Saturday, July 18, 2015

Raising a Secure and Happy Child

I have written in previous posts (1/7/13 & 1/10/13) how all abuse and violence stems from man’s insecurity, and further that it is the cause of all social conflict and war.  Insecurity is destructive.  I have also written a book, Raising a Happy Child, that posits that this insecurity is not inherent in man’s nature but learned.  And that the cycle of insecure parents raising insecure children who become insecure parents who raise … can be broken if parents become aware of this issue and take the steps I suggest in the book.

One of the things I discuss in the book is the critical nature of meeting a baby’s needs to be nurtured in first few months.  I cite as a problem the common feeling that it’s ok or even good to let a baby cry.  One doesn’t want to spoil a child, etc.  

As I note in the book, on the contrary this is harmful to the child because it creates feelings of insecurity.  A baby doesn’t cry for no reason.  It is seeking nurturing.  Birth is a very traumatic event for a baby, to leave the warmth and security of the womb for the harsh reality of the world, where very shortly after birth he is typically removed from his mother and put in a basinet.   That can only be scary.

While meditating recently, I thought of the example of how an animal mother cares for her young after birth.  For an animal mother, there is no purpose in life other than nurturing her young and seeing that they are safe until they are weened or its equivalent.  Except if the mother has to hunt for food, the young are always in close contact and within site of the mother.  And during the periods when they are alone, the litter has each other’s company for warmth and security.

How different that is from the contemporary human experience, at least in developed countries.  While a typical mother certainly cares deeply for her baby, often the baby’s needs are somewhat in conflict with the mother’s needs, interest, and convenience.  And so the baby’s needs often just aren’t met.  As a result, the baby experiences insecurity, which makes it cry all the more.

Now I do not mean to imply that the baby is neglected.  It is a rare mother who neglects her child, in the legal sense of the word, even in today’s culture.  However, the typical baby just does not get the frequent or almost constant nurturing it needs and wants. The advent of body slings has certainly improved the physical contact between mother and child, but that doesn’t meet all the baby’s needs.

But you can’t really blame mothers.  They are not taught what a baby needs.  Instead, they are taught, for example, that it’s good to let a baby cry.  Their own experience, the example of peers, the books they read … none of these begin to explain the amount of nurturing a baby needs in order to not start life feeling insecure, which creates a growing element for later learned insecurities.

What we need is to recognize that there is a conflict between the desires of modern man, our way of life, and the needs of babies.  Even before a couple decides to have a baby, they need to be made aware of what the baby’s needs will be and the “sacrifices” they will need to make for the sake of the baby’s well-being.   If they then decide to have a baby, there is at least a better chance that the baby will grow up secure and happy.

But because we are human beings and not animals, because we have a brain that can either be channeled to neurosis or to peace and happiness, more is required of a parent than early child nurturing.  That “more” does not depend on how much money the parents make.  Whether affluent or poor, whether living in a gated community or in an urban ghetto, whether a child grows up happy and secure depends in large part to how the child is equipped by his upbringing to handle the challenges that life will throw his way.

What does that mean?  It means raising a child to have a sense of security … not material security but spiritual security, faith that regardless what life throws his way all will be well because he will always go deep within himself and be at peace and find happiness in the moment … and self-love … not in the modern sense of “I’m wonderful” but in the spiritual sense of  “I’m a good person.”  

If a child is not raised in this manner, then attaining success and possessions as defined by his peer group will not make him happy because below the facade of happiness will always be a deep-seated insecurity.  But if a child does possess spiritual security and self-love, then regardless what life throws his way, even if he does not achieve success in the eyes of his peers or even lives in poverty, he will still be secure and happy because he will know who he is and will not be dependent on the approval of others.