You Will Hear Voices
"Put him down or you'll spoil him."
"You don't have to meet all of your baby's needs."
"She's just trying to get your attention."
"She's so demanding!"
"He's just a baby; he doesn't have feelings like sadness or loneliness or fear."
"He knows how to get what he wants!"
"She's just crying for nothing. I just fed her and changed her. She's fine."
"Crying it out may be painful for a few days, but after that, it's worth it."
"Holding her all the time isn't good for her. It creates too much dependency."
"Picking him up every time he cries will makes him cry to get picked up."
"Don't go to her at night. She'll never learn to sleep on her own."
"Never bring him to bed with you!"
"Breastfeeding is a hassle."
"She's a little diva!"
"I can tell he's going to give you a run for your money!"
"Uh oh! She's going to be trouble."
"He has you wrapped around his little baby finger already..."
"Just wait until the terrible two's..."
"You can't give in to every whim!"
"Let her cry for a few minutes before you jump to her rescue."
"You will have no life. Just wait and see."
"Forget about sleeping. You are setting yourself up for problems for years to come..."
"Too much attachment is bad. He needs to know where the line is drawn from an early age, or else he'll take advantage of everything he can later on."
"Make your baby as independent as possible as early as possible. You'll be thankful you did."
"Babies are resilient. They'll adapt."
"They won't remember anything..."
What Is Your Own Voice Telling You?
"My baby needs to know he can count on me to respond."
"If I couldn't speak, and I needed to communicate something, I'd make myself heard too. And I'd do it louder with every moment I wasn't heard. Why do I want to create that insistent need to be heard in my child? Why do I think that responding would spoil... when, in fact, and so obviously for adults, being heard is validating and fosters connected relationships?"
"We know from powerful data that babies absolutely have feelings and emotional reactions to their environment from the time they are in the womb. Amazing studies on mother-baby attachment from around the world show that babies feel very deeply, and can actually turn away and be unresponsive to a parent after stress or suffering the pain of a longer absence. Babies can shut down emotionally, internally, after feeling deep emotional pain and fear. That doesn't look like much on the outside, but there's more going on than we can see with the eye."
"Crying it out is such a common North American practice, yet it goes against all of the research on attachment that says that crying it out can change a baby's brain chemistry. And just because a baby looks fine afterwards doesn't mean the crying-it-out process hasn't planted deep seeds of insecurity for later on down the road. Science shows that this kind of stress early on can prime a person for a more stressful and anxious state later."
"Babies don't manipulate. They have no agenda."
"A baby doesn't cry just to be fed, changed or burped. Babies, like any other human of any age, have a range of feelings. But, because babies don't understand loneliness, anxiety or fear and can't articulate the words, they cry out for us. What else can they say to express that need? And what do we want to say in response to that need?"
"Babies learn to sleep when they're comfortable and feel secure, not when they've given up trying to tell us that something is bothering them."
"My baby won't be sleeping in my bed when she's 14. She needs me now. It's her molars. Or gas. Or a bad dream. And responding to her at night does not create sleep problems later. It prevents them."
"Nursing my baby is the most natural thing I can imagine. It is a language of the heart, nature's perfect food, and the spirit's balm."
Why are we so defensive as parents, crouched in the foxhole waiting for the first sign of mutiny?
Our children come to us with no agenda.
Just like we once did with our parents. The moment we buy into some unfounded cultural fear that we need to tame the wild beast in our baby, we stop trusting our own voice - and our baby - and begin the painful, depleting and chaotic cycle of parenting with fear, shame, doubt, resentment and regret.
When we put relationship first, we see through different eyes. We see with the heart.
That's a parenting journey worthy of our struggles and most valuable lessons.
Enjoy the ride.
Detours and all...
Lu Hanessian is the author of Let the Baby Drive: Navigating the Road of New Motherhood and Picnic on a Cloud, an award-winning journalist, former NBC television anchor, national speaker, and founder of a unique online parent growth webinar series called Parent2Parent U. Her special areas of extensive study are the neurobiology of attachment and the ways that lost connection can be repaired in parent-child relationships to create optimal health and resilience. She is the grateful mother of two boys. Lu is also the founder of WYSH: Wear Your Spirit for Humanity. Visit her website at luhanessian.com.
Copyright 2009, Lu Hanessian. All rights reserved.