If you are ever to give birth or assist one or if you did already, this essay from Adbusters is a must read...
"...how blinded we can be by the guise of protection, how crippled we can be made by fear."
If you are the first time parent you probably got caught into a trap of "buying the right stroller"...the offer is so wide that it can really drive parents-to-be crazy. Lightweight vs. travel system, easy to fold vs. comfortable for kids, for city use vs. off-road use, basinet or fully reclining seat, not to mention all the designs and colors.
We bought a Mutsy stroller for our first son and the "balance sheet" would look something like that...
- we hardly used the stroller for the first 6 months, because Jun hated being anywhere away from mommy or daddy (so instead we used Aprica Zucco bed sling and than switched to Sutemi gear and Beco carrier)
- we went travelling when he was 7 months old so we bought a cheap lightweight stroller that we fell in love with, so we used it all the time and even our friends borrowed it for their long distance trips. So that stroller has more miles than most frequent fliers :-)
- when Jun got taller sleeping in the lightweight stroller got uncomfortable, so we switched back to Mutsy, which is probably one of the most comfortable strollers for kids (wide and super soft seat, fully reclinable to a flat position- including the footrest (which is not the case in most Quinny strollers and Bogaboo stroller), so the child can really comfortably sleep in it
- then we somehow managed to break the wheels on our Mutsy (we had an old model, that they soon stopped producing- probably we were not the first ones having problems with tiny back wheels) and we switched back to the lightweight stroller, which received some more frequent flier miles on our trips back and forth to California
- but lately I started missing the big comfortable stroller that can accommodate an almost 3-year old while napping outside or for those very long walks, which are too long and tiring for even the most energetic boy.
- and with a new baby on the way, we would need a new stroller anyway.
...so today and went and bought the new frame for our Mutsy. We already have the basinet, the traveller and the seat + all the accessories that smart salespeople sale to soon-to-be parents with no experience...so we have footmuff, rain cover, sun protector, diaper bag, etc.
I can not wait to try it. I have decided for Mutsy 4rider light and I will soon post how it works for us.
Great book by Crissy Butler, Australian author and doula, that will help your family prepare for the birth of a new member. We have read the book several times with our son Jun before his little brother was born and we all loved it. The illustrations are amazing.
"My Brother Jimi Jazz begins with a family preparing for the home birth of Jimi Jazz, told from the perspective of his sister. The family work together to wash the cloth nappies, cook meals for the baby moon and ready the family bed.
Once the scene is set in glorious imagery painted both by the authors words and her amazing artwork, we experience the birth of Jimi Jazz. The birth is assisted by a lovely full moon, an active Mum, a doting Dad and the care of two midwives."
You can order it online here.
...after a year without blogging on Skinship. I miss the writing, I miss the quiet moments at the end of the day when I collect my impressions and thoughts and write them down.
I thought the social networking sites can replace the "diary" style that blogs offer but I realized they can't. Not for me.
I will be back with new thoughts on parenting (now with two kids :-), partnership and life. I have new great (finally read) books on the shelf that I want to share with you. And much more.
Thank you for staying faithful readers. I was really surpised to see that the bogs still has many readers after a year of inactivity.
Americans work longer hours than ever. That not only hurts women's careers but also widens the gender gap and threatens to trigger a resurgence of the traditional homemaker/breadwinner family structure in dual-earner households, says a new Cornell study.
Presented Aug. 1 at the American Sociological Association's annual meeting in Boston, the study found that "Women whose husbands work long hours are more likely to quit their jobs," said Youngjoo Cha, a Cornell doctoral candidate in sociology. "Yet men's careers are not impacted when their wives put in long hours."
Cha found the phenomenon occurs among women across occupations, but the link is strongest among women with children and professional women.
Working long hours has increasingly become expected in the work culture, she noted, and her research shows how "seemingly gender-neutral workplace norms can result in discriminatory outcomes and perpetuate gender inequality."
To determine the impact of longer work hours on dual-earner households, Cha analyzed data from the 1996 Survey of Income and Program Participation, a longitudinal survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Cha found that women whose husbands worked more than 60 hours per week were 44 percent more likely to quit their jobs, compared with similar women whose husbands did not overwork. Professional wives with overworking husbands were 52 percent more likely to quit than similar women whose husbands did not overwork. Professional women with children were 90 percent more likely to quit their jobs than childless women whose husbands did not overwork.
In 2002 more than 12 percent -- up from less than 9 percent in 1983 -- of employees in the United States worked more than 50 hours a week. Cha found that 30 percent of professional husbands in dual-income households worked more than 50 hours per week, compared with only 12 percent of their professional wives. This suggests, said Cha, women in professional jobs are less likely to expect spousal support than men.
"Many workplaces use 'face time' as an important proxy/signal for workers' commitment or professional competence," said Cha. "However, it should be noted that increased work hours do not assure increased productivity, and more importantly, it can seriously disadvantage many female workers who put in fewer hours at work than men."
The research was supported by a grant from the Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center and the Center for the Study of Inequality at Cornell.
