193.W UFO Beam Illusion

Crushing Illusion of Truth: On Fictional Experts and Imagined Baby Care Guides

“Every group thinks that its way of caring for infants is the obvious, correct, natural way – a simple matter of common sense. However, as the anthropologist Clifford Geertz has pointed out, what we easily call “common sense” is anything but common. Indeed what people accept as common sense in one society may be considered odd, exotic, or even barbaric in another.”

–Judy S. DeLoache and Anna Gottlieb

Psychologist Judy S. DeLoache and anthropologist Anna Gottlieb, both professors in their respective fields, combined their expertise to create a unique and informative book. A World of Babies: Imagine Child Care Guides for Seven Societies presents a series of imagined baby care guides that might have been written by a wise and respected member of each of seven different societies. These guides are written by fictional characters using real information from anthropological studies of those societies. Each of these characters has the best interests of children at heart–and in mind

Imagined Baby Care Guides From Around the World

According to one review of the book, these imagined baby care guides answer a number of questions posed by parents around the world throughout history. The book takes us through history by including the Puritans of New England, as well as around the world, by including the Fulani society of western Africa as well as social life in a village in eastern Turkey. The Walpiri, an aboriginal people of northern Australia are represented, as are the Ifaluk people of Micronesia. The guides address topics such as ways to achieve a successful pregnancy, how often to bathe a baby, and how long to breastfeed. They also include descriptions of the ceremonies surrounding birth specific to each of these cultures.

Impressively, in addition to extensive research of the work of many respected anthropologists, historians and psychologists, the authors also utilize observations from their own field studies. In an article in Scientific American, Ms. DeLoache mentions some of the field work that was included in the book. Making the “authors” of these imagined baby care guides fictional characters reinforces the fact that the book is not intended to advise parents on how to raise their children, but rather, to present information about various child-rearing practices. The result is that readers are able to learn a great deal of about other cultures in a very entertaining way.

Imagined Baby Care Guides Versus “Expert” Baby Care Guides

People have been raising children since long before the first parenting guide was printed. The book clearly illustrates that parenting has always consisted of transmitting cultural traditions developed through generations of experience. In an article about the book, the author expresses the opinion that today’s parenting guides written by “experts” may be the result of the rapid social and technological change experienced by industrialized nations. Increased mobility and the subsequent shift from traditional extended families to the smaller nuclear family has resulted in the loss of many formerly important child-rearing and social traditions developed over time.

The fictional “experts” in the book are respected members of their communities, such as grandmothers and traditional healers. The book has been praised for its attention to ethnographic detail and a way of presenting parenting advice from within a greater social context. Social context includes many elements, including geographic location and climate, religious beliefs, economic circumstances, and political history. Presenting the imagined baby care guides within the context of the greater society allows readers to better understand practices that in the context of their own modern societies, may seem strange indeed.

Today’s “expert” parenting guides often rely more on scientific studies than personal parental experience, although there are some that combine the two. The fact that many of today’s modern societies are more diverse in terms of religious and political beliefs than societies of the past may account for some of the conflicting advice of modern parenting guides. One advantage of learning about child-rearing practices of other cultures through imagined baby care guides is that of gaining other perspectives through which to view our own. Another advantage is the possibility of resurrecting some valuable traditions lost to the faster pace of modern life.

The best possible result of this book is that parents will be not only simultaneously educated and entertained, but encouraged to create new traditions in which they rely more on one another and less on “expert” advice.

imagined baby care
UFO Beam Illusion

November 4,2016  |

parental genetics

The DIY Genetic Testing and The Brave New World that Comes With It

With every new form of genetic testing comes a new controversy. One of the most recent controversies concerned the 23andMe saliva DNA test. The test was designed to give individual consumers information about their ancestry and any potential genetic health risks. Potentially, prospective parents could use the test to determine their parental genetics and identify health risks to a child they may have together. The U.K.’s the health regulatory agency recently approved its use despite the fact that the FDA had banned the company from marketing the test in the U.S.

The CEO of the company is Anne Wojcicki, former wife of Sergey Brin, one of the founders of Google and reportedly one of the 18th richest people in the world. In the U.S., which does not have universal health care, one of the concerns was that the data from the test could be obtained by insurance companies, who would then raise their premiums or deny health care coverage based on the information. Another concern was whether customer data obtained by the company would be sold to other companies. Finally, most diseases are the result of a complex combination of genes and social and environmental interactions, which limits the potential of the test to accurately determine risk factors.

Another article discusses the controversy surrounding PDG, or preimplantation genetic diagnosis. This is a form of parental genetics testing available to women during the process of in vitro fertilization. Supporters of the test argue that detecting genetic abnormalities in the embryo before implantation reduces the risk of a child being born with a potentially deadly or crippling disease. The moral argument is that reducing human suffering is the right thing to do.

Opponents of parental genetics testing of embryos argue that physical limitations often contribute to making a person stronger in other ways, and that the world might be losing a valuable contribution. Another argument surrounding the use of the test concerns the concept of eugenics which refers to the improvement of the human race through parental genetics or “good breeding”. The word itself was coined by an ancient Greek slave society, a fact which illustrates the concerns of many people about the high potential for misuse of parental genetics testing technology for political purposes.

