the entertainment they need.
- Turn off the TV and the computer and get outside. It may take a while for older children to figure out how to entertain themselves in this new environment, but persevere. Once they start finding their imagination they will fall in love with the possibilities!
- Nursery's and cots are not a necessity for family life. Instead why not welcome your children in to the family bed?
- Stop buying convenience packaged food, they are expensive and unhealthy. Instead simplify your diet. Start simply, with buying more fruits and vegetables.
- Most family homes house a mountain of toys, most of which don't hold a child's attention for more than a few minutes. De-clutter and be ruthless about it, replacing the mountain with a few simple, open ended, good quality toys, preferably made from natural materials. If you have been guilty of overcompensating and overbuying, spoiling your children with presents, now is the time to stop.
- Replace this with the one thing children really do want, time with you!
- Replace rewards and punishments for positive role modeling, discussion and focusing on building a strong connection with your children.
- Disregard strict routines, instead concentrate on getting to know your child and their signals, enabling you to be baby/child led in your parenting.