Here are three beautiful quotes that I want to share with you. I have found them on the top of the application list for the Stanford's Bing Nursery School:
"Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child's soul." (Frederich Froebel)
"...each time one prematurely teaches a child something he could have discovered for himself, that child is kepto from inventing it and, consequently, from understanding it completely." (Jean Piaget)
"The nursery school is a place where children are given back some of the things modern life has tended to take away from them." (Edith M. Dowley)
I have (mostly) recovered from the first cultural shock and I am actually starting to enjoy my life in the Valley. We are almost done with the furnishing and I have to say I am really enjoying the nice customer service around here. People are very nice (or are at least pretending to be :-). We are still waiting for the sofa and will have to go back to Home Depot and Ikea. But otherwise it feels like home already. Actually, I have to grab some flowers on the way home today. I love the evenings when the three of us are cuddling in a super comfortable king size bed :-)
We took a long walk around our neighborhood here in Palo alto and we have found a great organic supermarket just a couple of blocks away and a beautiful park with a playground just across the street. Great place for picknik! I am really happy that one of the first things we bought was a picnic mat...you really can use those in Calfornia all the time. We have actually spent the last three days on the beach in Half Moon Bay, while Andrej was at the Fortune Tech conference. Jun loves playing with sand and peting all the dogs that are running around on the beach. Beautiful.
I met a nice mom with to boys today in the park and she gave me a couple of ideas about kids activities...now we have kids museum, small farm and children's library on our list for tomorow.
It's nice to chat with other moms to get a bit of idea how things work around here. She said that schools are incredibly competitive in the Valley and some parents take their pre-schoolers (4-5 years) to tutoring lessons all summer before school starts in order to learn how to read, count and so on. I am wondering what is wrong with this world (it's actually not much better in Europe) to push academic achievement above any reasonable level. Kids need to play. Fullstop. And preferably they need to play without their parents being behind their back constantly. They need some secret life and we are not really helping them with it.
We take them to the park and sit next to them or even interfer in their own games and peer interaction. And this only gets worse. Later we check their progress in kindergardens and schools (in US parents can actually do it instantly on-line), check their web history and facebook profiles, etc.
I am thinking parents should maybe focus more on themselves and just let children be...as they are. Some are slow readers, some love construction, some love art and others cooking, some are geeks and some are born networkers. Do they really all need to get to Stanford or Harvard? Will early reading and math really help? I don't think so. In today's world we need creative and imaginatve people, most of the rest can be done by computers.
I think we should completely rethink the education system. And I mean completely!
After one week in the US I am still recovering from the cultural shock :-) Everything is at least twice as big as in Europe...and I mean everything, from bottles to cars, not to mention the distances.
We are currently living with our friends in a beautiful house in the Los Gatos mountains. It's such a pure nature, with deer and squirels all around the house and a lake just around the corner. Beautiful and relaxing. Jun is enjoying his time with a big dog and two cats, but they obviously can not "replace" his darling Shana. He is talking about her all the time.
But those of you who know us can imagine that afterw few relaxing days we had to take a new challenge...
We have spent the whole week searching for a flat in the heart of Sillicon Valley (Palo Alto/Menlo Park) and it was all new experience. After seeing the first three places I had to drop my European standards by 200%...no central heating, no tight windows, no brick houses and hard-wood floor seems as extinguished as some rare species. OK, I can survive with a wall-to-wall carpet but the place we will eventually rent needs some charm and it needs to be downtown. So, we kept looking. The renting experience is a very special experience down here...when you come to see the place, there are usually already few Stanford students looking at it and than you can add a couple or two and a professional single. This quickly puts your chances to actually getting the place to about 10%. But than you realise the chances are even lower, because it doesn't have much to do with combinatorics, but it more depends on your luck. So after you (and all other potential reners) decide you like the place the process includes everything from application forms (that you actually need to pay!!!), bank reports, personal references and so on. And than you wait for the results and you keep looking in the meantime.
Yesterday we have scheduled three appointments and in the evening when I have almost given up we found it. A cute little (I should actually say tiny) cottage in a quiet and green street downtown Palo Alto just few blocks from the University Ave. It has a patio and a little garden...and if I am honest, this was the real reason to rent this place. Jun will finally get some place for gardening and his own swing outside. Surprisingly, this was the first place he liked and he started calling it "hišica" (small house). We have celebrated our new home with some juice and cookies sitting on a carpet in an empty flat. And than we have realised that we have forgotten to ask about the laundry. (Who could blame a European who owns a washing machine and has never thought about it as a luxury). Well, we have just realised there is no washing machine in our new flat and no laundry in a near proximity :-(
Today we faced a new challenge...to buy all the stuff we need to move in. From furniture, bedding, towels, dishes, glasses, knives. The small stuff was easy to find (although there is so much offer to choose from that I instantly got a headache :-) but when it came to the furniture we had to face a different metric system. So I ended up recalculating from inches to centimeters and back until I gave up and started relying on my gut feeling. Let's see if we will fit the sofa and the bed inside the room :-)
Tomorow we are going to San Francisco. Can't wait.