Another controversy surrounding parental genetics testing is the moral objection by many to the destruction of less than perfect embryos, as well as their use in conducting medical research. Many within the medical community argue that with the consent of the parents, it is not only moral to conduct research on unwanted embryos, but that such research provides potentially life-saving information which benefits all of humanity. For example, it may one day be possible to induce stem cells to form tissues and organs for those currently suffering and in need of a transplant.

Some have suggested in vitro fertilization using only one embryo rather than cultivating several, then implanting only the healthiest one based on parental genetics test results and freezing and storing the rest. There are several reasons for cultivating multiple embryos for the IVF process. Up to 80 percent of embryos transferred into the uterus fail to implant, often due to chromosomal abnormalities. Further, only about one third of IVF procedures result in a successful live birth. In countries with universal health care, the single embryo method could be used for several attempts. However, in the U.S. most insurance companies do not cover the process, which has an average cost of about $10,000 dollars.

One of the moral questions that form the basis of many arguments against the practice of medical research on human embryos is the question of when life begins. Medical research has determined that embryos don’t begin to form nervous systems until two weeks after conception. They are unable to experience pleasure or pain before sixteen weeks of gestation and don’t develop consciousness until twenty-four weeks. More than 50 percent of embryos die within eight weeks of conception through the natural occurrence of spontaneous abortion.

If embryos are persons, then 220 million people die each year as a result of spontaneous abortion, making it the leading cause of death in the world. Researchers argue that if this is the case, it would be their moral duty to conduct research that would reduce the number of such deaths. While the controversy is similar to that surrounding abortion, one article describes a very personal account of the differences between how society and the law view the two.

In some countries, including the U.K., the law requires that surplus embryos produced through the IVF process be destroyed d after a period of time. These laws indicate that embryos are not regarded as living persons by society, and there have been few protests against this issue compared to the issue of abortion. Ironically, frozen embryos are considered potential persons by their donors, some of whom oppose these laws because they want to ensure their ability to have the biological child of a beloved partner even in the event of their death. That ability is one of the miracles that parental genetic testing has made possible.

parental genetics
Unreachable Futures by David Goehring. Flickr CC2.0

September 16,2016  |

On Reproductive Consciousness and the Power of Creating and Sustaining Life

On Reproductive Consciousness and the Power of Creating and Sustaining Life

The Struggle for Power Throughout Nurturing History

Everyone agrees that war has a negative effect on children. That has also held true regarding the battle of the sexes. Although the term was not coined until 1973, to describe the famous tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, the struggle between men and women to effectively share power has been going on for centuries.
In ancient times, before reproductive consciousness, or scientific knowledge of the human reproductive system, women alone were believed to possess the power of creating and sustaining life. Social customs reflected that belief in a number of ways, including the greater number of rights that women enjoyed in matrilineal societies. Those rights included almost exclusive ownership of the property upon which women carried out their sacred duties of single-handedly creating future generations.

The ancient mythologies and primitive religions of many societies also reflected the belief that men played no role in reproduction. Reproductive consciousness occurred in a number of stages. The first step was the observation of the reproductive behavior and biological realities of domesticated animals. Once it had been established that male sperm was indeed responsible for producing offspring, the balance of social power shifted drastically. While semen was a visible power, the female egg was not visible. Lacking proof of the female contribution of the egg in the reproductive process, men began to women as little more than fertile ground in which to plant their seeds.

The Rise of Paternity in Nurturing History

These faulty scientific beliefs were incorporated into both social customs and religious practices. Before the advent of Christianity, the religion of the Roman Empire was much like that of the Greeks. In fact, most Greek gods have Roman counterparts. For example, the Roman counterpart of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, is the Roman goddess, Venus. The Roman counterpart of the Greek goddess Gaia, or mother earth, is Tellus, or Terra Mater. Their respective pantheons of gods and goddesses were believed to play a large part in fertility and childbearing.

The Latin term “Pater Familia” originally referred to invoking the god Jupiter, the father of gods and men, and other male deities. However, the new consciousness of the male role in reproduction resulted in men being bestowed with the power that mothers had formerly enjoyed. Unfortunately, it is the nature of power to corrupt, which often leads to abuse of said power.

Some laws created during nurturing history, such as those of the Twelve Tables, viewed women and children as property and even granted fathers the right to sell their children into slavery. They also had the power to approve or reject their children’s choice of marriage partners. Adult males were not granted the status of head of household until the death of their own fathers. If they married, any property they purchased or children born to them were considered the property of the head of the household. In legal language, the term paterfamilias was used to refer to any male who was not under the power of a father or master.

The Role of Religion in Nurturing History

Myths and religions also began to reflect the newfound power of fatherhood in nurturing history. Just as societies had believed that motherhood elevated women to the status of goddess, people began to believe that fatherhood elevated men to the status of gods. Consequently, men desired to have as many children as possible. The Brhaddarma Purana, a Hindu religious text, states that “No rituals are performed for the man who has no descendants…. Sons are useful to give oblations to the ancestors” Without the prayers of his descendants, it was believed that a man’s spirit was doomed to wander homeless throughout eternity.

