Attachment Parenting / Bonding – Kindred Media https://www.kindredmedia.org Sharing the New Story of Childhood, Parenthood, and the Human Family Mon, 18 Jan 2021 17:10:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.1.8 https://www.kindredmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/cropped-Kindred-Black-Logo-square-32x32.png Attachment Parenting / Bonding – Kindred Media https://www.kindredmedia.org 32 32 The Life And Insights Of Joseph Chilton Pearce: A New Book https://www.kindredmedia.org/2021/01/the-life-and-insights-of-joseph-chilton-pearce-a-new-book/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2021/01/the-life-and-insights-of-joseph-chilton-pearce-a-new-book/#respond Sat, 16 Jan 2021 23:26:45 +0000 https://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=27955 The following is the foreword from the forthcoming anthology exploring Pearce’s writings from 1958 to 2010 by Michael Mendizza. Visit the virtual Joseph Chilton Pearce Library at Touch the Future for more insights, videos, and archival treasures of Pearce’s work. Kindred World (Kindred Media’s parent nonprofit) was inspired by Joseph Chilton Pearce’s work, as he […]]]>

The following is the foreword from the forthcoming anthology exploring Pearce’s writings from 1958 to 2010 by Michael Mendizza. Visit the virtual Joseph Chilton Pearce Library at Touch the Future for more insights, videos, and archival treasures of Pearce’s work.

Kindred World (Kindred Media’s parent nonprofit) was inspired by Joseph Chilton Pearce’s work, as he lived in Charlottesville, Virginia, a two hour drive from the founding families of Kindred World in Williamsburg, Virginia. You can learn more about our history here, and how America’s 50 year decline in children, and general population, health inspired Kindred World’s creation in 1996. We’ve explored the necessary conditions to create sustainable, peaceful humans for 25 years now. Please support our nonprofit initiatives. We’ve still got work to do!


One can mechanically copy, imitate and repeat, as most of us do, most of our lives, but Joseph Chilton Pearce is different. He is original. My twenty-five-year journey with Joe began in a room with twenty adults, eyes wide, staring, amazed and with complete attention. We sat in chairs, some on cushions in a meeting room at Esalen Institute high above the rugged Big Sur coast of California. For two days, eight hours each day, chalk in hand, a shrimp of a man, but a giant in vision, without notes, hardily taking a breath, carried everyone in the room on a wild ride into unknown, yet longed-for territory: What does this gift of being human mean and why are we barely scratching the surface of our true potential?

Pre-order your advance copy now. This book will be available on March 2, 2021.

Since that first meeting, Joe and I have been pals, swapping stories, crying in our beer, musing together about shared adventures, interests and passions. More than a friend, Joe has been an inspiration and mentor. We share a passion for reaching beyond the limitations and constraints of our social conditioning. Very early, Joe was seized with the feeling that ‘I own myself.’ He felt himself to be an ‘imposter,’ realizing that the cultural mask we all wear is a fake, a deadly serious masquerade and one far more crippling than we imagine. Who we really are is a biological masterpiece, one that has given rise to fields of meaning that transcends the limitations and constraints of that biology.

Real learning, at any age or stage, as with the elite athlete, artist, or true scientist, is a focused act of self-discovery about one’s self and our place in the world. Because life is so vast, subtle, complex and mysterious, the greatest challenge any and every human being faces is; to ‘know thyself.’ This supreme and forever deepening-expanding act of discovery is a personal and private, inner experience, a revelation much more than an idea or concept to be studied. And for the rare, the very few who make this ongoing discovery their life’s passion what is revealed must be shared. And so they do. 

Because of their passion, because of their depth of personal experience and synthesis, every once in a while what we call greatness emerges. Not great in comparison to another, great in the unique story or capacity being shared and how that sharing awakens something fresh, new and powerful in others, something that may never have been seen or discovered without this new story and the unique way it is being told. Joe would turn up his nose at such a pompous accusation of greatness. But he was, and his insights are that potentially life-changing for all who listen, behold and embody the story Joe shared with millions around the world. 

There was a single driving quest, something mysterious yet so real and tangible that Joe could not let go. When asked about the unifying mystery he explored in all of his writings, he replied: ‘to understand our astonishing capacities and self-inflicted limitations.’

Joe’s collected works are one coherent lifelong exploration of this basic question, What are we and are we expressing the full miracle nature intended, and if not, why? Each of Joe’s books represents a new vista, a unique point of view. Each is also simultaneously part of a larger whole. Each volume digs deeper, expanding this mystery, creating a new vantage point to launch the next exploration. 

Begin with the end in mind is the first habit in Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. This anthology of Joe’s life and insights offers this end – to begin one’s journey with Joe into the mystery of what we are and yet still might become. 

Joe complained of being pigeonholed. Indeed, childhood is the experience that sculpts the adult. To understand where we end, we must look carefully at where we begin. Approaching Joe’s insights is often like the parable of three blind men meeting an elephant. One declares, ‘the elephant is like a snake.’ ‘No, it is like a tree,’ says the next. ‘No, no, insist the third, ‘it is like a wall.’ 

Best known for Magical Child, many assume Joe is interested in child development, and he is. Reading Crack in the Cosmic Egg, one assumes he is interested in altered states, ESP, or so called psychic phenomena. All are true but miss the larger meaning Joe explores and shares. 

Astonishing Capacities and Self-Inflicted limitations is the first book to draw together and explore Joseph Chilton Pearce’s complete vision of our transcendent human potential. 

Like so many others, I had read just one of Joe’s books, Magical Child. As a documentary filmmaker, having interviewed amazing visionaries – Ashley Montage, David Bohm, Krishnamurti, pioneers in prenatal intelligence and many others – it was a book I thought I had to write. 

Simmering for all these years in Joe’s collected insights, a challenge emerged: Is it possible to provide a simple key, scale or guide to this magnificent body of rare perception and metaphor? 

First we must distinguish two forms or realms of knowing: deep, empathic nonverbal wisdom-insight and the other, verbal-intellect: thoughts, abstract concept, imagined images and ideas. Nature invested several billion years developing wisdom-insight and upon this foundation, some suggest as few as 50,000 years ago, risked developing an open-ended, causal-creative brain system finely tuned to imagine with the necessary prerequisites: symbols and metaphor, semantic language and abstracted memory, a brain system that could creatively act on its own processes, and therefore influence the very ontological processes upon which reality is built, for better or worse.

While abstracted imagination and intellectual ideas, images, beliefs and concepts can be acquired in relative isolation, what we call bonding is the way, and the only way, wisdom-insight can be awakened, reincarnate and develop in each new generation.  With this in mind, lifting bonding out of sweet sentiment, as Joe often said, and reframing this subtle, nonverbal dynamic as an essential, critical, bidirectional and life-affirming channel of communication, helps us appreciate why interfering and callously breaking this bond at the beginning of life is the most harmful and demonic act possible

The balance, or absence of balance, of these two ways of knowing, establishes the foundation for each human being’s concept of themselves, their values, perceived place and purpose in the world—what Joe called our ‘self-worldview.’ Five thousand centuries is a long time for abstracted imagination to churn out images, ideas, and beliefs, coagulating to form the conservative fields we call culture. The larger the influence of culture grows the more it dominates the balance between a personal identity grounded in wisdom-insight or a self-worldview grounded in abstracted knowledge. 

Once the balance shifts from bonded-wisdom to abstracted, and therefore isolated imagination-intellect, the more the fruits of this shift express in the world, looping back and epigenetically altering, and in compounded ways, the implicit imbalance with its dis-ease. 

A few classic metaphors for the inevitable consequences of this imbalance are the biblical myth of the Garden of Eden(ca 970-931), Goethe’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (1797), and Shelley’s Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus(1823).  The essence and heart of Joe’s lifelong quest, using again his words, is to “understand our astonishing capacities and self-inflected limitations this continuum represents.” 

The importance of this distilled collection of Joseph Chilton Pearce’s insights for this and new generations, with its implicit warning of the dangers of technologies’ counterfeit, masquerading for true organic, living intelligence, could not be more clear. Losing touch with, and even awareness of, the life-giving and life-supporting innate capacities that bonded wisdom and insight offers, we turn more and more to dead technology for our salvation with its addictive, compulsive grasping that only increases our dis-ease. You will see, with beauty, awe, wonder and tragedy, Joe’s quest for discovery, awakening and renewing this balance etched on every page that follows.

In the classic film One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, there is a poignant scene of Chief Bromden (Will Sampson) describing to R. P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) how his father died as an alcoholic. “It looked like my father was sucking out of the bottle, but the bottle was sucking life out of him,” he said. Joe was equally passionate. 

Every time we have intellectually interfered with a fifteen-billion-year process, that intellectual interference has been paid for with a bitter price. And we never learn. We make money off of it, so immediately anything goes.

Technologies counterfeit intelligence, dressed in the exploding field of Bio-Tech, the merging of technology and biology, eliminates the value and need to develop our own astonishing capacities. This failure of development compounds our self-inflicted limitations, rendering humanity less human, more mechanical, reflexive and computerized, with suicidal consciences: implanted sensors, Nano-bots flowing through our veins and the global brain wired to the cloud. The implication being: nature is broken and can only be saved by technology. As all of Joe’s works describe, without full development of our innate, organic intelligence and its astonishing capacities, that technology often prevents, the tragic hubris Mary Shelly described in 1823 will soon reach a point of no return. 

The vision of this new book is simple. Essential passages, perhaps ten percent of each original manuscript, are selected from Joe’s major works: Crack in the Cosmic Egg, Magical Child, Spiritual Initiation and the Breakthrough of Consciousness (originally Bond of Power), Evolution’s End, The Biology of Transcendence, The Death of Religion and Rebirth of Spirit and The Heart-Mind Matrix (originally Strange Loops – Gestures of Creation), woven together with personal commentary by Joe spanning thirty years. 

Yes, Joe’s vision is original. No one has charted and explored the territory this map describes. One needs a big picture to appreciate its parts. Astonishing Capacities and Self-Inflicted Limitations offers new and existing readers this big, unifying and life changing vision. 

There are no secrets, save those we hide from ourselves.

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Conspiracy Thinking: Understanding Attachment And Its Consequences https://www.kindredmedia.org/2021/01/conspiracy-thinking-understanding-attachment-and-its-consequences/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2021/01/conspiracy-thinking-understanding-attachment-and-its-consequences/#respond Wed, 13 Jan 2021 18:29:49 +0000 https://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=27918 Adult Anxious Attachment Correlates with Belief in Conspiracies  In the first months of life, infants organize their neurobiological and psychosocial functioning around their experiences. Reliable, affectionate responsive caregiving (represented in our species’ evolved nest) fosters well-functioning psychosocial and neurobiological systems (e.g., attachment, stress response, oxytocin system) that facilitate health, intelligence and secure attachment (Narvaez, Panksepp, […]]]>

Adult Anxious Attachment Correlates with Belief in Conspiracies 

In the first months of life, infants organize their neurobiological and psychosocial functioning around their experiences. Reliable, affectionate responsive caregiving (represented in our species’ evolved nest) fosters well-functioning psychosocial and neurobiological systems (e.g., attachment, stress response, oxytocin system) that facilitate health, intelligence and secure attachment (Narvaez, Panksepp, Schore & Gleason, 2013).

Understanding Attachment

“Attachment” refers to the neurobiological assumptions and psychological associations about relationships that the infant builds in their psychosocial neurobiological memory. This “internal working model” is measured in infancy with the “strange situation” task (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters & Wall, 1978) but also with questionnaires in later years.

Winner of the William James Book Award from the American Psychological Association in 2015

In the “strange situation,” the infant is in an experimental room with the mother; mother leaves for a bit and then returns. The infant’s response to the mother’s return gives an indication of the child’s “internal working model” for intimate relationships. Three basic types of attachment have been identified through this method or through adult questionnaires about their relational habits and preferences.

When primary caregivers are consistently warmly responsive to infant needs, conveying truthfully, matching emotions and words, the child tends to develop secure attachment—an embodied belief in the goodness of relationships and a friendly social world. Secure attachment is correlated with all sorts of positive outcomes like cooperation, social skills, likability (Sroufe et al., 2005).

When primary caregivers are inconsistent in care, unreliable or untruthful, the child tends to develop insecure attachment—an embodied belief that the social world is unreliable and unsafe (Crittenden, 1998). Unlike secure attachment, insecure attachment correlates with social deficits of one kind or another and to various psychological challenges such as general distrust (Sroufe et al, 2005).

The two major types of insecure attachment studied by Western scientists are Avoidant and Anxious.  Crittenden (1998) describes these as “dealing but not feeling” and “feeling but not dealing,” respectively, in contrast to holistic “feeling and dealing” of secure attachment.

Those who develop avoidant attachment experienced emotional rejection from the primary caregiver(s) and so learned to inhibit emotion and dissociate from the body. Thus, generally speaking they have underdeveloped socioemotional intelligence, as their early environments gave little opportunity for growing it. The individual minimizes emotional needs and even turns away from the caregiver psychologically. They learn to “go into their heads” to survive successfully in their family environment. As adults, they come off as dismissive of others and of the importance of relationships generally. They have limited access to their emotions and tend to deny their needs. When stressed, they don’t activate attachment feelings and seek comfort from others, which is what a securely attached individual would do, but instead are irritable and short tempered with others.

