Myths and Realities

MYTHS AND REALITIES

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Children are not miniature adults – They feel differently, think differently, organize the world differently, behave differently and all that changes, depending on the age and stage at which they are.

Children know very little about the world when they enter it – almost nothing. – The information that they acquire about the world, especially in the early years, comes from the numerous messages, verbal and non-verbal, conscious and unconscious that are transmitted to them by their parents. Thus, parents must be especially careful about who they are, what they say and how they behave, because, it is out of that that a child decides who he is and what kind of a place the world is.

Safety & Self-esteem – The crucial issue for a person is the acquisition of a genuine and high self-esteem. That is the cornerstone of mental health, of emotional well-being. To acquire that, a child must feel: A) Safe: The most misunderstood aspect of child rearing is that for a child, Safety – is the first consideration. When a child enters the world, he is hopeless and helpless. He can do almost nothing to provide for himself, manage himself or help himself. Everything is new and dangerous. A child’s sense of safety lies in his mother – in his knowledge of this other part of oneself that will provide and protect, that will always be there when necessary. It will seem to people that as long as a child’s physical needs are provided for, many people can manage him; he can be in a day care center, etc. Not true. A young child before the age of 4 needs one to one contact and consistent care by one person, most preferably his mother in order to feel safe and lovable. Not getting this makes him feel in danger, abandoned, not loved, not worthwhile. An infants brain structure and ways of thinking and understanding of the world are different from that of an adult and, even, of that of an older child. When an infant is very hungry or uncomfortable or alone and frightened and he’s left to cry for fifteen minutes or so, he imagines that he’s been abandoned, that no one will ever help him, that he is hopeless and will die. Too many of these experiences will instill a sense of hopelessness and powerlessness that can live with the person forever and form the basis of a life long depression. As children get older, somewhere around three and a half, they begin to acquire intellectual and emotional “object constancy” – that is – they can hold the thought of their parent as a constant image in themselves and know that, even though the parent isn’t there, he is alive and will reappear. But even, then, too long an absence or too many absences will make the child terrified and angry and powerless and depressed. An available and present mother is the mainstay for a child’s feelings of safety and security in the world. In this age of feminism and “women can have everything” there wil be huge outcries at this insistence for mother. Can it be father? There is not enough data available. However, children come into the world not knowing about feminism. Nature does not conform to politics. In twenty-five years, I have never seen an adult, no matter how brilliant or “well functioning” who, if he or she had not received the above, did not feel worthless, “bad,” unloved, powerless or mistrust anyone in this most “dangerous” of worlds. That feeling of “emptiness” that so many adults report, that so many adults try to stuff with food and liquor and drugs and sex is a direct result of lack of emotional nourishment, attention, nurturing, mirroring support given first by the crucial mother, then the father then by others in the universe. Constant and consistent attention and positive reinforcement are necessary.