St. Thomas Aquinas, credited with synthesizing Greek philosophy with Catholicism, said that a father is the true parent, while a mother is only the “soil” in which his seed grows. He believed that fathers should be loved and revered more than mothers due to their active role in their creation and support, rather than the passive role of the mother. (The existence of the female egg would not be discovered by science for four hundred more years.)

Some religions attempted to temper paternal power by advocating love of all beings. For example, Buddha urged fathers to use their power wisely by emulating the nurturing history of mothers in their behavior towards children. In his Discourse on Universal Love, he said: “As a mother, even at the risk of her own life, protects and loves her child, her only child, so let a man cultivate love without measure toward the whole world, above, below, and around, unstinted, unmixed with any feeling of differing or opposing interests…. This state of mind is the best in the world.”

Evidence suggests that the pendulum of parental power, having swung from women to men during nurturing history, may be approaching a peaceful equilibrium, marking an end to the battle of the sexes. Just as creation requires both egg and sperm, children are happiest when both parents share the power, responsibility, joys and benefits of parenting.

nurturing history
Magical Stela, 360–34bc, Egypt, Alexandria, Credit Line Fletcher Fund, 1950

February 17,2017  |

207.W Alchemie _ Mystik, Taschen, 2007, K?ln, p. 10

Female Deities, Mother Figures and Motherhood Symbolism

Ancient Female Contributions to the Nurturing History of Science and Math

According to Hindu scriptures, the Goddess Samjna, invented all the symbols that convey the meaning of what it is to be human, including art and the letters of the alphabet. Her name is the word for sign, name, and image. An important figure in the nurturing history of the Hindu religion, she is also said to have given birth to the Vedas, important texts considered revelations, as well as logic, grammar and all measurements of time and space. Those measurements include the scales which produce the music by which life is celebrated as well as the end of time which marks death.

The Sanskrit word for mother “matr” is the root of the word “matra”, which means “measurement”. Similarly, the Greek word “meter” means both “mother” and “measurement.” The linguistic derivation of the word mathematics is a combination of “mother” and “wisdom”. In addition to mathematical terms such as geometry, trigonometry, and hydrometric, the root word of motherhood also produced many other words, such as mensuration and mentality. According to the Vayu Purana, an ancient Hindu religious text, men once believe that women had the power to give birth due to their superior skill in measuring and figures vrvup3b. Further, there was a time in nurturing history when they believed that acquiring these skills would enable them to give birth as well.

Ancient Female Contributions to the Nurturing History of Linguistics

In addition to the contribution of the goddesses to mathematics, many other cultures also credited them for the creation of the alphabet. The Latin alphabet was believed to have been created by the Goddess Carmenta, who was also considered the mother of charms. In Egypt, the alphabet was believed to have been created by the goddess Isis, who is often depicted in art nursing a child. She is believed by some to serve as an archetype of the Virgin Mary.

In the Middle East, the last ruler of the Assyrian Empire, Ashurbanipal, took great pride in having learned the “noble art of tablet writing”. This knowledge was usually possessed only by learned scribes called maryanu. At the beginning of Babylonian civilization, numbers and letters were inventions of the Goddess and were the concern of priestesses. The Egyptian word for scribe, “maryen”, also meant “mother” or “great one”. Only women who had given birth were allowed to enter the Holy of Holies in the municipal temple of Babylon, which was dedicated to the Goddess Mari-Anna, also known as Ishtar. The nurturing history of Hittite society also included priestesses who taught the art of writing as well as practicing medicine, keeping records, and advising kings.

Ancient Germanic society was guided in part by a number of female deities, including Sjöfn, whose name means “love”. Female writers were called Die Schreiberinnen, while the Roman mother of destiny was called Fata Scribunda, meaning “the fate who writes”. Before the advent of Christianity, the nurturing history of ancient Roman culture included several deities believed to perform certain functions throughout the process of pregnancy, childbirth, and child development. For example, Proverta, goddess of the past, was believed to prevent breech births. The goddess Rumina was believed to endow new mothers with milk for suckling infants.

The mother’s ability to nourish life as well as her role in creating it was revered in most ancient cultures. According to the Mahanirvanatantra, a sacred Hindu text, “Mother is superior to father on account of her bearing and also nourishing the child.” The Laws of Manu, some of which date back to the 2nd century BC, state that “A spiritual teacher exceeds a worldly teacher ten times, a father exceeds a spiritual teacher one hundred times, but a mother exceeds one thousand times a father’s claim to honor on the part of a child and as its educator.”