Anxious attachment develops when caregivers are inconsistently responsive—sometimes they attend to the child and sometimes they don’t. When caregivers only respond to extreme signals (e.g., tantrums), the child learns to use emotion to control others. Those with anxious attachment consistently try to keep people tied to them, never feeling secure that their relationships are stable. The individual learns to use emotion to get attention and to distrust cognition—what people say. Just because emotions are used to get needs met doesn’t mean their socioemotional intelligence is optimally developed though, like those of the more securely attached. It just means they learn to use emotion to coerce others and even to defend themselves against thinking. Their logical capacities are underdeveloped. They are generally in a continuous state of alarm.

Abused and neglected children, with no appropriately responsive caregiver but one who scares the child, often develop a third type of attachment, disorganized (“neither feeling nor dealing”). This style is linked to clinical psychiatric disorders.  

Although non-traumatized people carry implicitly a cloak of invulnerability, the traumatized do not.  Traumatized children carry a view of the world as basically unsafe (Burstow, 2005). They are attuned to threat. When trauma occurs early in life, basic personality tendencies like paranoia and distrust become integrated in a person’s psyche.

In all insecure attachment styles, the right hemisphere is underdeveloped because it is scheduled to grow more rapidly than the left hemisphere in the first two years of life—with responsive care (Schore, 2019).

Is Insecure Attachment Typical for Our Species?

It is not normal across the mammalian kingdom to raise offspring in an impairing manner, because they are less likely to survive, thrive and reproduce successful offspring. We can conclude from the perspective of our species that the basic needs of those who develop insecure attachment were not met in early life. Insecure attachment is an impairment in social cooperation capacities, key adaptations of our species (Hrdy, 2009).  

Anxious Attachment Correlates with Conspiracy Theory Beliefs

A study by Douglas, Sutton, and Cichocka (2017) examined attachment style and its relation to belief in conspiracy theories. They found that adults with anxious attachment were more likely to believe in conspiracy theories whereas those with secure or avoidant attachment were not.

Douglas, Sutton, and Cichocka (2017) identified three ego needs: social needs (need to maintain esteem for self and/or group), epistemic needs (need to make sense of the world, including with certainty) and existential needs (need to feel safe and in control). Each of these are correlated with belief in conspiracy theories. Douglas and Green (2018) note:

“Recent theorizing in social psychology suggests that individuals use conspiracy theories as an attempted defensive mechanism to address psychological needs, including the existential need for security and control (Douglas et al., 2017). Individuals with anxious attachment are preoccupied with their security, tend to hold a negative view of outgroups, are more sensitive to threats, and tend to exaggerate the seriousness of such threats. Secure and avoidant attachment styles, on the other hand, are less sensitive to threats and do not exaggerate such threats. Anxious attachment—compared to secure and avoidant attachment— could therefore potentially be a key predictor of conspiracy belief.” (p. 31)

Those with anxious attachment are not oriented to logical argument or factual statements, a common complaint about right-wingers for decades, though anyone can be resistant to evidence that goes against their beliefs.

Implications for Society

In the USA generally, it is not a surprise that insecure attachment is becoming more prevalent (Konrath et al., 2014). To develop secure attachment, the infant needs a warmly responsive primary caregiver 24/7 in the first year of life (Schore, 2019). Without paid parental leave in the USA, many working parents send their babies to daycare when a few weeks old. Daycare workers are often unable to care for infants in the reliable, responsive way needed for the child to develop secure attachment.

The prevalence of insecure attachment may be a danger to maintaining a democracy. Insecure attachment undermines intelligence in the ways described, making it harder to get along with others. And citizens need to share perception of facts in order to solve the nation’s problems.

With increasing insecure attachment, we should not be surprised at an increasing number of people believing false stories that reassure them, including conspiracy theories which can lead to radicalization, especially through the algorithms of online neighborhoods like YouTube and Facebook. If anxiously attached people are more likely to throw a big fuss, having learned that pattern for getting needs met early on, perhaps we should not be surprised that conspiracy theorizing or radicalization may lead some to carry out rioting. These kinds of effects suggest the society might want to revamp policies and institutions towards supporting child wellbeing.

References

Ainsworth, M. D. S., Blehar, M. C., Waters, E., & Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of attachment: A psychological study of the strange situation. Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum.

Burstow, B. (2005). A critique of posttraumatic stress disorder and the DSM. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 45, 429-445.

Crittenden, P.M. (1992). Quality of attachment in the preschool years. Developmental Psychopathology, 4, 209-241.

Crittenden, P.M. (1994). Peering into the black box: An exploratory treatise on the development of self in young children. In D. Cicchetti & S. Toth (Eds.) Rochester Symposium on Developmental Psychopathology, Vol. 5 (pp. 79-148). Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.

Crittenden, P.M. (1998). The developmental consequences of childhood sexual abuse. In P. Trickett & C. Schellenback (Eds.), Violence against children in the family and the community (pp. 11-38). Washington, D.C: American Psychological Association.

Douglas, K. M., Sutton, R. M., & Cichocka, A. (2017). The psychology of conspiracy theories. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 26(6), 538–542. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0963721417718261.

Green, R., & Douglas, K. M. (2018). Anxious attachment and belief in conspiracy theories. Personality and Individual Differences, 125, 30–37. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2017.12.023

Jolley, D., Douglas, K. M., & Sutton, R. M. (2017). Blaming a few bad apples to save a threatened barrel: The system-justifying function of conspiracy theories. Political Psychology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1111/pops.12404

Konrath, S. H., Chopik, W., Hsing, C., & O’Brien, E. H. (2014). Changes in adult attachment styles in american college students over time: A meta-analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 18(4), 326-348. doi: 10.1177/1088868314530516

Marchlewska, M., Cichocka, A., & Kossowska, M. (2017). Addicted to answers: Need for cognitive closure and the endorsement of conspiracy beliefs. European Journal of Social Psychology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1002/ejsp.2308

Narvaez, D., Panksepp, J., Schore, A., & Gleason, T. (2013). Evolution, early experience and human development: From research to practice and policy. New York: Oxford.

Schore, A.N. (2019). The development of the unconscious mind. New York: W.W. Norton.

Sroufe, L.A., Egeland, B, Carlson, E.A., & Collins, W.A. (2005). The development of the person: The Minnesota study of risk and adaptation from birth to adulthood. New York: Guilford.

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Can Too Much Togetherness Cause Disconnection? What To Do? https://www.kindredmedia.org/2021/01/can-too-much-togetherness-cause-disconnection-what-to-do/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2021/01/can-too-much-togetherness-cause-disconnection-what-to-do/#respond Sat, 09 Jan 2021 19:18:17 +0000 https://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=27711 “Every family has a story, and every family member needs to know what that story is.” – Kristine Manley Warning! Too much togetherness can cause loss of family connection. The fact that family members have been living, working and schooling under the same roof, for months on end, is no guarantee that family members are […]]]>

“Every family has a story, and every family member needs to know what that story is.” – Kristine Manley

Warning! Too much togetherness can cause loss of family connection. The fact that family members have been living, working and schooling under the same roof, for months on end, is no guarantee that family members are feeling emotionally connected. As we face many more months of social isolation due to Covid-19, while having so many of our customary ways of connecting taken from us, it is imperative that we create other ways to maintain our vital family connections. 

Each family member spending evenings on their own screen is not a recipe for connection or well being. Besides using screens for our jobs, schooling, entertainment and communication, we may also be using it to find space away from each other. Contrary to the rule most of us grew up with – work first, then play – we have to learn that it’s more important right now to play first, then work. When children’s emotional needs are met by having connection time with their parents, they are ready to just “go play.”

Parents and children need both connection time and alone time. If we are intentional about it we can create ways to have both. We can have the vital together time to connect as a family and the sanctuary of the “wool gathering” alone time to restore ourselves. Wool gathering is an expression we don’t hear much anymore. “Indulging in daydreaming“ is the best definition I have found of this old expression. We need wool gathering time at every age. We need time to think our thoughts and dream our dreams. We also need shared experiences that connect us. 

There was a time, before the internet, television, radio and electricity, when families gathered around the hearth for storytelling. We can’t go back to those days but we can bring back the means to recreate the connecting effect of gathering for storytelling. It’s time to bring back family story time. The shared experience of listening to good stories together strengthens the parent-child bond. Recent research has shown that when children hear their family’s stories they get the additional benefit of the strength that comes from feeling part of something bigger than themselves.

I recently read an article about how CDs are making a comeback. In my life, they never left. I listen to audiobooks on CDs in my car everyday and I own multiple portable CD players. Whether you dust off your old CD player, find a used one at Goodwill, buy a new one online or wait in line at Walmart, you can recreate the way of connecting that has served families since our caveman days. Sharing stories connects our hearts.

Having a portable CD player (or two) opens up all kinds of possibilities for both family and individual story times. We can bring it to the kitchen and share a story while we prepare or clean up after dinner. We can bring it to the living room for family story hour each night. Once the children are ready for bed, they can have individual CD story time, while parents have some grown up time (alone or together).They can return to read a goodnight story.

If listening to audiobooks will be new to your family, you will want to introduce them with the very best stories and storytellers. These are the ones our family loves:

Audiobooks are like having an extra adult to help out. I am highly recommending them because they meet two very real needs we’ve grown used to meeting in other ways. They provide the opportunity for families to connect at home through the shared experience of listening to stories together, and they can create the space for parents and children to have the alone time that has become such a challenge to find with so many families working and schooling ?at home. 

The research I read on the importance of telling our children their family stories is exciting new information to me and I’m loving learning all I can about the great value of sharing family stories with our children and grandchildren. Author, Bruce Feiler wrote ”…how well children know their family history is the best single indicator of children’s emotional health and happiness.” – Bruce Feiler

Thus, the featured book and/or audiobook for this article is, The Secrets of Happy Families, by Bruce Feiler.

Let’s make telling our children their family stories of successes, courage, fears, failures and triumphs the silver-lining antidote to the emotional dama

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Principles of Indigenous Child-Raising: Our Ancestors Were Smart and Good https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/12/principles-of-indigenous-child-raising-our-ancestors-were-smart-and-good/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/12/principles-of-indigenous-child-raising-our-ancestors-were-smart-and-good/#respond Tue, 15 Dec 2020 01:28:28 +0000 https://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=27395 Indigenous ways shape child intelligence and virtue.  For each of us to have been born, our ancestors had to be smart and good.  I am referring to our ancestors who lived outside of civilization (civilization only arose in parts of the world during the last 1% of human existence; Fry, 2006) because they raised children […]]]>

Indigenous ways shape child intelligence and virtue. 

For each of us to have been born, our ancestors had to be smart and good.  I am referring to our ancestors who lived outside of civilization (civilization only arose in parts of the world during the last 1% of human existence; Fry, 2006) because they raised children differently than civilizations and we have reason to believe that their child raising practices (most 20-40 million years old among mammals), had been “optimized” to foster child wellbeing (Konner, 2005). Factors retained from long ago are typically indicative of optimization (Sterling, 2020).

Our ancestors had to be smart enough to successfully live in difficult physical environments (the ‘struggle against the elements;’ Kropotkin, 2006). And they had to be good enough to cooperate with group members which includes having empathy for others, controlling habits for the good of the group (which form part of Darwin’s description of humanity’s “moral sense,” the sociability key to group selection; Darwin, 1871). Both smartness and goodness helped the group survive and even thrive across multiple generations (required for “natural selection” to operate; Lewontin, 2010).

How did intelligence and goodness get supported in our ancestral environment? How did they raise smart and good children? I discuss some common principles and common child raising practices apparent among Indigenous peoples all over the world—those who still live(d) in ways similar to our ancestors.

PRINCIPLES OF LIVING

There are dozens of principles that govern Indigenous societies around the world and form what could be called an Indigenous worldview that contrasts with the dominant culture’s worldview (Four Arrows, 2020; Redfield, 1953; and see forthcoming book by Four Arrows & Narvaez). Here are two of the principles particularly relevant to raising good and smart children.

Non-Interference

Indigenous peoples respect individual dignity. There is no coercion, no force used on others, in everyday life.

Winner of the William James Book Award from the American Psychological Association in 2015

“That is the principle that one Indian will never tell another Indian what to do. It is considered rude behaviour to give instructions or orders to another Native person. That’s quite different from the white society. Two white men at a cocktail party – say they’re standing there side by side – and if one of them announces he wishes to buy a pear tree another white man will immediately suggest that he buy a peach tree instead… If he ventures an opinion about music or politics somebody will immediately tell him, in a friendly way of course, what he ought to be listening to, or who he ought to be voting for. In the white society the one who can out-advise the other is one up, and the loser is expected to take his defeat with good grace. Now in the Indian society, this is not permitted. Advising or instructing, or ordering or persuading, is always considered bad form or behaviour” (Brant, 1990, p. 535).

The dignity of each person, no matter what age, is respected. Each person is unique and has their own path to follow and their own gifts to hone. Everyone exists in a web of relationships that include visible extended family (and adopted) relatives but also ancestors. There is no way for anyone to know the path and relational responsibilities others have.

The founding fathers (e.g., Franklin, Jefferson, Paine) were so impressed with the freedom that “Indians” experienced that they incorporated some of their ideas into the founding documents of the USA (Sachs et al., 2020). They wrote and commented that they much preferred the Indigenous ways of egalitarianism, consensus-seeking and individual freedom to European hierarchies and behavior control (ibid).

