We encourage you to use both your mind and your heart
to re-evaluate what mainstream American culture
has been teaching us about infant-rearing.
Make informed parenting decisions that feel right.
If we adults feel sad or lonely, we sometimes "soothe" ourselves by listening to music or watching TV, but most of us would prefer to pick up the phone and call someone, or get in our cars and go to where our loved ones are, or at least to a place where we can be with other human beings. We don't "suffer in silence;" we take action. But what choice do babies have? They're entirely dependent on us. They cry to let us know they need us, but “experts” have told us we need to ignore them, that they need to learn to "self-soothe." Research has shown that children can't BEGIN to learn to soothe themselves till they're about 2 and a half to 3 years old. And anyway, if we adults turn to others for comfort, even though we have the maturity and ability to have developed many coping mechanisms, why do we deny comfort to our very dependent and immature babies?
How is CARE Parenting different from regular parenting?
Mainstream or “regular” parenting in the U.S. has mainly concerned itself with shaping, controlling and modifying children’s behavior and has given little importance to children’s emotional and relationship needs.
Parents who practice CARE Parenting believe in meeting their children’s needs for emotional security and for empathetic, responsive caregivers. They believe in “tuning in” to their children to try to understand what they’re feeling and trying to communicate. They listen with empathy and make thoughtful, conscious decisions, rather than just “doing what’s always been done” or reacting based on whatever mood they happen to be in. They respond to in a positive and caring way that shows respect for their children and their feelings, thoughts, preferences and boundaries.
How does this play out in an actual situation?
Let’s look at a question asked by many parents: “Should I let my baby cry it out?” For decades, parents have been told by “experts” to ignore what their hearts tell them and leave their babies alone to cry themselves to sleep. The only goal is to modify the babies’ behavior, to teach them that no one will come or comfort them when they cry, so that parents don’t haven’t “waste” their time helping their babies transition to sleep. This “sleep-training” is supposed to teach babies to “self-soothe” and become “independent.”
With CARE Parenting, parents pay attention to their babies’ cries, understanding that they are distressed and feeling empathy for them. Then the parents use the research-based knowledge they consciously chose to learn regarding what babies need to feel secure and loved and to grow up to be caring and confident adults. Finally, they consciously make the decision to show empathy for their babies’ feelings and respect for their needs, by picking them up, comforting them and helping them transition to sleep. (Don’t most adults prefer to go to sleep holding the warm body of a loved one?)
Let’s revisit these beliefs. Let’s try to really understand what the baby in this one-minute video is feeling.