Raising children is something that many people do, but not many people actually think about. It seems that most people go about raising their children by the seat of their pants, approaching each situation as it arises, not giving much thought as to the “formula” they are going to use to help their children grow, learn, mature, and become happy, well-adjusted and gracious members of society.
In fact, a lot of people give more thought to how to raise their puppies than their children. Granted, you can put your puppy in its crate for a few hours, as part of its training and to give yourself time to take care of what you need to do. But you cannot put your child in a crate, or in the case of children, a playpen or a playroom, and leave them unattended, without potentially causing behavioral and emotional problems for them in the future.
Raising a child takes years of constant dedication to ensure the happiest, most well-adjusted and generous adult possible. It’s not a short-term, simple task—it’s not easy to teach, guide, and mentor a child from conception onward. Especially knowing that everything you say or do—and everything that child witnesses, experiences, and thinks about—will have a deep impact on his or her understanding and possibilities in this world.
I know. I did it. I raised a truly wonderful, intelligent and joyous daughter, Talia. Trying to give Talia information without giving answers, without influencing the direction of her thought or causing walls to be built around her mind, was the most difficult task I could have had.
So what does it take to raise a child? It takes diligence. You can’t skip a beat, day or night. And it doesn’t just start when your child is born, it starts the moment you find out you’re expecting.
For me, it started even before I was pregnant. First, I made sure I was in the best physical condition possible. I wasn’t in perfect shape, but I did make sure that my muscles were toned and my heart health was good. I did this by running a few miles every other day or so and by playing tennis three times a week.
I was also very aware of what I was eating for myself and for the baby. I read every book I could find about what to eat before becoming pregnant and during pregnancy to ensure proper nutrition for the baby and me. I knew that at each stage of pregnancy a different organ or system was forming, and each required a special vitamin or mineral. So I simply ate according to what part of the baby was being formed at each stage. I’d eat more of certain vegetables as they were needed, or protein during the weeks it was needed. I made sure I supplied all that was needed to form a healthy baby, and a smart baby too.
Once your baby is born, the real work begins. This is when a lot of people get into the “puppy” mentality and use whatever means they have at their disposal just to occupy the baby, so that they themselves can do what they need to do with their day. Anything to keep the baby from crying. But it is at this point that really paying attention and having unlimited patience becomes crucial.
Babies cry for a reason. Whether they’re hungry, cold, need to be changed, or don’t feel well—whatever it is—they don’t cry just because they want attention. A baby is not by nature an insecure attention hound. Babies live according to instinct and cry only for real reasons, so why make them suffer and cry out? There is no reason, and I believe that so many kids are selfish and insecure, or whine constantly, because they were made to cry for extended periods as babies. They had real needs that were not being met, and this affected them subconsciously.
In my case, I did not let Talia cry at all. The moment she even thought about crying, I was there, meeting her needs. Whether she was hungry, wet, or wanted to play.
Another thing I did when Talia was a baby was never to speak to her in baby talk. It’s natural for people to walk up to a baby and speak in baby talk because they think it’s cute, but what’s the purpose? Really, there is none. It’s not as if babies are born understanding baby talk and can learn only to speak properly when they’re older. A baby is a blank slate, looking to learn from the very beginning, so why not speak to children correctly from infancy and give them the basis to learn languages at a young age?
Even before she could speak, Talia understood everything I was telling her. I think parents make the biggest mistake in thinking that just because their child cannot say something, he or she doesn’t understand what they’re hearing. This isn’t true at all. Experts say the brain is functioning before children are able to consciously control their tongue movements and make sounds. I’ve heard that the books you read to children should always be well above their actual reading level, because their ability to comprehend and analyze is well ahead of their speech.
Once Talia was old enough to move from breastfeeding to drinking from a cup, I decided to bypass the traditional sippy cup and go straight to a real cup, a small plastic one. It takes the same coordination for a baby to pick up a real cup or a sippy cup, so why use the sippy? A sippy avoids spills, but it has nothing to do with a child’s ability to drink from a real cup.
I usually took Talia with me to the store. It was another learning experience for her, plus I loved having her with me. She was what people called a “good baby,” so why not take her? And I feel she was a good baby because she was being raised correctly. She had no reason to scream for what she wanted or needed. Her needs were all being met.
When Talia began to ask for things, I didn’t just give them to her; she had to ask correctly. There was no need to reprimand her in this or any other area.
When I was raising Talia, I watched over myself every second of the day. Each word, action, response—even the inflection of my voice—had to be used precisely to ensure that they were not influencing her thoughts and beliefs, but were merely stepping stones for her to walk on while forming her own code for life. Teaching without limiting is the most difficult task there is. My goal was to keep Talia’s mind open and not to stifle her or cause the doorways of her mind, leading to all the universe offered, to close.
Raising a truly gifted, confident and gracious child to become a wonderful addition to society is something every parent can do. It is a choice. A choice either to make unconscious decisions while raising children, just acting on impulse when decisions need to be made, or to be aware, making purposeful choices and consciously raising your child.
By Kimberly Klein, Author of a touching new memoir Hummingbirds Don’t Fly In The Rain, and The Universe Speaks: A Heavenly Dialogue. Kim is currently working on her next book focusing Child Rearing. For more information on Kimberly Klein please visit www.kimberlyklein.com.