A child hitting a child is Misbehaving,
What do the Congo, South Sudan, Turkmenistan and most European countries have in common? At first you'd struggle to find too many similarities, but they all belong to the 53 countries which have officially outlawed hitting children as part of corporal punishment. Sweden started the initiative of not physically abusing children as a disciplinary measure in 1979, and most European countries followed suit within the next ten years (among them Austria).
For me, corporal punishment was always closely associated with the backhanded way Catholic schools disciplined children. Stories my dad would tell me about his school time at a Catholic boarding school would render me speechless what teachers could do "back in the day" to children.
Even more so was I shocked to find out that in the US, hitting your children - or "spanking" as it is called to soothe the mind of parents who practise this cruelty - is still legal in a variety of states, including Idaho, Alabama, Missouri and Texas. While I thought corporal punishment in schools and at home was a thing of the past, it still seems to be very much a thing in the United States.
Even though it feels ridiculous to even point out why hitting your child isn't a good idea, apparently there are still many parents who haven't got the memo yet. The problems with it should be obvious, yet many parents on social media still proudly state that they spank their children - and that is the first big problem for me: the term spanking.
Language plays a crucial role in how we perceive actions. While "hitting" a child would unanimously be agreed on as a physical assault, "spanking" leaves parents room to make it into a disciplinary measure instead of physical abuse. However, spanking can include a belt or hard item like a cooking spoon, so it's definitely physical abuse as well. Especially as the lines between hitting and the supposedly less cruel "spanking" are not clearly defined, this leaves children vulnerable to legal abuse in the home.
However, apart from the fact that hitting your child should - obviously - be wrong for anyone who has a morsel of common sense, it is also worth looking at the issues that occur beyond the physical abuse. I've seen parents on social media sharing children throwing a tantrum and stating that spanking a child can prevent such tantrums. First of all, that's simply not true. Children act out because they have needs to be heard, so regardless how much you threaten your child, eventually, in some way, it will make itself heard.
Secondly, when a child throws a massive tantrum with fits where they hit their parents, the first response shouldn't be "oh dear, this child needs to be hit", but "oh dear, a lot has already gone wrong for a long time."
As I stated in my post on the impacts of sleep training, babies and children have needs and they will employ any method which gets them heard - because their survival depends on it. Parents who consistently ignore their child's needs - or only act on them irregularly like responding to their cries during the day, but then let them scream themselves into sleep - create an unstable environment in which the child doesn't feel secure. In order to be heard, children find methods that work for them - they don't care whether they get negative or positive attention, for attention is their key for survival.
A child who has regular tantrums on the floor, spits and hits their parents is a child whose needs aren't heard and responded accordingly enough. Hitting such a child under the cover of "spanking" doesn't respond to the child's needs - on the contrary, it silences it in a cruel and emotionally un-responsive way. Parents who spank their children after they act up shouldn't be surprised that these children have difficulties voicing their emotions, which can lead to big communicative problems in their adulthood.
Children mimic their parents. Which makes parenting so easy - but also so hard. When mummy and daddy eat with fork and spoon, I want to use cutlery too. When mummy and daddy dance around to music, I want to dance, too. When mummy hits me when she's angry with me, I will hit when I am angry, too.
It's as simply as that. By "spanking" you instil in your child that physical violence is the only way out of a conflict situation. Instead of learning how to communicate respectfully and finding the language to express their emotions, children are taught that physical violence is a good way to voice your anger or discomfort. Worst of all, parents who "spank" their children, incidentally would also punish their child hitting another child - by hitting their child. It doesn't take a lot of brain cells to see that this is highly ambivalent, and also hypocritical.
Apart from the problematic instilment of physical violence as a method to express anger, "spanking", i.e. hitting your child, also deeply hurts the communicative relationship between parents and their children. For what does "spanking" really do? It is a method to make your child behave through fear of punishment - not because the child has learnt why their behaviour is wrong. Therefore, these children need constant authority threatening them to abstain from bad behaviour, whereas children who learn emotionally and who are communicated through their actions will refrain from abusive behaviour because they want to - even without an authority supervising them.
