Monday, February 12, 2007

Hmmm file...

I'm not blaming any relationship mistakes I've made on my parents... in fact, I am grateful for the secure start in life they gave me. But I really liked this article in the Washington Post this morning. Among other things, it reminded me that soothing a crying infant instead of letting them "cry it out" is a good thing. Which gives me hope that perhaps we are over the era of Dr. Spock and Gary Ezzo*, and are moving into an era of healthier parenting. *See footnote!

The study closely tracked 78 people over a quarter-century, starting when they were babies. Mothers and infants were brought into a laboratory, and the mothers were asked to leave briefly. The infants became upset, of course, but the psychologists were interested in what happened when the mothers returned. Some infants clung tightly to their mothers and sought comfort. In a little while, they calmed down. But others refused to calm down even after lengthy soothing. And some babies refused to turn to their mothers for comfort at all.

Simpson said research has shown that secure infants turn to their parents when they are upset: "The kid learns, 'I can count on my parents to calm me down.' They learn to turn to others. Whereas insecure kids learn that my parent is either rejecting or they learn my parent is neglectful. Or 'I have to protest to get attention.' "
Why is this so hard to accept? Why do we want to treat infants like children, and children like young adults? Why do we wonder about "kids today" who don't trust their parents? It seems like a no-brainer to me...

"We find if you are insecure at age 1, that predicts being rated as being less socially competent than your peers during grades one-two-three, which predicts less reliance on your best same-sex friend when you are upset at 16, which then predicts more negative emotion in a romantic relationship at age 21 to 23," Simpson said.

Does this mean all insecure infants are doomed to a lifetime of unhappiness? Simpson argued otherwise. Human destiny is not so circumscribed, he said. What the study showed is how each developmental step influences the next, positively or negatively. While it is certainly best to be started in the right direction, people can always learn the skills needed for successful relationships.

That is what parenting is all about, isn't it? Giving our kids the basis to live, started in the right direction, towards building successful relationships?

"Contrary to the popular American myth that people left to fend for themselves become strong and independent, the psychological research seems to show exactly the opposite is true: It is the people who are confident enough to reach out to others for help -- and to whom help is given -- who become truly capable of independence...

"It is a lot easier for people to take risks and accept challenges when they know someone is available to help them and comfort them if something goes wrong," Feeney said. "The most secure individuals are able to turn to other people for support."

Wait, wait... where have I heard that before???

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
I Corinthians 12: 12-14, 27

Just makes me wanna go Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm....

Deb

(*NOTE: If you have never heard of Gary Ezzo, or if their program "Growing Kids God's Way" has never hit your church, be grateful! A site that explains the many problematic issues with Ezzo's parenting philosophy is here. In the interests of being fair, you can find his self-promotions are here and here.)

8 comments:

Cathy said...

I always felt a baby's crying was a way to communicate his/her needs to be comforted. Once I listened to ME instead of others, I had much happier children!

Sally said...

Great post Deb- I couldn't leave my little ones to cry, no matter how tired or cranky I was- even the twins! It really does seem like a no brainer...but hey!My mum disagreed she thought I was too soft! Generational differences....hmmmmmmm

Kievas said...

I think sometimes we need to throw the parenting books out the window and learn from other animals, who act on instinct.

Iris said...

Yeah, I've heard of Ezzo unfortunately. Those bad, disobedient babies!

Rev Scott said...

I always thought I'd be one to let our little girl cry things out. Now I know better. Granted, at three weeks she hasn't done much dedicated, nonstop crying, but there's been enough to make me realize that it's her way of communicating. Her ONLY way of communicating.

Thanks for this great post - most timely for us in our new Valentine's Day situation (baby + mother-in-law visiting + Confirmation = nothing sensual this Valentine's Day!) (But we're planning for another time..)

revabi said...

I don't like either Ezzo or Spock. My mom used Spock when mothering us. Well written article. I'll have to read it more to glean the full report.

Shawna Renee said...

Great post. Fortunately my mom and sister felt the same way about parenting. Mom was never one to buy into all of the parenting stuff.

Anonymous said...

Great post Deb! I enjoyed it very much.

Jene' from PAM