Friday, August 1, 2008

Playful Parenting

Last week I finished reading a really good book from the library called Playful Parenting. I don't have time right now to write much about it, but I really recommend it! A quote I liked from it: "That's why I recommend that parents not send their children to their rooms to cry alone, or leave them alone to cry themselves to sleep. It is more time-consuming to stay with them, to help them let out their feelings of loneliness and sadness, but those feelings don't go away just because we shut the door on them. In fact, I am starting to see eight-, nine-, and ten-year-olds in my practice whose parents followed the advice to 'let them cry it out' when the children were babies. These infants were seen as manipulating parents into cuddling with them or lying down with them to sleep. These children are now having trouble sleeping through the night because of fears, nightmares, and worries. In my less mature moments, I feel like saying, 'I told you so!'"

There was also a section about children feeling powerless (or isolated) and the author talked about attitudes in our society towards power: "Where is the true power? Why is it so rare? The answer starts with our society, which is ambivalent about power. We seek it and admire it, but we mistrust it...At the same time, empowerment is a buzzword in psychology, and all efforts are supposed to be made to empower children. We use the same word--power--to apply to vastly different things...I generally use the word confidence to refer to the positive side of power--the power to stand up for what is right, the power to be adventurous (within safe limits), the power to know your own inner strength, the power to achieve a goal, the power of happy play. On the other side is powerlessness, which often looks like passivity, inhibition, timidity, fearfulness, and whining..."

This section made me think about birth (of course) because "empowerment" is a commonly used word when talking about giving birth/preparing women to give birth. I liked his re-framing of "positive power" as "confidence" because that is truly what I think women need in order to give birth--they need confidence, a sense of personal power and inner strength. Also, I think the end result of meeting your own needs in some way is empowerment--in a variety of situations. For example, I recently sewed something for a gift for a friend of mine. I don't use the sewing machine much and after I cut out the garment, I thought about calling my mom and asking her to just sew it for me--that would have been easier. However, I didn't, and I sewed it all myself, plus then another one for myself ;-) As I did it and remembered how to thread the machine, refill the bobbin, etc. I thought, "this is empowering!"--sure I could have asked for help, but it feels really good to do it myself. I think birth is like that too--it feels good to do it yourself and doing it yourself, makes you feel good about yourself. That is not to say that asking for help when you need is not a strength in its own way--it is--but just that accomplishing something under your own power has motional/psychological rewards. It feels good. It is empowering.

Also from the library I had Voluntary Simplicity. This book has been on my to-read list since 2002!! LOL! I had it on hold at the Columbia library for about a year and it never came in because it was lost. So, I had it on my Amazon wishlist for ages and no one ever bought it for me. So...what do you know, I found it at the library in which I hold a newly-re-beloved library card. And, after all this time, I took it back half read. I simply did not enjoy it or connect with it well at all. What a letdown! I almost NEVER quit reading something in the middle. This was the first book I've done that with all year, I think.

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