Conflicting ideas

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Conflicting ideas

Conflicting ideas
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I've had a joint class with another swim school today and with another instructor as part of my diploma practice. I had a few curious observations that I feel I need to discuss. The teacher has pointed out to me that:

1. Taking babies away from their mothers' arms is a must because, firstly, the instructor needs to 'scan' the baby and understand what the baby is feeling (tense, scared, etc) and develop an approach to hem/her, because, secondly, sometimes moms just don't understand what their babies can do and finally because babies need to be in different arms so as to develop an open view to the world. In fact, one mom, upon entering the pool, handed her 10 month old to me asking me to swim with the baby while she would make a few laps. Is this all right ?! When one baby refused to leave her mom's arms and go to the instructor, the latter stated out loud that the baby apparently had a traumatic experience with strangers in the past and this matter is a problem. I don't feel it is. Do you?

2. It was mentioned by the instructor at the end of the session that they start newborns' swimming sessions with swimming in the home bath, with the baby inside and the parent outside, above the head of the baby. I told her about the Birthlight approach, but she said that being a psychologist she knows for sure that babies and children are IN NEED of an autoritarian approach (being literally above the baby, not on the same level) so as to help the baby to socially 'take shape' and understand the hierarchy from the start. This implied that the baby actually benefits from such an approach. Do babies benefit from this?

Katia
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Mon, Feb 11 2008 12:08 PM In reply to
jo.montgomery

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Hi Katia, I was waiting for someone more experienced to answer this but since no one has, here are my views: I agree with you entirely that you are concerned about this conflicting approach. The Birthlight way is to respect the mother-baby bond. We are there as facilitators - the parent is actually the one teaching the baby. It is not necessary to remove the baby from the mother, although sometimes babies are happy to go to the instructor and parents are sometimes keen to be shown how to do things sometimes so its OK occasionally if all parties agree. As for the "be above your baby to signify control", well...are these babies or dogs? It should be a mutually respectful loving relationship between mother and baby. A young baby cannot behave badly, all they need is their mother's love. Form that strong bond early on and you will form a confident individual. There is plenty of time for boundary setting later! I think enough research has been done in the last 40 years to back up the premise that babies and children thrive on a loving close relationship, not on a cold authoritative harsh upbringing. Go with your natural instincts and keep flying the flag for happy confident children! Jo (Cambridge)
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Mon, Feb 11 2008 12:50 PM In reply to
Katia

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Thanks Jo. I totally agree with you. Of course, they didn't mean to say that there should be a cold or harsh upbringing. In fact, their approach lookes quite soft. What they meant was that a child feels a need for a social 'frame' which he needs (needs himself) to understand. An adult 'above' develops some kind of respect for the elders and understanding his 'status' (pardon me). I personally think that such notions as 'respect' can only be seized in the toddlerhood, not before. I also think that babies have an innate understanding that adults are important people without being shown this by trying to look even bigger and yet more important. I'm not a psychologist, however, and may be totally wrong...

Katia
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Mon, Feb 11 2008 1:08 PM In reply to
conwaym

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Hi Katia,

I would say different approaches work for different people.

I don't personally agree with what the teacher of that class said and I doubt anyone in Birthlight does, mainly because Birthlight doesn't tend to attract people who adopt that approach, but I guess we have to respect different peoples right to an opinion even if we don't agree with it. On the plus side, I tend to be of the opinion that in those circumstances we can learn as much from what we don't personally agree with as that which we do - sometimes more and are therefore very valuable!

I remember when I was first pregnant everyone seemed to either fall into the pro Gina Ford approach or pro Baby Whisperer approach and people got quite heated about it, but at the end of the day it is what works for each individual.

I suspect this experience has really made you consider your opinions and what you have been taught, and as such will be of great benefit. Anything which challenges preconcieved ideas I think is good, even if you come down more firmly in your original camp because of it. It certainly should help form your teaching style.

Against that, my first was what could be described as a 'clingy' baby and was so from the moment he was born. I certainly don't consider that meant he had any sort of trauma, he just needed to have more love and support to enable him to gain confidence in those others around him. He is now an extremely bright and confident boy that socialises well (although still a bit wary of strangers which I consider no bad thing!) I think forcing the issue before he was ready would have potentially scarred him emotionally and had far reaching effects. I think it is impolite really to suggest the traumatic experience as it is potentially upsetting to the mother and therefore disrespectful. (My second child was born gregarious from the absoute outset but that is a different story)

I am also very wary of someone 'absolutely knowing' something as there is always more to learn or new research. The intelligent person realises how little they know rather than how much in my opinion.

I often demo with a baby/child but I think you need 'permission' from both the baby/child, and the parent to do so. I would also be of the opinion that observation enables you to 'read' the baby (and parent).

best wishes,

Maria

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Mon, Feb 11 2008 1:25 PM In reply to
jo.montgomery

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I agree, and also feel that children develop an understanding of how society works from observation and experience. This hierarchy and status needn't be imposed upon them, they will indeed find out for themselves Jo xx
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Sat, Feb 16 2008 2:27 PM In reply to
Jojo

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Thanks Maria

that is a lovely balanced view! My initial response to Katias post was quite a lot of angry feeling, but you and Jo are right - still working on this non-judgement thing!. However, my first son was born very clingy too and I always have a feeling of regret that I was rather bullied along by those in the Gina Ford/ Toddler Taming camp and that I allowed him to be separated from me more than he liked. I regret not following my iinstincts more and following his lead. I hope I'm making up for lost time now! Don' think too much harm was done in the long run, but is it me or do new Mums seem incredibly frightened of doing anyhting wrong?

