I simply want everything I do to be an act of worship to God. ********************EVERYTHING******************** like a spider's web, intricately woven, the threads of our lives are entwined, making us who we are, where we are, at this time in history.... here's a small record of one family's journey to love God

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Continuum Concept

I was going to write a review of Jean Liedloff''s book, but I think I'll just stick to the questions it raised for me and some Helpful Information.

1) Do people really *believe* that as babies we have expectations inside of us, which are dependent on what our ancestors experienced over millions of years????
2) How can someone who has visited a couple of remote tribes five times (totalling about two years with them) speak with such authority about how they never do this or always do that?
3) Closely linked to number 2, and assuming she's not a linguistic genius, wouldn't a huge amount of everyday interaction have gone over her head because she simply didn't understand? Perhaps the apparent total absence of arguing was merely due to the fact that they argue differently to us - just like they greet people differently and have different mealtime customs. Who knows?
4) Has she overlooked the problems that do exist in that society? (I'll be upfront with my underlying beliefs: I do not believe there is a perfect society anywhere around - of course, some may do better than others and we could all learn from each other....but none are perfect. So when someone writes a totally glowing report I am inclined to think they are romaticising it a bit. Call me cynical; I'm OK with that!)
5) How would she, as someone who obviously believes it is detrimental for a young baby to be "not carried" during the first six or so months, describe my children? With the exception of the one who cried from pain for hours a day (and he yelled whether he was held or not), they have all happily slept in an old cane pram.

We didn't experience the agonising screaming described in the book as children are separated from their mother and their world turns upside-down. When our little ones would wake we would attend to their needs and they seemed genuinely secure - certainly no signs of despair at all.

A few of them needed to be close to us for the first few days, especially at night. But this didn't last long - the worst was ER, the one who got the most holding out of all of them!!!!! She was only content if being held from 6 to 11 each evening...and this went on for about seven or eight weeks. There she is at *that* time of night:

However, this didn't last for anywhere near as long as Liedloff suggests, and she was more than happy to be separated from me during the day. How would Jean explain this?
6)At the risk of sounding like a defensive parent who didn't do what Liedloff said, I will ask my final question. Will parents be left feeling guilty if they don't follow her formula? It's not rhetorical.

I read this book having had a background of parenting reading that erred more on the side of "parents doing stuff to their kids".
So this book was VERY different, and in many ways, in spite of the fantastical (IMHO) assertions about humanity, it was a breath of fresh air.

I loved:
*the value placed on the *relationship* between parent and child
*the value placed on the children themselves
*the description of what a baby experiences upon entering the world - it explained in part for me, why our little ones really do *need* to be so close at the beginning. This was something I had *worked out* for myself (in spite of reading that books that were pretty strong on needing to teach bubbas to sleep right from the start and Plunket warning otherwise)......so I had spent nights sleeping with babes in my arms, mainly in that first week.
*the acknowledgement that babies are social
*the encouragement to allow your children to co-operate with you.
*not so much in the book, but certainly on her website, Liedloff talks very convincingly about children needing to be included in the adult world - not being the centre of the world, but just being an active participant. This is one of my soapboxes, and I'm more than happy to move over on it and share it with her!
*again, on the website, discussion about children needing to know parents are in control.
*the article about two women sharing their lives intimately - I have to admit I tire a little too easily of the pervasive view that if it's "tribal" it must be better than what we as modern white men are doing. So the terminology of this piece gets to me a little - but the sentiment of working together in community is definitely worth noting, and something we need to be intentional about these days if we live in suburbia.

Funny thing is, these ideas are not new. And I don't even think Liefloff can lay claim to them. They are Biblical ideas (OK, not the inbuilt-expectations-handed-down-from-ancestors-over-millions-of-years-bit....I mean the "good" bits!) And quite frankly, I find a Biblical worldview reflects the reality I see around me far more consistently than Liedloff's wild claims about *evolutionary expectations*.

But all in all, an interesting read.


kate5kiwis said...

hmmmmm, i am thinking...
i do believe that babies thrive on close proximity to mommy (daddy, siblings...)
i'm rather hazy on the (previously) black-and-whites of parental control and separation of child from parents.

maybe "parental guidance" is where i'd put my flag.
for example, i had an interesting experience yesterday at the local Just Cuts hair salon.
i took my Rather Long Haired Lads in for a wee trim, and the Hair Lady asked ME what i wanted. so i deferred to each child, at which point she said, rather firmly, that in her opinion children can choose their hairstyle at sixteen, and before then mom chooses.
i said (equally as firmly, but gently lol) that i really believe in encouraging my children's individuality and not putting them all through the Cookie Cutter.
one of my lads in particular (ok S9) has a firm idea of what he likes, and i don't wanna make his hair a big issue between us. i would like him to feel valued in his uniqueness, and as it turned out, there was a lot of hair cut off and he's ok with the new look. but he didn't feel pressured to conform to My Expectations. tricky to explain in words lol.

i remember so many fights with R14 in her infancy over clothes/hairstyle that i would totally avoid now... in favour of self-expression and more of a *we're on the same team* kinda style: does it really matter whether she wears a layered mass of skirt/jeans/two tops??? blah blah

all this to say that i've found each baby very different, but all settled to sleep easier in my arms. especially during the first six months, and all of my kids sleep through the night now lol.
i think we westerners have an interesting relationship with Night Sleep Expectations. but then our society does have a tendency to Cut Cookies.

CC said...

share the same sentiments as you Rach, so no debate from me lol!

loved reading your comment too Kate. Gotta pick your battles and somehow hairdos and clothes doesn't seem to warrant a high priority. (Mind you, if i have girls i may enforce something like or modification of the "praise the lord" rule, where when they raise their arms up and if flesh is showing then the top is too small... )

Sandra said...

That pram is gorgeous Rachael!