This is the question that most of my friends are asking lately. And they have a good reason for that...I haven't been blogging for a month, I am not accurately responding to text messages and emails and I am not returning most of the phone calls.
The reason is that I am finishing an increadible amount of projects and tasks simultaneously. Here is a short snapshot of my to-do list:
- take Shana to the vet (situation is not improving after the treatment)
- take the car to repair center, car wash and extend the insurence + other papers
- flight tickets
- Familylab training for professionals (4 days)
- 5 diplomas on my desk (give comments)
- diploma defenses
- grade the exams
- do the paperwork
- post office
- accounting for FL
- clean the flat
- do the washing
- visit the raltives and call closest friends before you leave
And besides that I have two incredible big and important private projects in the final stage + packing for the summer in San Francisco.
But I have managed a night out and went to the movies with my friends...Sex in the City is relaxing as allways :-)
I promise I will be back soon. I miss those quiet hours during the night that I spent on front of my computer researching and writing.
It was a warm spring morning and I had to take some papers to the accountant. I was home alone with Jun and decided to take a challenge...to make a meeting with the accountant exciting for both of us, my two year old and myself.
He enjoyed the taxi drive and I was trying to explain where we are going but he didn't really listen. He was entertaining himself by counting the passing cars. When we arrived to the office the real fun began. He was exploring the office, playing with the stuff while I was going through the papers with the accountant. When he saw me stamp the documents, he got this special look "Oh, I have found the best new toy in the world!". So, for the rest of the meeting he has stamped every single paper he could find in the room. "Oh, that was smooth" I thought for a second, really surprised that I have just had a serious meeting with my boy running around. He took an apple on the way out and we had ten minutes on the sun before the taxi came.
We have headed to the town centre. I had some more things on my list that day. One of them was to go to the kindergarten to sign the papers because Jun was accepted to start kindergarten this fall. While we were walking around the building trying to find the entry I had a strange feel in my stomach but I somehow ignored it. When we came inside the garden Jun immediately saw the sandpit and a ton of toys inside...his target was set :-) While he was playing I was observing the kids playing and the teachers talking. Everything was nice, but I still felt that strange feeling in my stomach. I have realised Jun was really into his play, so I sat there on the sun and I got those few minutes for myself. "Do I really want to put him to school at this age? Do I really want to be away from him most of the day? Are we ready to put our life on schedule? So many questions and only one answer. No! I felt at that precise moment that I want to stay home with my son for some more time.
We are doing great for now. I manage to do all of my work without being away from Jun for too long. We have a wondeful babysitter who comes couple of times a week and my mom jumps in when I have to teach in class. I try to do most of my work when Jun is sleeping or playing. But we still get those precious moments together...waking up slowly without an alarm, having breakfast together, breastfeeding before and after his nap, lunch at home or outside and a long walk with our dog. And at the end of the day this are the things that really matter to me. And I want to keep it this way for as long as possible.
And who knows, maybe we will end up homeschooling one day.
While many parents and schools around the world push young children to read, write and use computer as early as possible in order to prepare for an increasing academic competition. Germany is taking an old-new approach. They have around 700 "forest kindergartens" in which children spend their days outdoors all year round. Children age 3 to 6 walk into a forest each weekday, come rain and shine. They sing songs, build fires, roll in the mud, experience nature and learn about it.
The teacher who is heading one of those kindergardens for five years says it is much more peacful than inside the room and she says that no child has ever asked for a toy. The kids impovise with what woods have to offer. And according to experience there haven't been any accidents beyond the occasional scrapes, bruises or bee sting.
I really like the idea. Maybe that is the way to avoid the "early academic fatigue syndrom" when 5 year-olds are already tired of going to school. Maybe we will all need to do a step back in academic pressure in order to make an important step forward- to raise children who want to learn and not children who must learn.
You can find more info here.
The story is summarised from the article "Primeval education: In Germany schoolchildren get back to forest" by Mike Esterl from The Wall Street Journal.
A couple of my friends just became moms and they keep calling me for advice about breastfeeding. Well, I am not a lactation consultant, but after breastfeeding for almost two years I can give some useful advice. Here is one of my old posts and the points below are especially meant for new breastfeeding mothers.
Every breastfeeding mom knows them…the ups and downs in milk supply. In the first few months of my »breastfeeding career« there were days when milk was leaking and I had to use breast pads. There were days when the supply just met the demand. And there were also days when my breast was soft and felt completely empty. The first ones can be annoying but at least you are sure you have enough milk. The second ones are those that you don't even remember. But the last ones are those you will never forget…
What helped us through those low-supply days:
- Drink plenty of fluids. Put glasses with water or tea all around your home (especially on the places where you usually breastfeed). Also don't forget to drink during the night.
- Make a cup of herbal tea for breastfeeding mothers. Use the one in tea bags with no added sugar.
- Use some Weleda (or similar) oil for breasts and massage them. I use it every evening as it helps preventing tenderness. In couple of hours my brests are surprisingly full. I still don't know what's the magic behind it :-)
- Increase the frequency of feeding. On those days I try to put him on my breast every one or two hours. I often wear him in a sling so he can nurse as much as he wants.