No healthy, self-sufficient and self-confident adult has emerged from being physically or mentally abused. Those who were abused and came out the other end "fine" either have demons to battle they are not aware of yet (for they've never been taught how to express their emotions in another way than physical), or they have turned out fine despite their parents hitting (spanking) them, not because of it. The notion that being abused can in any way foster a better self-confidence or inherent discipline is clearly wrong, for a plant also doesn't flourish when you whip it all day.
And finally, for those who still claim that "spanking" yields results and the children "turn out fine", le me say this: just because a method is working, doesn't make it right. And the question is whether you want your children to have respect because they're scared of you, or because they've learnt respect and how their actions affect other people emotionally. It is our job to equip our children for this world, and a communicative strong and stable person is valued much higher than someone who lashes out whenever things don't go their way.
A very important meaning.
We all come from her,
Not only physically,
But are moulded by the radiance of her presence.
Mothers infuse every fibre of history.
Hitler had a mother.
So did Gandhi.
From mother to daughter, we say.
For every daughter may become a mother,
Formed from the ideas of her mother,
Of her mother.
Of her mother,
Of her mother.
There is no such thing as individual motherhood.
How we mother is formed and shaped by what we learnt from our
And even if we do everything differently,
She still made us the mother we become.
Before a mother came more mothers than stars in the sky.
And after her will follow more mothers than moons surrounding planets.
We are one in billions and billions. A particle shaping the next generation of
Does that mean we do not matter, if we are only one in so many?
We matter greatly.
We may only be one of many mothers to come and go.
But to our daughters we mean everything.
We are the stars, sun and the moons of our sons.
We are their universe.
Today marks the 9-month mark of Lily's life. Now she's been outside of the womb for as long as she's been inside, and she's developing rapidly. The past weeks have brought so much change in her. On April, 26th, she officially started crawling at eight months and almost three weeks. She'd been trying around and robbing herself through the apartment long before that, but now she's really got it - and she's fast! We couldn't baby-proof the flat fast enough! We'd thought we'd done it already, but our little baby girl proves us wrong every day. For every day is another opportunity to explore that sharp edge, find a little fluff on the floor to put in her mouth, or explore our charging cables.
With her eight months and three weeks, Lily is just in the average of when most babies start crawling (the average concluded from various studies is eight months and one week). It's rather interesting that I still hear people say, "oh, so she's taking it slowly then", as well as "Oh wow, she's an early crawler."
I don't understand why we always have to comment on the velocity of our children's development. What difference does it make whether your baby starts crawling at five months or eleven months? Eventually they all learn to walk, talk and eat (unless there is some sort of developmental condition, of course).
Lily also doesn't have any teeth yet. Personally, I am glad about that fact because it means I can still push away the potential bite during breastfeeding. She's been going through a teething phase in the last days (oh, what a pain for both of us), but there is no tooth out yet. Still, she's doing rather marvellously devouring her bread and fruit, and even meat.
Ironically, for a baby with no teeth yet, Lily dislikes pureed food. Without entirely planning it, we've gone full BLW (baby-led weaning) and she already shares our meals (sugar and salt-free, of course). I'm going to do a BLW post in the near future when I've had time to try out some more recipes to share with you. However, I can already say, I prefer it much to feeding Lily. Feeding her always meant sitting down, not being able to eat myself, and begging for every spoonful. Now, my man and I eat and chat while she explores her cut finger food by herself and in all peace.
Also, without meaning any offence to people who do it, but what's up with the weighing of baby food? I know mothers in baby groups who broadly explain how their baby eats exactly 45g of grain in the morning, then 120ml of milk and 30g of pureed food at lunch, half a glass of apple sauce as snack, etc. etc. Most grown-ups don't weigh their food, right? So why do it for your baby? I feel this is just another thing that sets you up for worrying needlessly. I try to look at the baby, not the scales and the books, and as long as Lily is healthy, happy, poops and pees regularly, what could be wrong?
I also could never weigh her food, because even if I did, most of it lands on the chair, the floor or on her lap - but she seems to enjoy squeezing her food, then sceptically smelling it before taking a hesitant bite. Learning by doing, right?
