I am in the very unusual position of not having a television, but I have been told by a number of people of the new series that is on at the moment ‘Bringing up Baby’, exploring different methods of child-rearing. It is, by all accounts, causing quite a stir!
That we adhere to a method of bringing up babies at all is in itself questionable- apparently when women in a small community in Southern India were told that we have manuals on how to bring up children they were all amazed, even shocked. For them, child-rearing is as natural as eating, and not something that needs taught. The best advice I was ever given on the subject of bringing up a baby was trust your instincts and take your time. Perhaps the methods are therefore for the time poor? Or maybe our reliance on methods is a sad indictment on our lack of community and the fact that many a poor modern mother brings up her baby in isolation. How are we meant to know what to do, when the first baby we handle is our own? Is it any suprise that we turn to books when in times past we would have asked a friend or sister or mother or aunt?So like it or not, the methods are with us, and hence the debate. Opinions abound, and our politically correct society suggests we should be accepting of everyone’s choices. Except I fear that many choices are often made without full knowledge of how a baby’s brain develops. When studies were done in Romanian orphanages it was concluded unequivocally that physical nurture; hugs and kisses and proximity to another peson, was even more important than food and warmth. Those babies who were denied love did not survive. Those who were given a lot of love almost always did.
Science has made extraordinary developments in its ability to map the brain and our capacity to love. Before making any decisions on how to bring up your baby, consider the long-term impact of what you are doing. “A General Theory of Love” by Lewis, Amini and Lannon and Michel Odents wonderful ‘The Scientification of Love” are both very worthwhile reads.
As a very dear friend and mentor once said to me, every family is an ecosystem. You need to find your own way with your baby and work out what is best for you all. Different ways will be right at different times and in different situations. Do what feels right, not what someone tells you to do. But whatever happens, don’t fall for the modern and misplaced idea that a loved baby who is held and nurtured is somehow spoilt. Independence is not foisted on a person. It is taken by them as they grow and is borne of love and trust. Nurture your baby well, and they will become the independent, secure and happy little people you want them to be.