May 2012 Newsletter

May 2012 Events

In the next few weeks we are running the following events - (click on the green wording for more detailed information on related website pages.)

Polyvagal Theory and Relationships Seminar Monday May 14
Free Introductory Talk on Body Psychotherapy Monday May 21
Grow Your Success Workshop Saturday May 26
Body Mind Day Retreat Sunday May 27

Please feel free to contact us if you wish to enquire or book into any events.

The Parenting Styles Debate

The choice of being a parent is one of the most important and life style challenging decisions an adult will make in their life. A decision such as this often will be made in the face of one or both parents needing to work to create the lifestyle they want in life. Such a lifestyle will often create in new parents such conditions as sleep deprivation where the parent will try to serve the new babies dependency needs in the face of juggling other relationship, work and lifestyle tasks.

Today more than ever there are competing forces and demands at play which affect the ability of parents to be present to their infants and children to the extent that they would ideally want to have. Unless the family is able to financially support the mother being a stay at home mum which is not possible for most families. In our era the idealistic parenting outcome remains aloof for most mums.

Over the years society has thrown up a range of baby raising methodologies and programs for mothers to adopt in their attempt to create the best possible parenting outcome. Many programmes target the parent to create an outcome where their baby will sleep without fuss or without extended mother contact. Some of these programs are geared towards the baby while some are geared toward the parent.

The current edition of Time magazine has a very provocative cover photo of a mother breastfeeding a 3 year old boy in a posture of defiance. The photo is linked to the central article entitled “Are You Mom Enough?” and revisits the debate on parenting styles with babies and infants.

The article is a summary of Attachment Parenting and bases its example on the public and unusual example of a woman from the Playboy Mansion who mothers in this style. The photo on the cover creates a highly charged emotional association before the reader even turns the page to find the related article.

The Time Magazine choice of the advocate of this style of parenting as well as the cover page ensure a polarising and extreme form of association are crafted in the mind of the reader. This is an extreme and biased form of journalism that will not enable a balanced form of coverage to be possible about Attachment Parenting. What then are then the important considerations about parenting styles and methods such as Attachment Parenting and more modern behavioural parenting programmes.

There are two important lines of thought that a parent may want to consider in choosing such a programme. The first is the accumulated wisdom of hundreds of generations of maternal lineages of mothers that have reared children in traditional cultures. The second is the recent advances made in infant neurobiology and developmental psychopathology and our understanding of the critical role in bonding, attachment, touch, and eye mirroring between babies and the mother.

The first line of thought comes from the natural instinctual practices of mothering that we find traditionally in many cultures and which is still practiced in some communal cultures such as parts of the Caribbean, Africa and South American today. In these cultures there is a predominant theme of the baby and infant up to about 2 to 3 years old being in near constant touch and contact with either the mother or the wider family unit of siblings, relatives or community members.

Such a child is affectionately attended to and by the attention, contact, mirroring and love shown to it. If physically well and not having any significant trauma such an infant will typically feel safe, will have been stimulated and its developing window of tolerance of its nervous system engaged so that it naturally now wants to sleep. These infants have been shown in studies to quickly develop good sleep habits at an early age. They often co-sleep or sleep in proximity to their parents such as in the same room.

The baby raised in this way will typically make a lot of eye contact with its mother and others whom hold it. This is important as the baby makes meaning of its experience by learning from the facial expressions, sounds, eye dilation and touch of those holding it. This is a key way that in our human design we are all made to learn, develop and grow into emotionally expressive and mentally well adjusted children and then later adults.

There are now various forms of modern parenting methodologies that borrow from these accumulated wisdoms of traditional societies. Two such programmes are Attachment Parenting and Conscious Parenting. Both of these approaches bring elements of the traditional wisdom of mothering and parenting into a modern context, and add to this knowledge more western researched understandings of the implications, practices and technology assisted tools for parenting.

The Attachment parenting model presented in the Time magazine article and then summarised and sensationalised in such news feeds as Perth Now are emotive rather than informative. There are some important experts in the infant development fields currently touring in Australia at present whom have the detachment from sentiment and the backing of science from which to speak.

Their line of thought is informed from the rapid advances in infant neuroscience, neurobiology, and developmental psychopathology that along with other sciences are now proving what shapes the development of healthy and compromised outcome children. These sciences are in many ways completing a circle that points back to many of the age old wisdoms of traditional culture when it comes to best practice for parenting and mothering.

