Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Bringing up baby
Last night I forced myself to watch a new series on Channel Four called Bringing up baby. I say ‘forced’, because I knew there’d be much of it that would be emotionally harrowing and I’d rather spend my time engaged in something more productive. However, I chose to watch it because one of the people on there is someone I know and wanted to support her bravery of going into the mainstream with a concept that is so at odds with our parenting culture.
Bringing up baby is an experiment in child rearing based on three very different ways of parenting. Six families are mentored by three ‘experienced’ women who scrutinise their first three months of parenting. Each family has agreed to follow one particular method.
Method one: mentored by a woman the voice-over described as the Cruella De Ville of the parenting styles. Personally, I’d have thought that was too mild a description. Her routine, military-based approach, was popularised the 1950s, though devised in 1913 by Frederick Truby King. This style is especially suited for people who, actually, don’t really want to be parents. They want a career, wild parties and not to have a moment of their life impacted by a little creature, even if it was conceived by them.
The mentor, Claire Verity, (now there’s an irony, Claire means Light, and Verity means truth) charges families £1000 a DAY for her ‘specialist’ advice, which goes like this:
NO EYE CONTACT WITH BABY
Why? Because babies, according to her, are manipulative creatures. They’re either attention seeking or tired. She says to ignore both reasons! She’s not a mother herself and is so detached from emotion that I can’t believe people actually find comfort in her presence or treat her ideas as gospel.
She advocates four hourly feeds. I can assure you this woman doesn’t eat or drink at four hourly intervals, yet she expects a newborn baby, with the stomach the size of a raspberry, (read: empty in 20 minutes) to go for such a huge stretch of time.
This experiment by the producers of the programme, sadly, isn’t an experiment, so much as a public viewing of TORTURE. I can only hope there’ll be a massive outcry and complaints to the official broadcasting standards authority. If it was a documentary ‘exposing’ such a practice, that would be different. This is the deliberate setting up and staging of child abuse.
The babies from two families were swaddled from head to toe, a lump of rubber (a dummy) gagging them from expression, and then left ALONE for four hours outside in the cold (in a pram). This would be considered torture, bodily and psychological harm, if inflicted on an adult. HOW IS IT ALLOWED TO A NEWBORN BABY? Where are its human rights?
This practice is a pernicious influence, like a cancer, spreading mutated cells into the world of baby/child development.
The show is following these families for 3 months to see how it goes. Where will the producers be in 3 years, 30 years, when these poor babies are in care because they weren’t loved, weren’t cuddled, weren’t given eye contact…but WERE ABANDONED??? We’ll all be paying the cost for this torture and cruelty. These babies will almost certainly be dysfunctional as adults, and not capable of healthy intimate relationships.
If a dog or a cat had been similarly treated, the whole country would be up in arms. BAN THEM FROM KEEPING AN ANIMAL FOR LIFE…but no, on this show, it’s celebrated. Yahoo, the parents can sit and have a glass of wine on baby’s first night at home!
The older sibling of one of the ‘tortured’ babies said, “I want to cuddle the baby. Why can’t I cuddle the baby?” Dad replies that they’re not allowed to. There was a moment of irony when the mother of said baby started crying as she heard it SCREAMING in desperation for her over the monitor, and Claire Verity touched her arm and offered ‘comfort’. Made me want to vomit! Why was her trauma acknowledged, and not the baby’s?
This parenting ‘style’ (torture) is a second cousin to the treatment of babies in eastern European orphanages. Studies have shown that babies who are never held actually DIE from lack of touch. It’s an essential human NEED.
Any prospective parent who feels ‘inclined’ towards this way of parenting ~ do the world a favour, don’t have children! DON’T HAVE CHILDREN. Leave the creating and raising of the next generation to those people who really want and love them, and are prepared to honour their most basic needs, which include affectional bonding, love, touch, and EYE CONTACT.
A fabulous career, double ‘must have’ income, brilliant parties, should never be more important than raising a child according to its biological needs.
There’s no place for selfishness in parenting, only surrender. Let’s be clear on something though, surrender isn’t about ‘giving in’ or giving up. In this case it is about melting into parenting. It’s about recognising that mother and child are one. Surrender does not mean sacrifice. A BONDED mother would never leave her baby in a cot, give it a bottle of formula, or leave it untouched anymore than she would dictate its feeds.
A baby isn’t something to put on your cv…it is a human being with exquisitely sensitive feelings.
One of the baby’s births was shown on the programme ~ a typical western birth where babe is handled like a lump of meat i.e., roughly, with no respect for its incredible sensitivity and the shock adjustment it has to make to the world of light, gravity and unmuffled sound. The poor little soul hit a world of violence from the word go.
My husband and I sat in stunned silence, tears rolling down my cheeks. The few words that were mentioned can’t be repeated here because of the laws of libel.
Hats off to Claire Scott, the Continuum Concept mentor. Her intelligence, passion, compassion and empathy were obvious. I admired her help in getting breastfeeding established and for saying what I’m always yelling from the rooftops: BREASTFEEDING DOESN’T HURT IF IT IS DONE PROPERLY!!
I’m so grateful that wasn’t edited out in post-production!
The Continuum Concept is at the heart of The Mother magazine’s ethos. The book’s author, Jean Leidloff, lived with the Stone Age tribe, the Yequanna, in South America. Here she saw first hand how different these children were to those in the west. They rarely cried, were actively part of (and welcomed into!!) their parent’s and community’s lives. Their bodies were relaxed and the children were happy. Just before I met my husband, I’d heard about this book through a Wellness course I was doing. I’d been trying to track it down. When I met my husband, and we were moving in together, he handed me a book and said, “You might like this.” Our parenting style was sealed before we even met. We both knew that a baby’s biological needs had to be met no matter what time in history we were living in, or what the culture presented as the norm. I’m so thankful for the book, and even more thankful for having made babies with a man who ‘understood’ and has never stood in the way with ego-based jealousy. Which brings me back to Claire Verity. How is it that a woman can be so far removed from a biological instinct? I know several men who are more suited to mothering.
I can’t recommend highly enough an article we have in our current issue of The Mother magazine, by Joseph Chilton Pearce called Birth and bonding. The information on the heart’s electromagnetic field is vital information. The Truby King method is the antithesis. Joseph’s book, Magical Child, will open your eyes to how important it is that the baby is held, has eye contact and constant exposure to her mother’s face. A Truby King raised baby has none of that.
I’m delighted to announce that the magazine’s publisher, The Art of Change, will be hosting a Jean Leidloff tour to the UK in April 2008. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
It’s probably no surprise the Bringing Up Baby series is sponsored by a disposable nappy company. Treat your babies like crap, and then have their crap be responsible for dioxins in a landfill for 500 years or more.