Insight into Parenting Styles in Developing Countries – Denise Love for WILLOW Magazine
If I could turn back the time to a less busy stress-filled, obsession with intelligence and skills world, I would. I know that is not going to happen, but we can take responsibility for the chaos in our lives, and take the pressure off our children.
In all the countries I have worked in, Thailand, Nepal, Cambodia and Ethiopia in village settings, babies rule and others honour their needs. The mother has a lying-in period at least for 2 weeks, ideally 21days (the women here also have more demands being placed on them, so the time is shortening), to respond to her baby’s needs.
The grandmother, aunt or sister fills her every need, rocks the babe (in a hammock if needed), but mostly the child sleeps beside the mama in a quite open environment, often under the house, inside a mosquito net. She is left to rest, brought warming food, each village has their own ideas about which foods and none really seem to be similar…..except for ginger if it is available. When the baby first stirs, the mother instantly moves into the baby to make her breast available. There is no “obsession” with attachment and the baby settles into a comfortable feed. If it fusses, after a while she may offer the other breast by simply rolling forward so her other breast is available.
There is very gentle handling of the baby. Occasionally a baby is held by a close family member. The babies don’t wear nappies but simply a folded rag under their bottoms…..fussing by mothers about wetness is not an issue…babies rarely get any rashes. Very soon she begins to identify a facial expression or little noise that indicates the baby will wee or pooh, and gently lifts them and holds them over bushes. There are never nappies. Accidents are not an issue. Nobody comments as the mother takes responsibility for the signs, even when they are older. It is very rare to hear a baby cry……their needs are met, simply with time and giving immediate attention.
Western mothers, can I encourage you all to change your baby’s nappies towards the end of the feed…..usually when the baby is drifting off to sleep and not too much cold wiping? I love to place a thermos flask somewhere with warm water and gently just pour the water over the baby’s bottom if it makes you feel better….they love the warm water….and then put them back to the breast to settle.
Our mothers (in the developing world) are very busy once the lying-in period is over. They gather wood at 5am to cook the rice breakfast on and gather water to wash themselves and their clothes in, they collect green vegetables from surrounding areas and go fishing; so busy is life. This is repeated for lunch and dinner and the day is over by 6:00pm when dark comes, (we have no electricity) and the whole family settles into bed together. This removes all the night issues……feed, sleep, feed. Nobody has a watch or clock, so there is no knowledge of when, how often or concerns over a waking baby. This is one of the greatest issues in the women who come to me for help in our developed world.
The big thing I notice is routine, even though we have no time pieces in the Cambodian village I live in, the rituals of life happen at the same time every day. Everybody almost is on time for appointment, and respect of each other, most of the time, reigns. We are a Buddhist society so the appearance of respect (in exchange for Karma) is normal. The village people openly care for the children and they are shared through many arms in a day. Baby’s feet don’t touch the ground until they are late in their first year and they all crawl and walk at around one year.
ALL BABIES ARE EITHER FED TO SLEEP OR ROCKED IN A HAMMOCK……sometimes with a piece of string attached so grandma, auntie or mum can get on with their chores.
Breastfeeding is never withheld, or prolonged. Feeds look short, and when mum decides baby is satisfied…they are pulled off…..the breast is withdraw and mostly handed over to someone else. Sleep is often and not very long…..and rocking is normal, never in arms……the baby or toddler is always in the work space. As they get older for sleep sometime a cloth is wrapped around them for pee.
Children grow up with a sense of belonging and anticipation of the next thing that is happening and, once they are 2, they begin to contribute to the activities. They accompany their mothers everywhere.
From 2 onwards, life begins to become harsh…..night time breastfeeding often continues, but we begin to see malnutrition setting in and food is scarce. But no means no! Oh I know you have all read about NO, but there is only NO and YES, some things are just black and white. I am observing western women being turned inside out by negotiations and “talk me into it”! Decide what sort of family you want to live in and make it happen. Mothers are the center of the family, unless another person takes over the role. My belief: mums stay home for 2 years if you can, take parenting really seriously, have a quiet life, our children need and want stability and ritual!
Capsules, car seats, high chairs, sleeping place, manners in coffee shops start the whole negotiation battle very early in life.
In Cambodia, we have 4 schools. Children come from 2-3 years of age, 8-12 year olds bring their baby and toddler siblings. It all just works. Slow down for our children’s health sakes!
Fear in our society stops us from living life. I have just been in Australia and I am shocked and saddened by the amount of children with “issues”. Food, behavior, anxiety and depression. WE HAVE THREE CHOICES FOR CHILDREN NOW…..Yes, No, Talk me into it! I think our children are too busy. I know screen time is here to stay for them and so I have less issue with this than people think I will, screens are not going away. It has become the source of huge disruption, just the negotiation about reasonable time becomes a huge issue for power and control! Have a look at how long you spend on a screen and it is probably appropriate that your children do too, because you are not “present” and playing with them. Children need 10 minutes of your undivided time every hour. They shouldn’t have to beg or behave poorly to get your full attention. Check your own behavior!
I am a lover, wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, nurse, doula for birth, life and death. A complete nomad with a huge love and crippling compassion for others. I chose stability when my children were growing (only moved every 4 years, I guess that is questionable). I believe everybody should have choices in life…..and our organisation was born. I have been working with women and their families for more than 40 years…love matters.
LifeOptions Inc. is a grass roots international organisation, originating in Australia.
My husband and I serve communities who wish to be the best they can be. We are a gentle but determined movement that stands for the healing power of living the life you choose within a peace model. We serve & respect people within their own web of life.
We believe in caring for birthing mothers, their families, marginalised groups, and those dying or dead. We serve everybody. We serve the families of the dead. We serve love. We serve the Earth.
We believe that the healing of our society is at stake as we decide how our babies are born and the people who are dying are supported, and our dead are cared for.
We believe in taking back responsibility for our own wellbeing and serving those around us.
The way we enter the world matters.
Living life to the fullest prepares us for death.
Death is not the enemy, failing to live consciously is!
Denise Love: https://www.facebook.com/mummadoula
Article taken from ISSUE #1 of WILLOW magazine – The ‘CONCEPTION’
Purchase here: http://willowmagazine.org/magazine/issue-1/
Join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/willowmagazine/
Mamas support page (group) 365 Mama: https://www.facebook.com/groups/365Mama/