(Disclaimer: Nothing I'm about to say is an attack on any individual. It's a lament over the current state of things, and possibly a gripe towards the people with some sort of authority that perpetuate it, but nothing personal. If you do the things I complain about here I understand it's just because it's the "norm" and "the way things are done" etc. I hold nothing against you. Basically don't read more into this than what I'm putting here...thank you.)
Our current culture has an awful view of children. Ok, maybe awful is going a bit to far, but at the very least it's frightening and negative. Parents are so often told (by Doctors, books, "experts" etc.) that they need to "train" their child.
Children aren't dogs!
It's so frustrating to me when I am told I need to "sleep train" Hana. Or when people think I'm odd for "potty training" her. Or when I'm told it's such an awful thing that I respond to her or wear her because I'm "training" her to be clingy and needy.
If we treated any other class of people the way children are treated there would be an uproar. If an elderly person without mobility was left without access to a bedpan and had to sit in soiled clothing for an hour (or more!) people would have a fit. If a person without the ability to clearly communicate was left alone crying until they fell asleep authorities would be called in. If we see a stranger on the street in obvious need of something (a tire change, for example), we stop to help. If someone is hungry we do what we can to feed them.
And yet when it comes to infants none of the above applies. We're told they need to be left to figure things out for themselves. To "self soothe", to learn they can't always "get their way". I'd like to find the person who first came up with that idea and ask them where their mind went.
If anyone else in my life were in need of something, someone I cared about even the slightest bit, I'd be seen as mean or uncaring if I didn't offer some comfort or respond to them in some way.
We somehow lost sight of what it means to be a child - to explore, to learn, to grow, to be in the care of another. Yes, children need structure and boundaries, but they also need to be able to be children.
Attachment theory talks about the need for a child to develop secure attachment to a primary care giver. This security helps to balance and regulate the child, giving a safety. When it comes time for the child to explore or try something new, they have the reassurance of that safe place and the confidence to try new things. Unfortunately, outside of early childhood education or child psychology, attachment theory isn't very well known.
Some people think this is just part of me being an idealist. Or it's because Hana's my first child. Or because she's a baby. Or that I just plain don't know what I'm talking about. I don't care. I'm going to raise my child with the same respect and dignity that I would show to anyone else and would respect for myself. If I were to hit an adult it would be considered assault, so I won't hit her. I don't like crying myself to sleep, so I don't make her do it. I can eat when I'm hungry so I extend the same privilege to her. I know that the people who love me will be there for me when I need them, and I make sure she has the same security. I will teach her to be a loving and compassionate person by being loving and compassionate towards her. I will let her know there are things in life that aren't fair and she won't like, but that they're small compared to all the good things she can get out of life, and I will help her to work through them.
A quote I love (tho can't find who said it) is "It's easier to raise healthy children than it is to fix broken adults.". I think that once this mentality is more widely adopted we will see a big change in the world. I want Hana to be part of that change.