Are you a good enough parent? With all the demands and expectations of raising babies and children in the modern world, from programs offering promises for creating 'super babies' as early as starting in the womb, the pressure to be the perfect parent and have the perfect child is all too prevalent. When a parent inevitably fails in this perfection have they doomed their child for life? If the child's birth wasn't the most peaceful entrance into the world or early separation occurred has the mother, or parent already failed their baby setting a imprint of irreversible damage of a broken bond OR is it that the good enough parent actually is all you need to be to raise adaptive and resilient adults.
This episode of Pregnancy Birth and Beyond we explore how early experiences during the pre and perinatal period impact on how a person develops.
My guest for this episode is Dr Holly Goldberg. Holly is a specialist in pre and perinatal psychology and has been working with childbearing families for the past 20 years. Holly resides in California in the USA with her family.
The late Donald Winnicott was a English psychoanalysis who had a special interest in what is now known as pre and perinatal psychology. In 1953 he coined the term The Good Enough Mother, now more frequently refereed to as the good enough parent. Winnicott theories proposed were in direct opposition at the time to the notions of 'don't pick the baby up or you will spoil him or her, sending children off to boarding school at a young age and rigid schedules on feeding, to name a few. Winnicott came from the era when parents were told to feed every 4 hours and leave the baby in the cot or pram between much of these feed times. However, Winnicott encouraged a mother to follow her instincts and to not let the experts or old wives tales undermine her, to "go ahead and get to know your baby." Winnicott hosted a series of talks on BBC radio during the late 40's and 50's titled The Ordinary Devoted Mother and Her Baby. Also on this topic, for your interest is this article written in 'The Philosophers Mail; the school of life.' Here the author shares with the reader five parenting practices Winnicott spoke off on the raising babies. These five key points are:
Remember that your child is very vulnerable
Let a child be angry
Make sure your child isn't too compliant
Let your child be
Realise the gravity of the job you've taken on
Winnicott understood while the mother could be seen as a separate person, someone who before pregnancy and motherhood had a life of her own, a baby on the other hand cannot be seen alone, it is in relation to someone, it's mother, father, parent. We see this is the dynamic of the intimate relationship that develops during in-utero and in the early weeks post-partum. As Anne Morrow said, “in the sheltered simplicity of the first few days after a baby is born one sees again the magical sense of two people existing only for each other."
Repair is real and can be done at anytime no matter how long ago imprinting took place.
In our interview Dr. Goldberg tells us that all events during pregnancy and during the prenatal period whether traumatic or healthy leave an imprint. The important thing to remember is that people have the ability to repair and humans are hard wired to be resilient. "Our brain has the incredible capacity to attune and connect with a primary caregiver and in doing so that connection and relational dependency between the child and the caregiver will help structure the child's brain so they can grow up healthy, strong and resilient in this world."
"The fact that grief takes so long to resolve is not a sign of inadequacy, but a betokens depth of soul." D.W.Winnicott.
Also featured in this episode is the work of Dr Thomas Verny from his book The Secret Life of the Unborn Child; a remarkable and controversial look at life before birth. Verny writes “many of the ways a woman communicates behaviourally with her child are so subtle and seemingly ordinary that it is easy to overlook their effect on the intrauterine bonding.” Listen to the episode to hear more.
More about Dr Holly Goldberg: Holly has conducted and published numerous peer-reviewed studies and served as editor of national podcasts and internationalbooks devoted to informed decision making during pregnancy. Holly has also simultaneously spearheaded the implementation of private and government funded programs aimed at empowering individuals with information and education to foster informed choices about treatment and promotion of healthy living for childbearing families. More recently Holly has redirected her research and science background and refocused her career on being a flower essence counselor and alchemist. You can connect with Holly here at her website floweressenceapothecary.com
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