Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Bad Babies? No Such Thing!

Most of us have said things that the minute it came out of our mouths we wished it had not. Writing gives you more time to think a bit, and I don’t usually regret what I write—even if it later makes me ashamed that I once thought like that. Still I recognize it as a record of what I once thought, and that has value—perhaps to bring about a correction. But within a day of my last post, I realized what I wrote did not accurately express what I meant. And I regretted the possibility that it might have made some mothers feel bad.

One of the highlights for me of our weekend vacation was watching three beautiful and pleasant babies, so I wrote about that. I love babies and consider them so important! It struck me as extraordinary that even though these three little ones were sometimes in stressful situations, I did not hear any crying. I wrote about that because I thought it was unusual; and in trying to express that amazement, I foolishly said: “He proved my theory that modern babies must no longer cry.” I was kidding, of course. I have no such theory, and I did not believe that at all, but for some odd reason I wrote that sentence. GRRRR.

Back in the long-ago day, when I walked the floor with a baby with colic or wrestled an unhappy screaming or crying toddler, people would often say that if a baby had not cried, then that baby was “good” that day. I am sure I probably said that too because that was the way we expressed that we had had a good (or easy) day. Today I would try not to say that because of the obvious inference that a crying baby is “bad.” And we all know that is not true.

We knew it back then too, but we were talking about the care giver’s good (or easy) experience. Mothers all intuitively understood back then just as they do today that if a baby is crying, something is the matter. That is why mothers instinctively start rocking, soothing, singing, or sometimes frantically trying to ease whatever is the matter. (We used to have to check diaper pins!) Sometimes success was as simple as feeding the baby or letting it nap. A baby’s brief cry with rapid easing will help any mother feel successful and confident and happy! Such success is one of many rewards of motherhood.

Unfortunately, some mothers do not get those rewards. Crying cannot be solved that easily for some babies. Some mothers have watched a baby’s legs cramp upward because of the intense pain in their bellies and this goes on for hours no matter what is done to sooth. The babies may be glad to be in their mother’s arms, but they still need to cry just as we adults sometimes must scream out when we are in pain. And those mothers who walk or rock that little one for hours will not get the cessation of crying nor the sweet smiles that pain-free babies may give. At the end of a long frustrating time of trying to find the cause and ease a baby’s misery, that mother may not only be exhausted but also feel a failure.

Some babies do not have colic or allergies causing pain, but their neurological make-up or perhaps even their innate emotional make-up may make them to be extraordinarily sensitive to surrounding conditions. Every child is different and the reasons for pain or poor health are endless. Are these babies bad because they react to what pains or upsets them? Of course, not. But we should recognize and express appreciation to the mothers and fathers of these babies who have to work many times harder than the parents of less vulnerable babies. That is why I felt so regretful that I said something so silly as my having a “theory that modern babies must no longer cry.” Even though I was kidding and expressing being amazed at three specific little ones, I apologize to the harder working mothers and fathers who need all the praise and emotional support we can give them.

That being said, I do think the babies that I wrote about were that calm and pleasant because of good parenting and also good care giving by others who loved and looked after them. These parents and caregivers also deserve all the praise we can give them, because they have one of the most important jobs in the world. That importance is why we need family leave for parents who work outside the home.

One of the things we can learn from babies is that we are all happier, more comfortable, and more pleasant to be around when our needs are being met. When children, teens, and adults are being onery, we need to look for causes. Often those people being difficult just need food or sleep just like an infant. Or they need relief from pressure or stress or painful shoes. Again the list of what could be wrong is endless, and every human being is different. Sometimes that person needs the help of a doctor or a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Sometimes we just need soothing or comforting. (Please note I have switched to first person. We are all guilty of bad behavior at times.) Being sensitive to each other’s needs and not being too quick to jump to the conclusion that bad behavior means a person is bad could often bring better results.



Deb Johnson said...

Babies. I was lucky will all of my 3. No crying. No colic. It is the teenagers I am worried about 😐

Deb Johnson said...

Babies. I was lucky will all of my 3. No crying. No colic. It is the teenagers I am worried about 😐