Alright, this hasn't been exclusively about crawling, but a little 9-month-old update was there in the mix. Are there any topics that would interest you to read about? I always love getting some inspiration :-) Let me know here or on my social media channels (which you find in the bar menu on the side).
When having a baby, mothers usually conglomerate to exchange tips, horror stories and, quite frankly, to get out of the house. Thankfully, I’m in quite a few lovely mothers’ groups and it is always interesting what other parents do/don’t do. Over the course of these meetings, reading books and exchanging information in Facebook groups, I can thank many other parents for their generous advice, fantastic support and positive parenting tips.
However, I must also say that I have read incredibly much about parenting strategies which simply baffle me and make me wonder how they can still be a thing in 2021. With the wealth of research available, innumerable studies at hand and shared advice from big organisations like the NHS, La Leche League and the WHO, I have delved deep into various topics like sleep trainings, pacifiers, the carriers versus pram debate, when to start giving supplementary foods, digital media and more. From these topics, I want to concentrate on the one most engaging me (negatively, I must say), which is sleep training. I have written about it previously, but upon reading numerous books on the subject matter, there is just so much more to share.
By sharing my personal opinion on this matter, I don’t mean to discredit individual parents – I don’t know your whole story, I don’t know what you’ve been through, I don’t know what led you to the decisions you've made. However, as a whole with the research and personal experience in mind, there is no doubt for me why I cannot get behind this method, and I will share why.
The days are long, but the years are short.
I've heard this quote a thousand times in relation to children, and I must say it is true. Mind you, there haven't yet years passed, but the weeks fly by, and now Lily is already eight months old! My plan to update this website every step of the way was also quickly tossed, as it's just not as easy to find the time, sit down and craft a blog post once a week.
However, I still want to check in as often as I can, so I thought I give you a quick update on what's been going on. Lily has become a little personality and is just on the edge of crawling. Even though I read all the Pikler books and try not to cheer her on to be one of the "early crawlers", I cannot always resist from lamenting that she cannot crawl yet and takes her time. Partly because it frustrates her a great deal as well, and I wish it for her.
On the other hand, crawling signifies a milestone for me that shoves her from tiny baby to full-on mobile, and a part of me cries for my tiny bundle for whom I was the entire universe. It's the same with solids. She was pretty reluctant at six months, so we took our time, and now she's slowly warming up to the idea of other food than breastmilk. Again, I am torn between exhilarated that she's growing up and sharing our food, and mourning the time where my boobs were everything she needed all day.
As for solids, we're doing a mixture between pureed foods and baby-led weaning (i.e. where they eat proper food like adults in chunks, just unsalted). A part of me is still worried she might choke, but I prefer BLW in general because she can sit with us and explore her own food while we can eat in peace, instead of having to feed her. She prefers to have command over the things that go into her mouth, and I understand that completely. Even if I give her pureed foods, she wants to hold her own spoon, which is great regarding independent eating and terrible in terms of how it looks under our kitchen table.
Baby-proofing the flat has also been a crucial part, and whenever I think I've got every corner covered, I spot another safety hazard
"Just do your job, then let go."
As part of my new morning routine, I work through the Lebe Inspiriert Book by Debora Karsch, as well as reading the Tao for my spiritual work. I realised amidst the topsyturvydom of motherhood, being sleep-deprived and coronavirus lockdown nr. 373 (or so it feels), I needed to establish a routine that allowed me to concentrate and reflect spiritually every day. The Bible is just not my book, so I'm working with the Tao translation by Stephen Mitchell.
Today, the quote above was part of the text in the Tao and it hasn't let go off me ever since reading it. As a control freak, I find great power in the message of letting go, and it is something I practise to do every day. The reason I am sharing it here on my Mama Blog site, is that it goes in accordance with so many great books on child-rearing I've read in the past. Maria Montessori's famous motto was, "Help me to do it on my own", when she worked with children. I am also reading the books of Emmi Pikler at the moment, who advocates for an environment in which children can develop and explore the world sheltered, but on their own. With children, particularly, I feel this quote pretty much sums up parenting. "Just do you job, then let go."
