Friday, May 30, 2014

Allowing Human Nature to Work Successfully

The Continuum Concept

Christmas dinner was twenty minutes from being served at our friend's home. My second glass of red wine was disappearing. That's when the contractions began in ernest. My wife said, "Honey, it's time to go". My daughter, Anna, was born on December 26th, 1986. A healthy 9 1/2 pound bundle of joy. 

Six months before Anna was born, I bought my first book on parenting. It wasn't recommended to me. But it caught my eye as I intently browsed through the early childhood development section of the book store...

 The Continuum Concept: Allowing Human Nature to Work Successfully -  Jean Liedloff

Time to get going!

The accolades intrigued me...

  • "If the world could be saved by a book, this just might be the book. In it Jean Liedloff says and shows that babies grow best in health, happiness, intelligence, self-reliance, courage, and cooperativeness when they are reared in the 'continuum' of the human biological experience..." John Holt
  • "...Deserves to be read by Western parents, child psychologists and other social engineers concerned with restoring self-relience and well-being. There are remarkable insights here." The New York Times Book Review
  • "A book with important implications for the future." Betty Friedan

... But, the content changed my life, and as a consequence, my daughter's. 

Yes, Ma. It's a beautiful day for berry picking!

The following is a summary of the last chapter (7) of The Continuum Concept:

Putting Continuum Principles Back to Work
Ready to go see some kites, jr.?
  • In-arms phase - "In the infant kept in constant contact with the body of a caretaker, his energy field becomes one with hers and excess energy can be discharged for both of them by her activities alone. The infant can remain relaxed, free of accumulating tension, as his extra energy flows into hers."  "Self-reliance itself comes from a completed in-arms phase, but it is one in which the infant is always present  but rarely the center of attention. he is simply there, in the midst of his caretaker's life. constantly experiencing things, safely being held."

Out of my way, Mister!
  •  Crawling phase  - " The cycling of his own energy must then be done by himself, at least during the daytime hours he spends away from his mother. There is an enormous increase in his activity. In a short time the crawling becomes efficient and he travels at impressive speeds, which are greatly accelerated when he begins to creep. If he is not restricted, he then creeps energetically and persistently over available area, using up excess energy as he explores the world he will live in."

I need shades!
  • Walking phase -  "When he starts to walk and run and to play, he does so at a pace which, in an adult, would appear quite frenzied. An adult trying to keep up with him would soon be exhausted. His contemporaries and older children are more suitable companions for him. He wants to imitate them and he does so to the best of his ever-increasing ability. No one limits his terrific activity but himself. When he tires he goes to his mother to rest, or, when he is older, to his bed." "His mother's role then is to be available when he comes to call for her. It is not to direct his activities, nor protect him from dangers from which he would be fully capable of protecting himself if given the chance.""The less the mother takes over responsibility for her baby's safety, the sooner and better he will become independent. He will know when he needs help or comfort. He should be left to be the initiator."

Watch me touch the sky!
 Words of Caution - "A child is unable to discharge enough energy to remain comfortable if for some reason his actions are limited, either by insufficient time to play outdoors, restricted space indoors at home, or being imprisoned in a playpen, harness, crib, or highchair." "The overprotected, weakened child is the one whose initiative has been constantly usurped by an over-eager mother." "Babies cannot articulate complaints. Our society must be helped to see the gravity of the crime against infants that is today considered normal treatment.""Instead of depriving them so they only have one hand to deal with the outside world, while the other is busy with inner conflicts, we can set them on their feet with both hands ready to take on outside issues".

Papa Green Bean's Conclusion with Liedloff's Sage Advice 

"I believe that making up one's mind to stay as close to the continuum as possible is itself the most useful step. Discovering ways to do so, once the will is there, is largely a matter of using one's common sense". "... A mother realizes that seeing her baby is carried about for the first six or eight months will ensure his self-reliance and lay the foundation for his becoming social, undemanding, and positively helpful for the next 15 or 20 years he will be at home." "There is room to improve our chances and reduce our errors in every small way that presents itself from day to day. We can behave correctly toward our infants with whatever situations they meet." "Once we fully recognize the consequences of our treatment of babies, children, one another, and ourselves, and learn to respect the real character of our species, we cannot fail to discover a great deal more of our potential for joy."                                                                        

That Christmas dinner I missed in 1986, was the start of the best holiday gift a father could ever hope for. And, it has been a rewarding journey ever since. 

Love, Papa Green Bean

I am super fast!