Why not do what comes naturally?
The National Post nine-part series on How to Raise a Child,
written by seasoned parents, concluded yesterday. Several letters from parents
have been published on our Letters page. Here are a few more responses.
ON CRYING BABIES
It is with much fascination that my husband and I have read the
letters you have received on children's sleeping patterns, most of them dealing
with how long to let a small child scream in bed alone. Luckily for us, we
chose to ignore the many well-meaning family and friends with their suggestions
of Ferberizing (a technique that involves leaving a child to cry for
ever-lengthening periods before comforting him).
When our child cried, we did what comes naturally to most mammals:
We brought him into "our den." When people were shocked by this, our
response was always, "Name one mammal that puts its newborn in a wooden
crate in another part of the den by themselves."
When our son got older, he stated that he was sometimes cold and
lonely by himself. We are glad we didn't let our cold and lonely baby cry for
Jeannie Springett Sinder
This article was truly sick and you should be ashamed of
yourselves for running such a thing. How can you print an article that
advocates leaving an infant alone in the basement, a pantry or behind any heavy
door to scream and cry for hours? That is just short of child abuse and
Children do learn to sleep through the night. When our third child
was born in 1971, the bankruptcy of my husband's employer, Rolls-Royce, forced
us to move when she was 10 days old. We also had a three- and a five-year-old
and were going to a place where we knew no one. I was overwhelmed at how I
would cope with this.
The hospital sister was wise and firm. She pointed out that our
baby was a good size (8 1/2 pounds) and didn't need food at night. She told me
to put her to sleep in a dark room (no night light) so that she would associate
dark with night.
When she cried, I was to offer her water in case she was thirsty,
but not milk. She woke for only two nights and then for only a few minutes. She
was a very easy and contented baby thereafter. Of course, I got up to a sick
child or for the occasional nightmare, but the children knew that nighttime was
sleeping time and only interrupted in emergencies.
I hope this gives some young mothers the courage to try to
establish sleep patterns that are kinder on themselves and their children.
Research on early childhood experiences consistently shows that
children who have enjoyed the most loving care in infancy become the most
secure and loving adults while those babies who have been forced into
submissive behaviour build up resentment and anger.
In our culture, we assume that crying is normal and unavoidable
for babies. Yet in natural societies where babies are carried close to the caregiver
much of the day and night for the first several months, such crying is rare.
Babies cared for in this way show self-sufficiency sooner than do babies not
receiving such care.
A baby assumes that whatever we, his parents, do is correct. If we
do nothing, the baby can only conclude he is unloved because he is unlovable.
No matter how deeply we love our baby, it is mostly the outward manifestations
of that love that the baby can understand.
Ignoring a baby's crying is like using earplugs to stop the distressing
noise of a smoke detector. As Jean Liedloff wrote in The Continuum Concept,
"a baby's cry is precisely as serious as it sounds."
Babies deserve to be taught compassion by example. If we don't,
Jan Hunt, director,
The Natural Child Project
I read Barbara Kay's article about raising good kids and I
couldn't agree more. We have an eight- and a 10-year-old. We always said we
wanted to have children that we wouldn't be embarrassed to take out with us.
I'm very proud of my two. We are often complimented on how
well-mannered and well-behaved they are. When we introduced our children to
adults, they were expected to call them Mr. and Mrs -- unless the adult tells
them otherwise. It's a respect thing.
Manners need to start early. I think we started on Day 1 and it
has definitely paid off. I've always been able to take my children into a store
and know they won't damage a thing and have clerks comment on their behaviour.
It's not that much work and gets to be a habit. I don't think I've
cramped their style by insisting on good manners. They are most definitely
better people for it.
I was very offended by your illustration for the How to Raise a
Child series on May 2. The child saying "Thanks" to a mother
bottle-feeding is ridiculous. It is quite general knowledge that "breast
is best" and it is a kick in the pants to those of us who endeavour to
breast-feed our children in the face of cultural prejudice, medical
inaccuracies and public perception. It is very disappointing to see that a
publication like the Post cannot challenge public perception.
St. John's, Nfld.
I am enjoying your series but I was very disappointed to see the
illustration you used of a mother bottle-feeding her child. How unfortunate
that it is more politically correct to assume that this is the most natural and
obvious way to feed a baby.
Small examples such as this perpetuate the myth that
bottle-feeding is the "natural" way to feed a baby. It would have
been a real delight to see you had used an image of a mother breast-feeding her
Both the World Health Organization and the Canadian Pediatric
Society recommend children be breast-fed for at least two years. Formula
companies do a great job of making people think that their product is just as
good as breast milk when all evidence indicates it is not. While formula has
its place, it would be nice to see more positive breast-feeding images.
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