- Try to increase skinship. Sleeping naked together is probably the best way to increase skin to skin contact. Baby massage and babywearing can also help.
- Relax. You probably worked too much the day before. Take some time and nap with your baby. A hot bath can also help.
- Put the pacifier out of your baby's mouth. If you are using a pacifier try not to use it on those days. Use your breast instead. It will signal your breasts that they need to produce more milk.
- Don't get stressed. Those days usually pass as quickly as the come. If you follow the advice your milk supply should increase in one or two days.
- Avoid negative advice. Don't get into those »Are you having enough milk?« discussions. They will probably try to convince you to give your baby some formula. But than your breasts will get the wrong message. Stay confident, and calm. If you need assistance surround yourself with positive and supportive people.
- Call LLLI or contact your lactation consultatnt. If you have a question or just need to talk to someone knowledgable and experienced you should call La Leche League International. They have very kind and supportive consultants and support groups in most of the countries. For your local LLL contact their web page.
- Breastfeeding works on the principle of supply and demand. The more your baby sucks, the more milk you produce. But it doesn't happen in real time. It usually takes one to three days to reach the balance again. You have to be persistant.
I wish you to reach the balance soon. Good luck!
What are your experiences with breastfeeding? How do you increase milk supply? I will be happy to read you comments and ideas.
Since I was very little I had a special love for books
and my mom has kept all of my children's books. When she said it will
one day be for my kids I though she is a bit odd to save al this stuff
but now, when I am browsing through those books with my son it makes me
remember my childhood...piece by piece. My favourite characters,
favourite rhymes and my own imaginary world.
We love to read together and we take him to the library every week and he is so proud when he can pick his own books and take them home. He loves those with animals...hen and peacock are absolute winners :-)
Which are your children's favourites?
Life is slowly getting back into let's call it "normal"
tracks. I have finally got some good night sleep, went to the dentist
after a long time, tried bioresonance and enjoyed Franklin method, have
payed the bills for the past few months, cleaned my desktop and my
desk, bough some "new" Second Chance clothes and did some teaching and
supervision with my students in between. I went out with my darling
husband three times- sauna, cinema and one great party. And most
importantly I finally have more time for Jun, Shana and mayself.
It took me a week to realise I don't have to work late evenings anymore, unless I really want to :-) But my new "free time" project is so exciting that I am thinking about it 24/7. As soon as the web page is finished I will post more details...for now, I can only tell you that it is a great parenting project that I really believe in. More details coming soon.
I have successfully defended my PhD thesis on Friday...
On Thursday when I was driving to the airport to pick up my Danish supervisor I had 45min for myself, just enough to go through the past 6 years. It all started when I have returned from my exchange year in France. It was during this exciting year of multi-cultural experience, fresh teaching approaches, teamwork and relaxed professors that I have started considering an academic career. Upon returning home I started working at a corporate finance department in a national bank, but I have soon realised that 8-5 schedule and financial issues can not keep me excited enough to choose a banking career.
My supervisor at the University invited me to join an international research project. I said yes without really knowing what it was all about. And there I was...completely inexperienced with only slight idea of the research topic and almost no clue about the methodological issues. Next four years were exciting, full of new experience, research meetings all over Europe, long interviews in companies and endless hours in front of computer. Back then I thought that was fairly hard work, but now I know I was just warming up for the real thing.
In autumn 2005 I realized I have only two more years to complete my thesis and I didn't have anything except the data. Some colleagues said that this is the most important part, but I knew there is still a long way to go. While trying to focus my energy on studying and isolating from everyday distractions my life crashed down just in front of me. My 10-year relationship came to an end and suddenly I couldn't even think about the most basic things in life. At that point the thesis was definitely not at the top of my priority list.
But when we think we have hit the lowest point, life always turns for the better. I fell in love with a wonderful man but our relationship wasn't as straight forward as our feelings. Both coming out of long relationship we needed some time to unite. I knew I had to leave for a while...for the sake of our relationship, for the sake of my thesis and most importantly for the sake of my well-being. I have packed some basic stuff, a ton of books and a laptop, rented out my flat and went to Denmark.
I was crying on the plane and I thought why the h*** do I have to leave now. Wouldn't be easier to stay at home, close to my friends and my family who could support me through those turbulent life changes. But I felt this was the right choice. I have two very close friends in Denmark, who helped me incredibly during those months. I have spent most of the days studying and most of the nights writing. But they made me go to a gym or a coffee break or dinner outside :-) And there were two of my students at the exchange program in Copenhagen, who came over with some beer from time to time and allways made me laugh. The days passed and I finally felt that I have made some progress with the thesis. But I also felt that my personal life sucks. This is probably what every PhD student feels at a certain point in the process- it is the price for dedicated work :-).