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Sun, Feb 17 2008 1:17 PM In reply to
Katia

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Hi Jojo, I've got a problem with the 'non-judgement' thing, too.. Could you tell me who Gina Ford is? Re the regrets, we all have some, I'm sure. Some moms don't bother about anything at all, so I think it's better to be a bit strict with oneself than to be negligent.

Katia
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Sun, Feb 17 2008 2:55 PM In reply to
Jojo

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Hi Katia

i am going to practice some non-judgement now!:

Gine Ford is a British lady who, as far as I am aware, has no children of her own but worked for many years as a Nanny. She wrote a book called "the Contented Little Baby Book" in which she sets out a very strict routine for the baby, for example, baby is woken at 7am and fed, then must wait exactly 4 hours before being fed again. I think the idea is that the baby becomes very used to the routine and Mum gets to have a life as well, but I can't say much else becuase I threw it away after the first chapter! Most of my friends say it made them cry, but I do know of a couple of people who swear by it. You'll have to read it and make up your own mind! Suffice to say, it doesn't seem to fit too comfortably into the Birthlight way of life!

love and light

Jo xx

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Mon, Feb 18 2008 8:40 AM In reply to
conwaym

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Hi JoJo,

Thanks for that :o)

All mums that care are concerned they are doing the right thing. It's horribly easy to feel pushed into doing something or trying something because of outside pressures. I think most people fall into that trap sometimes - I know I have done. It's also very hard not to inadvertantly pressurise someone else because of your own viewpoint. I think it's very easy to take someone elses viewpoint as implied criticism (whether it is meant that way or not)

I took a lot of time to get to the point of saying to myself every time I felt under pressure 'why do I want to change this? is it for me? is it for my baby? is it for the family unit? is it just for propriety and/or external pressure?

Myself and a few friends all made an agreement when our babies were born that if we felt low about it we would all get together and tell each other what we the thought the other did well as a parent. Sounds a bit silly but we all felt much better afterwards and came out with a nice warm glow.

It's a lot easier to be sure of yourself after your first and as they get older but anyone who wants to be the best parent they can is likely to self-doubt just to try and be sure they are doing the best they can.

I was thinking about the 'overhead' thing and although I don't think it should be rigorously enforced in the way it was implied, it is true that most of the time we are higher than our babies and looking down on them (physically I mean) when they are wee. Thinking back I remember both mine used to think it was hilarious and giggle when I used to lay on my side opposite them and we were virtually level. Even if you hold your little one up 'face to face' the top of your head is normally higher so that eye contact is level, and 'excitement' activities often involve them being higher than your face. Even when they get bigger if they are in need of consolation they normally want to be 'small' and snuggled into you, lower then your face.........

Just an observation - as I say, I don't think it should be a permanent state of affairs as a matter of course.

best wishes,

Maria

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Mon, Feb 18 2008 11:04 AM In reply to
conwaym

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Non-balanced view coming up.....

You don't get a life with Gina Ford - as I recall as you aren't allowed out of the house if your baby is asleep or due to go to sleep!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hhhmmphhh

Maria

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Mon, Feb 18 2008 11:21 AM In reply to
Sue

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I love your non balanced view Maria, sometimes I think it is possible to take non-judgement a bit to far. I also thought your idea with your friends was great. It's very easy, especially with first babies to think your the worlds worst mum. Problem comes with the second baby and you think you know what your doing and they respond completely differently.

It is almost impossible to know if you are doing the right thing for your child, you can only do what you think is right at the time and hope for the best. Life is not easy or perfect and we all have to cope with it as best we can with the tools we have been given and just as our parents hoped they were doing the right thing by us we do the same for our children. The problem arises 20, 30 40, years down the line when we discover the things we did were all wrong and we ruined our childrens lives. The best we can do for them is to love them.

love Sue

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Mon, Feb 18 2008 4:53 PM In reply to
conwaym

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Oh Sue,

You are soooo right. I thought I had it sussed and then baby number two was a totally different kettle of fish in every way!

I spend time fretting about the fact that they are going to be 'scarred' by how rubbish I've been in some way or another twenty years down the line. After all - I've never forgiven my mum for leaving my thumb-sucking blanket behind when we had been on holiday, forcing me to do ballet classes, not letting me do horse riding because it was too dangerous .... the list goes on and on and on and on ...... my mum's a great mum but I still hoard bundles of 'perceived injustices' so what an earth are they going to think of me in the future??????

(sigh)

As you say - as long as they feel loved it goes an awful long way.

love

Maria

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Mon, Feb 18 2008 5:40 PM In reply to
Sue

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They'll blame you for everything but still come running back for a hug when things go wrong. However I do think that leaving your thumb sucking blanket behind was a bit much.

love Sue

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Tue, Feb 19 2008 6:37 AM In reply to
Sue

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So to sum up in a more formal way what Maria and I have been saying:-

There is no right way, only what is right for that particular child. For a different child you may need a totally different approach.

Whatever you do you WILL think later perhaps I should have done it differently but of course you will never know if how what would have happened if you had.

Whatever you do if love and the childs interest is behind it they will look to you as a rock to hold onto when the going gets tough.

Of course we are influenced by others ideas but it is up to each person to decide if it applies to them. I think Maria's question " am I doing this for me, for the baby, for the family unit or because of outside pressure" is a very good one and one must remember that there may be a conflict between me/baby/family unit and sometimes we need to put one of the others before the baby. Nobody said it was going to be easy!

love Sue

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Tue, Feb 19 2008 7:42 AM In reply to
Katia

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Thank you all very, VERY much. You are helping a lot. I've got so many questions and there isn't much support around here.. :(

Katia