When I browse through Pinterest, I get hundreds of "Routine with Your Newborn" etc. etc. pictures that give you minute daily routines to the second that you should implement on your child as quickly as possible. In the many, many books I've browsed, many also speak of daily routines with exact nap times, wake up times (whoever woke up a sleeping baby has clearly never had one) and feed times.
In the beginning, these routines stressed me a lot, as Lily had her very own routine and every day is a little different than the other. I beshoulded myself with how she should always get up at the same time, eat at the same time and poop at the same time, until I reminded myself that she is a human being and not a machine. I've written in previous posts that I feel many parents want their children to "function" as quickly as possible - sleep through, fall asleep on their own, feed at the same times - so they can quickly return to their previous life rhythm before baby.
I find requiring your baby to function demeaning. What if she's had a bad night and needs the eytra 30 minutes? What if she's just not so hungry today? What if it's hot and she's thirstier than usual? Sure, it is very tempting to read these books that promise your baby will fall asleep within seconds and then sleep twelve hours straight, but in the end they always include trickery and/or harming sleep trainings that deeply affect the bond between mother and child. For me, it is important that I see Lily as a human being with her own personality, needs and preferences. I cannot "train" her like a dog so she obeys when I need her to - and I don't want to do that. Imagine someone told you you had to eat, sleep and poop at the same time all the time, wouldn't you feel humiliated? I certainly would.
So does that mean I don't think a structure to the day is important for us? On the contrary. I think a daily rhythm that generally repeats itself is very important for babies and children as it gives them signposts within the day on which they can rely on. Little rituals help them realise when what is done and I am all for it. However, a baby doesn't know whether it's 7 or 8 am, neither does it know when you put it in bed half an hour earlier or later. I put her to bed sometime between 7 pm and 8 pm when she's tired, but I don't count the minutes anymore.
When you think about it, in the history of humankind, the clock makes up for probably the very last quarter of an inch in a very long rope. Humans had children long before the clock was invented. They fed their babies when they were hungry, put the down when they were tired and they lived on as well. I feel this time-picking isn't good for anyone. For the mothers it leads to frustration when your baby doesn't fall asleep at the same time as you intended to - and for the baby it's confusing because she doesn't know it's 4 o'clock now, she just knows she's not tired at the moment, so why go to sleep?
I feel grooving into a mutual rhythm also allows you much more flexibility. Especially in the first year the rhythm of the babies changes continually. The minute you think you've got her figured out, she's changed again - so why enslave you and your baby to a stupid routine made up by someone on the internet? For me it only led to stress, so we now trust the rhythm we've grooved ourselves in and I let her take over most of the day - at that age they're pretty good at telling you what they like and what not, so let's not drill that out of them, but listen carefully and enjoy more quality time and less looking at the clock.
When I was pregnant, and even before, I held smug views on baby sleep. First of all, I was convinced MY baby would have no trouble falling asleep because it would be so cocooned in love and warmth that it would happily nap off whenever she felt like it. I also pronounced myself clearly against dummies, white noise machines and all the other stuff that promises a "sound sleeping experience" for baby.
While my views on sleeping aids for babies still uphold essentially, I must concede I have a more open attitude towards them now. If there is one thing I have learnt as a new mother: Do not, under any circumstance, underestimate constant sleep deprivation. Lily is, generally, a good-ish sleeper. She's not a crier and usually slumbers off soundly on my boob. However, with her being increasingly interested in EVERYTHING ELSE but my boobs, this also becomes trickier at night.
During the day, she doesn't sleep more than 30 minutes in a row, which is driving me nuts. Also, I struggle to put her down. The last weeks, I have lain down with her in bed and nursed her, but as her nursing intervals become increasingly longer, that isn't the only go-to move anymore. Also, I don't always want to lie in bed with her all the time.
The only way she falls asleep without me being close or sucking my breast is in her pram. There she nods off gently and without any aid but the rocking of the pram - a dream sleep-in, which I wish she'd do in bed. Which is why I've recently thought, "Hey, what if only there were a bed that could rock?" Turns out, there is such a thing and while I didn't want a rocking crib, I'm starting to regret that now because I wonder if she could fall asleep in her rocking crib by herself during the day, so let's keep that in mind for baby number two, shall we?
