Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Do parents make their children?

I am a member of APPPAH ( the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health.) I am a member because they are one of the very few major organisations in the world who are at all interested in womb twin survivors.

"APPPAH illuminates the life-long impact of conception, pregnancy and birth on babies, families and society."

Their thesis is much the same as mine - that what happens to you before birth becomes a "script" by which you live your life.  But there are problems: implicit in the APPPAH idea is that the mother is responsible for the effect on  her child of all her decisions during pregnancy and birth and parenting - for example what she eats herself; what she feeds her child. What kind of birth she chooses - if that choice is possible, of course.  That is a heavy burden to carry.  There seems to be no area of pregnancy and birth where the mother is not held responsible for that "lifelong impact".

But children are conceived as a distinct package, as genetically distinct individuals. They are not formed or even scarred in the womb by the mother's decisions or attitudes. I am convinced of that. They are who they are and there is not a lot one can do to change the character of  one's own child - one has to adapt parenting methods to each child.  There is no "one size fits all."

Take for an example the "unwanted" child.  A sense of being unwanted can be  the result of feeling different, or having one parent who was not very good at babies and children and who perhaps should never have had any, and as a result may have neglected  or misunderstood the child emotionally. We all know families like that.   It all sounds so plausible, that the unwanted child will feel like an orphan, forsaken by the world, isolated and alone.   Psychiatrists are fond of the idea that "we are made by our parents", and the wounds inflicted upon us by our parents lack of understanding and empathy when we were very young are lifelong - and only repairable by a long and very expensive series of therapy sessions.

What rot!

Parents do not make their children. Ask any parents with two or three children, each a distinct individual, and requiring a different styles of parenting. The distinct and varied styles of parenting are required in order to help each child to grow and develop - one child may need stern and uncompromising discipline, the other may need gentle and complete explanations of why  an action or inaction has been wrong. Some children are self sufficient and resent parental interference from the earliest stages, and others require attention, encouragement and support throughout, in order to master their developmental stages.

As long as APPPAH psychologists and others continue to believe that the way we nurture our children in the womb and how we parent them is the only reason why children grow  up with "psychological problems," we will be missing an important point.

The loss of a twin or more in the earliest weeks of life has an immediate and profound effect on the character of the sole survivor. This does not occur at birth, but long before,  even before the pregnancy is fully recognised. That character is then subject to the vagaries of that particular pregnancy, birth and family life.

Parents on a major guilt trip because some family psychologist has implied that they are to blame for their difficult, demanding, self destructive child will be relieved to know that there is a strong possibility that their child is a womb twin survivor and there can be healing and reparation once this is understood.  At the very least this possibility could be considered by the professionals involved.

Read more about womb twin survivors in this book.

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