A friend of mine, who studied genetics at university, once told me a story of these birds that had been bred in captivity for generations, they had never been out in the wild. Yet when the keepers flew a kite over them in the shape of a raptor, the chicks cowered in their nest. They seem to instinctively know what was a threat or danger, they seemed to have some sort of genetic, hard wired in memory passed down through the generations.
What has this got to do with Slow Parenting? I hear you ask, well…
When I first became a parent, I had never really had much experience (well none really) with babies and children. So I did what I imagine most people do, and that is try and hoover up as much data as possible. I turned to books, blogs, articles, Youtube videos, anything that might give me a little bit of comfort that I actually knew what to do. Many of these had dizzying amounts of information (but often seemed to miss out what was, to me, the crucial piece of knowledge), and many contradicted each other in sometimes fundamental ways. Do we do “baby led” or do we try and create a routine? Do we use disposable nappies or reusable ones? All sides had their champions and critics and I just ended up utterly confused and feeling more concerned than ever that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I became overwhelmed and decision paralysis set in and just started to ignore it all.
Which was the best thing I did!
You see, the most basic reason we are here as humans is to reproduce. We have been doing it for millions of years through countless generations. As a species as a whole we are very experienced at it. One could say “it comes naturally to us”. Of course it does, if we weren’t good at reproducing and nurturing our offspring we would have died out years ago. Some of the skills of being a parent are undoubtably taught from one generation to the next, but I reckon much comes from that genetic memory. It’s hardwired in. We just need to trust it.
All these well meaning, but overwhelming baby guides have educated that natural instinct out of us (or our confidence to trust it at least).
In my little book “A Pocket Guide For The Flaneur of Life” (you can get it here UK or here US – please ignore the one star review, it is just mean) I talk about Trust being a a fundamental part of being a Flaneur of Life:
Trust is the big one. Trust is where the difference is made! So, trust in what?
Your own ability (not cocky or over confident, but being aware of what you are capable of, and knowing what you need to work on!).
Trust in the universe, you can either think that the universe is out the get you or that the universe in benevolent and here to give you what you want. There really is little proof either way, so choose to believe what is most useful for you, and you know what? The universe will prove you right whichever you decide!”
Once you get all the conscious worries and concerns out of the way and stop cramming your head full of other people’s opinions about how you should care for your baby, what you need to do and so on, all of a sudden it becomes obvious and, dare I say it, easy (or easier at least).
Cast off the baby books! Ignore the overbearing advice from so called “baby experts”, tune into your natural genetic memory and trust it will guide you.
Of course, some external guidance is useful, in fact essential. I am obviously not saying that you shouldn’t seek advice or guidance if you are concerned (especially if your baby is ill – if it is, go get proper health advice from your doctor on the double) or really don’t know what to do. But the thing is, if you trust that genetic memory, more often than not you will naturally know when you need that extra help and where to go to get it.