In fact in 1952, Felix Cohen, a lawyer specializing in Indian rights, wrote an article called: “Americanizing the White Man,” arguing that, rather than the other way around, American Indians Americanized the “hungry, fear-ridden, intolerant” Whites that came to the shore (p. 180). They shaped them with Indigenous values, making a distinctive American culture. This included tolerance: “the first thing we want to teach you is that, in the American way of life, each man has respect for his brother’s vision” (Cohen, 1952, p. 177).  

Community Welfare is a Priority

Everyone grew up immersed in a supportive atmosphere guided by stories, rituals and practices of helping one another, even strangers, and respecting other than humans. No hungry or homeless people among American Indians were encountered by the Europeans. Meeting the basic needs of everyone was a priority of the community. This too impressed the founding fathers because it was such a contrast with Europe where a significant portion of the population was poor (Sachs et al., 2020). Meeting the basic needs of young children was also remarked upon (‘they love them so’).

“In the field of child care, for example, one of the great forward scientific movements at the present time takes off from the simple observation that Indian babies, brought up in traditional ways, rarely cry or stutter. Psychiatrists, pediatricians and hospital administrators are now experimenting with substituting Indian methods of child training for the rigid schedules and formulas that have controlled the antiseptic babies of the last few decades” (Cohen, 1952, p. 191).

CHILD RAISING PRACTICES

What specifically does supportive child raising look like in traditional Indigenous communities? Hewlett & Lamb (2005) summarized the common characteristics of childhoods observed by anthropologists among hunter-gatherers around the world, traditions followed among most Indigenous communities generally.

“[Y]oung children in foraging cultures are nursed frequently; held, touched, or kept near others almost constantly; frequently cared for by individuals other than their mothers (fathers and grandmothers, in particular) though seldom by older siblings; experience prompt responses to their fusses and cries; and enjoy multiage play groups in early childhood” (Hewlett & Lamb, 2005, p. 15)

We could add other characteristics that the summary did not include—e.g., soothing perinatal (gestation, birth and postnatal) experiences.

Each of these features have been discovered by neurobiological research to matter for brain development and wellbeing (Narvaez, Panksepp, Schore & Gleason, 2013). See EvolvedNest.org for details.

Intelligence and virtue are part of our heritage as human beings (Narvaez, 2014).

References

Brant, C. C. (1990). Native ethics and rules of behaviour. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 35, 534-539.

Darwin, C. (1871/1981). The descent of man. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Four Arrows (2020). The Red Road: Connecting Diversity and Inclusions Initiatives to Indigenous Worldview. Charlottesville, N.C.: Information Age Publishing.

Four Arrows, & Narvaez, D. (in final preparation). Indigenous eloquence and kincentric flourishing: Selected quotes and worldview reflections to rebalance the world. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.

Fry, D. P. (2006). The human potential for peace: An anthropological challenge to assumptions about war and violence. New York: Oxford University Press.

Hewlett, B.S., & Lamb, M.E. (2005). Hunter-gatherer childhoods: evolutionary, developmental and cultural perspectives. New Brunswick, NJ: Aldine.

Kropotkin, P. (1902/2006). Mutual aid: A factor of evolution. Charleston, SC: BiblioBazaar.

Lewontin, R. (2010). Response to Colin Wells’ comment on review called “Not so Natural Selection” (of book, What Darwin got wrong on May 27, 2010). New York Review of Books. Downloaded on October 11, 2018 from https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2010/09/30/what-darwin-got-wrong/

Narvaez, D. (2014). Neurobiology and the development of human morality: Evolution, culture and wisdom. New York, NY: W.W. Norton.

Narvaez, D., Panksepp, J., Schore, A., & Gleason, T. (2013). Evolution, early experience and human development: From research to practice and policy. New York: Oxford.

Redfield, R. (1953). The primitive world and its transformations. Ithaca, NW: Cornell University Press.

Sachs, S.M., Johansen, B.E., Haas, A., Donohue, B.B., Grinde Jr., D.A., & York, J. (2020). Honoring the Circle: Ongoing Learning of the West from American Indians on Politics and Society, Volume I: The Impact of American Indians on Western Politics and Society to 1800. Cardiff, CA: Waterside Productions.

Sterling, P. (2020). What is health? Allostasis and the evolution of human design. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

There is a lot of misinformation about babies and their needs, and parents are often encouraged to ignore baby’s signals. Bad idea. Babies are “half-baked” at birth and have much to learn with the help of physical and emotional support from caregivers. Taking care of baby’s needs is an investment that pays off with a happier, healthier child and adult. Here are 28 days of reminders about babies and their needs.

TAKE THE 28 DAYS OF BABY CARE CHALLENGE!
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Creating Harmonic Family Resonance With Birth Psychology: An Interview With Baby Whisperer, Ray Castellino https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/12/creating-harmonic-family-resonance-with-birth-psychology-an-interview-with-baby-whisperer-ray-castellino/ Mon, 14 Dec 2020 01:26:54 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16427 Kindred is broken-hearted to learn of the passing of our beloved baby whisperer and prenatal psychology pioneer, Ray Castellino. Please join us in our gratitude for the bright light his decades of dedication brought to us, and future generations. Thank you for sharing your kind wisdom with us, Ray. – Kindred Staff, December 13, 2020 […]]]>

Kindred is broken-hearted to learn of the passing of our beloved baby whisperer and prenatal psychology pioneer, Ray Castellino. Please join us in our gratitude for the bright light his decades of dedication brought to us, and future generations. Thank you for sharing your kind wisdom with us, Ray. – Kindred Staff, December 13, 2020

Read, view, and listen to Ray on Kindred.


Editor’s Note from the original publication of this interview in May 2015: Have you heard?  Birth psychology is ubiquitous in headlines and research today (see an overview of news in The Conscious Baby online paper and an overview of the new documentary IN UTERO here).  But the Western science “discovery” that babies are conscious, remember their births and are developmentally impacted preconception through birth and beyond is not news, really.  Pioneers of this frontier field like Ray Castellino, DC, who has worked with families and trained practitioners for over 40 years, are now working with practitioners who recognize birth psychology as a prerequisite for working with families.  And families are discovering an alternative approach to cultivating wellness and connection that includes a foundational blueprint in bliss and field-tested principles and tools for creating and maintaining a “harmonic resonance” in their relationships with one another.

In the interview and edited transcript below, Castellino, an internationally renown “baby whisperer” and co-founder of the family healing center, BEBA, Building and Enhancing Bonding and Attachment, shares his personal journey into a yet emerging field of psychology which began with the birth of his son in 1969.  His integrative approach to investigating and creating a body of work around birth/somatic psychology has illuminated a path for parents who want to move into a deep relationship with their child in the context of the family as a whole, living and connected entity.  This holistic view allows Castellino to listen to all family member’s stories of birth, especially traumatic birth, for healing.  



Creating “Harmonic Family Resonance” With Birth Psychology:

An Interview With Baby Whisperer, Ray Castellino, DC

An Edited Transcript of the Audio Interview Above

LISA REAGAN: Welcome to Kindred’s Fireside Chats. This is Lisa Reagan and today I am so very excited to be here with Dr. Ray Castellino. He is an original birth psychology pioneer, a well known baby whisperer, the director of Castellino Prenatal and Birth Training and cofounder and clinical director of Building and Enhancing Bonding and Attachment, which is a non-profit research clinic for babies, children, and families. Welcome, Ray.

RAY CASTELLINO:  Thank you, Lisa. I’m glad to be here.

LISA REAGAN: You’ve been exploring and expanding the work of applied birth psychology for over 40 years. I’d like to know, how does one gravitate towards and explore a field of science that was just beginning to emerge? What called you to it?

Ray Castellino, DC
Ray Castellino, DC

RAY CASTELLINO: In 1969, my son was born and in that period of time, I started studying energetic body work, polarity therapy and studying with Dr. Randolph Stone, and in that work there are a lot of pre and perinatal references. And when I approached my own work, early imprinted material would show up.

Everything in the universe is expanding and contracting. Forgive me if I’m getting a little bit cosmic here, but there are basic rhythms that are going on all of the time throughout creation and every human being has these basic rhythms and so what we learn to do is to settle into and be in the rhythm of that foundation movement: expansion, contraction, you know, fire expanding, water contracting, and so on and so forth in that kind of language. So while I was doing that work and learning that work, early imprint memories would come up and ancestral memories. There was a group of us that kind of came up together and that’s where it started.

I didn’t know about APPPAH, and that there was a whole network of people doing pre and perinatal psychology, until 1987. A good friend of mine, Cindy Rawlinson, heard a talk that William Emerson gave in Petaluma, CA, and I had been talking with her about some of the work that I was doing and at that time in my chiropractic practice with families. I was discovering if I got quiet with babies, and basically out of the way, and came into connection with them – moving with them or having my internal rhythm be at the same rhythm that the baby was going and I mirrored that – the babies just showed up and they started putting themselves in positions and moving themselves in ways that looked like they were going through the birth canal – and sounded that way as well. And the babies’ moms would say, “0h my gosh, that sounded just like the labor sounds that I was making!”

I saw this happen over and over with my own kids and later in my chiropractic practice. So I called William Emerson up right away and two days later the 1987 APPPAH Congress in San Francisco was happening and William said, “You know I’m going to be there and you can come and meet me.” And I closed my practice down and I rearranged my schedule and I drove to San Francisco almost the next day and got to meet Graham Farrant, William Emerson and David Chamberlain and several of the other birth psychology pioneers there. I have been connected with APPPAH since then.

LISA REAGAN: Help me to provide the context for the listener which is, right now in 2015, mainstream media is regularly reporting on new studies and insights into birth psychology (see The Conscious Baby here for headlines). For example, Gabor Mate, MD, is quoted in a new documentary IN UTERO, “Human beings are affected by their environment as soon as they have an environment, and that means as soon as they are implanted in the womb… People are conceiving, carrying and birthing children under increasingly stressful conditions.  Stress that affected one generation will be played out in the next generation.  When we see dysfunction in people, we’re actually seeing the imprint.”

APPPAH co-founder, Thomas Verny, MD, is also featured in this new documentary.

While birth psychology is taking off, most public perception and policy exist in this old paradigm of broken disconnection as executed by allopathic medicine’s view that babies are unconscious and birth is a medical emergency.  This means most of us – enculturated in these Old Story beliefs – will need to stretch to grasp this New Story, grounded in connection and consciousness, and views the baby and family as a dynamic, conscious unit. Listening to your presentations over the years, this gap, or shift from Old Story to New Story, is one that cannot be intellectualized, which means, we are going to be taking the listener into a worldview that requires this integrated, full-body awareness to really experience this New Story. Is that about right?

RAY CASTELLINO: (Laughter). Yeah. You know, if you look at implicit somatic memory and if you look at the development of neuropsychobiology and all of that – thank you Allan Schore and Dan Siegel and several others that have done with that realm, of those contributions – it actually opens up the whole field because in development, we are actively somatic and somatic being soma, meaning body. We are actively engaged in body before we are engaged in thought, you know, and thought may have something to do with how we think, the way we think, and what thoughts are. We’re speaking language right now. Thank you David Chamberlain, author of Windows to the Womb, for the research he did to show us that our language centers are online during gestation.

So by the fifth month, our prenate is beginning to develop listening vocabulary. But by and large, the way a baby expresses themselves is through movement, expression, body position, emotion, feelings. They’re not going to say, “I’m feeling sad,” but they’ll make a sound and move their body in a way that shows sadness. They won’t say, “I feel joy,” but they’ll move their body and express themselves and have expressions that show joy. You know, as we were saying earlier, I am a real strong advocate for the home birth movement and I have been to a number of home births with Mary Jackson and with some other midwives. My own daughter was born at home and I had the privilege of catching her. I noticed with my daughter, she showed expressions of joy, smiling, and bliss, before she got a whole lot of external mirroring from her mother and me. We would see it when she would go to sleep, her eyes would roll back and she would just radiate bliss.

LISA REAGAN: Oh, wonderful.

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RAY CASTELLINO: And you look into the eyes of a newborn and you know, you can’t help by being touched and there is something that says, “Whoa! There is something awake there that if I paid more attention to it in myself that will open my consciousness to realms of understanding that I won’t get if I stay in all of the words and if I stay left brained.”

You know, the baby primarily is right brained. The new baby is primarily undifferentiated and undifferentiated means that they are not just in of themselves, but they are just a being in the environment they are in and they are taking in the whole environment in a way as if it is themselves. So a baby in mom’s womb, I like the way the noted embryologist speaks about this. He said, “The mother’s body is the outer body, the prenate. That means that prenates outer body is his or her mother. That prenate is having experiences of themselves plus their mother.”

Now, to even say self there, he’s got some trouble with it. So to go into this realm of pre and perinatal somatic psychology is a stretch, because you know, you can read about it in books and have “Aha’s!”, but until we drop into our body and drop into our energetic sense and we have that self sense of it, for me, it does not make sense. When I do drop into my body, it is just like right now. I just like sit and feel my body touching the surfaces that I am sitting on. My back against the chair, my butt against the seat, my feet on the floor. Oh, a breath comes. I can feel myself settle and there are some words rolling off of my tongue and I am speaking, but that sense inside my body is necessary to really come into some understanding about the pre and perinatal realm. So yes, I agree with you.

On Being A “Baby Whisperer”

LISA REAGAN: So tell me, I want to move into what you have witnessed. Some of the stories I have heard about you being this internationally famous baby whisperer. You were telling me earlier it is kind of true and kind of not true. There is a little truth to it, but if you don’t have a chance to explain, you know, what is really going on, as you said, that you don’t want the baby to become this identified patient.