Women, able to nourish a child during its first year of life, certainly deserve a special place in the nurturing history of mankind. Fortunately, modern technology is making it possible for fathers to play a larger role in their children’s lives. The division of labor caused first by agriculture and then industrialization, is gradually being rendered obsolete by time and labor-saving technology that promises to allow all parents to participate more fully in their children’s lives. The world’s children of tomorrow can look forward to a fusion between the best of the past and the brightest of the future.

nurturing history
Alchemie & Mystik, Taschen, 2007, Köln, p. 10

February 10,2017  |

The Initiative Facts For Life: A Vital Source for Safe Motherhood

According to global statistics, approximately 9 million children die each year before their fifth birthday from completely preventable causes. Those statistics include the three million babies that are stillborn, the one million that die from injuries, and the one and a half million that die from dehydration. The death of even one child is tragic. These deaths are not due to a lack of maternal care, but are often the result of poverty and other environmental factors. The extent of the grief suffered by parents over the loss of these children is almost impossible to fathom. Caring individuals, professionals and volunteers alike, are working to reduce the amount of suffering caused by these needless deaths. Information is one of the most important tools in achieving that goal.
The goal of one project is to make potentially life-saving information available to parents all over the world. To accomplish that goal, Facts for Life, a trusted global resource for parents struggling to keep their children safe, recently published its 4th edition. Previous editions have been translated into more than 215 languages. The quality of maternal care is one of the most important factors in a child’s life. This edition includes all the information based on the most current scientific research and statistics in the fields of medicine and child development most necessary to enable mothers to provide the best maternal care possible.

Facts for Life consists of 14 chapters, each of which is devoted to a topic related to pregnancy, childbirth, and the care and safety of children. Rather than merely presenting statistics, scientific information is presented in language that parents can easily understand. Equally importantly, each chapter ends with a number of concrete actions a parent can take to make their children’s lives safer. Incorporating child safety strategies that have proven to be effective into daily maternal care has saved many lives. Not only has the project improved maternal care, but it has also influenced policy-makers to invest resources into programs that focus on prevention of many of the conditions that threaten children’s lives.

For example, 1.5 million children die each year from dehydration caused by diarrhea, making it the second leading cause of death for children. Diarrhea is often caused by unclean drinking water. While many in the Western world are able to take the basic necessities of life, such as clean drinking water, for granted, parents in other parts of the world must learn how to make drinking water safe. The chapter devoted to protecting children from the potentially deadly effects of diarrhea describes the symptoms and the proper treatment in detail. Further, it educates parents about all the potential causes and provides solutions, such as water purification and personal hygiene, for preventing it. Another chapter addresses malaria, which is still a very real threat in many places in the world.

While some chapters are more relevant to maternal care in the developing world, the majority of them address parenting issues relevant to parents everywhere. The statistics presented in the chapter devoted to child protection are disturbing indeed, which makes the information contained within it all the more important. For example, in 2002, approximately 150 million girls and 73 million boys under the age of 18 experienced rape or some other form of sexual violence. As of 2001, it was estimated that 325,000 children in the United States were at risk for becoming victims of sexual exploitation. The chapter outlines children’s rights and the role of maternal care in helping children safely exercise those rights.

The chapter on emergency preparedness presents useful information about a number of different types of emergencies, from disease epidemics to natural disasters. Sadly, it also includes information about land mines, including places they are often buried, how to identify one, and what emergency medical procedures to initiate in the event that a child steps on one. According to UNICEF, in 2015, war was one of the leading causes of death for children.
Hopefully, the future will include more international projects such as Facts for Life, and war as a cause of death for children will be listed in the category of “preventable”.

maternal care

January 27,2017  |

The Developmental Psychologist: How They Help Us Grow Into And Inhabit Our Identity

The History of the Developmental Child Psychologist

Developmental child psychology has been defined as a field of study that examines and attempt to explain how humans change over time. Those changes occur in a number of different areas, each of which include several aspects of the human experience. Physical change includes growth and the acquisition of motor skills. Mental change includes cognitive development and brain function. Social change includes language acquisition and identity formation as well as the acquisition of social skills valued by specific cultures.

The history of this field began with philosophy. Some of the earliest philosophers who contributed ideas upon which developmental psychology would later be based include Rene Descartes and John Locke. While the term “developmental child psychologist” hadn’t yet been invented in the mid-18th century, French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau was one of the first to describe three stages of human development. He separated those stages into infancy, childhood, and adolescence. Many of the ideas in his 1762 book Emile: Or, On Education were extremely controversial at the time, and the book was both banned and burned. However, after the French Revolution, those ideas were used to build the modern national education system.
The evolutionary theory of Charles Darwin also had a great influence on the field of child development psychology. G. Stanley Hall expanded upon it by likening individual development with the evolutionary development of civilization as a whole. James Mark Baldwin and John B. Watson were also among those considered to be the founders of modern developmental psychology. Watson was one of the first to utilize the study of animals to achieve a greater understanding of human behavior.

The Current Role of the Developmental Child Psychologist

The developmental child psychologist of today formulate practical applications of the many theories developed by their predecessors to assist parents and children in reaching their full human potential. They do this in a number of different ways. One way is through research and education. Many conduct studies using the latest scientific technology and methodology to measure the effects of social conditions on families. The results of those studies are often used by policy makers to implement programs designed to reduce negative social outcomes such as addiction and crime.

