Archive for the ‘First 3 Years’ Category

Those First 3 Years Are Really Crucial

Sunday, January 20th, 2019

The book Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters by Erica Komisar (Penguin Random House, 2017) is an informative book for every mother to read. Whether you are a stay-at-home mother or work part-time or full-time as a mother, this book stresses the importance of prioritizing those first 3 years for every child you may have.  Mothers in any of those situations I listed in the first sentence can neglect their young one.   The author works with mothers who have troubled children, and she offers excellent advice for being a better mother.  I would encourage new parents or parent-to-be to read this book.  If you can’t afford it, ask your local public library to stock it.

I don’t agree with everything she says, especially her sleep advice.  However, she offers ways to show an interest in your child.  If you get a nanny, she has a list of questions that a mother should consider asking during an interview.  She describes how mothers have improved their relationship with a troubled child.

Today it is difficult, almost impossible, to find a book emphasizing how important the mother’s presence  is for her child’s healthy development.  It is not the father’s presence that’s needed.  It’s the mother’s presence and her involvement and care for her baby or little one that is much needed.

The research supports the fact that problems with children “are often related to the premature separation of children from their mothers.”   The research, the statistical evidence, and the case experiences by her and her colleagues make a “strong argument that as a society we are failing our children.”

One sentence I highlighted in her book is the following:  “For the past thirty years, researchers have been studying mothers and children across different cultures, and their findings have confirmed what I and my fellow psychoanalysts and therapists have seen in our practices: that infants and toddlers who have the constant and consistent presence of an attentive and sensitive mother are more likely to be emotionally and psychologically healthy children and adolescents.”

Sheila:   Ecological breastfeeding provides the presence of an attentive and sensitive mother for a considerable amount of time after childbirth.  God’s plan of breastfeeding is not limited to the first 6 months.  His plan can last for at least two years and two years of breastfeeding has been promoted by St. John Paul II, UNICEF and WHO.  God’s plan of breastfeeding offers long-term health and emotional benefits to both mother and baby.  More information on the crucial first 3 years is available at NFPI.


The Importance of the First Three Years

Sunday, January 13th, 2019

In 1994 Sister Maria Corazon Cruz Gonzales, E.m.m. wrote “Caring for and Educating a Child from Conception to Three Years Old in the Teachings of the Church.”  This is her doctoral dissertation at the John Paul II Institute for the Study of Marriage and the Family.  I want to quote a few sentences from her paper.

“Each newborn infant carries within himself life’s greatest promise: a new hope for the world.  For each tiny baby has the potential to love and be loved, to value himself yet care for others, to develop his unique abilities and talents and one day become a human being who can help change the world—for the better!”

“Love prevails as the vehicle in the development of the child’s sense of trust in others and in himself, an essential in the growth process to produce emotionally stable individuals.”

“The power of love is so strong in the early years of a child’s life that it can make sick babies well, as its absence can make well babies sick.”

In 1991, the Bishops in the Philippines stated “the Christian family is the first school of discipleship and evangelization where the father and the mother are the first catechists of the children.”

And in 1981 when visiting the Philippines, Pope John Paul II taught that the family is the first seminary.  “The family is the ‘Premium Seminarium,’ the first seminary where the faith is nourished and priestly religious and missionary vocations have their origin.  The family has a special charism for transmitting the Faith…”

(Sheila: The power of love and the wellness described above is easily achieved naturally with the oneness of mother and baby with breastfeeding.)

The Mother and Her Importance for a Healthy Society

Sunday, May 20th, 2018

The oneness of mother and baby is important for society.
How can we improve society? William Gairdner in his book, The War Against the Family, claims that there is unanimity on this important point: “poorly attached children are sociopaths in the making.” To avoid poorly attached children, the answer is good mothering. His key words for good mothering are these: availability, responsiveness, and sensitivity. Mr. Gairdner pointed out that three separate research studies conducted at three different major universities all clearly showed that what babies and young children need is l) mother’s availability, 2) mother’s sensitivity to her child’s signals, and 3) mother’s responsiveness to her child’s need for comfort and protection.4 In other words, the mother has to be there, she has to read the signals of her baby, and she has to respond to her baby in a sensitive manner.
Gairdner also states that “young children need an uninterrupted, intimate, and continuous connection with their mothers, especially in the very early months and years.” With prolonged breastfeeding, the mother does have an uninterrupted and continuous relationship with her baby, and it’s an intimate relationship as well.

