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here is a tribe in Africa where the birth date of a child is counted not from when they were born, nor from when they are conceived but from the day that the child was a thought in its mother’s mind. And when a woman decides that she will have a child, she goes off and sits under a tree, by herself, and she listens until she can hear the song of the child that wants to come. And after she’s heard the song of this child, she comes back to the man who will be the child’s father, and teaches it to him. And then, when they make love to physically conceive the child, some of that time they sing the song of the child, as a way to invite it.

And then, when the mother is pregnant, the mother teaches that child’s song to the midwives and the old women of the village, so that when the child is born, the old women and the people around her sing the child’s song to welcome it. And then, as the child grows up, the other villagers are taught the child’s song. If the child falls, or hurts its knee, someone picks it up and sings its song to it. Or perhaps the child does something wonderful, or goes through the rites of puberty, then as a way of honoring this person, the people of the village sing his or her song.

In the African tribe there is one other occasion upon which the villagers sing to the child. If at any time during his or her life, the person commits a crime or aberrant social act, the individual is called to the center of the village and the people in the community form a circle around them. Then they sing their song to them.

The tribe recognizes that the correction for antisocial behavior is not punishment; it is love and the remembrance of identity. When you recognize your own song, you have no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another.

And it goes this way through their life. In marriage, the songs are sung, together. And finally, when this child is lying in bed, ready to die, all the villagers know his or her song, and they sing—for the last time—the song to that person.

You may not have grown up in an African tribe that sings your song to you at crucial life transitions, but life is always reminding you when you are in tune with yourself and when you are not. When you feel good, what you are doing matches your song, and when you feel awful, it doesn’t. In the end, we shall all recognize our song and sing it well. You may feel a little warbly at the moment, but so have all the great singers. Just keep singing and you’ll find your way home.

This word is so loaded.

And so important.

I bumped into a friend today who is a Family Therapist and she has just watched the film, and she said she agreed with it…all of it. Her training taught her many of the things expressed in the film.

Especially with attachment theory.

What she said then has been food for thought for me for the last few hours.

When Suzanne Zeedyk talks about learning to calm down in the film, she explains that as adults we need to help our children calm down when they are upset. They need us to love them no matter how difficult they are being (and as a mother of a toddler – that can be monstrously difficult at times).

And it is in these exchanges, when they are most upset that the attachment bond forms. Not in the easy nice times that are so …easy.

It is when your child is pushing you off the edge of a cliff that they are learning about attachment…(and so are you!)

Fascinating huh?

Last night after the screening someone commented on the film, and I want to share it:

Wonderful film. I love how the emotional needs of children were highlighted so simply – finally attachment parenting is described as it should be – like a unique dance, not based on a set of practices but about honoring the needs of parent AND child.

“A unique dance” – what a wonderful way of describing it.

WOW – a very brave woman on the cover of Time magazine defending extended breastfeeding, and why not as she herself was breastfed until she self-weaned, and has warm memories of it. Interesting, as the conversations that are now going on are about her and the cover, rather than the portrait of Dr. Sears whom they call the man who remade motherhood.

In my film i talked to Suzanne Zeedyk about attachment theory, not to be confused with attachment parenting – although it is somehow born of the theory. Basically it is the idea that the better the relationship the baby has with it’s caregiver (s) the more chance that their brain will develop in the best way possible, and their ability to have relationships with other people throughout their lives will be optimal. It makes sense really.

It seems inevitable that women are getting defensive about how they are bringing up their children, as guilt and blame still feature so highly in this discussion. But I hope we can move away from feeling guilty about weaning our babies when we do, and accepting the differences in every family, and instead start to look as a whole at our attitudes towards babies and children, as we need to accept that…

“we have to take immense responsibility for care, as you [we] are generating the fundamentals of another human being for the rest of their lives” Camila Batmanghelidjh

i like this -“the idle parent” sounds like a mantra – i can be a proud idle parent! bring on the lazing in bed!

THE MANIFESTO OF THE IDLE PARENT

We reject the idea that parenting requires hard work
We pledge to leave our children alone
We reject the rampant consumerism that invades children from the moment they are born
We read them poetry and fantastic stories without morals
We drink alcohol without guilt
We reject the inner Puritan
We don’t waste money on family days out and holidays
An idle parent is a thrifty parent
An idle parent is a creative parent
We lie in bed for as long as possible
We try not to interfere
We play in the fields and forests
We push them into the garden and shut the door so we can clean the house
We both work as little as possible, particularly when the kids are small
Time is more important than money
Happy mess is better than miserable tidiness
Down with school
We fill the house with music and merriment
We reject health and safety guidelines
We embrace responsibility
There are many paths
More play, less work