Today’s developmental child psychologist has a number of other roles in society as well. Those in private practice provide a number of services, including evaluating children for a variety of disorders and developmental delays. They provide a treatment plan that addresses any mental, emotional or behavioral issues that are discovered during the evaluation. Treatment often entails regular therapy sessions designed to help children overcome the effects of emotional trauma.
Most schools have a developmental child psychologist or school counselor on their staff. School counselors assist children in adapting to the social environment of the educational system. If a child is demonstrating disruptive behaviors in class, the counselor often works with the entire family to determine the cause of the behavior and to implement a healthy solution.

The developmental child psychologist also plays a number of roles in the legal system. One of those roles is offering expert testimony regarding the mental health of those charged with crimes. That testimony helps the court determine whether the accused has a mental illness that contributed to their behavior and whether they have achieved the level of moral development necessary to distinguish right and wrong. They also advise the court in child custody cases in which a judge must determine what is in the best interests of the child.

Increasingly, the child development psychologist now plays a large role in influencing local, state, and federal government in the development of public policies that take their research findings into consideration. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 173,900 psychologists employed in 2014, a number which is expected to increase by 19 percent over the next ten years.

The role of psychologists in creating public policy is gaining acceptance worldwide through a new field of psychology called international psychology. This new field attempts to overcome cultural differences and develop and implement social policies based on scientific knowledge about the human condition. One of the goals of this international organization is to increase mental health by reducing cultural bias. Since the advent of the internet and increased mobility of populations, cross-cultural psychology has become more important and has resulted in the development and recognition of a more inclusive and less ethno-centric indigenous psychology. It also advocates for more “feminization” within the field.

Just as human beings continue to learn and grow, becoming more fully human throughout their lives, developmental psychology does the same, reaching a new stage in its scientific evolution.

developmental child psychologist

January 16,2017  |

The Dangers of Parenting as a Competitive Sport

The Dangers of Parenting as a Competitive Sport

“Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment, and especially on their children, than the unlived lives of the parents. “

–Carl Jung

Competitive Moms Parental Styles

Kyoiku mama is a Japanese term used to describe the maternal parenting styles of mothers who drive their children to succeed academically, often at the expense of a their social and emotional development. Literally translated, it means “education mother”. These mothers compete with one another to get their children into the most prestigious pre-schools, grade schools, and universities. In Japanese culture, education was viewed as the most important factor in the ability to obtain a high-paying and prestigious position in society. Traditionally, Japanese society has placed a great deal of pressure on mothers to maintain a maternal parenting style that would result in academic success by holding them accountable for their children’s grades. Unfortunately, by conforming to this pressure, those mothers have also received a great deal of social criticism for often being feared by their children.

This phenomenon is not limited to Japanese culture. In American culture, two maternal parenting styles similar to that of the Kyoiku mama are the soccer mom and the stage mother. Socccer moms are characterized as mothers who schedule every moment of their children’s spare time with sports and other activities. In American society, sports are strongly associated with politics and being part of a team. Politics is considered as important as education in getting a high-paying job after college. Many social activities are designed to make valuable social connections with children of other families with enough disposable income to pay for these activities.

The maternal parenting styles of both the Kyoiku mama and the soccer mom are almost exclusively related to the middle class. Strict monitoring of a child’s academic performance and social activities usually requires a mother who is able to stay at home, with child care being one of her primary responsibilities. As the economic situation in much of the world has resulted in a shrinking middle class, fewer mothers are able to stay at home with their children rather than having to work outside the home.

However, examples of a similar maternal parenting style, that of the stage mother, can be found in all classes of people. Stage mothers, like Kyoiku mamas and soccer moms, get their sense of social value through their children. The once-popular American television series Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo was often criticized as an example of adult exploitation of children for financial gain. Not only does the stage mother gain social recognition through her children, but often makes her own living from their success.

Effects of Narcissistic Maternal Parenting Styles

One article describes the psychology of maternal parenting styles of many stage mothers as narcissistic. Masha Godkin, an adult child of a stage mother and former child actress, contends that “the desire to act must come from the child. Otherwise, his main goal is pleasing his parents.” In this dynamic, rather than the parent attending to the needs of the child, it is the child which fulfills the needs of the parent. Women who themselves have longed for fame, but were frustrated in their own attempts to achieve it, are more at risk for becoming stage mothers.

According to psychologists, these three maternal parenting styles can undermine children’s psychological health. When children’s sense of acceptance is based on their performance, whether academic, athletic, or artistic, it can lead to a fragile sense of self-esteem. Being rewarded only when they are performing satisfactorily can result in children being unable to accept themselves unless they are performing. One of the most important roles of a parent is that of providing unconditional acceptance. Children of parents who are unable to provide that often spend their lives seeking that approval, sometimes in self-destructive ways.

Psychologists offer some suggestions for mothers who want to encourage their children to succeed, but not at the expense of their mental and emotional health. One of those suggestions is to try not to view children’s performances as personal investments. Another suggestion is to consider the effects of any parental action on the family as a whole. For example, the desire to elevate one child’s performance level may result in another child not receiving sufficient time and attention. Finally, they advise parents to measure their levels of parental pride by asking whether their own self-esteem depends on their children’s performance.