Lily also doesn't take a pacifier. We've tried three months in when I was increasingly weary of being her human dummy, but to no avail. She simply doesn't like it (and we've tried various types). One part of me, the not-completely-knackered part, is happy she doesn't take it because it means we don't have to wean her off; however, my dominant completely-knackered part just wishes I could pop the pacifier in and she'd be sound asleep - as if!
There even was a point where I thought I could record my humming and just play it in a loop so she'd be tricked into believing I was still there, but then again, I don't think she's so stupid, and so I'd also have to fill a massive bag with rice, make it smell like me, add something that resembles breathing and occasionally caresses her head - and I think we all agree that would take it a bit far.
I feel like sleeping is a huge issue, regardless what you do. Whether you "sleep-train" them (against which I am clearly opposed, you can read about our sleep habits here), have them in bed with you, carry them around, or insist they sleep in their own bed during the day - sleep seems to be something to deal with for every family. So, in the end, I am glad she sleeps with us because she's at least cosy and falls asleep knowing she is loved.
Yesterday I was a little annoyed because I had to be in bed with her so long, then she threw up above all and I put her in the baby balcony to change the bedding and left her there for a while. Eventually, so tired and alone, she started wailing like she hardly ever does - a heart-breaking, angry and desperate screech which makes her head go red like a tomato. It took me twenty minutes of non-stop rocking and hugging to calm her down (serves me right) and eventually she clocked off on my shoulder, completely wet from the tears and sweat (I kind of have to cry just writing this).
In this moment, it became crystal-clear that I could never sleep-train and am glad she's with us for the night. How anyone could listen to such desperate wails and NOT take their child up is beyond my comprehension. I deem it to be cruel and demeaning - and utterly detached from natural motherly feelings. So, even if it sometimes frustrates me and I am warming towards the idea of some sleeping aids for the day naps, there is no other way for me than cuddling and rocking my baby to sleep.
And I am sure there will come the days when I will cry after the time she only fell asleep snuggled up with me - but this short cry of desperation still had to be, I hope you understand :-)
Nothing can be paralleled with the love a mother has for her child.
This is general knowledge, isn't it. It is also one of the reasons I wanted to be a mother - I wanted to experience this ravishing, consuming, making-you-die kind of love you hear from everyone. I remember a mother once telling me she always thought she knew what love was - until she was proven wrong when she had her children - for this emotion was so much stronger than anything she'd experienced until that point.
We read of mothers lifting cars to rescue their babies, we hear parents tell us they'd die instantaneously for their children, and so on and so forth. I must admit that this raw kind of love first frightened me when I was pregnant. I so wanted to feel this love, but was scared I might not be able to. What if I wouldn't love my own child enough? What if something was wrong with me?
Because of my anxiety and endometriosis, I was scared pretty much to the end of my pregnancy that I could lose her, so I restrained myself a little bit from bonding too much, so it wouldn't hurt so badly if something went wrong. And yet, I felt so much love surge through me when she kicked inside me, when she was communicating with me in her own way. I guess being torn between love and terror pretty much sums up parenthood.
When Lily was finally born - a week too early, mind you - and put on my chest, I was in awe. There was this tiny bundle and I wanted to protect her, but I must say that wave of love didn't immediately come. It was not that it was absent and I didn't NOT love her, but the first weeks were almost like an out-of-body experience in which I cannot entirely recall what I felt - there were so many raw emotions tormenting inside me, it's hard to press the finger down on it. And although I constantly worried she might not breathe; I broke into tears one night because I allowed myself to think one second that she could die, I still was scared I didn't love her enough. Probably because all the "propaganda" surrounding parental love was filling my head, I didn't feel I shaped up enough.
I have heard different stories from various parents, but, ironically, I usually hear about this deep-seated love from parents whose children are at least a few months old. Now that Lily is almost five months (five months! Can you believe it!), my love for her surges so easily through me, and on some days it's so much I don't know how to to even bear it (you know, the kind of love that makes you kind of aggressive; when you just HAVE TO pinch those little cheeks, nibble on those chubby legs, or threaten to just gobble her all up because she's so damn cute).
