Sunday, June 17, 2012

Notes on Parent Infant Sharing of Knowledge

Last night I attended a presentation entitled “Listening to Children’s Wisdom”. The presenter is a Buddhist nun, Didi Ananda Uttama.  The general message of the presentation was that parents are not the only ones who bring something to the parent-child relationship. The child also has a significant contribution. Her belief is that the child is still more in tune with its spiritual nature and, because of this, willingly offers unconditional love to the parent. By recognizing and accepting that love, parents can relearn its meaning in their lives. It is the parent who needs to find that understanding and build on that connection in forming a relationship with the child. The infant offers it openly and freely. She went on to suggest that children submerge that spirituality as they grow older (hence, why parents need to relearn it).  As a result, conscious effort needs to be given to maintaining that open, loving connection that is present in the infant and the parents in the first months throughout the relationship.

Didi went on to say that in her belief system, the child chooses to be born to the particular parents. The match is made, again, by both and not just the parents. Therefore, the child is where it is supposed to be and the parent does what he or she is supposed to do. This is to say that some of the choices you think you make, such as the type of birth experience you have and if you breastfeed or not, are somehow guided by the needs of your child as well as of you. She is collecting stories of mother’s experiences where their children gave them a sign or taught them spiritual lessons. I hope I got the gist of her message. The attendees were mostly young mothers and proceeded to give her stories about their children at that point.

I have to agree that the infant contributes to the infant parent relationship. Each child is born with a unique personality and a unique set of sensitivities. Whether these are genetic or from the experiences during the 9 months in the uterus or, as in many eastern spiritual ideas, the result of previous life experiences is not for me to say. It is true that from day 1, possibly before, the baby brings its own personality to the relationship. Babies are NOT blobs of clay to be molded in the image the parent chooses. As parents, we must reconcile our image of what we expect to be with the real (and certainly more beautiful) infant that we meet after birth. Babies do give us unconditional love but we also need to make the adjustments to our personalities to meet the new person halfway. Most of us do this through our daily interactions in caring for the physical needs of the baby, feeding, cleaning, calming and entertaining. We are constantly learning from our baby and adjusting ourselves if we are listening to them, Babies are constantly learning from us as well. It is a give and take relationship throughout life and one we must nurture.

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