One feature that all these maternal parenting styles share is an over-emphasis on competition and public opinion. It is important for mothers to demonstrate that they value the unique characteristics of their children’s personalities such as kindness, generosity and a sense of humor. It is even more important in cultures in which corporate media stresses the value of performance for social acceptance. One of the best tools for survival a parent can give a child is a strong sense of self-esteem that is independent of the opinions of others.

moms parental styles

January 9,2017  |

How the Chemnistry of Smell and Touch Develops Human’s Capacity for Harmony

How the Chemnistry of Smell and Touch Develops Human’s Capacity for Harmony

“The mother-child relationship is paradoxical and, in a sense, tragic. It requires the most intense love on the mother’s side, yet this very love must help the child grow away from the mother, and to become fully independent.”

–Erich Fromm

Most parents are aware of the importance of successful bonding between mother and child. The complex combination of scent, sound, hormonal secretions, heartbeat, and skin-to-skin contact all serve to create and reinforce that bond just moments after a baby is born. While those moments are important, just as important are the days, months, and years that follow. That’s why so many studies about bonding between mother and child have been conducted that it has become a science.

The Importance of Scent in Bonding Between Mother and Child

It is a science that consists of many sciences, including chemistry. For example, pheromones are the chemicals that physically attract humans to one another. Well, babies fairly ooze those pheromones, which is part of the reason that so many people find them irresistible. Most people don’t think much about the role of their sense of smell in their lives. Modern media focuses primarily on the senses of sight and sound. However, advertisers recognizing the power of scent were quick to take advantage of scratch and sniff technology, which is used to increases the sale of expensive perfumes.

The importance of scent in the process of bonding between mother and child was demonstrated by a scientific study. After spending just ten minutes with their newborn infants, 90 percent of mothers were able to correctly identify their newborns by scent alone. After spending an hour with their babies, 100 percent of them were able to distinguish their own babies’ scent from the scent of other babies.

The Importance of Touch in Bonding Between Mother and Child

Dr. Deepak Chopra, an endocrinologist and best-selling author of more than 80 books on topics of human well-being, says that successful bonding between mother and child can help prevent diseases by boosting immunity and even contribute to a higher I.Q. An important part of that bonding is the element of human touch. His assertion has been reinforced by several scientific studies.

In a study at Ohio State University, it was demonstrated that cuddling produces chemical changes in the body that can reduce the negative effects of common environmentally caused medical conditions. In this case, cuddling protected the rabbits against some of the physical consequences of high cholesterol diets, like clogged arteries.
Science leaves no doubt about the power of human touch. Another study that was published in Pediatrics magazine found that premature babies who were frequently touched and stroked gained almost 50 percent more weight than those who weren’t. In addition to promoting bonding between mother and child, skin-to-skin contact has been proven to provide a number of other health benefits. It can even regulate a baby’s temperature, because a mother’s breasts automatically adjust temperature, heating up or cooling down according to the baby’s needs.

Physical affection also releases hormones that activate specific genes that help reduce the physical effects of stress. Babies, being helpless to exert any control over their own environments, are especially sensitive to stress. They are quite literally little more than a bundle of nerves responding to a series of unfamiliar physical and environmental stimuli. They depend on adults to provide warmth, relieve their hunger, and soothe their fears.

Obstacles to Successful Bonding

Despite a wealth of scientific evidence that demonstrates the importance of the bonding process, there are a number of obstacles that can interfere. One of those obstacles is a family history in which a mother has not successfully bonded with her own mother. This may have been as a result of neglect or abuse. According to statistics, childhood trauma greatly increases the risk for a number of diseases later in life. Traumas associated with abuse or neglect often result in former victims repeating that behavior themselves.

A link between poverty and stress has been firmly established by the scientific community. Further, a link between stress and mental and emotional illnesses that often lead to child abuse and neglect has also been established. Unfortunately, due to current economic and social policies the number of mothers and children living in poverty world-wide continues to grow.

Popular comedian John Oliver addresses the very serious issue of social conditions that often interfere with successful bonding between mother and child. Although some may find his language offensive, most find the social phenomenon he describes even more so. All the scientific knowledge about the physical, mental, emotional and social benefits of bonding will be of greater value when social policies enable parents to fully utilize it.

bonding between mother and child

December 30,2016  |

196.F Mother Jones Seattle

Motherhood: A Source of Inspiration

“As a woman leader, I thought I brought a different kind of leadership. I was interested in women’s issues, in bringing down the population growth rate… as a woman, I entered politics with an additional dimension – that of a mother.”