RAY CASTELLINO: The first thing that I want to say is that I have never worked with a baby by themselves. Babies always come with a parent, as a practitioner. Certainly I’ve held my own children by myself and I have been in a relationship that way. That is a diagonal relationship, but if anybody is going to be a pre and perinatal practitioner, that will necessitate to be in relationship with more than one person, if they’re working with human families, which is very different than being a solo practitioner and working with one adult. That is a diagonal relationship.

But babies never come by themselves; they always come with somebody else, usually a mother, sometimes dad, sometimes mom and dad. So that means that as a practitioner, if I just relate to the baby, I’ve got a problem, because the parents that are making the choice about what they’re doing with that baby. So from my perspective, I am interested in training people to be with small groups, families, and small groups of adults, and I am interested in working with the baby in relationship to their parents and we’re interested in strengthening the quality of connections that happen in the family so that babies could strengthen their attachment with their parents. The parents get to strengthen their bonding with their babies and children.

So we have to pay attention to the quality of energy that is going on in the relationships. So that is one thing. That’s really an important consideration. Baby’s language, when you’re looking at the baby whisperer idea, what I’m interested in doing is being with that baby in a way that supports them to connect with their folks and if I do anything that’s useful for that baby and for that baby’s parents, I want the parents to be able to go home and do the same thing. So that’s a huge consideration and most of what we do, the work I do with Mary Jackson and the work called Birth Connections or the work with do in BEBA, Building and Enhancing Bonding and Attachment, is to work to support the family to come into a resonant state. To come into a rhythmic, resonant state.

Moving A Family Toward Resonate Harmony

I have a background in music. I used to be a Junior High School music teacher, a choral teacher. And singing, you know, you have a group of people singing together at the same time and singing the same rhythm’s at the same time and it naturally creates a bond. It just so happens that all of us, whether we’re babies or adults, have rhythms in common. If you like sports, for example, there is the notion of coming into the zone. You know, when a team is in the zone, they are performing at a high level. I like to watch basketball. You see where the team starts coming, when they get into the zone, they have practiced so much that their autonomic responses are just in rhythm and not only are they in rhythm in the very fast pace of moving the ball up and down the court and getting it through the hoop and passing it back and forth between each other and all of that. Not only are they in rhythm together at that high tempo, but the whole team is in rhythm with the slow tempos at the same time.

So it’s just like an over toned series of rhythms. And so in our work, when we sit with a family, we will sit there and be with that family and it usually takes 15-20 minutes, 30-40 minutes depending on how challenged the family is, for the family to actually slow down and connect in the rhythms that they have in common. The parents get out of their thinking enough so that they’re not trying to direct their children to look a particular way and they start actually being in connection with each other and in connection with their children and in a responsive way with their children. When that happens, the children start getting reflection of these slow rhythms in themselves.

Now, you know, our whole culture – and this is where the paradigm shift is – our whole culture is tapped into high speed and fast moving changes. In our medical world, the way babies are born and transferred into a nursery and then to mom, when the research shows that babies need to be skin-to-skin right after birth. When there is no medical challenge going on, babies go skin-to-skin and you get quiet and you let the mom and baby discover each other. That is what I just so love about Mary Jackson’s practice. That is how she does it. She does her practice with birth and preparation with birth in those slow rhythms so that by the time the family gets to birth, they are in tune with those slow rhythms with themselves and then if you go there, a mom’s body and a baby’s body know exactly how to birth. You don’t have to tell them how to do that, but you’re in support and reflection to them and interventions become less and less and less and less.

So when we sit with families, the families come in with intentions. Mom and dad have concerns. Maybe baby is not sleeping. So the baby has got the problem with sleeping. Then we sit down with the family and we hear the mom and dad’s version about what’s going on with the sleeping and then we start asking mom and dad questions about their own sleeping challenges and it turns out that it is not just the baby that has the sleeping issue, but the mom and dad have a sleeping issue. In fact, if a baby is not sleeping, the whole family has got an issue, got a sleeping problem. So we don’t look at it like, oh we’ve got to get the baby to sleep. We look at it from the point of view of what does this family need so that they can come into a resonate field? So each one of them can settle into rest and sleep. It’s a whole different way of looking at it. I mean, that’s just one example.

Mindfulness, Presence And Seven Principles

LISA REAGAN: So I’m seeing, not to oversimplify, I am seeing the difference between this modern parenting version of controlling, what’s wrong with the baby, let’s focus on training the baby and disconnecting the parents, creating a separation that sets us up for misery. Here is this older model. It also seems to have a foundation in an expectation of pathology because it’s based in disconnection. And then we move into the somatic awareness and the body rhythm awareness and right away, just listening to you speak, what I feel is just this ramping down into a blissful state that feels natural and not forced. Instead of a family basing their relationships on exterior demands and expectations, you have a family that is able to come into this somatic awareness and harmonic resonance with each other, so that perhaps before we get to the state of babies screaming and adults breaking down and falling apart because the stress load is too much, there is, through your applied birth psychology training, an awareness and there are practical tools for awarenesst to help us stay in this resonant, even blissful place. What would you call this place?

RAY CASTELLINO: Well, you know, it’s interesting that in our psychological culture right now, the buzz word is mindfulness and so what I would call it is just coming into a state of mindful awareness and presence. It is really a state of presence.

LISA REAGAN: Presence.

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RAY CASTELLINO: Presence. And in this state of presence, if we do that, just like right now, you know, so I’m talking and you’re talking and we’re making this recording and somebody will listen, but in the state of presence, we are aware of much more than that. It is actually more simple. And it’s not just the basis of what our senses are seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling, all of that, but there’s an awareness that connects us into something that is bigger than any one of us individually.

So there’s an inner connection that gives us that and then when we go into relationship with others in a state of an intention for mutual support and cooperation, if we’re in a state of intention for supporting choice from the inside out so that each person, including the baby, have opportunities to be with themselves and find where they’re going from the inside out, and the choices that are coming from that. Whether you could do that and play, we do that in bed or we do that in play, or we sit with each other. There are basic principles that emerge.

Let me give you those 7 principals:

  • 1. Mutual support and cooperation
  • 2. Choice
  • 3. Principle of the pause 4. Principles of self regulation
  • 4. Principles for how to come into touch
  • 5. Contact and touch and attention
  • 6. Brief frequent eye contact
  • 7. Confidentiality

If I see a family, if I work with a family that is healthy, they’re going to be manifesting already in their behavior mutual support and cooperation. When there is a breakdown in the health of the family, there is going to be a breakdown of mutual support and cooperation. When there is a breakdown in the health of the family, somebody in that family is trying to get somebody else to do something that in their nature they don’t want to do, so there are power struggles. This is the old paradigm that there is an assumption that our babies, for example, don’t want to have their diapers changed. Or there’s an assumption that we have to do something to do the baby or do something with the baby to get them to sleep because we think it’s our job to get a baby to sleep. But the point of view that we’re coming from is one that says the expression that a baby makes, that a child makes, has purpose. And by the way, that statement is right in keeping with Alfred Adler’s primary principal for his approach to psychology. So we’re taking that notion.

Everything a baby does. Every expression a baby makes has purpose. If I actually sit with that and actually get quiet and mindful and still enough, I will come into resonance with that baby in a way where that baby communicates to me what I need to know from them. Every parent that does that will be able to reflect the truth of that baby to themselves. Now a child that grows up that way, and we’ve got many children that have grown up in the BEBA system now and kids that we have worked with and followed over the years, when we see them, when we see these kids, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 years old, we see kids that are extraordinarily well coordinated in body, emotions, mind, and have some sense of spirit. They are cooperative human beings. They show leadership qualities. They move in extraordinarily integrative ways. They take on tasks in a way where it looks easy and then they very gradually increase the level of challenge to them. So it’s just quite amazing to watch these kids and how they are in their late teens and early adulthood. And on the qualities of empathy that they have and compassion and capacity for connection.

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LISA REAGAN: Joseph Chilton Pearce’s work is all this. This if we’re allowed to have this foundation that allows for the unfolding of our abilities and capacities, then they unfold. Instead of enculturated obstructions and distractions from this natural unfolding. So I am really happy you brought that up. That is wonderful. The whole point of Joe’s work is to talk about how we can set ourselves up for this unfolding of unlimited capacity, human capacity. All kinds of, of course, Joe has all kinds of awesome experiences. You started off talking about taking a thread into the cosmic realm and Joe certainly goes there. But I don’t think that’s farfetched now.  (Visit the new Joseph Chilton Pearce Library at Touch the Future’s Academy here.)

RAY CASTELLINO: No, not at all. I mean, I was reading Joe when my children were being born, and they’re 43. I was reading Joe’s work in the 1970s. I have had the opportunity to spend a little bit of time with him, and no question of the quality of inspiration that he brings and the most fundamental part of just actually being able to be with ourselves and our children and each other in a connected way, which is different than getting off of control and getting into discovery.

If I’m in discovery with a child and there is some task to do, we will discover how to do it together and everything from diaper changing, to nursing, to any kind of challenge that we’ve got, leaving the house and going to the car.  Because of the amount of  technology and interference that is involved in birth in the populations we work with, we see a tremendous amount of transition issues with kids. The faster a baby is birthed and taken out of the context of their family and out of their mother’s arms, the more transition issues there are from this imprint.

Addressing And Healing Birth Trauma

LISA REAGAN: You do have these seven tools or principles that make a practical path for working with families or practitioners learning to work with families to set up for the positive experience.  But what you’re leading us into right now is the reality that most of us didn’t have ideal births.  Birth is still treated for the most part as a medical emergency, even though there is a tremendous movement now to change this and it is wonderful to see how much is happening in the last couple of years. But this brings in the reality of parents who have come out of “normal” birth situations themselves.  How does this play out in what you witness in your own practice?

RAY CASTELLINO: Oh sure. Well, it certainly gives us a lot of work to do. I mean, everybody needs the work we do. Everybody needs it. But the first thing I want to say is about the hospital: if a baby needs medical attention to get born or a mother needs medical attention to birth, I want to be in a hospital, so I totally support that. But if you look at birth from our perspective, birth is not a disease. Birth is a natural process. It does not need a pathological setting most of the time. Most of the time life is just where it is and babies can get born and if the mother has the right kind of support and right quality of support and babies have that right quality of support and dads and partners are supported in the way that we are speaking, babies get born. They will get born and they will get born in a natural way.

Now, if there is a medical reason for intervention, I am the first person there to support that, but most of the time, that is not necessary. So how does it play out in the work we do? Well, parents often go into birth with some sense of how they want it to happen something comes down where it does not happen that way. That’s a rather challenging, tragic circumstance. So what we get to do with the families after that is work with them so that those stories become coherent in their narrative.

I’m using words right out of the attachment world in with Mary Ainsworth’s work with adult attachment where they found that if the parents have a coherent, felt sense of open possibility in the way they tell their own stories, no matter how tragic they are, if that felt sense of open possibility is there, their children have an 84-85% chance of forming secure attachments with their parents. That’s really astounding.

What we do in our work when things come down where there is tragedy. There is death. There is need for surgery. There is NICU experience. They went to the hospital and something happened that wasn’t in the parent’s birth plan. We sit with them around that so that they can make sense of it in a way where the energy of that history loses it constriction and changes into the energy of open possibility. So the difference is huge.

In our context, when a baby is born, everybody has a story. Mom has a story about how it was for her. Dad, her partner, has a story about how it was for him or her. Baby has their story about how it was. Siblings have their stories about how it was. Aunts and uncles, grandparents, everybody has got essentially their own story and what we do is we make space for each of them, including the baby’s and the children, to be able to show and tell their own story about what happened.

Babies do it through movement and expression, as I was saying before, and as they get older, they will get more symbolic with it. They will do it in symbolic play or with toys or they’ll show the imprints of their story. So we make space for baby, for child, for mom, for dad, especially that grouping. For each one of them to be able to tell their story in a way where it is slow enough or it is fast enough – if you’re playing with a child where the primary quality of it is it starts to integrate the energy of what happened.

So when trauma happens, it’s our job as practitioners to actually sow in to the energy underneath and that was before the traumatic event. Then what we do is we tap into that primal resource energy and the rhythms feel really good. Then we work with the family so that they can connect with each other around their individual stories and everybody gets included.

You know, babies and children have a need to belong. All of us have a need to belong. When challenges happen and trauma happens, usually those traumas will in some way serve to separate us. Especially if the medical intervention separates us – baby is born and within a few minutes, somebody is scrubbing him or even sooner than that, cord is cut, and there is a whole series of events from cleaning, washing, doing heel sticks, and doing things that are basically uncomfortable and often painful to the baby.  If we actually do birth in a way where the baby is connected, they are skin-to-skin and they get to share in the awe and feel the awe of what they did in the birth, the reference that they’re coming from goes way way deeper than just the fact that they birthed. It could pass into the very primal core energy of the basic rhythm of life itself.

LISA REAGAN: I just want to mention that one of the upsides of the birth movement is the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative that is trying to change birth culture in hospitals to be aware of exactly what you’re talking about, limiting interventions and supporting skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding and the attachment science right away. So I know where I am in Virginia, 2 out of 90 hospitals have adopted this, so we have a ways to go. I think you were saying earlier that Europe seems to be more on top of this than the United States.

RAY CASTELLINO: Oh, way more on it.

LISA REAGAN: Curious, because a lot of the attachment sciences come out of the US, but does not seem to land here in a public policy way.

