Friday, April 25, 2008

Our tortured teenagers

The media this week has been dominated by the desperate situation this country faces with the many teenagers who are dangerous and violent.

For me, the greatest tragedy lies in the fact that the commentators keep shouting out ‘jail, boot camp, the army’ with not one single person addressing the issue of how these teens became this way. The closest they get is saying the parents should be held accountable for their teen and learn to discipline them more!

I believe every human being is born ‘good’. Babies aren’t bad!

Next week I’m speaking in Brighton about Humanity’s evolutionary blueprint: BREASTFEEDING.

As humans, we are born expecting the breast at birth. We are born expecting to see our mother’s face constantly for at least nine months. We are born expecting to hear her heart beat constantly for at least nine months. This doesn’t happen if a babe is bottlefed and kept out of a mother’s constant body contact. When we don’t meet these very basic biological needs, the PAIN is with these kids for life. The symptoms are manifesting on our streets and in an overworked health care system.

In Britain, 200 000 kids are born each year who never even make it to their mother’s breast. They never receive colostrum (the first syrupy liquid from the breast at birth and for the first three or so days). Colostrum contains tryptophan which is vital for developing serotonin. The one thing all criminals, depressives and other perpetrators of violence have in common is a drastically reduced level of serotonin! Breastfeeding not only provides the ingredients our brains need for developing optimally, but it also provides us with mother love in a way that bottle feeding doesn’t. Studies show us over and over again that breastfed babies receive more love, pleasurable touch, eye contact and interaction than their bottlefed peers. No wonder we have mental health problems of epidemic proportions.

If we want a culture where we’re not scared of our kids (and, let’s be honest, teenagers ARE children) then we have to meet their biological expectations ~ quite simply, we have to stop abandoning our babies to bottles, dummies, car seats, cribs, day care centres, and bedrooms separate to their parent’s room. NONE OF THESE THINGS PROVIDE the physiological benefits of affectionate mother bonding.

Sending violent teenagers to bootcamp or the army reeks to me of ambulance at the bottom of the cliff mentality. As Jeannine Parvati Baker used to say: the wound reveals the cure.
What wound do these teens have? Let me tell you, the cure isn’t to be found in more violence and aggression.


BaronessBlack said...

Hi Veronika! Hope you and yours are all well and thriving. It occurred to me while reading your blog to ask why someone who is so passionate about mothering, and who comes from a large family decided to have no more than two children? I apologise if this is too personal a question, but it comes from a genuine curiousity.
With love and respect,

Janeen said...

I totally agree. I think it is also forcing children to grow up way too soon. Many children do not luck out and have stay at home mothers. Many end up in day care at six weeks (in the U.S. six weeks for time off is the norm), in preschool at two or three, in kindergarten at four (four year old kindergarten is becoming popular probably because so many children are in day care at that age). I have seen articles on studies that have said that children in day care do tend to be more violent so I have to wonder if this plays a part too.

So you have that, lack of breastfeeding, being forced to grow up prematurely since parents have this idea that if children are not able to sleep through the night before a year, eat solids at 4 months, and potty train by 2, something is wrong! The majority do not allow children to grow up at a pace that is natural for them and instead force them to become little adults. Is it any wonder that they lash out? They don't know what else to do!

I enjoy reading your blog and I keep coming on here to find a place to mention this because well, this has become EXTREMELY popular. I'm on a mothering board and in just about every group I'm in, something is said about the Extraordinary Breastfeeding segment. I know this was years ago but due to a website called YouTube, this will not die. I actually have found one of the links (since as I mentioned, this video is shared in just about every group I'm in including attachment parenting and breastfeeding groups!) and I'll share it with you here.

I'll warn you though, there are over 7000 comments concerning this and most of them are quite nasty. It is utterly amazing to me how some things just will not die.

Anyway, I would be interested in some of your thoughts on this, if you are interested of course as I'm sure you are a very busy person but I find it frustrating how often this makes the rounds and all the comments that follow it because even with breastfeeding moms, it can get rather hostile. I'm still nursing my daughter and she's 28 months and I get enough grief from that!

Well, I've rambled on enough but I just wanted to stop by and say that I enjoy reading your entries as they are a breath of fresh air from the typical mainstream garbage that is so typical these days.

Veronika said...

hi Ginny
I had two miscarriages after my youngest could potentially have ended up with four.

I ummed and aaahed for a while about having more...the maternal instinct never quite goes away! In the end though, i felt the 'creative' fulfillment being met in other ways ~ such as producing a magazine, and now, writing more books.

