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How to raise a happy child

My daughter cosleeps with me and is an awesome kid, compassionate and fun to be with.
Elena Rumiantseva

It is every parent's wish to raise a happy and healthy child, but sometimes it is hard to determine what "happy" means, because parents themselves feel happy only on a rare occasion. This is where the philosophy of attachment parenting comes in. Its main point is to raise children based on instinct, not fancy 500-page books written by the best pediatricians of the world. Let's start with an obvious fact that doctors should not be in the business of child rearing. So, when a young mother takes her infant for a check-up, she will hear something like, "Don't co-sleep with your child, or you might crush her, or she will fall between the covers and suffocate. And, you don't want to spoil her, do you?"

People in the civilized world know all too well about postpartum depression, which hits new mothers, but there is no reason for this ailment. When a child is born (if it's a wanted child, of course), why should a woman feel blue to the point where she has to use medication to control her mood? This, in theory, is the best time of her life. To hold her baby for the first time, to nurse and to comfort, there should be only place for tears of joy. The reason for postpartum depression is simple: it is separation of mother and baby in the hospital. Doctors and nurses think that the woman should rest after giving birth, and that baby would not let her a moment to herself. They easily convince new mother that her baby will be "just fine", and when it is time to feed him, they will bring him down. Some even ask whether mother would like to feed a newborn at all, or if they should give him formula. Meanwhile, the child is wrapped in lifeless cloth and left alone in a plastic container. He can't hear his mother's voice, but can't help the situation much, except to cry. It is up to the nurses to react, but they are really busy caring for thirty infants at once. This cycle of loneliness and misery starts at birth and continues throughout a person's lifetime, shaping his character and expectations.

That is why it is so important to follow one's instincts, and thankfully, there are some books to guide this delicate process.

1. The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff. This incredible book can save the human race, if every person reads it and follows it at least in some way. Ms. Liedloff spent two and a half years in the Amazon jungle, where she was a healer living with an Indian tribe. The discoveries she made about early childhood and how attachment parenting transforms lives of everyone who participates in the process go deep and touch on all the problems that the modern society faces.

2. Attachment Parenting: Instinctive Care for Your Baby and Young Child by Katie Allison Granju, Betsy Kennedy and William Sears. Yes, William Sears is a doctor, but he is also a wise human being, whose opinion matters. He is the one who invented the term "attachment parenting", after all. This book underscores the fact that babies and children are dependent on adults, and we have to take on this responsibility. It not only concerns changing dirty diapers and feeding, but emotional needs, which modern parents often ignore.

3. Parenting for a Peaceful World by Robin Grille. Everyone wants peace on earth, and that peace begins at home, in our relationships with the closest people in our lives: our children. We would like them to live in harmony with themselves, people around them and the environment. It is possible, because our instincts have not vanished, they are just asleep, while the brain dictates every move and cancels actions deemed wasteful from its limited point of view.

4. Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby's Brain by Sue Gerhardt. Sooner or later the concepts that Jean Liedloff introduced in her book had to be backed up by neuroscience and psychology. This book does exactly that, looking at how early brain development in right conditions can affect future emotional well being, and looks at specific anomalies, such as anorexia, anti-social behavior and various addictions.

These books will provide a learning ground, from which a parent can grow and invent new ideas. When the brain works in conjunction with emotions, good things can happen. Listen to your heart!

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