RAY CASTELLINO: In England, the most ideal person to do most births are midwives. That’s an interesting statement and that’s a national policy for England. Then you look at the Scandinavian countries and Germany and Switzerland and there are strong home birth movements there and when I go there and when colleagues go there, in Spain, England, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, the people are really interested. The field is wide open. The range of people that are interested is very wide from medical practitioners, nurses, physicians, midwives, to the body work world, cranio-sacral therapy. There is a huge movement.

There is also a huge movement in this country, energetic body work disciplines, where the people are taking a much broader view to help then the allopathic notion. You know, within allopathy, you’re looking at the principal of opposites. In homeopathy, you’re looking at the principle of similars. It’s interesting what a baby and a mom have to do right in the beginning is they have to be able to perceive their similarity of what they have in common. If a mother can perceive herself and her baby, she is going to bond with that baby much more thoroughly. The baby is able to perceive accurate reflection from experience of that reflection from his or her mother. That baby will securely attach, but if there is tension in that field and the adult world is bringing tension in it and it is not going the rhythm of the baby, the baby is going to have a hard time feeling the similarity. So the sense of similarity actually at first really comes out of the rhythm and the medical world really does not know how to slow down and needs to.

Moving From “Outside In” To “Inside Out”

LISA REAGAN: As with your work, there are training programs now for parents and professionals, anyone who works with families, to be trained in birth psychology.  Can you tell us in a practical way how birth psychology training as a family wellness professional could be really helpful?

RAY CASTELLINO: You know, I laugh at that question because for me, it’s such a basic knowing and understanding. Our culture and our inquiry and science is like, “What is the origin of things? What is the reason? What caused that?” We have these pre-constructed concepts of origin through biochemistry and so when we look at biochemistry, then we look at drugs and we look at anesthetics and we look at surgery and that range for healing is not very broad. But if you get interested in the origin of what is the cause of something and you keep tracing back and back and back, sooner or later, you get to look at prenatal dynamics, preconception dynamics, you see ancestral dynamics.

The new paradigm question becomes, “What is going on in that family’s system and the ancestors before hand? What happens in how babies are conceived? What happens during gestation? What happens during birth? What happens after that? What kind of a reflection and support do we have so that we’re actually discovering from the inside out how to be with our babies and our children?”

That opens up the field and a lot of times, it opens up the practitioner.  For a personal example, I was doing a whole lot of psychological work called Gestalt therapy. I was trying primal work and so on, but when I got to energetic body work, the people that were doing it, were quiet enough and still enough so that I could actually feel from the inside, not just the trauma that was going on in me and the memory of the trauma that was going on in me. I could feel the basic rhythm of life itself that preceded my conception.

Now if I get that and I can move from that point and I get that reflected, it opens in the therapeutic context of work to discover from the inside out and empower from the “inside out” rather than impose from the “outside in.” So then the “outside in” part becomes more of a reflective field rather than an intervention field. The “inside out” becomes more of a discovery of, “What’s the impulse that’s coming from me? What needs to be expressed and done in a way that we can sit with the self sense of awe and being and discovery..and yes, oh yes, when I was born, I was immediately separated from my mother and my mother hemorrhaged and I was wrapped and put in a container and my era, it was a glass container, and left by myself. The staff was young. This is stuff I put together around my own birth:

The staff was seasoned, but there were very few because it was during the war, so they were understaffed and they had to give my mother attention and they did and they saved her life. That was wonderful. Then they went into a situation where they brought me to her at four hour intervals.

Now, what does that do to a baby and the mother’s rhythm? So the pre and perinatal knowledge of that helps me understand how I’m organized and how I will speed up in specific areas of my own sequencing and as a practitioner, the work that I am fortunate to be able to do and my own history actually helps me as a practitioner, as a facilitator, whether it is with small groups or individually, because if something shows up in me, my own counter transference, there are ways of working with that if I have some sense of my own history, where my own counter transference does not have to get in the way of supporting whomever I am working with and the work can actually aid me in it.

LISA REAGAN: It feels like eventually birth psychology is going to be recognized as a prerequisite for a professional working with families to have some knowledge and awareness of their own birth. To have this awareness and a body of tools to work with will allow a practitioner to differentiate between “their” stuff and their client’s “stuff” – to be technical, ha.

RAY CASTELLINO: That’s the issue that a baby has. The baby is not differentiated and the parents raising kids, most parents really don’t have a clue about their own differentiation process, a lot of them don’t, so the parents get with their baby and they start doing things because you know, they read books and they have some intuition and they’re following that. But most parents are parenting from the “outside in” and we want to support parents to work from the “inside out.” My parents raised me by reading Dr. Spock and that was bad advice. And we know that if we really support a mom and a baby to discover their way into connection and nursing and that happens from preconception onward, that family team is going to be way more securely bonded and attached than if they did it otherwise. So the implications of the pre and perinatal view is huge.

LISA REAGAN: It is huge.

RAY CASTELLINO: First as a practitioner, it really takes looking at our own histories and for my clinic this is a 2.5 year training, and in Spain it is four years.  This training is about learning how to be with families and with small groups of people, but a huge part of that is to give the practitioners the opportunity to become acquainted with their own histories in a deepening and resourcing way. So that’s one part of it. And the other part of it is when we’re sitting with people and that person does a lot of work and basically the underlying symptom is still there, whether it is a medical symptom or psychological symptom or a relational symptom, implicit somatic memory, explicit memory, right/left brain. All of that, you sit with the person and you sit with their pre and perinatal history, which we in our practice opens up the field to a level of understanding that can allow for the discovery of what we actually need to do to change on the inside and change the perception of our quality of life.

Most people’s intentions when they come to the groups that I do and the folks that I train, there is just something about their quality of life that they want to change or they want to change how they form relationships because they are used to making a whole series of decisions about how they choose people to be with or don’t choose people to be with but they end up with. And you know, how we make choices today in our present age is so influenced by the early time. And it’s not until after, it’s not until we’re 18 months or three years old or after we learn how to talk that it starts from the beginning preconception onward.

Addressing The Cultural Trap Of Birth Psychology As Pro-Life or Pro-Choice

LISA REAGAN: So I have one last question for you and I saved the tough one for last. But as this field of birth psychology, somatic psychology comes out, and you know, the top level chatter on the internet is that babies are conscious and I’ve seen the initial knee jerk responses, sometimes, are, “You people are pro life and this is your double secret mission here.” And I was wondering if you could just respond to that? How does a pioneer of birth psychology and of somatic psychology respond to that charge? Because they’re saying birth psychology is anti-choice and anti-abortion and it didn’t occur to me until that charge started flying around out there.

RAY CASTELLINO: Yeah. Well, first of all, just to say you’re pro-life or you’re against life, or to make any kind of statement like that, or you’re pro-abortion, those statements are politicized. The whole abortion question, we’re dealing with questions of life and death here and when you take questions like that and you politicize them and then you have people for and you have people against, what that does is that takes us totally out of the realm of mutual support and cooperation and totally out of the realm of choice.

In a very profound way, when we sit with anybody and we really sit with them with the intention of supporting them from the inside out, every mother needs to make choices about conception and pregnancy. Now, it’s a huge thing. It’s a huge responsibility and dads need to make choices about that too. And you know, no matter what we do, people are going to continue having sex, and people are going to have sex when they’re not prepared for pregnancy and pregnancy will happen. What I like to do is just really get out of the whole politicizing of that question and just sit with what does a mother need to have in contact within herself so that she can make a choice based on her circumstances, based on her inner knowing?

One of the 7 principles is the principle of choice. As soon as you start messing with that, you put it in the realm of ideology rather than in the realm of human need and compassion and so, my daughter is 35 years old and I used to think about this, if any child of mine came home and they were pregnant, I would want to do everything I could do to support them to make the right choice for them. Not the right choice for me or how it’s going to look or whatever, in that sense. This worldview changes the notion of what pro-life is. I have sat with women making the choice to have an abortion and I cannot counter that. I have sat with women who have thought they needed to have an abortion and what they discovered is that they just did not have the support they needed to be the mother they wanted to be and that’s a whole other question.

So, to politicize it, when you get into the realm of how much money is allocated to this and that and ideology, it dehumanizes people and it dehumanizes babies. It does not matter what side it comes from. You have people sitting and fighting with each other. I actually want to just step out of that question and just let’s look at what the human need is, and let’s get to that basic level of life and death and where people are within themselves from the inside out.

LISA REAGAN: Well, I appreciate you taking that question on, Ray, because I feel a real need to have a way to answer it when it comes up. For people who are interested in exploring birth psychology or becoming a practitioner of birth psychology, it is almost a cultural trap that is laid down and you don’t want to side step it, but the answer is not in the paradigm that the question is constructed.

RAY CASTELLINO: That’s right.

LISA REAGAN: So to help the person to translate to a place of understanding, there is no answer to this question that is just a cultural trap. Let’s sit and talk with each other and see if we can go through this process and perhaps then, as you say, the shift from the inside out and the awareness from inside out, instead of an ideal coming through dominance and control outside in, that awareness could somehow be cultivated.

RAY CASTELLINO: Yeah.

LISA REAGAN: I appreciate you taking that on.

RAY CASTELLINO: Well, thanks for asking the question.

LISA REAGAN: What else would you like for our listeners to know before we wrap our spectacular call?

RAY CASTELLINO: Well, thank you for listening if you’re listening to this, I really appreciate your presence. Lisa, thank you for doing this interview with me. I appreciate getting to know you better and it is great to know that there is another person out there that is part of this movement that is in and around APPPAH, the Association for Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and Health. I certainly support folks to go to their conferences and broaden their perspective and if folks are listening to this and they are part of the APPPAH training program that is awesome. I would like you guys to know that I have training for professionals. I have a website, castellinotraining.com. I have a video that has been out about a year now called Two Layers of Support. It is 88 minutes and you can get that online and download it.

Featured Photo Shutterstock/Tania Kolinko

Excerpt from Two Layers Of Support, by Ray Castellino, DC

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The Original Sin Of Babies https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/11/the-original-sin-of-babies/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/11/the-original-sin-of-babies/#respond Mon, 23 Nov 2020 00:38:53 +0000 https://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=27155 Three reasons adults are tough-minded with babies  A worried and frightened grandmother emailed me to ask for advice regarding her 13-month-old granddaughter. The child was very anxious and fearful and had been so for months. She would not let the grandmother put her down, hanging on tightly, even to play with toys, scared she would […]]]>

Three reasons adults are tough-minded with babies 

A worried and frightened grandmother emailed me to ask for advice regarding her 13-month-old granddaughter. The child was very anxious and fearful and had been so for months. She would not let the grandmother put her down, hanging on tightly, even to play with toys, scared she would be left alone.  The grandmother discovered that the girl’s mother had been putting her to bed in a dark room, closing the door and leaving her alone for the night. The mother says she is “teaching her independence.”  Along with the myth of “spoiling babies,” this is a common rationale parents are given for unkind treatment of babies.

Such treatment is imposed trauma for a baby (who, remember, is like a fetus till 18 months of age; Trevathan, 2011). Cry-it-out (to extinction) sleep training a baby does not teach independence but its opposite, as the example illustrates. A baby that finally stops crying has gone into a parasympathetic self-preservation mode, not “self-soothing” (Henry & Wang, 1998). Instead deep anxiety is being planted in the preverbal mind.

As I’ve pointed out in prior posts (see list below), babies must learn all sorts of things after birth and can only do so in a healthy manner with the constant help of caregivers. For example, 24/7 physical presence and soothing care are critical to help baby learn to breathe outside the womb, to suckle—the first source of self-confidence which grows cranial nerves and skull bones, to properly grow the vagus nerve (which enervates all major body systems). These are some of the critical aspects of the first few weeks. They are followed by months of learning the beginnings of social and emotional intelligences that come from experiences with caregivers of intersubjectivity—the coordinated sharing of emotions and other signals in a communicative musicality (Malloch & Trevarthen, 2009), the vitality contours that are foundational for language learning and a satisfactory social life (Stern, 1999).

A second reason for harsh parenting was provided by psychoanalyst and author, Alice Miller (1983/1990; website ). She contended that those adults who were humiliated themselves in childhood (and never healed) would be insensitive to children’s needs for love and tenderness, and would follow rationales given for being harsh (see below for links to posts describing her arguments).

But I think that parents who are not tender with their babies are guided by something else. They have learned to ‘harden their hearts’ for the ‘good of the baby’ because they have learned that the baby is full of original sin.

The USA has a history of religious convictions rooted in St. Augustine’s notion of original sin. Listen to what the famous preacher, Jonathan Edwards, wrote:

 “As innocent as children seem to be to us, yet if they are out of Christ, they are not so in God’s sight, but are young vipers, and are infinitely more hateful than vipers, and are in a most miserable condition, as well as grown persons; and they are naturally very senseless and stupid, being ‘born as the wild ass’s colt’ [Job 11.12], and need much to awaken them.” (Edwards, 1844, Vol. 3, p. 394)

Robin Lane Fox (2015) gives some elucidation of the origins of original sin in his biography of Augustine. He reviews Augustine’s point of view:

“Despite the care and love extended to it, a baby resorts to tears and jealousy. It kicks against its elders and superiors even when they know that its demands are not in its best interest. This behavior is proof indeed that no baby is ever free of sin. Augustine has observed it in others and can assumes it of himself thanks to words of scripture. As the psalmist said, ‘I was conceived in iniquity, and in sins my mother nourished me in the womb’ (Ps. 51.1). In the Book of Job he had read: ‘None is pure of sin before you, not even an infant of one day upon the earth’ (Job 14.4-5). Augustine is enabled to understand his infant self by understanding scripture about that forgotten phase of life. (p. 36)

Augustine compares baby behavior—crying for needed breast milk—with the possibility of the same behavior in an adult and condemns it as reprehensible in a baby because it would be so in an adult.