At another level, my husband is 60 this year...not that this stops him from making babies! But statistically, his odds of dying are greater as he gets older (as are mine, obviously)...and as a child with a dad who worked overseas for the duration of my childhood, I certainly wouldn't want to recreate the 'absent' father scenario for my kids.

I still haven't ruled out adoption at some point..but this would require us having a much bigger home than we're currently in. My daughters are 'desperate' for it to happen...
love, Veronika

Veronika said...

hi Janeen ~ yes, I'm aware of the nasty comments posted on YouTube and various forums. I understand they come from a place of ignorance, for anyone (including breastfeeding mothers) who knows the first thing about child development and neurons in the brain wouldn't begin to scoff at breastfeeding full-term.

There will come a time when people will not find full-term breastfeeding horrifying, but WILL find premature weaning or no breastfeeding absolutely shocking, if not downright cruel.

Thank you for your comments ~ love, Veronika

Janeen said...

Thank you Veronika for your response (by the way, I LOVE your name). I have to wonder though, as you mention

anyone (including breastfeeding mothers) who knows the first thing about child development and neurons in the brain wouldn't begin to scoff at breastfeeding full-term.

if even those who know this really care? Children are put into school at young ages, taught only certain things. If they don't follow along, they are drugged. Our food is more or less poisoned. Drugs are in our water system because so many people are on medications. Children are vaccinated to the hilt, on and on. You would think that these people would KNOW a thing or two about child development at least somewhat but as a healthy, happy, well-adjusted child grows up into an adult that doesn't go along with the crowd is a threat to the status quo, I have to wonder if some are deliberately ignorant.

You are definitely a brave one to speak out against all of the ignorance that is out there. I don't think I have that kind of courage at all. I can't even nurse in public without wanting to hide! Good for you for being one of the few to speak out in favor of normal duration breastfeeding!

Anonymous said...

You talk about abandoning babies in car seats. I am just wondering, do you think that people with young children should never drive anywhere?

Danielle said...

I agree, I have been on that video on youtube for at least five months and I have vigorously defended breastfeeding and gotten a couple of stalkers in the process. I agree with you, it's ignorance, but sometimes, sometimes there is someone who's mind opens up....

Veronika said...

hi Danielle ~ I'm not suggesting a parent doesn't put their baby in a car seat for travel. What I mean is that many, many parents use their car seat (certainly the UK models) as a permanent baby carrier and keep them in there all day long. These people don't use the car seat just for travelling, but as a container to *HOLD* their baby all day the baby isn't left with their mother's arms, face or touch.
Thanks for helping me to be clearer in my writing :-0

Anonymous said...

If someone really did do that to a baby, a pediatrician would notice immediately, because the baby's head would be flat.
I hope you don't mind me saying this, but I want to say it in the gentlest way possible. So many of your posts have so much anger and they at times seem hateful. I came here after watching extraordinary breastfeeding on youtube, mainly to learn more from you. I was going to defend you in the comments, because I agreed that the lashings at you were out of ignorance. However, I can't help but wonder if you manifested that ignorance through ignorance of your own at people who may do things differently than you. I have an almost 11 month old daughter who is the light of my world, and we have used some of the things you call "abandonment". I do not take offense, because I know that if you knew me and Annalise, and you knew some of the horrors we went through bringing her into this world and what we (shouldn't) have gone through to produce breastmilk, and how wonderful and happy and wonderful she is now- you wouldn't think of me as an "abandoning" mother.

Veronika said...

hi Danielle ~

Flat head syndrome is well-documented for exactly the reason I mentioned ~ being left in a car seat all day long. We will be having an article in The Mother on this shortly written by an expert in the field who sees this on a daily basis.

As for you perceiving anger in my writing ~ well, writing is a funny thing. Some people see my writing as warm, humorous, empathatic..and others, like yourself see it as angry, harsh or critical.

I have no control over how others read my words. What I do know is that they leave me as 'passion' and they do come from a place of love. It's a passion that has me speaking out on a manner of things. It's my deep love for children and the sacredness of a bonded mother and child relationship that has me putting my heart and soul into my work.

My comments about various practices are general, though clearly, if a person does them in their own life, and then reads my comments, they WILL take it personally.

The way people interpret my words will come from the space and place THEY are in ~ that is, there'll be as many interpretations as there are people. How can it be any other way?

In the end, though, I have to choose whether to follow my life's work and 'risk' people interpreting my messages according to their frame of reference, or I remove myself from the parenting field altogether. At this point in my life, I choose the former.
Love, Veronika