Trust, natural learning and control patternsI love the idea so prevalent in Natural Learning circles about the importance of trusting our children. Of trusting what they love to do, and when and for how long they want to do it.
When I combine this idea with some of my other loves, Aware Parenting (www.awareparenting.com) and Field theory (www.fieldproject.net), I also come up with other ideas about trusting children.
I think we can also trust that our children, whilst coming into the world connected to the truth of their desires, soon learn from us about our relationship to desires, and how much we trust ourselves.
So whilst a new baby might instinctively know what he needs and when (closeness, food, warmth, to be listened to, and so on), we will respond to his needs and cues through the lens of our own relationship to closeness, food, warmth, to be listened to, and so on.
So, the clear lens of his connection to what he wants, gets muddied to a more or lesser extent depending on the clarity of the connection we have with our own desires, wants, needs.....
Because babies are exquisitely sensitive to every fine-tuned response and behaviour we make, such as eye contact, muscle tension, and emotional vibration, it doesn’t matter so much what we think we are communicating to our baby. What he really receives is what we truly believe about intimacy, food, connection, pleasure, fun, happiness, sadness, disappointment, loss, and so on....
From an Aware Parenting perspective, this is how “control patterns” develop. For example, if a baby has had a stimulating day, he might feel overwhelmed and scared, and may need his feelings about this to be heard. However, if his parent is uncomfortable with her own feelings of fear, and if she distracts herself from those feelings, then she is likely to do the same to him. Instead of holding him and listening to him, she may rock him, sing to him, and show him pretty toys. Soon he learns that this is what is done with scary feelings, and begins to do this himself. When scared, he distracts himself, such as by looking around the room, or avoiding eye contact, or playing with something. He is no longer directed by his true need, but by what he has learnt to do with his true need. As an older child, when scared he may play over and over with a certain toy. The quality of his play will show an intensity, a driven-ness, an unwillingness to do anything else.
The challenge then, as a parent, is to distinguish between when our child is doing something that is truly inner-directed, ie. from what he truly desires and loves to do, and when it is driven by something that he has learnt to do.
Thus, we still trust, but here we trust that babies are such competent learners, that they learn very subtle and complex beliefs from us, right from in utero.
Thus we may not always trust that our children’s choices are coming from their own true inner compass, because sometimes these choices come from learning from our own relationships to our inner compasses.
I also like to look at this from a Field theory lens (www.fieldproject.net) We see from this perspective that it is not so much what we say and think we are modelling to our children, but really about who we are, and the core beliefs that inform our identity, that they get. In order to trust that our children are following and trusting their desires, passions, and interests, we need to be willing to do the same. This may mean shifting old beliefs about what happens if we do that. Wanting our child to trust himself means we need to be willing to do that for ourselves, really do that for ourselves, not just say we are!
So, how do we most trust our babies and children? The first step is to truly trust ourselves. Our heart’s desires are calling us.....
Edited April 2012