I have returned home during the summer, relaxed and ready for new challenges. We have moved in together and I have soon found myself pregnant. This has put the whole "thesis project" in a new perspective. The next two years were beautiful, filled with strong emotions and love for my two boys. But everyday was hard, juggling between Jun and the thesis but my motivation was high. Sometimes, there were days when I thought I will never finish it, but the support of my dear friends and family gave me the courage to continue. I will not name you all who went with me through this long process, but I will try to be there for you when you will need me.
The last two years were especially hard for my husband and son, who had to live with me on those bad PhD days. When Jun finally fell asleep we went to each others computer and we have worked endless hours night after night. His incredible energy and passion inspired me to continue. He has challenged me every single day by asking "Do you really love what you are doing?" And often the answer was not clear. Sometimes the data was not as planned, the analysis was harder as expected, the writing took longer as planned and it would be the easiest to quit. Sometimes supervisors' comments were tougher as desired but helped me improve the thesis considerably. A special thanks goes to people who have guided me through the process and provided me with a constructive comments.
And there they were past Friday...people who all somehow contributed to this "collective" project came to support and encourage me on this big day. And we have celebrated long into the Saturday morning. Thank you all for being with me on this exciting PhD journey.
Here is a short qote from the epilogue of my thesis:
"Doing research is comparable to learning how to walk. First, we are shy and we slowly explore the environment, step-by-step we gain the confidence and decide to reach the object on the other side of the room. It seems impossible, but slowly we can reach it. And every day we go a bit further, exploring new dimensions of the world. In research, it is just the same. We spend an incredible amount of time browsing through books and piles of papers, slowly exploring a scientific area and just when we think that everything has been already discovered and that there is not much to investigate, an interesting research question pops into our head. And before even thinking, we find ourselves on an exciting path of scientific research. The days pass by and we are more and more confident, doing one step after another toward the completion of the dissertation. But every day, we are more aware of how much it is still unknown and how many questions still need to be answered. And this is what keeps us going. An incredible curiosity that motivates us to explore, discover and learn."
Sleeping is probably the most controversial topic between young parents as well as between experts. I have tried to sum up some of the "old thruths" about sleeping and back it up with some of the latest research on this topic (mainly from neuroscience). The article is in Slovenian and it was recently published in a parenting magazine Iskrice (you can see and read the magazine by clicking on the link).
You can read it my article here.
Good night :-)
You must be wondering why there are no posts on my blog lately. I have an exciting new project going on (more info coming soon) and at the same time I am intensively preparing for the defense of my doctoral dissertation next week.
I have also decided to change this blog a little bit...making it more personal. I will add a new category "A day in my life" where I will share with you all the exciting things that happen in a life of a mother of one little boy, owner of a hyperactive dog and wife of an entrepreneur. I hope you will enjoy it.
The most straightforward and authentic way to communicate to others about yourself, your limits, your feelings, emotions is by what you call personal language. Could you describe what is personal language and what isn't?
Yesterday my grandson (17 months) took a piece of food from his plate, tried to bite it in half and when he was unable he placed it on the table next to his plate. If you don’t like that (which I don’t) it is easy to teach him if you follow a few basic rules:
Create contact – i.e. get his attention and establish eye contact. Then tell him in a friendly voice (as to a good adult friend), “I don’t like that you put your food on the table. I want you to put it back on the plate.”
This is personal language, that tells him about his grandfather. His is not being criticized , blamed or ordered. I tell him who I am and what I want, and most of the time he gives it to me – willingly and happily. And “most of the time” is all you can hope for – from any other human being.
You point to an important distinction between self-esteem and self-confidence. The terms are often confused or used as synonyms, although they mean something quite different. As a result we often set to strengthen the child's self-esteem but end up boosting his self-confidence only, at the most. Why is that a problem and what do we gain by being conscious about the distinction?
The lack of self esteem is probably the one factor that causes most pain in people and in their relationships. I causes many people to become victims or bullies. I causes a lot of substance abuse, a lot of guilt and bad conscience. In the relationship between parents and their children it causes a lot of violence which in turn makes is impossible for children to develop a healthy self esteem. A healthy self esteem is a deep existential quality that enriches peoples lives and makes it possible for them to enrich the lives of other people.
Self confidence is a very good thing when it comes to our development of skills – practical, personal, academic, sport and so on. But a strong self confidence does not give you more self esteem. The current trend among European parents is to constantly praise children – no matter what and how they do. This does not strengthen their self esteem it only pumps up their ego’s. Personal feedback is much better – for both parents and children – and it strengthens the self esteem on both sides.
Regardless of the time and society we live in we seem to always agree that the current generation of children and youth is just terrible, so much worse that ours was. How can that be? Are we not progressing socially and psychologically? What do you think of today’s children?
The most simple answer is: we were cooperating with our own parents and learned specific ways of being of value to them. We convinced ourselves that our way was the “right” way – not matter how painful it might have been. When a new generation is behaving differently is makes us question our own way but instead of reflecting about our own way, we condemn theirs. It is not very intelligent but very common as you say.
When I look at today European children I have a few worries, but mostly I enjoy that more and more of them are able to grow up without fear and with a lot of freedom to become who they are.