Cribsheet Book Review

This reminds me of psychologist John Watson’s (1928) advice to parents to treat babies like undergraduates (i.e., don’t give them too much attention) so they get used to it early and would not be so annoying to him when they became his students. What a mix up of levels and misunderstanding of child development both men displayed. Their uneducated, mindless rationalizations have motivated many a parent to be harsh with their babies, seeding psychological and physical pathology (Karr-Morse & Wiley, 2012).

Augustine also wrote: “A baby’s limbs are feeble as it kicks and strikes out, but its mind is sinful” (Fox, 2015, p. 37)

What is disturbing is that the biographer, Fox, editorializes right after this statement, agreeing with Augustine’s belief that babies minds are sinful. Fox writes: “Few parents in the front line nowadays would disagree” (Fox, 2015, p. 37).

With more expertise about these matters, I can editorialize and say that such uninformed parental beliefs are what lead to the perception of baby unruly “sinfulness” to begin with, rather than the other way around. Ironically, once you start to mistreat a baby, they do become “unruly” (dysregulated). Corporal punishment such as spanking has equal negative effects on child outcomes (Gershoff & Grogan-Kaylor, 2016).

Why do adults harden their hearts against babies?

  • Misinformation about baby needs and development
  • Their own experience of being mistreated
  • They get ideas about sinful, unruly babies from religious authority figures.

The ‘original sin’ of babies, for which they are harshly treated, is to be needy. In a country known to expect toughness over tenderness, the expectation gets transferred to babies too (Suttie, 1943).

RELATED POSTS

REFERENCES 

Edwards, J. (1844). Works of President Edwards, in four volumes. New York: Leavitt, Trow & Co. 

Fox, R.L. (2015). Augustine: Conversions to confessions. New York: Basic Books.

Gershoff, E. T., & Grogan-Kaylor, A. (2016). Spanking and child outcomes: Old controversies and new meta-analyses. Journal of Family Psychology, 30(4), 453.

Henry, J.P., & Wang, S. (1998). Effects of early stress on adult affiliative behavior, Psychoneuroendocrinology, 23( 8), 863–875.

Karr-Morse, R., & Wiley, M.S. (2012). Scared sick: The role of childhood trauma in adult disease. New York: Basic Books.

Malloch, S., & Trevarthen, C. (Eds) (2009). Communicative Musicality: Exploring the Basis of Human Companionship. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Miller, A. (1983/1990). For your own good: Hidden cruelty in child-rearing and the roots of violence. New York, NY: Noonday Press.

Stern, D. N. (1999). Vitality contours: The temporal contour of feelings as a basic unit for constructing the infant’s social experience. In P. Rochat (Ed.), Early social cognition: Understanding others in the first months of life (pp. 67-90). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Suttie, I. (1935). The origins of love and hate. New York, NY: The Julian Press.

Trevathan, W.R. (2011). Human birth: An evolutionary perspective, 2nd ed.. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

Watson, J. B. (1928). Psychological care of infant and child. New York: W. W. Norton & Co.

About the 28 Days of Baby Care Campaign!

There is a lot of misinformation about babies and their needs, and parents are often encouraged to ignore baby’s signals. Bad idea. Babies are “half-baked” at birth and have much to learn with the help of physical and emotional support from caregivers. Taking care of baby’s needs is an investment that pays off with a happier, healthier child and adult. Here are 28 days of reminders about babies and their needs.

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Why We Forgot How To Feel, A Video With Gabor Maté, MD https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/11/why-we-forgot-how-to-feel-a-video-with-gabor-mate-md/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/11/why-we-forgot-how-to-feel-a-video-with-gabor-mate-md/#respond Fri, 13 Nov 2020 03:25:05 +0000 https://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=27123 There is a fundamental reason why many people have forgotten how to feel. Sustainable Human is a new Kindred partner. The film company is a 501c3 non-profit started by a husband and wife team (Chris and Dawn Agnos) whose mission is to examine the underlying stories that give rise to the environmental, social, and economic […]]]>

There is a fundamental reason why many people have forgotten how to feel.

Sustainable Human is a new Kindred partner. The film company is a 501c3 non-profit started by a husband and wife team (Chris and Dawn Agnos) whose mission is to examine the underlying stories that give rise to the environmental, social, and economic crises of our time and offer new stories that help humanity to live in harmony with each other and the biosphere.

Learn more: https://sustainablehuman.org/

Video Transcript

When a child is born, a child has two needs.

The first need is for attachment.

And attachment is contact, connection, love.

Without that, the human child does not survive.

Even an avian child doesn’t survive.

The baby bird has to have an attachment to the parents.

The parents have to be attached to the baby.

Otherwise the infant simply does not survive.

Mammalians even more so and most so the human because we are the least developed, the least mature, with the least developed brains, and the most dependent for the longest period of time of any creature.

So our attachment needs are enormous.

And they remain important through our lifetime because we have to have attachments to form societies, social groups, without which we don’t survive.

So attachment is a huge need – to be able to connect, belong,

be loved by and loved.

That’s just a basic human need.

But we have another need as well which is for authenticity.

Authenticity is the capacity to know what you feel, to be in touch with our bodies, and to be able to express who we are and manifest who we are in our activities and in our relationships.

Now why is that?

Well, think of a human being in evolutionary period who is not in touch with their body and their gut feelings.

How long do they survive out there in the wild?

So authenticity is another huge survival need.

But what happens to a child where the attachment need is not compatible with the need for authenticity?

In other words, if I am authentic, my parents will reject me.

If I feel what I feel and express what I feel and insist on my own truth, my parents can’t handle it.

And parents convey those messages unconsciously all the time.

Not because they mean to, not because they don’t love the child, but because they themselves are suppressed, or traumatized, or hurt, or stressed.

Now what does a child do with that?

Well, if I give up my attachment for the sake of authenticity,

Close my relationships upon which my life depends.

Therefore, there is no question.

What becomes suppressed is our authenticity, our emotions.

And then, we become 35, 40, and we don’t know who we are.

Somebody asks us, “what do you feel?” And you say, “I have no idea.”

And how many times have we all had the experience of having an inkling of a strong gut feeling, and ignoring it.

We ignore it and we get into trouble.

Well that tells us what happened.

What happened was that at some point we found out that it was too costly for our attachment relationships to be in touch with our gut feelings.

So, then it becomes not our first nature but our second nature to lose touch with ourselves and to suppress our gut feelings.

And then we pay the cost later on in the form of addiction, mental illness, or any range of physical illnesses.

But it all began with this tragic conflict that children should never be confronted with but are all the time between authenticity on the one hand and attachment on the other.

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The Gift Of Stories https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/11/the-gift-of-stories/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/11/the-gift-of-stories/#respond Fri, 06 Nov 2020 04:04:56 +0000 https://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=27107 “We respond to stories because they cultivate emotion and a sense of togetherness – a connection.” – Joshua VanDeBrake “Just one more story…p-l-e-a-s-e!” How many times have we heard that plea at bedtime? As tired parents we may think our children are just stalling to keep us with them longer, and while that is usually […]]]>

“We respond to stories because they cultivate emotion and a sense of togetherness – a connection.” – Joshua VanDeBrake

“Just one more story…p-l-e-a-s-e!” How many times have we heard that plea at bedtime? As tired parents we may think our children are just stalling to keep us with them longer, and while that is usually true, it is also true that children can never seem to get enough of stories. Why is it that children (and all of us) love stories so much? 

When I Googled “why do children love stories so much?” I read that “we are all biologically and neurologically wired to connect with stories,” and that the stories we relate to “increase our level of the feel-good hormone, oxytocin.” No wonder children beg us for more, more and more! What could feel better than snuggling close to the humans they love most and hearing stories that make them feel so good?

For a variety of reasons, some parents don’t enjoy reading books to their children, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still share stories with them. Sharing stories with children doesn’t have to mean reading stories from a book. Children love to hear stories about when their grownups were little. Often the stories they love best are not the ones in books, but their stories, the stories about them that only their grownups know and can tell them.

I’ve dreamed of being a “for-real” storyteller for a long time. When I learned how much children’s own stories mean to them I had even more incentive to learn how to be a good storyteller. I’ve been studying an amazingly, perfect-for-me book called, How To Tell Stories To Children and Everyone Else Too, by Silke Rose West & Joseph Darosy. I have learned that even though most of us probably don’t think of ourselves as storytellers, we definitely are. We all tell stories all day, every day. We just don’t often tell the “Once-upon-a-time” kind. Yet, with a little instruction and some encouragement we can all become that kind of storyteller as well. 

There are two very special children’s books on this topic of telling stories that I want to share with you. The first is, Just One More Story, written by Jennifer Brutschy, and fabulously illustrated by Cat Bowman Smith. It’s definitely a read-aloud-family must-have, regardless of your children’s ages. The second one is, Once Upon a Time This Morning, by Anne Rockwell, pictures by Sucie Stevenson. This book of little family stories is a perfect model of the kind of story telling I’m learning to do. Reading the short, simple stories in Rockwell’s book gave me the confidence to step up to the role of being a for-real storyteller.

Once we add the words, “Once upon a time” to begin telling the story of a young child’s adventure of finding a toad, it becomes an opportunity to create a personal story that the child will delight in hearing again and again. Unlike books, the stories we tell children are completely free and they are always available no matter where we are. If I can do this, you can too!

The season of giving is upon us and, since you’ve likely spent more than the usual amount of time with your children in recent months, you have lots of stories to tell. I found it easier to write out my stories before I tried telling them, but stories can also be told completely on the fly. As all parents know, desperation can be the mother of creativity. Writing down my stories gave me an exciting new gift-giving idea for this holiday article.

What if you looked through the million pictures on your phone and picked a few favorites to turn into short stories? Then, using a pretty journal or a photo album, you created a book for each child making a collection of their personal stories? The cost would be minimal, it would be fun to create, and it may well be the favorite gift they treasure forever.There is also a bonus for you in giving this gift. By the time you’ve read those little stories to them dozens of times, you will know them by heart, and you, too, will be a “for-real” storyteller, as well.


Learn more about the Book Fairy Pantry Project, Family Literacy, and Bonding with Babies here. Start your own, local Book Fairy Pantry Project as well!

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Mother-Infant Bonding And The Intelligence Of The Heart https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/11/mother-infant-bonding-and-the-intelligence-of-the-heart/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/11/mother-infant-bonding-and-the-intelligence-of-the-heart/#respond Fri, 06 Nov 2020 01:22:55 +0000 https://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=27098 This brief nine minute program may be the most important you, as a mother, father or caregiver, will ever see. Bonding is much more than what we ‘think.’ It is a coherent harmonic resonance of one heart to another. The nature and quality of the mother’s emotional state broadcast via her heart-energy has a profound […]]]>

This brief nine minute program may be the most important you, as a mother, father or caregiver, will ever see. Bonding is much more than what we ‘think.’ It is a coherent harmonic resonance of one heart to another. The nature and quality of the mother’s emotional state broadcast via her heart-energy has a profound influence on every stage of her unborn and newborn babies’ development, physical, emotional and intellectual.”

Joseph Chilton Pearce’s work is presented on Kindred in collaboration with Touch the Future, the home of the Joseph Chilton Pearce Library.

Physicists describe fields of energy, how they imply meaning, information and intelligence. New research suggests that the heart field determines the general environmental conditions under which the genetic system spells out its instructions for new life. This brief program redefines bonding in light of this new research.

Up to 65 percent of the cells of the heart are neurons just like those found in the brain. There is a direct unmediated neuro-connection, a direct pipeline, between the heart and the brain. The brain informs the heart of its general emotional state and the heart encourages the brain to make an intelligent response. Poets and sages have been saying this about the heart down through the ages. The emerging field of Neurocardiology and research at the Institute of HeartMath place the intelligence of the heart in the field of biology, where it belongs.

Each phase of the heartbeat creates its own part of the field affect that surrounds the body. The first is very short, close to the heart. The next radiates outward at least three feet and is very powerful. The third field extends twelve to fifteen feet from the body. It is easy to see that one person’s field will often overlap another’s. When two fields overlap they interact. This resonant field affect is present in every relationship, but is particularly important for mothers and infants. The meaning of the fields shared by mother and infant contain a great deal of critical information for both.

That heart fields interact and entrain is a precise, measurable, scientific fact. The amplitude and the Hertz value of the two heart frequencies become coherent, creating a state of harmony, wholeness and health. When the infant’s heart and the mother’s heart are entrained, their brain structures also become synchronized. We refer to this balanced state as bonding between mother and infant.

Failing the initial bond with the mother, all subsequent bonding is not only put at risk but is very difficult to bring about. Studies at Harvard show that the nature of our early bonds is reflected throughout life, both in one’s health and ability to interact socially. Allan Schore describes how the first eighteen months determine the subsequent moves of the intelligence. Why? Because the emotional experience the child is given during the first eighteen months determines the nature and quality of the neural structures that develop in that period. Emotional nurturing translates directly into the field affect, shared or not shared, with the immediate environment. During those first eighteen months that environment is mother, father, and other primary caregivers.