Neuroscience and the other related disciplines mentioned above are in broad agreement that young infants have a vast array of biopsychosocial competencies and inbuilt processes which help them to create meaning-making as a core process in their young life.  The engagement of these competencies and mechanisms are central to governing both pathological (illness) and typical (healthy) outcomes, argues prominent childhood developmental psychologist Ed Tronick (2011).

Ed Tronick has an extensive background in childhood developmental research and practice, and is currently touring Australia under sponsorship by the Australian Childhood Foundation. Core to his argument about positive mental health outcomes for infants is the reciprocity and attachment bonding that occurs between mother and the young infant or baby. This implies consistency and quality of interaction between mother and baby.

The parenting debate is not likely to go away anytime soon. The use of any model to parent from needs to be understood as a guide and any extreme form of parenting is unlikely to serve the infants needs. We need to ask who is this programme really serving when we consider adopting it.

It is tragic that a model from the Playboy mansion was offered up in the Time magazine article as a role model or representative of Attachment Parenting values, attitudes and beliefs. If an adult woman adopts a Playboy lifestyle then one can assume that at some level they may have become sexualised and objectified in their own adult reality.

The expressions of how far they would go in using their attachment to a growing child may hint at their own set of bodily boundaries not being solid. Sex as attachment for adults in many ways has a similar somatic effect as the infantile attachment to the mother. Both elicit the pleasure centres in the brain and create bonding and attachment outcomes.

I personally do not advocate the extremes of Jamie Lynne Grumet in terms of having her child photographed in a feeding pose for magazine publication, nor do I favour some of her interpretations of Attachment Parenting such as breast feeding a child way beyond 2 years. Any good thing can be misused when it is adopted in an extreme way.

For a full version of this article and its further exploration of issues around this topic then follow this link to this latest article Parenting Styles Debate.

Sacred Activism Support

In 2011 I set up a Facebook site Sacred Activism Western Australia. I did this after personally attending a talk and course run by Andrew Harvey, the celebrated mystic and originator of Sacred Activism. This site was to be handed over to a spiritual group to run and keep alive and I simply offered to setup the site and get it going.

Unfortunately after long delays the spiritual group finds itself unable to oversee the site and so the site has effectively become mine to energise and promote.

Sacred Activism is a passionate topic of mine. I find its call to action by spiritually minded persons the appropriate embodiment of spirituality for our age. Sacred Activism has been defined by Andrew Harvey as "the fusion of mystical knowledge, spiritual awareness and radical action to support all life and the environment to transform the political, economic and cultural systems that are causing devastation in our world".

This is a personal call to action. As the well known spiritual teacher and healer Carolyn Myss states "The time has come for you to recognise your capacity to make a difference, however small or grand, and that every action when done with consciousness of the Sacred adds to the healing of the whole life system. This is a mystical truth whose time has come - each of us has the power to make a difference in the lives of others and in our environment".

I ask for your support in becoming a fan of the Sacred Activism site. I encourage comments and dialogue, ideas and suggestions about worthwhile community activities going on that we can engage with, or at least make conscious and support through promotion. Just follow the link to support us in growing this model of community grassroots compassion and practical works.

May 2012 Events

This Monday May 14 we are running our Polyvagal Theory and Relationships Seminar and next Monday May 21 we have our Free Talk on Body Mind Science.  Please note that our talks and seminars are temporarily being run out of The Rise in Maylands.  Our workshops continue to be held at the Ballroom in the Dome Cafe in Maylands.

This month we are also running our Grow Your Success Workshop on Saturday May 26 and a Body Mind Day Retreat on Sunday May 27.

The Grow Your Success workshop has proven popular in previous years as it helped attendees understand the nature of their subconscious mind. This includes making conscious their emotional blocks, inherited beliefs, conclusions and values which were counter to consciously stated equivalents, and which effectively sabotaged business and personal success beyond a certain point.

This workshop is experiential in that we personally confront and work through some key aspects of sabotaging aspects of the subconscious mind. Everyone could do with a reflective session that this workshop offers and then start the process of growing your success beyond where you are today.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any queries or wish to make a booking for private therapy or a group event.

Enjoy your month!

Richard Boyd

Director, Energetics Institute            Website       Facebook            Twitter       Blog         Youtube

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