All through history children were seen and treated as some kind of antisocial semi-beings that need to be subjected to great influence and manipulation from parents in order to learn to behave like real (adult) human beings; as objects in need of special »parenting methods«. You are saying that this is not the case and one of the arguments in favour of that basic notion is your claim that children cooperate. Even more: that they cooperate willingly and competently and that faced with a choice between cooperating and saving their integrity they inevitably choose cooperation. Tell us more about that, how and why that happens?
The conflict between our personal integrity (needs, values and boundaries) and our desire to cooperate (adapt, copy) is a fundamental existential conflict that has always been know to man. It can also be described as a conflict between individuality and conformity or between the individual and society. It is a lifelong and daily challenge to find the right balance because the individual depends on the group just as much as the group depends on the individual.
The question we ask ourselves today is how we can raise children in a non-authoritarian and non-violent way. How can we teach them genuine respect for other people based on good experiences and trust instead of and fear or anxiety.
In our fifty years of working with families we have learned that children are not born “egocentric” as S. Freud thought. They are more than willing to cooperate and copy their parents when treated with respect. Just watch any infant and you will see how eager they are to please and to learn the ways of their parents.
This means that our task as adults has been redefined. We must now develop a way to be with our children that protects their personal integrity and help them when they cooperate too much for their own good. This is not a romantic notion suggesting that we should be “nice and sweet” all the time but that we develop ways of exercising our authority and power.
But still, parents are obsessed with the idea that they need to yield and retain power in the parent-child relationship. Why are we so stuck with the idea that power is important in any relationship?
I believe that this idea has very little to do with how to raise children. It has been a reflection of autocratic political systems, where adults were suffering as much as children but could not see any other way. Power is a reality – also in relationships. The question is how we can administrate our power on the personal level in a way that helps our loved ones to grow and become healthy instead of harming them and damage their vitality. How can we raise children that are mentally healthy and not either violent/abusive or self destructive? Over the past two decades we have found many answers to this question, but many are still unanswered.
The other point that seems to preoccupy parents is the necessity to set limits to the child. What's your view on setting the limits?
I don’t believe in setting limits for children in the sense that we create fences of rules and prohibitions around them. I do believe that is important that parents are well-defined – i.e. that they are clear about what they want and don’t want.
If a small child wants to cross the street when there is a red light you should of course hold him back, but when it comes to the child’s development of respect and understanding for your values and boundaries it happens through interaction and dialogue and it takes app. five years for a child to integrate this knowledge. (This is – by the way – much faster than most adults learn about the values and boundaries of their partner)
Interview was prepared by Ivana Gradisnik and Anja Cotic Svetina
One of your main ideas is that children are competent. What do you mean by that?
The fact, that children are competent is actually a very important discovery done by the American psychoanalyst Daniel N. Stern and his associates in the eighties, when they studied the early relationship between mother and child. His findings corresponded with my own experiences as a family therapist and I chose the title “Your competent child” because I wanted to underline that children are not “half-competent” as earlier developmental psychology had taught us.
What we found was among other things that the reactions/behavior of children always are meaningful – i.e. the are to be understood as valid feedback to the adults; That children are born with the ability to be emphatic and the ability to take responsibility for their own person. These are the most interesting competencies as they are completely opposite from what I learned in my education and as a father 35 years ago. It means that there is good reason to regard upbringing and education of children as a mutual process where parents can and must learn along with the child. As the child is learning about the world, his family and himself the parents are learning about their child and themselves as human beings. It also means that raising children is no more a one-way-street, where adults are doing something to children, but a mutual process of personal growth and development.
So, children are competent, parents are competent – why do we then need so much »professional advice«, so many books on parenting, parenting manuals etc… When one reads through your work one of the thing that become immediately apparent is that you don't fall into that »method« trap – giving »cook-book recipes« that are supposed to work for anyone. How come?
I thing there are two reasons. The first is that this new insight creates a whole new perspective on children and their personal and social development for which we have not yet developed a corresponding adult behavior. The second is that the world and our societies have changed tremendously over the past generation so that young parents actually are faced with the challenge of re-inventing not only partnership but also how to raise children with respect for their personal integrity. The fact that children are competent does not mean that they know or are able to do everything. They still need adult leadership, but a very different kind of leadership that respects their individual existence and personal integrity instead of just forcing or manipulating them into copies of their parents or to adapt to society as it is.
Children are just as different as “real people” and the ideas that there are techniques or methods that works with all children is simply outdated. Family life must be based much more on dialogue in the future and we must learn to regard also the behavior of children and adolescents as valuable feedback instead of as insubordination.
What you are proposing is »the third way« - the way that is neither autocratic nor so called permissive. How would you describe this alternative way and why do we need it?
It is actually a lot like the way we now regard the relationship between men and women. Women might not yet be politically, socially and economically equal to men but they deserve (and demand) to be regarded as independent, autonomous human beings. My own generation was the first to face this enormous challenge and we are still learning every day.
