Thursday, June 21, 2012

You Are the Parent Now

I am often asked about parenting. Sometimes by folks who say their best friends are their parents and sometimes by people who would like to parent differently from their own parents. Research finds that baby's first feelings of safety, security and attachment are more likely positive if their parents are honest about their own experiences as children. And mostly it's about feelings. There is a distinction between what we remember,  perceive and have actually experienced. So when we are literally "with"  our baby and are curious about how we may have been parented, it is not unusual to have a feeling about how we wish it had been, could have been or might be for our own child.

The most incredible way to experience a memory of our own childhood comes when we become a parent. It invokes yearning, gratitude, pleasure, fear; name an emotion. What's important is the emotion. Recognizing it for what it is and learning from it how you want that reciprocal intimate relationship to be with your own baby is the key to beginning the bonding process.

Babies need to survive, in fact they are programmed to do so. They will charm you and disarm you and sometimes they will push you to the limits of acceptance. Trust is an important developmental task for your baby. Continuity and predictability evoke trust. Be there for your baby. No matter how you feel about singing in the middle of the night, sing. Being consistent tightens the bond. Feeling that you don't like singing in the middle of the night is irrelevant. It's just a feeling. It isn't translated to your infant as anything, but the singing is.

No matter how you were raised, you are able to promote healthy and secure development and feelings of security by being responsive, consistent and present. Not as in hours of the day, but rather attuned to the moment. When our baby starts life out trusting a predictable relationship and the behaviors that implies, they are more apt to become secure, self-reliant and self-confident. From the onset, be calm and consistent about how you tolerate your baby's "moods". Employ skin to skin contact and cuddle, fondle, gaze and smile. Talk to your infant ( as if he understands ) from activity to activity. And you will have the makings of a balanced relationship, now for yourselves and later as a model for all the relationships to follow.