When speaking to mothers who had their baby a little time after me or around the same time, it is usually a good mix of emotions, and sometimes almost a wariness towards your child because you still have to get to know each other better.
And that is OK. I battled with the fact that I sometimes was overwhelmed, even wished for my old life for a moment, or thought "what have we done?". The weeks after birth are the most intense, I believe, a woman experiences in her life - much more intense than birth because there's so epidural and also not a limited time frame. Birth, also, is active. You push, you breathe, you scream.
And then there is silence. You are alone, mostly, with your baby at home. This little alien thing that wholly depends on you - and it scares the shit out of you, at least it did for me.
It was maybe because I'd been under the delusional impression that I'd somehow "grow up" as soon as Lily would be born. You know, be like a real adult. However, with this little baby bundled up in my arm, I was still me. Incomplete, anxiety-ridden, feeling-like-a-fraud-as-an-adult me. There was no "illumination", no clear path to follow, just because now I was a mother. Life was as confusing, challenging and frightening as before - and now I was supposed to take care of this innocent being!
When you read all these parenting books, you feel you can only fuck up. Suddenly the responsibility to mould an actual life seems ridiculously unattainable. There's no way you can turn this little bundle into an actual human being who will be kind, understanding and not hate you by the end you're done with them. I questioned everything. Should I take her into my arms now? Or wait another two minutes? Is she hungry? Tired? Angry? Annoyed? Cold? Warm? Devastated? Can I put her in the crib and risk going to the loo, or should I hold it until hubby comes back? Am I a bad mother if I DON'T take her into the bathroom with me because she's sleeping soundly? Will she suffer life-long trauma if I use nappies?
And so on and so forth.
In the end, I stopped reading and that would also be my advice, should anyone ask. I found one or two good books I rely on, but even so I try to listen to my instincts and figure out what works for us - Lily and me and Jakob - and not try a short-cut through a book. And for the love...don't get insecure when a mother of three dreamily tells you as a first-time mother how parental love is so great. It is, but when she was a first-time mother, it probably also took some weeks until she could clearly tell it apart from all the other emotions that were triggered from childbirth, breastfeeding and the fact that you now have full responsibility for a small human being.
So, remember, raising a child is a huge task, and our love for them carries us through it - so Keep Calm And Carry On, you're doing amazing!
The minute babies are involved, everyone has an opinion - and most people dump them unwanted on you. While I am sure most people simply seek to help, the overwhelming avalanche of information can make it hard to find YOUR way with your baby and listen to your instincts and not guidebooks. Said guidebooks can certainly help, but they're not sitting in your house with you and they also don't know YOUR individual child.
One distinct point of opinion I've heard various times now is "goodness, she's already spoiled", relating to the fact that Lily only falls asleep in her pram, in the carrier, rocked to sleep in our arms, or breastfeeding. The fact that she cannot fall asleep on her own has been labelled by many as "spoiled" in the best of scenarios and "dangerous" in the worst of scenarios.
Before I delve into the issue, let me outline our routine and why we do it that way. This is MY way, mind you, and if you as a mother do it differently and it works for you, please don't let this text give you the impression I judge you.
I deem the opinion that a baby can already manipulate their parents as nonsensical and see their need for closeness and safety as absolutely logical and not "needy" and co-dependent (I mean, it's a baby, of course it depends on you! What else is it going to do? Walk out of the door and buy food?). We never ever let Lily "cry it out" and she gets soothed the minute she needs it. We don't "wait it out", but we comfort her and show her much we love her. We see it as our duty to give her the ultimate sense of safety and love so she can thrive the best she can.
For starters, she sleeps in our bed. I have read so much debate about whether children should sleep in their parents' bed or not, but let me tell you about my experience. During pregnancy I was terrified I could accidentally murder her in her sleep and I bought a balcony bed and a bassinette, just in case. In her first night on Earth she was just a little bundle and still I had her in my small hospital bed. Immediately, I knew that the idea of me killing her in her sleep by rolling over is absolutely ludicrous. Parental instincts forbid that in my opinion, and in the early months she even slept under my duvet and when I got cold, I woke up, checked on her and gently pulled the duvet up, making sure she wasn't covered in it.
And the baby balcony, in case you're wondering, is storage now.
