We live in a myth of normal. Most of us who grew up in the western society has grown up in a lot of alarm, in this way or another. Becoming a parent doesn't make it easier.
We are born with our gut feelings, but shaped through our nurture, and conditioning always sips through. When we become parents some of us just continue down the same path as their parents, without really questioning what works for THEM. While some of us feel like their parents didn't do it right and they start to look for a new, better way to raise their children. We want to be better, do better, and we start looking for guidance, advice, experts...And we have a hard time discerning what's right from what's wrong, and it fills us with a lot of alarm and anxiety. Except for there are no ready answers in the world that fit every family and every individual child.
So at the end of the day, so many of us are filled with alarm and fear, especially when it comes to parenting. That’s why parents look for parenting experts. And sadly, that’s exactly why any parent can be manipulated into philosophy they don’t truly agree with. When we are filled with alarm and fear, we turn off our neurocortex, our thinking part of the brain and switch to our mammalian/reptilian parts (depending on how scared we are and what instincts we are talking about), we are prone to trusting someone’s ideas without scrutiny and due diligence, and follow advice that might have nothing to do with reality.
That’s why quite a few parenting experts use fear mongering techniques in their books and messages. For instance, Dr. Spock taught that kids need to scream to develop their lungs; B.F. Skinner, John Watson, Alfred Adler all suggested in their own words to withhold affection from children to make their behavior more society appropriate and used fear to support their reasoning causing much more harm then good. Even in our day and age the author of popular parenting book “Babywise” tells you that if you don’t let your child scream or will allow for co-sleeping, it will have detrimental effects on their development. But where’s the science and under this logic? There is fear that our children will grow up to be "spoiled brats", out of control", "narcissists" (which by the way has a big biological component to it as studies have shown), but no science. Just fear mongering and in many cases attempts to appease those around us, abide by our cultural mythical "norms", even make our own parents happy.
Another example where fear appeal is often used, the American Pediatric Association that suggests co-sleeping can result in sudden infant death, and many parents believe this out of fear for their child. This fear is very normal, especially when information is coming from a reputable source. However, studies found that children who co-sleep wake up less at night, co-sleeping was correlated with healthier sleep and life satisfaction for moms as well (duh, you sleep and you feel happier). I'm not trying to advocate for co-sleeping, and if your child happily sleeps in a crib, and it works for your family, this is great. My issues is with scaring people into going against their nature on something that could make their life much easier and has been practiced for thousands of years.
There is a well researched article from NPR Is Sleeping with Your Baby As Dangerous As Doctors Say discussing research and stats and showing that if parents who choose to cosleep and use Safety Rules, the child has a significantly smaller chances of dying in parental bed than being hit by a lightening in their lifetime. May the odds be ever in your favor.
The thing is that we know inside, within, in our bodies, what works FOR US and our families, and what doesn't. The key is seeing through manipulations, filtering through society's buzz and "experts'" advice and hearing this shy inner voice. Are YOU easily manipulated?
As always, if you feel like you need help sorting through layers of external influences and hearing YOU, schedule your session today.