Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The illusion of control...

Been thinking about this lately. Attachment Parenting often differentiates itself from other parenting styles by stating that AP parents don't seek to control their children, but rather support them. Where other parenting styles often talk about making sure the child knows "who's boss", Attachment Parenting seeks to work with a child's needs outside of a schedule or routine or efforts to make the child independant prematurely...

And yet, some of the parenting facets adopted by many attachment, nature, free range, and other non-mainstream parents are all about exerting control. Control is achieved by being personally in charge of all decisions sorrounding what the kids eat, wear, play with, or conversely what they DON'T eat, wear or play with.

I'm not judging this as good or bad, I've done much of this myself. I'm just questioning the illusion of control.

Birth is another arena where there seems to be a battle over control. Women worry a lot about losing control during their labours, of themselves, of their environment, of their babies.

I think women choosing epidurals and caesarians (for those who make the conscious decision before even going into labour), often do so partly for a sense of control. If you don't feel the pain of labour, not only do you not feel pain, but you're not likely to scream or moan or cry in front of people, especially people you don't know. If you choose to have a c-section, then you know when you'll go into labour, you know you will have some say over the level of pain you feel, you know you won't have to go through another emergency c-section with all the fear and anguish and disappointment that led to last time...

But likewise, a lot of homebirthing is about having control. In some circles it's more highly esteemed if your self-controlled and self-reliant enough to freebirth, then you aren't letting a midwife into the situation to control you, to tell you how to birth, to touch you without your permission...

I recently saw a thread on a forum where women were sheepishly almost APOLOGISING for not being the person who caught their baby. Their partner did it, or OMG their midwife caught their baby (but passed baby immediately to them, so she didn't hold the baby for long, and it was only because mum was unable to reach, otherwise mum wouldn't have let someone else catch baby)...

Where is this need to control everything coming from? Why is it so important in our society to not be in need of assistance, to not be vulnerable, to not be perceived as WEAK.

If you can't listen to your baby cry, you're weak.
If you don't want to birth without the support of an experienced midwife, you OBVIOUSLY don't trust your body enough, therefore you're WEAK.
If being the sole support for your children all day is overwhelming to you, you're WEAK!
If you can't bear the thought of your child being away from you for 30+ hours a week, you're weak - AND you're going to make your children weak, and wimpy and GOD FORBID, DEPENDANT on you!

Being weak is the biggest insult you can give a person.

Being strong is the greatest compliment you can make.

Last time I looked though, humans were not God, or at least not what God is believe to be - omnipotent.

Humans are weak, it's what also makes us social - we hang in packs BECAUSE we instinctly know we NEED. We NEED other people to support us, to care for us, to HELP us...

We don't have control over anything much. Sometimes we have fleeting control over moments in our lives. We perceive ourselves having control over our choices, but even then that control can be lost in the blink of an eye by the endless variables that we cannot foresee or prepare for.

Being rich does not make you more in control.

Standing outside of society also does NOT make you more in control.

We CERTAINLY cannot control our children, even when we try to influence them and their perception of life from birth.

No amount of getting kids into the "right" playgroup, creche, kinder, private school or university can guarantee success or happiness.

Likewise, no amount of organic raw vegan, no plastic toys, no formal education and feminist socio-environmental political indoctrination through social exclusivism can guarantee the child doesn't grow up to be a capitalist-materialist-rightwinged-massochist-white collar crimial...

Influence is the most we can achieve, but try to exert control often attracts a great big slap in the face from God/Goddess/Universe that is meant to gently remind us that control is merely an illusion, a mirage, pretty, attractive, beguiling, but intangible...

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Good Job!