During the day Lily always gets cuddles and soothed when she's in distress. Either I wrap her in the wrap cloth or carrier, or I sit down with her, breastfeed and when she's fallen asleep I read or watch Netflix quietly. Her napping doesn't disturb my day, I incorporate it into it. Now, I know the minute you have two children or more, the daily routine cannot only suit one baby anymore, but that's a bridge to cross another time, and it still doesn't mean you cannot incorporate your child into the day, instead of needing it to function a specific way to suit you.
When I hear people say or read in books "your baby will never learn to be independent if you let it sleep in bed with you or rock it to sleep", I want to cry. First of all, it's an effing baby, OF COURSE it needs me and depends on me. I, for starters, don't know of any thirty-year olds who still need their mama's boob to fall asleep or want to sleep in bed with their parents. So that statement is nonsense.
Secondly, why do so many people, especially in supposedly civilised regions, have such problems with proximity? Why is the need for proximity seen as a means to manipulate, even to provoke? When Lily cries she never does it to manipulate me, when she seeks comfort, she doesn't do it out of spite, when she needs me to enter the scary realms of sleep, she wants guidance, not being spoiled. It baffles me how anyone can interpret it as a personal affront towards them - even a stand-off of powers where you have to dominate the baby, or else it dominates you.
Do we really want to think of our children in these negative terms? I, for sure, don't. Also because I believe it to be counter-intuitive to "teach children independence". First and foremost, I don't think independence is something a child can "learn". All you can do as a parent is equip your child's quiver with the right arrows and let it explore the world inch by inch on its own, always knowing you're there with her.
To illustrate I'll give you an example. Imagine two people stand in front of a large, dark abyss. Both need to walk a thin rope from one end to the other. Who do you think will be faster to take the courageous step onto the rope? The one who has people cheering him on from the back and someone standing down in the abyss, promising them to catch them should the fall; or someone who's standing there entirely alone, knowing in the abyss could be dragons, wolves or other unspeakable horrors that could kill them?
I am pretty sure we can agree the first one would walk first and feel much better doing so.
Why would anyone think a child feeling completely left alone will make a better adult? The only lesson learnt will be, "I cannot rely on anyone but myself, so I don't even bother asking for help." If that is what you seek from your child to accomplish, we may not wonder that depression and burn-out rates are sky-rocketing as we speak.
I may be proven wrong, but I believe that Lily will sleep in her bed earlier on her own BECAUSE she gets the support she needs now. And with sleeping alone I mean not only the fact that she'll sleep alone in her bed, but that she'll also enjoy it. We can only expand our radius of exploration if we feel safe where we are. Knowing that we always have a refuge to return will make us venture out into the dark more easily and readily - especially when we can rely on that said refuge is always reliable and at the same spot - that we don't have to "earn" our refuge. If I am not sure whether the refuge will still be there once I leave it, I might never leave out of fear.
Now, to the people who may say, "I let my child scream it out and he turned out fine". You don't know that. These scars run much deeper than the visible sphere and problems related to them may occur much later in life or be so smoothly incorporated into the character that it doesn't even strike you as a result of your emotional neglect. Also, I don't want my child to just "turn out fine", I want her to be the best she can possibly be - not in an ambitious way, but in the way that I have equipped her as good as possible. And, no, I don't think "preparing your children for the hardships of life by taking away relationship and love" is the right way to do it. I believe a human being fares much better by being confident, kind and able to ask for help.
Please don't interpret this text as, "if your child doesn't sleep in bed with you or you don't breastfeed it to sleep you're a terrible parent". This is NOT what I am saying. Every child is different and I am far from saying my methods are the only correct ones. I am just saying that whatever we do, we shouldn't take love off the table to "educate" our children, nor see them as combats in a stand-off. Why do we see human proximity and reliance on other people as something negative? We don't live in the war-era where this nonsense approach to child-rearing emerged.
Having said all this, it still sometimes makes me doubt myself when I hear people saying such things, but then again, there is no other way for me to do it, so it must be the right way for us. I, for once, could never let my child scream it out, as it breaks my heart. And, honestly, I don't know how anyone in sync with their paternal instincts could do such a thing...