This video compliments and expands upon The Origins of Love & Violence, Jim Prescott’s pioneering research at NIH on early mother-infant separation, bonding and the developing brain.


Learn More About Babies and Bonding With The Evolved Nest’s 28 Day Baby Care Campaign!


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“Modern Attachment Parenting” – A New Book By Jamie Grumet https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/10/modern-attachment-parenting-a-new-book-by-jamie-grumet/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/10/modern-attachment-parenting-a-new-book-by-jamie-grumet/#respond Tue, 06 Oct 2020 17:57:09 +0000 https://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=26779 Where Were You When The TIME Cover Of A Breastfeeding Mom Broke The Internet? In 2012, an internationally-raised, second generation attachment-parented Los Angeles mom stepped onto the cover of TIME Magazine with her three-year-old son to model for the world what species typical, full-term breastfeeding looked like. While culturally normative breastfeeding has been missing from […]]]>

Where Were You When The TIME Cover Of A Breastfeeding Mom Broke The Internet?

Jamie Grumet with her sons, Aram (left) and Samuel (right).

In 2012, an internationally-raised, second generation attachment-parented Los Angeles mom stepped onto the cover of TIME Magazine with her three-year-old son to model for the world what species typical, full-term breastfeeding looked like. While culturally normative breastfeeding has been missing from America’s real life experience for generations, Jamie Grumet’s real life experience shaped her worldview and spirit to boldly advocate for the human family’s billion year-old plan for lifelong wellness: breastfeeding.

Where were you when you first heard about the TIME cover? I remember sitting in a parking lot glued to a radio show wondering if I was hearing the broadcast correctly. If this is true, I thought, and TIME Magazine featured a breastfeeding mom on its venerable cover in celebration of attachment parenting’s 20th anniversary, then I guess my work as an activist is done. I can go home and take a nap.

Not.

The worldwide fallout from the magazine cover, and purposefully antagonistic headline, “Are You Mom Enough?”, became the Cover Shot Heard ‘Round The World, (Kindred’s 2012 interview with Grumet). In the months following the shoot, Grumet and her family suffered harassment from internet trolls and paparazzi, as well as gratitude from parents and championing support from surprising places.

Today, eight years later, Grumet is a single mother of her now teenage boys and living in San Francisco. In her new book, Modern Attachment Parenting, she shares the truth of her recovery from the trauma of the TIME cover, her immeasurable compassion for parents, and a grounded, field-tested review of attachment science within the context of modern American life. The book features a foreword by Alanis Morissette and an introduction by Attachment Parenting founder, Dr. William Sears.

In our interview below, you will hear Jamie reflect on her experience and her wish for Americans to realize that, “while our village is not enough“, parents are in fact “enough.” This interview is in celebration of October’s Attachment Parent Month events. Check out Kindred’s resources for more on attachment science and support, along with our entire 15 years of materials on Kindred dedicated to restoring human connection. Support our nonprofit work here.

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An Interview With Jamie Grumet: Transcript


In This Interview:

“Yes, You’re Enough. It’s the Village that Isn’t Enough.”

Alanis Morissette: On Her Foreword To The Book

Parenting Through Judgement

An International Worldview of Attachment

Attachment Parenting An Adopted Child

Attachment Parenting As A Single Mother

Adult Attachment: No, You’re Not A “Lost Cause”#


LISA REAGAN: I am delighted to revisit with you after all of these years, and I am so very happy to be holding in my hand your new book, which is an amazing gem, Modern Attachment Parenting: The Comprehensive Guide to Raising a Secure Child. This is a wonderful, very modern take on attachment parenting. Thank you for this book. 

JAMIE GRUMET: Oh, gosh, thank you so much for the kind words. I am really, really proud of it. It was a huge labor of love and the people who were involved in helping me with it, it just was a dream come true for me, honestly.

LISA REAGAN: In this book you tell your story about the TIME Magazine cover shoot that, for those who don’t remember, in 2012, Jamie was on the cover of TIME Magazine nursing her 3-year-old and for her, this was modeling what was normal for her because she is a second generation, attachment-parented daughter. Is that right? 

JAMIE GRUMET: Yeah, yeah. I was breastfed until I was at least five, possibly six. We don’t remember because weaning just was not an issue; it just happened so gradually. But yeah, that’s what my parents did with me and I co-slept with them. I mean, it does not mean that you’re an attachment parent, but the tenants that Dr. Sears wrote eventually, they followed those just naturally. It was an instinctual thing that my mom had. They just nailed parts of development just so, so well and I really appreciate it because it helps me with my relationships to this day. 


“Yes, You’re Enough. It’s The Village That Isn’t Enough.”


LISA REAGAN: And you go into that in the book. This is a comprehensive guide to raising a secure child and it is really about these baselines for lifelong wellness, the optimal actions you can take as a parent to support biological imperatives for your child. What you address, which I think is the modern part of this book, is the truth, not just the truth about how traumatized you were by that TIME cover shoot – how you were attacked and what your family was put through – but your agony over showing up as a mother in this culture, in this instinctive evolutionary way. The compassion you have for parents is on every page of this book as you tell your story. 

JAMIE GRUMET: Thank you for saying that. Yeah, it’s interesting because it is not that I love children, it is really with the mothers, and fathers too. But I feel like especially with women. They are so trying their best and really, no one is really wanting to make a wrong move and that is where you see the anger and the judgement coming from ­­– is this place of insecurity and fear. I  focus on loving and being gentle with those new mothers, because we’re not failing, it’s that society is failing us and we just have to adapt to it while it is changing right now. 

It is an interesting time in the world because I think that there is going to be a huge culture shift. This is the time that we can really make moves to support women better because there is going to have to be a new normal anyway. People keep saying that term; it’s just kind of obnoxious, but at the same time, there are things that are just going to change permanently even after this pandemic is over, and I think one of those things is being a better community.

LISA REAGAN: Right. To that point, one of the features in The Atlantic this month, is What America Asks of Working Parents is Impossible. The article features this screaming head broken into pieces. It was an excellent image to go with that article. Wyou’re saying about trying to find some new normal is going to require us first to own that we haven’t supported families, mothers, fathers, children, and our statistics for wellness in this country bear that out. We’re at the bottom of all developed nations for family policies, according to UNICEF’s rankings.

What’s happening now with the pandemic has really brought to the surface a lot of these failures of our social safety nets and public policy to support parents. In your book, you go through this in a number of ways. I should say that on the cover of your TIME Magazine cover, was the phrase “Are You Mom Enough?” You address that in your book, and you say, “You’re enough, it’s the village that’s not enough.”

JAMIE GRUMET: Exactly. Exactly. I mean, you’re more than enough. We are social species. We cannot survive alone, our well-being goes down. Even if we have every single thing that we need to survive, we typically die earlier when we’re not in community. We have health issues that pop up, and overall mental health is extremely low, because that’s just how we have been created. That’s how we’ve evolved and we need to start embracing that rather than this idea of complete autonomy, which I think is this very misunderstood thing. 

We need to find our way, our wholeness, on our own. That is the issue too, with companies with jobs, forcing people to live lives that aren’t theirs the majority of the week and then put a little bit of space in for their family and for just them. So, then they’re not even the main character of their own story. That’s the sort of autonomy we need to feel whole all of the time, every single part of our life. It is not even that we’re overworked, it’s just the lack of ability to feel you are integrated into every part of your life every single day of the week. We are all part time parents when moms need to go to work and leave their children.  There is something about that, that has really stuck with me, just to see the guilt that gets weighed on people who are trying to just survive is so heavy and it does not need to be like that. We can be a capitalist country and we can be industrialized and all of that, but we have to start reexamining how we take care of each other and how we treat our employees. 

LISA REAGAN: Right. Well, there is an interview on Kindred with Joan Williams, who has pioneered worklife law for mothers and fathers and she says that the worker model in the United States is based on toxic masculinity values. This is why we have this culture that does not support families. Don’t even bring up your family, no you’re not going to get a sick day, paid leave, maternity care, health care, childcare. 

Twenty years ago, when parents discovered attachment parenting through Williams Sears’ books, I knew I had to make a choice of going into an office in pantyhose or taking care of my baby. I could do my job at home, but not very well, but I wanted to be with my child, especially after reading Sears and Jean Liedloff, and a lot of the books that were coming out about this neurobiological piece that you don’t get to do again with children. I wanted to create wellness, but back then parents in my circles did not understand, or talk about, the systemic nature of our Dominator Culture and what we were really up against. At Kindred, we now call this impossible choice the Bio-Cultural Conflict. We didn’t coin that term, Joseph Chilton Pearce did. But we are made to choose between biological imperatives and cultural imperatives. Cultural imperatives of paying rent and surviving. Your book, I think, softens the martyr mom expectations and says no, no, no, this is Modern Attachment Parenting. Your personal stories are fantastic, and you’re very humble in sharing them. 

JAMIE GRUMET: Yeah, and you know what, I think that the principles that Dr. Sears wrote about, I think that was kind of the foundation or the ground. People like to be told what to do, so those are extremely helpful. But I think that they have been banged into us so much that they’ve gotten kind of twisted and people think that is all attachment parenting is. I was hoping to carry AP into the modern world because attachment parenting now has become part of mainstream culture, even if it is misunderstood. This is really like, yeah, you know those things, but here is why humans did them to begin with and you don’t actually have to do them technically, you just have to understand how they work and then you can choose and adapt them to your home and to your life. It is a little bit more empowering for the parent, I think. M

LISA REAGAN: It really is. I love your section in the book on myths and misperceptions. You take these on one at a time.

JAMIE GRUMET: Right. There are a lot of things that need to be fixed and but, the exchange that we are gaining something culturally, like a car is a great example of that. We can cover a major amount of ground every single day if then, we are not just hunter-gatherers, walking and doing low impact cardio anymore. But then there is something that gets taken away too, and that is our low impact cardio and heart health. We have to adapt to something new, which is like a treadmill. Sometimes those are boring and tedious, but still worth it for, you know, modern times. I would not stop using a car just so that we would have low impact cardio again. So, there are certain things that we may give up that are part of our biology that we need and we can kind of mediate with something else and then there are some things that I think are just broken that we need to revert back to and a lot of that is parenting. 


Alanis Morissette: On Her Foreword To The Book


LISA REAGAN: One of the things that is really precious about this book is the forward by Alanis Morissette, who shares how she saw you on the cover and thought, “I need to reach out to her”. (Read the foreword here.)

JAMIE GRUMET: It was really isolating. I was really alone, but still supporting attachment parenting. The first time, I remember my ex husband was reading something and I guess Alanis Morissette said something about me. I had never met her before and he was like, “Alanis Morisette said that she agreed and said everything positive about you.” I was like, “What?”, and then she wrote an entire article for the Huffington Post and was extremely kind when she was talking about me in it.

This was before we had met. Then we happened to share the same pediatrician, so she asked for him to connect us and so he did and now she’s my best friend. She’s like family. She’s like my sister. But, again, it was her complete and full immersement and understanding as a scholar, not only as an expert in attachment parenting, but she is a true academic. She really really had put in the work to understand attachment to where she had enough empathy to think about me, too, and I think that says alot about her. 

LISA REAGAN: Can you talk a little bit about the aftermath of the TIME Magazine cover, because I know in your book, you talk about realizing you were still recovering from birth trauma and again, being raised as a second generation attachment parenting child, you’re modeling what you know, and in celebration of the 20th anniversary of attachment parenting back then, but there were some real dark times after that cover.

JAMIE GRUMET: Oh, it was awful. I think that I couldn’t eat. I got down to like 80 pounds because I was just so stressed out. It is a strange feeling of not being able to… it felt like impending doom. It was just this massive, massive amount of anxiety and it went from my post-birth trauma that wasn’t being treated, because at that point, it had been over three years. But everything got refocused into the trauma from the aftermath of the cover. Not wanting to play the victim was a really important thing for me and I did not have the understanding at that time or that age.

I look back at myself and I think of how sweet Alanis was. I didn’t want to make it look like, “How dare they”, or “Poor me”, or anything like that. I willingly knew and chose to do this, but I wasn’t expecting the aftermath. It was okay that this happens and you kind of just have to suck it up and deal with it and not say anything negative because that was your choice. Really trying to just own the fact that I did that even if I was not happy, but there was still an immense amount of trauma from a lot of other things and I needed to acknowledge it a little bit better and I needed to take care of myself more.

And that’s what we teach boys, just to suck it up and move on, you know It’s like, life isn’t fair, and it’s not. And by understanding our trauma and healing and growing, we’re not playing the victim. We are literally just acknowledging why we feel or we behave the way we do and we can use that as power to really change our entire well-being. I wish that I was around for my 26-year-old self when all of that happened, but I wasn’t. 

LISA REAGAN: You are here now for a lot of 26-year-olds with this book. You really really are. 

JAMIE GRUMET: I hope so. I know. And that’s the one thing that makes it all feel kind of like it’s worth it, even after I had HELLP syndrome. Working overseas even with women who were dying of preeclampsia and being able to provide something to the effect that, it wasn’t even that they were experiencing the same thing as me, it was just that I understood that I was surviving because of where I was living at the time and situationally, I was really lucky. Being able to help other people who have gone through similar things as me or just to help prep other people and help them be more prepared than I was, that is healing for me too. 


Parenting Through Judgement


LISA REAGAN: Well, in this section in your book on Parenting Through Judgement, you talk about how you came out the other side of the trauma by returning to your instinct, and the attachment parenting background supported you through that return to yourself. 