Andrew Payton Thomas in his book, Crime and the Sacking of America, believes that one of the reasons the crime rates are soaring is because both parents are joining the workforce.  “The rise of daycare in modern America says some painful things about us as parents and as a nation and culture, things that are easier for adults to leave unsaid. But the truth is always worth telling, and it is this: Many American parents today simply do not wish to raise their own children. Indeed, never before in history have a people become so intensely individualistic that their love for their children can be purchased so cheaply… Children are taught, literally from the cradle, that life is looking out for #1.

Gerald Campbell, head of The Impact Group, claims that the #1 problem in our society is alienation, an emptiness, “an aloneness that cannot be tolerated by the human heart.” What people really need in his estimation is love, understanding, mercy and compassion, and commitment” from one person who learns to give of self “without any conditions or expectations whatsoever.”  Campbell spoke of daycare as the ill of the future, and he stressed the value of a mother’s presence.

To prevent alienation in our society and to develop healthy individuals who feel loved and valued, good care by the mother for her child during the first three years of life is crucial. What is so important about breastfeeding is that it usually gives babies the best nurturing and the best nutrition. Prolonged lactation naturally provides those two realities that make such a positive difference!

1997 was a year of studies for the infant.
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 1979 as the International Year of the Child. Since these designations are made years in advance, there was ample time for research. Thus 1997 was a famous year for such publications. In the spring of 1997, new studies showed that “the neurological foundation for problem solving and reasoning are largely established by age one” and that the “number of words an infant hears each day from an attentive, engaged person is the single most important predictor of later intelligence, school success and social competence.” These studies stimulated new interest in the effects of nurturing and breast milk upon the brain. As a result, Newsweek published an entire issue on “the critical first three years of life.”

The main conclusion of the 1997 studies was that the number of words a baby hears during the first year of life must come from an “attentive, engaged human being.” Discussion centered on the importance of the parents’ role in the intellectual development of their child during the first three years of life and especially the first year of life when the infant’s brain is growing at a tremendous rate. By nature, that engaged, attentive person is the breastfeeding mother.

In the fall of 1997 there was another series of studies dealing with maternal deprivation. At the Society of Neuroscience meeting in New Orleans, it was reported that children need lots of hugs and physical reassurance for proper development of the brain. Romanian children raised without this physical contact from their mother had abnormally high levels of stress hormones. This parental neglect can have lifelong consequences. “Scientists have known for decades that maternal deprivation can mark children for life with serious behavioral problems, leaving them withdrawn, apathetic, slow to learn, and prone to chronic illness. Moreover, new animal research reveals that without the attention of a loving caregiver early in life, some of an infant’s brain cells simply commit suicide.” Does this apply to humans? Mark Smith, a psychologist at the DuPont Merck Research Labs in Wilmington, Delaware said: “These cells are committing suicide. Let this be a warning to us humans. The effects of maternal deprivation may be much more profound than we had imagined.”

How does stress affect the child’s brain? How does a mother’s presence protect or minimize the effects of stress upon her baby’s brain? During stress the body secretes large doses of cortisol to provide strength. However, cortisol can also shrink the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning, and can stunt the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other by causing the connecting dendrites to atrophy. This helps to explain why cortisol is associated with severely delayed development. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the mother’s physical contact with her baby protects the baby against these harmful effects.

There are not many in Westernized cultures today who promote the importance of the mother being there for her baby during the early years. One does not want to offend the many mothers who seek fulfillment at the office or the classroom. In addition, many societies keep telling mothers that anyone can replace them. But that’s not true. A mother should be irreplaceable in the early life of a child. Today one hardly ever hears or reads what the experts and studies have shown, that it’s the concentrated interaction with one parent during the first three years of life that is so important. It’s because the baby is so important that the mother’s presence is so important. With prolonged lactation the mother can give many, many hours of nurturing during the crucial first three years.
Sheila Kippley
Next week:  Natural child spacing and mother-baby inseparability