My term “Equal dignity”, when used about children, does not mean equality in a political sense. It means that parents (as well as pedagogues and teachers) must regard the emotions, reactions, thoughts and dreams of children and young people as just as important and valuable to the fellowship as those of adults and that they should be included .
But contemporary families have been actually trying to base their family life on democratic principles. Democracy is supposed to be good, but you say that it just doesn't work in the context of family relations. Why is democracy in family life not enough or better said not good enough?
The principles of democracy are very important also within families. What I have said is that they are not enough to form the basis of values. It has to do with the fact, that adults are and must be responsible for the quality of the relationship between adults and children. Children are simple not able to responsible for that. (This is a competence they do not have).
Let’s take an example: parents can discuss the plans for the summer holidays with their children and the decision can be shared or democratic in nature. But how the family is functioning and how everybody is feeling during the holidays depends solely on the quality of the parental leadership.
Or to put it in another way: the wellbeing of each family member is far too important to vote about. The decision-process in families cannot be based on opinions and attitudes alone. It must include mutual empathy and a desire to be of value to each others lives.
I have borrowed this post from my dh's blog but i couldn't agree more...
It's strange that we learn so much stuff during our school years, but never the important stuff such as how to raise kids, balance life, deal with stress, live healthy life or how to involve in relationships. Here are the 10 evolutionary principles that are worth considering. And recently most of the points have been researched using MRI scans and other techniques. You will find the scientific support for those principles in The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland. You will learn a lot about your kid, yourself and your brain.
1. Sleep with your children (reduces risk of cot death-SIDS,
they sleep better, and provides intimate bonding).
2. Breast feed your children until they naturally stop (about age three). This helps their brain development, their immune system, their emotional bonding, and helps prevent the mother from menstruating and becoming pregnant again. Studies also show that the less menstrual cycles a women has the lower the risk of breast and cervical cancer (women did not evolve to have many periods as they were either breastfeeding or pregnant).
3. Feed yourself and your children what you evolved to eat - a variety of organic fruit, vegetables, nuts, fish, meat, less cereals and clean rain water / earth water with earth minerals.
4. Read and tell stories to your children.
5. Play games (and laugh / have fun) every day with your children. (We evolved to play as a way of learning social skills.)
6. Avoid TV.
7. Don’t work full time while you are raising children - they are a beautiful part of your life and they grow up so quickly. Live cheaply so that you do not become a slave to money / work.
8. Try to educate your children every day using normal daily activities.
9. Become involved with their school.
10. Educate yourself and your children to Philosophy (wisdom from truth) such that you can teach your children to have good ‘bullshit detectors’ so they can protect themselves from a lot of the crap (myth masquerading as truth) in our modern world.
Many of my friends are using homeopathic remedies and after hearing about their great experience we started using homeopathy two years ago. It works perfectly for us so I though some of you might benefit from reading more about the method.
Summing up from the Society of Homeopaths...
Homeopathy is a gentle, holistic system of healing. It
focuses on you as an individual, concentrating on treating specific physical
and emotional symptoms. The therapy is based on the theory of treating “like
with like”, which means that if homepathic medicine is given
to a healthy person, it would produce the symptoms the medicine is prescribed for.
Homeopathic remedies are a
unique, potentised energy medicine, drawn from the plant, mineral and animal
worlds. They work by gently boosting the natural energy of the body, and are
very safe, even for pregnant and sensitive patients. Homeopaths take into account the range of physical, emotional and lifestyle
factors in order to prescribe the right medicine(s). Homeopathy has a wide
application, from acute fevers, sore throats and toothache, to chronic
illnesses such as arthritis, eczema, asthma, anxiety, mild depression and
chronic fatigue syndrome. There has been some very good research evidence to
support this. You can find more facts and figures about homeopathy here.
»Homeopathy is ideal for babies and children as it is a gentle yet highly effective system of medicine. The mildly sweet pills, powders or liquids are easy to dispense and are more palatable than many conventional medicines. The highly diluted natural substances that form homeopathic remedies mean that they are safe to use in the very young, including newborn babies. More than that, homeopathy can raise the immunity of your children to help deal with illness throughout their childhood. homeopathy not only helps when your child is ill. It can also help prevent illness and give support through difficult periods of their life.«
»Homeopathy works fast with children because they are
usually full of vitality. Acute conditions such as ear infections, tonsillitis
and flu, can be resolved rapidly using the right remedies, often avoiding the
need for conventional medicines. Babies also tend to respond quickly to
homeopathic treatment – there are remedies for colic, teething and nappy rash,
I will post more about our experience, where to buy homeopathic remedies and which books are worth reading in my next posts.
Recently I have been reading a lot about the causes of early childhood caries. Jun's upper teeth have the signs of early caries, which made me quite upset. He hardly eats any sugar and we are trying to clean his teeth as much as possible. He is quite a challenge when it comes to cleaning teeth and we have tried virtually everything in the last 14months (his first tooth came out at 6 months) to clean it at least in the evening. But we are obviously not very successful.
In our dentist's opinion the reason for his caries is breastfeeding and according to her I should immediately stop breastfeeding. I was quite shocked to hear that and I did some more research to find some relevant studies on this topic. Here are the results of one study published in the Pediatrics journal.