JAMIE GRUMET: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, it’s so funny, and I think that’s why being securely attached is also, I think, why things hurt the way they did – because you have people that are like, “I can’t believe, this is just about attention”. We are social, we need attention, but it wasn’t like I exploited attention, and that doesn’t feel good because I was attachment parented. Right?

The reasons I was not dealing with it was because I don’t have some sort of antisocial personality disorder where I could actually feed into all of that negative attention and, you know, get off on it in some way. It was the irony of that, but it also helped heal me, too. Fame is such an addictive thing, too. I see how things go wrong for people who are lay people like me who weren’t expecting it, or people who have sought fame and they’re already traumatized is probably the reason they’re seeking it. I think even Alanis said it, they just get re-traumatized by the fame. It is not a pleasant experience at all, but it is addictive, and those are all parts of insecure attachment and attachment issues in adults, which can still be healed. It’s just a lot different when you are dealing with those stages of development and you’re getting them when they’re children or in very early months of attachment, too. I goes into that in the book as well. 


An International Worldview of Attachment


“… putting a bunch of insane women together in a moms group and expecting all of them to get along, first off, or support each other, is the most insane, crazy idea that I’ve ever heard in my life. What you see in other cultures is elders, younger women, even men pop in here and there too. You see that everybody in the community is taking care of this baby and mom is the primary caregiver, but she is also allowing this child to get raised by different generations with her and she is not exhausted, like it is here. Because we are hoarding this child and then expecting to get all of our emotional support with a bunch of people who are not doing well either, frankly.”

– JAMIE GRUMET

LISA REAGAN: Right, so earlier you were talking about how your travel around the world also prepared you and not just your childhood, for having this normalized view of attachment and biological parenting. Can you speak to that for a moment? 

JAMIE GRUMET: Yeah, I was traveling with my parents since I was very, very little. I think I might have spent my second birthday in France. I have been able to have this really privileged life from the beginning, of being able to see other cultures and from all ends: from extremely wealthy, developed Western countries to very underdeveloped countries. I have been able to observe what I have witnessed in each place and that helped me solidify my views. I was already parented like that, so it didn’t seem jarring to look at, which it is normal, if you haven’t been exposed to it, but for me, it was just so normal.

When I was living in Ghana, the youngest that you would find a child weaned, and that was if most of the time, was three. Three was basically typical and there’s reasons for it in places where nutrition is not the same as it is here, but it does not make any difference that it is still positive here. It is just not about survival, life and death survival anymore as it is in another place, but you also see the community aspect of cross-nursing and wet-nursing and really how it brings an entire community together because everybody takes care of everyone else’s children. No one is tapped out because of that too.

You don’t put a bunch of moms in a mom group with all six-month-old babies. Your hormones are making you insane. Your hormones are trying to keep that baby alive right now. You have this child that is coming into the world very early compared to other primates, and your body is basically making you feel a little nuts. That’s the way it is.

And so, putting a bunch of insane women together in a moms group and expecting all of them to get along, first off, or support each other, is the most insane, crazy idea that I’ve ever heard in my life. What you see in other cultures is elders, younger women, even men pop in here and there too. You see that everybody in the community is taking care of this baby and mom is the primary caregiver, but she is also allowing this child to get raised by different generations with her and she is not exhausted, like it is here. Because we are hoarding this child and then expecting to get all of our emotional support with a bunch of people who are not doing well either, frankly.

LISA REAGAN: Which is why Dr. Sears – and you pointed this out in your book under balancing and boundaries – put in his work in all caps, IF YOU RESENT IT, CHANGE IT.

JAMIE GRUMET: Yes.

LISA REAGAN: Because that’s not the culture we’re in.  We don’t have allomothers, as they’re called, waiting to step in for us. 

JAMIE GRUMET: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. It’s just, if you are feeling resentful towards anything, yourself, your child, first off, that’s normal. You are not a bad person. You are not weak or anything like that. There is something wrong, so you have to change it to adapt. Night weaning is a great thing. I wouldn’t have been able to breastfeed as long as I could if I did not night wean Arum around two, I think, because I hadn’t slept in two years at that point. I thought it would just stop on it’s own and I was like, “No, I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to do this.” And I was like, you know what? I’m a crazy person now. I think they say if you don’t sleep for two days straight, you are certifiably insane, and I was like, it’s been two years of this happening and I am for sure insane. Yeah, yeah. 

LISA REAGAN: I was a ninja mom – just trying to get out of bed without creaking anything so he didn’t wake up. 

JAMIE GRUMET: I know, I know! I know. You breathe and they wake back up and you’re just like, I don’t understand how this happens. Yeah, there were just so many different things that I did that I think people thought I was crazy for doing them, but they just made my life a little bit easier. I wore Aram as long as humanly possible in the Ergo baby front pack the whole time during his naps. I was like, I could be as long as I want, he didn’t wake up in there, and it did kind of hurt my back eventually when he got too big, but people were like, why don’t you just put him down and you could have alone time? I was like, that adds more stress to my day than just carrying him around while I’m doing the dishes, or whatever, which I could do and he wouldn’t wake up, it was crazy. So anyway. 


Attachment Parenting An Adopted Child


“You realize, at that point, he has just lost literally everything. He has lost his culture, his language. He has lost anybody who looks like him. At that point, just coming into our family, there’s all this trauma of not having his mother anymore. Breastfeeding was the one thing from home that I could give him.”

JAMIE GRUMET

LISA REAGAN: Well, you know, another really rich section in this book is attachment parenting an adopted child because you got to do that. 

JAMIE GRUMET: And that was kind of a learning experience even for our adoption specialist and for me and I met some moms who had done it before me too, but we were all figuring this out together because there is not a lot of information on it, too. So that was really exciting for me to be able to talk about, because I do think that it’s a little unusual, especially with an older child, you don’t expect that. It was an international adoption. So, being able to have him raised in an attachment style, which is how he was raised from birth on before he came into our family, that was really really rewarding for me. And he’s so sweet now. 

LISA REAGAN: That’s really nice. It was a continuation of care for him. 

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JAMIE GRUMET: It was something else. Like being able to breastfeed him, which was completely encouraged by our adoption specialist. She was like, give him everything you would give your biological son. So, seeing that he was still suckling properly was really interesting because it meant for sure that he had been breastfed recently. They lose the ability to suckle when a lot of time has passed. You realize, at that point, he has just lost literally everything. He has lost his culture, his language. He has lost anybody who looks like him. At that point, just coming into our family, there’s all this trauma of not having his mother anymore. Breastfeeding was the one thing from home that I could give him.

It really helped Aram understand and solidify Samuel’s place in our family because it was the thing that Aram got from me. So, when he saw that, I think he saw that he wasn’t a friend coming over to play, Samuel was his equal and that really helped us all attach to each other.

It takes a minute. You can’t just give someone a baby and expect them to immediately bond with that baby, or a small child. I kept thinking that I was babysitting someone’s child when he came home. It was just took a second and I just kept thinking, “When is his mom going to come pick him up?” And then I’d be like, oh my gosh, you can’t believe, it’s just this feeling of you’re watching someone else’s child and then your brain starts to adapt and develop and just latch on. It sounds silly even to say now, because Samuel and Aram are exactly the same. I don’t think of them differently. I don’t look at them differently. I think of them both as like my blood, too. So it is just this thing your brain wires to, to connect. 

LISA REAGAN: You know, I have watched your children grow up over the years and they are becoming young men now. 

JAMIE GRUMET: They’re more than young men now. I mean, Samuel is like a full grown adult now. I think he’s like six feet tall now. His voice changed. It is so funny. He has become really really close as a friend, too. I am still his mom, it’s not like a buddy buddy thing, but I have so much fun with him. I feel so lucky to even have them and to appreciate these stages. It’s really sad to see old videos though. I found one the other day and I was looking at them and I was like, “Oh my gosh, they are so cute. Did I know they were this cute then? Why didn’t I know they were this cute?” Actually, I was talking to Alanis about it, and she was like, “It’s because we are just all trying to hold it together then that we can’t even realize it.”

LISA REAGAN: Yeah, oh gosh. 

JAMIE GRUMET: I was like, “Why didn’t I know this at the time?” I was beside myself with how cute they were. Why wasn’t I thinking this everyday? And it was just because, we are so tired that we are just trying to keep it together and take care of them.


Attachment Parenting As A Single Mother


LISA REAGAN: Your family situation changed in the last couple of years, so another group that you are able to speak to are single mothers and single parents.

JAMIE GRUMET: Yeah, I got a divorce in that time frame too. I mean, that’s a big group of people. A lot of the time, attachment people stay married. I mean, my marriage was the strongest when we were the most hardcore, in the midst of attachment, when the children are most needing it. When they grow up, it’s a different sort of attachment, right? And the child has more autonomy. But from two to five is a really big big age for attachment and that is when my marriage was strongest, honestly, with my ex-husband.

I think people think that AP causes divorce or it is too much focus on the child and it is really not. I was the happiest in my marriage and so was – I can speak for Brian – to say, that was probably the strongest time in our marriage as well. There are just so many reasons of why we got divorced that have nothing to do with our family. I think that is something that needs to be talked about too. There are alot of single parents, and it definitely does make it harder, especially if you are not co-parenting and it is just you solely parenting and you want the attachment, it can be really complicated. So, just trying to speak to them. I don’t have that situation. I have a coparent that is just as present as I am, so I wanted to be as kind as I could without making it sound like I knew everything about that situation as well. 

LISA REAGAN: Right. Well, I know Dr. McKenna and his sleep study talk about single parents and working parents. One of the reasons that he does his cosleeping studies is because it is normal in his country for parents to come home and want to have the bonding time that they’re able to get with their babies and children is at night. So this piece of the single and working parent and being able to do attachment parenting and being able to have this piece of it has been addressed by him. And, of course, you do as well in your book. 

JAMIE GRUMET: Yeah, and that’s the big thing. I didn’t realize with the divorce how different it would be. Then suddenly, it’s abnormal, it’s really not supposed to be like that: having your children leave you for a portion of a week or whatever the time frame is. That’s not normal, no matter what, there’s a grief to that. But it is, right? It just sometimes happens. And so, for me, I didn’t realize how much co-sleeping with them when they were little really helped me to reconnect, because I was getting as much time as I could with them.

But now, Aram is finally too old to sleep with me. You know when they are little and they just want to jump in bed? He has no interest and that was really hard for me because that was how I was reconnecting with them when they came to my house.  So, I have noticed it because I don’t have it anymore – how big of a deal it really is. So Dr. McKenna goes into very specifically if you’re breastfeeding what’s safe and what’s not safe, and I put this in my book, and that really does matter.

LISA REAGAN: That’s right. We have all kinds of interviews and articles from Dr. McKenna and he had a new safe sleep book that came out last year. 

JAMIE GRUMET: I know, I love him. I just adore him so much.


Adult Attachment: No, You’re Not A “Lost Cause”


LISA REAGAN: Awe. I know. Well, again, I am so happy that this book exists and that you were able to pour so much of your heart and experience and compassion into it for parents. I am just wondering, is there anything else that you would like to share? 

JAMIE GRUMET: I am trying to think. I think that for me, I have been discussing this with some of the funniest people because I’ll meet them and it’s a totally different industry, but alot of them are men. They will find out about me or the fact that I have this book, or the fact that I am considered a parenting expert, which is still funny, I mean, I’m an anthropologist, but I still think it’s funny because of how much I’m not really in the world of moms, like in that world of parenting and baby items and things like that very often. I am in a different kind of social time of my life. So it is really sweet when people start asking me those questions, and it is before they have kids alot of the time, and they’ll be really interested in what I have to say. A lot of the people are concerned if they are lost causes because they did not have that sort of parenting, or they have had alot of trauma. And that’s not true. We all have some sort of attachment issues. 

LISA REAGAN: Yes, we do. 

JAMIE GRUMET: If you have insecure attachment, that’s common. I think most of us are anxious avoidant. That is just because of our society. It is not even necessarily your parents, but it is just the trauma that we face as a society as a whole. You can still correct that, you can still heal from that.

There are a lot of books in the resources part of my book about secure attachment in adult relationships, too. That attachment is about you. Connecting as a community is how we operate like a well-oiled machine. So, society will heal from our connection. We will get better from it. Everything reverts back to attachment as a foundation for making us functional and healthy. You are not a lost cause if you have an attachment disorder, which we all probably do, and just to look into it for yourself as well. 

LISA REAGAN: That’s right, and you’ve said that might even be your next book. 

JAMIE GRUMET: Yeah, that’s something I would really like to focus on is adult attachment because it is so misunderstood. In the academic world, there is a lot of research on it, but it really has not gone mainstream for a lay person and if I have a gift, it is really just connecting people in a way that isn’t intimidating. That’s how I really think of it too. It is not me getting  down on my knees and explaining it to a child. It’s really how I view and understand the science and then apply it to my own life, because I need that too.

LISA REAGAN: And what we find out anyway, is that we grow up with our children. You get to do your own childhood over again anyway, so you may as well understand these things. 

JAMIE GRUMET: It’s so healing. Absolutely, even with adult relationships, friendships and romantic relationships, it is so healing. So using those people wisely is always a good idea as well. 

LISA REAGAN: Thank you so much again for coming on and talking with us. I just love this book. Kindred will be posting some excerpts from it over the next couple of weeks, so keep an eye out for those. Thank you, Jamie!



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