— Benazir Bhutto

Famous Motherhood Figures

There have been many famous mothers throughout history. Most have become famous not for being mothers, but for their own worldly accomplishments in politics and the arts and sciences. For example, Marie Curie was a famous mother, but her fame was achieved through her scientific research and discoveries. Her mothering skills are rarely discussed, but she is revered as a martyr for science, as her death was attributed to her research of the effects of radiation. One reason many famous women who are mothers aren’t elevated to the status of motherhood figures is that they often have to hire others to assist them with child care.
The list of women who are famous for no other reason than their being mothers is relatively short in comparison. Such motherhood figures have served as role models for other mothers. Sometimes women are elevated to the status of motherhood figures based on the accomplishments of their children. An example of this would be that of Rose Kennedy. She was one of America’s most revered motherhood figures because of the education and values she provided her children, two of whom grew up to be President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Barbara Bush, wife of former President George H.W. Bush and mother of President George W. Bush is another example. As the mother of six children, she established the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.
Some women become motherhood figures due to their heroic actions on behalf of their children. Candy Lightner could be considered an example of this. After her 13-year-old daughter was killed by a drunk driver, founded the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). She became a symbol of motherly concern for the welfare of children and was instrumental in creating legislation that resulted in more stringent laws against drinking and driving. She also served as president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. For her strength in transforming her personal tragedy into life-saving laws for other children, she was given the President’s Volunteer Action Award and an honorary doctorate in humanities and public service.
Sometimes, as in the case of Angelina Jolie, the heroic actions that elevate them to the status of motherhood figures are on behalf of disadvantaged children not biologically their own. In addition to her three biological children, Jolie has three adopted children. She has also been politically active in improving the lives of mothers and children around the world as an ambassador. Her work was instrumental in creating legislation that resulted in the “Unaccompanied Alien Child Protection Act of 2005”. In 2015, a global survey conducted in 23 countries found her to be the most admired woman in the world.
One of the most famous motherhood figures in the U.S. was Mary Harris Jones, also known as “Mother Jones”. Mother Jones, a union organizer at the turn of the 20th century, encouraged the wives of striking workers to organize in support of living wages that would allow them to feed their children. After being imprisoned several times, she was invited to speak before John D. Rockefeller Jr. on the deplorable working conditions of miners. He subsequently instituted reforms. She is still honored today by the popular magazine dedicated to social justice that bears her name.
In Britain, suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst was one of the motherhood figures at the turn of the century, and a contemporary of Mother Jones. Despite being the mother of five children, in 1903 Pankhurst founded the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). The organization began by using peaceful protests, but when frustrated by a lack of progress in women being granted the right to vote, resorted to smashing windows and even arson. In jail, she organized hunger strikes in protest of the conditions. Happily, she lived long enough to see women’s right to vote passed into law in 1928.
Whether in art, politics, or science, women’s actions have always been inspired and guided by their dual roles as mothers and guardians of the future.

motherhood figures
Mother Jones Seattle

November 25,2016  |

187.W Draped Reclining Mother and Baby, sculpture by Henry Moore at the NY Botanical Garden, picture by Peter Rivera, Flickr CC

How Imagined Baby Care Guides Can Improve Parenting Perspectives

“I was born in ancient times, at the end of the world, in a patriarchal Catholic and conservative family. No wonder that by age five I was a raging feminist – although the term had not reached Chile yet, so nobody knew what the heck was wrong with me.”

–Isabel Allende

Childhood in ancient societies was far different than childhood today. In fact, the concept of childhood as we know it today didn’t exist until the late 18th Century. The policies of potentates often had more power to determine the fate of children than the power of parents. Children were often subjected to slavery and in some societies, were even used as a form of payment for debts.

The Code of Hammurabi is one example of the power of political leaders to influence the course of baby care history. It is one of the earliest surviving examples of government regulation of family life. The consequences of breaking a law were harsh indeed, the most common being that of being put to death. The baby care history of ancient civilizations is a bleak one.

The Code of Hammurabi granted fathers a great deal of power in Mesopotamian family life. It also legislated female sexuality, making it the property of husbands in order to ensure paternity. Teen-aged rebellion was not tolerated. In fact, according to the code, “if a son strikes his father, his hands shall be hewn off”. An example of what this ancient society would consider “liberal” would a change in the law that limited the amount of time that a father was permitted to sell a child into slavery to three years.

Similar patriarchal laws were made and enforced throughout much of baby care history. In the ancient Roman Empire, under the law of patria potestas, translated as “the power of the father” men had absolute power over children. Under this law, they were even permitted to sell them into slavery or kill them. It was not uncommon for fathers to decide to allow newborns to die of exposure to the elements and he was within his legal rights to do so.

Girls as young as 13 were given in marriage. That may seem young, but at the time, approximately one third of all children died by the age of 10. The average life expectancy of men was only twenty-two, and only twenty for women. That meant that only the most fortunate girls even lived long enough to have a child, and few lived long enough to raise a child to adulthood. Consequently, many laws allowing adoption and the inheritance of property to adopted children were passed.

In ancient Greek society, physical perfection was highly valued. Babies that were born with any kind of physical abnormality or perceived frailty were often abandoned and left to die. Sometimes such babies were rescued by slavers and later sold for a profit. The male head of the household had the right to either accept or reject an infant based on its gender and physical condition, as well as other criteria such as questions of legitimacy and economic considerations.

Baby care history in ancient Mayan culture included the practice of child slavery. Some children were born into slavery, while others were sold by their parents. Orphaned children were often purchased for use in religious sacrifices. Mayan babies were nursed by their mothers three times a day until they were old enough to walk. To keep them safe, toddlers were often placed in holes in the ground that served the same purpose as that of modern playpens.