The objective of this study by Iida et al. (2007) was to assess the potential association of breastfeeding and other factors with the risk for early childhood caries among young children in the U.S. Based on more than 1500 children between 2 and 5 years of age the researchers investigated the association of breastfeeding and its duration, as well as other factors that previous research has found associated with early childhood caries. The results show that breastfeeding and its duration were not associated with the risk for early childhood caries. The data provide no evidence to suggest that reastfeeding or its duration are independent risk factors for early childhood caries, severe early childhood caries, or decayed and filled surfaces on primary teeth.
You can read the whole paper here.
The concept of skinship was described by Debbie Treijs in the Mothering magazine (september, 1999)...
"Skinship is a Japanese/English word developed during a World Health Organization meeting in Japan in 1940. It describes the physical closeness between a mother and her child. When a child receives an abundance of skinship, the child is better able to handle stressful situations and will mature into an emotionally stable adult."
She goes beyond presenting the importance of physical contact between the mother and a child by introducing a Japanese phylosophy of childhood and parenting. They have an old saying stating that the first three years in a child's life are believed to be the most critical to their development as an adult. During those early, formative years, two basic needs must always be met: food and security. The need for food or nourishment is met through breastfeeding and a healthy diet from the mother; the need for security is satisfied through "skinship."
I am learning more and more about Japanese culture every day and I will share some insights with you in the following posts.
Greetings from fantastic and incredibly baby-friendly Tokyo :-)
I am reading Your competent child for the second time already. It is simply fantastic. I could easily write a post for each page in this book, but I will try first to just give you a short review in order to inspire you to read it. It is a life-changing book.
Jesper Juul, an internationally renown family therapist from Denmark, starts this book by explaining how the family structure has changed over the years and that we are at important crossroads. He explains why family shouldn’t be built on authoritarian force or democratic tyranny anymore but should rather encourage dignity and reciprocity between parent and child. He argues that children are competent to express their feelings from birth, and they are eager to cooperate. Even more, if they have to choose between preserving their own integrity and cooperation, they would almost always choose to cooperate with us. It is thus the parents who must “teach them how to look after themselves when they are interacting with others”. This book constantly reminds us to listen to and learn from our children. As one reviewer wrote on Amazon.com: “This is a book that helps you see with a child's eye, hear with a child's ear, and feel with a child's heart in ways that feel so natural and obvious, you will wonder why you haven't thought of them before. But trust me, you haven't”.
In this beautiful book author is using
numerous real-life examples from his experience that bring his ideas even
closer to our heart. He challenges parents to see parenting as an exciting time
of growth and development. I couldn’t agree more with the reviewer who wrote:
“This groundbreaking book should be on the shelf of all parents everywhere. If
you read only one book on raising your child, this is the one.”
I can promise you that after finishing reading it you will want to read it again. First time I was reading it I was going through the lines as a child, analysing relationship with my parents. And only this time I am reading it from the parent’s perspective, learning even more about this magic but complex relationship that make us a family.
I recommended this book to many of my friends and I got couple of beautiful emails from them thanking me for pointing them to Juul. One friend wrote: “Juul is great. A real revelation. It is something that you already know deep down in your heart. But here it is…black on white, with examples. /…/ I can not thank you enough. And when my son grows up he will draw a picture for you, because this book has changed our lives.”
- 10.000 hours of dedicated reading, field research, data analysis and writing, editing, writing, deleting, writing, writing, writing...
- not going to sleep before 2 or 3 a.m. for several months (and waking up at 7 in the morning when one little boy is already fresh and full of energy)
- crying because you don't (yet) have a clue about statistics and your data is completely the opposite of what you've expected
- developing sound theoretical models during breastfeeding (yes, oxytocin helps you to relax and sometimes get some great ideas :-)
- editing your text while playing on the playground with your kid
- living in a complete chaos: no bills payed for the last couple of months, livingroom looks like a national archive after an eartquake and I can not find any of my personal belongings anymore
- 200something pages of text that is supposed to make sense and in someway contribute to science?!
I have submitted my PhD dissertation today and I am so tired that I can not even celebrate. I am going straight to bed to hug my little monkey and finally have a good night sleep.
I really want to thank you all for the unconditional support in the last four years. Especially those of you who had to live with me on those bad "PhD days" :-)))
Recent Study by Therese Doan, Annelise Gardiner, Caryl Gay and Kathreen Lee reveals that breastfeeding brings more night sleep for parents. In their paper published in the Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing they explain that parents of infants who were breastfed slept an average 40 minutes more than parents of formula fed babies.
After reading the report of this study in the Mothering Magazine I did a simple pool among my friends and we agreed that in general breastfed babies do eat more often during the night than formula fed babies, but breastfeeding mothers (who are also co-sleeping) do not need to fully awake for nursing. I just pull a shirt and roll on the side...and fall back asleep while the little one has his snack or is calming down after a bad dream.
And every new mother knows how precious are those 40 minutes :-)