Child Advocates in Ancient Civilization

There were a few child advocates throughout baby care history, such as the philosopher Quintilian who spoke out against corporal punishment, saying

“… it is a disgrace and a punishment for slaves… if a boy’s disposition be so abject as not to be amended by reproof, he will be hardened, like the worst of slaves, even to stripes; and lastly, because, if one who regularly exacts his tasks be with him, there will not be the least need of any such chastisement.”

Slavery was such an integral part of ancient societies that even most philosophers did not speak out against it.

Baby Care History in Greece

In ancient Greek society, the philosopher Plato spoke out against the family structure, saying that collective child rearing made for a stronger society. He was also against the harsh punishment of children and was quoted as saying

“Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.”

Christianity, which taught that children were gifts from heaven, was a welcome development in baby care history, especially for children. Roman emperors who had converted to Christianity imposed penalties for abandoning children and limited the practice of child slavery. However, it took three hundred years of Christianity to end child slavery, which had been practiced for 600 years. Sadly, the history of baby care contains very little care for babies. Happily, future accounts of modern baby care history will be far less bleak.

Draped Reclining Mother and Baby, sculpture by Henry Moore at the NY Botanical Garden, picture by Peter Rivera, Flickr CC

November 11,2016  |

92.W Statuette of the (pregnant) Goddess Taweret, 332–30bc, Upper Egypt Credit Line Purchase, Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1926

How to Raise Children: Insights from Plato, Quintilian and others

One article on 19th and 20th century baby care history presents much of the conflicting advice from child care experts over the last 100 years. According to the article, such advice is a conglomeration of pseudoscience, authoritative statements, and often unreasonable demands of mothers.

In one example, Dr. George H. Napheys, author of The Physical Life of Woman, cites a study by child care “expert” Dr. Henry Kennedy. According to the results of the study, parents that care about their infant’s health will ensure that their babies always sleep with their heads pointing north. Apparently, this was a form of the Chinese practice of feng shui before it became popular in the Western world.Disturbingly enough, many parenting manuals throughout baby care history, many “experts” in the 19th century used the world “eugenics”, before Hitler demonstrated the end result of that concept. Reading some of the popular parenting “advice” of the 19th century may well make modern parents wonder how any children survived baby care history with even a modicum of mental health.

In 1916, Drs. William and Lena Sadler, in their publication The Mother and her Child advised parents to

“Handle the baby as little as possible. Turn it occasionally from side to side, feed it, change it, keep it warm, and let it alone; crying is absolutely essential to the development of good strong lungs. A baby should cry vigorously several times each day.”

To most modern parents, this seems insensitive at best and abusive at worst. However, lest these parents be judged too harshly, some statistics of the time may be relevant. For example, according to the CDC, in 1900, anywhere from 10% to 30% of American babies died before they reached their first birthday. Many deaths were due to tainted drinking water or from unpasteurized cow’s milk.
Such a high death rate was one reason that American mothers were all too ready to take the advice of medical professionals, especially obstetricians and pediatricians. While the baby care history of experts contains some who were genuinely concerned for the welfare of parents and children, it is also true that once a few of these professionals had gained wealth and fame for their contributions to the child care field, others eagerly entered the arena.

Another reason for their success was that many people in American had moved west in search of employment opportunities. That meant that new parents were unable to utilize the wisdom and experience of the previous generation. Further, with smaller “nuclear” families, many new parents had very little experience with seeing others care for infants.

In her book Raising America: Experts, Parents, and a Century of Advice About Children, author Ann Hulbert sheds light on the personal lives of some of these child care “experts”. Among those highlighted in the book are L.Emmet Holt, who wrote The Care and Feeding of Children in 1894, Arnold Gessel, and Benjamin Spock, who published the wildly popular The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care in 1946.

Since those books were published, baby care history has evolved into a more child-centered, rather than parent-centered, focus. Discipline has also come to mean teaching self-control rather than focusing on external punishment. You can hear an audio interview with NPR with Ann Hulbert in which her purpose, of pointing out the contradictory nature of expert advice over the years, is evident in her responses to real parents who call in to ask for advice.

In one review the book is described as a “chronological guided tour through the various psychological and sociological schools that have at one time or another held sway over the last century, pointing out the “inconsistent, often quickly obsolescent, counsel peddled to the public” and relating changing mores to other social shifts.” Like other types of history, baby care history is often not written by mothers themselves, but by those who benefit directly or indirectly from the still largely unpaid labor of mothers.

In a world in which child care advice “professionals” are all too ready to profit from the anxiety of new mothers, who are often deprived of the wisdom of mothers and grandmothers, in their desire to best care for their children, a voice which urges mothers to rely on themselves and one another is welcome. Her book helps parents differentiate between the often contradictory advice offered by experts, as well as dispelling some of the myths that have been widely propagated throughout years of such advice.

In some very important ways, she is in agreement with Dr. Spock, in that she believes that most mothers are better than they think they are, and the best support that mothers have is one another. The baby care history of the future will likely be written far less by experts, and more by mothers themselves.

baby care history
Statuette of the (pregnant) Goddess Taweret, 332–30bc, Upper Egypt Credit Line Purchase, Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1926

October 28,2016  |