(Putting Joy Back Into) A Day in the Life of an Industrialized Child

08 January 2011 Categories: Attachment parenting, Blog, Natural family living, unschooling

In the womb, babies are blanketed in a blissful neurological expectation that when they finally are born into the world, their needs in every manner will be responded to lovingly and met immediately. There is an inborn agreement with nature that because nature intended it to be so, it will be. In many peaceful indigenous tribal societies, this will be the life for most babies that come into the tribe: Love, affection, joy, play, freedom and happiness.

In our industrialized, disconnected culture, we are born into something very different. We are born into a world-view in which nature’s agreement has expired, is disrespected and long forgotten by the majority of the culture. We are born into the firmly established expectations of wounded parents and families who survived their own malnourished childhoods, and of a society that has one motivation in mind: Money. Despite all of the carefree childhood myths, before we even scream our first screams into the world of being born, our entire childhood has been decided for us- It is a preparation for “success”: Productivity, the workforce, a money-making machine.

Some babies and children are born into terribly abusive and neglectful families and suffer horrific traumas. We know their path will be an anguished one as they grow to try to find healing and wholeness someday. However, the average, “normal” life for the majority of children in our society is the subject of this post.

We are born, often into a frightening hospital setting, removed from our mother, who is the one person nature critically needs us to be with the most. Every nerve ending screams to be with her, and the first taste of pain and loss is felt when we are removed from mother and put in a bassinet or incubator. If a baby is a boy, the most sensitive, intimate part of his body is subjected to excruciating physical, emotional and sexual agony as the foreskin is amputated, further delivering the bond to the mother another wound. Before we are even brought home, our lives are already about pain and having to suffer the emptiness of unmet needs.

Once home, we will be put in an isolating crib, causing us to scream all the more for our mothers. We are unnaturally bottle fed liquid made in some factory, plastic in our mouths, transported in strollers and carriers and isolated in playpens and swings. We are wired to be with our mothers, we are wired to need her touch, her skin against ours, her breast milk and her emotional attunement in order for our brain and psyche to be activated, but we receive so little of her that it just can’t satiate the void. When we, two, ten 13 or 20 years later, begin to act out our pain and emptiness in ways that are self destructive or destructive to others, no one will make the connection.

We are rushed to develop, and shamed and coerced when we are not up to some pre-determined speed. We are taken away from our parents and families as early as possible. We are put in day care, then preschool. When we dissent, act our age or act out in anger in our unhappiness, we are shamed, punished or even hit. Despite this, we are forgiving. We long to be with our parents and siblings, but we are learning fast that life is not about what we want and need, it is some lightning-paced, chaotic cycle that is too self-important for our “petty” needs to ever matter.

When we are five or six, we are jailed for the next 13 years in public school, an institution that disregards everything in us that is human, child, needy, hungry, curious, excited, mobile, creative, brilliant and passionate.

Our basic physical needs will be progressively delayed, regimented and denied as we get older,  causing health problems in later childhood or in adulthood that no one will ever relate to the dehydration, urine retention, fecal impaction, low blood sugar, poor oxygen, lack of exercise and physical stagnation of 13 years of day-to-day school life. Our basic emotional needs will be totally disregarded, causing psychological and behavioral problems in childhood or later in adulthood that no one will ever relate to the punitive, touch-starved, joyless, monotonous, boring, judgmental, anxiety-provoking, emotionally abusive and neglectful treatment of us by teachers, peers or the institutional environment itself. Our basic developmental, creative and intellectual needs will be denied us, later causing us to be diagnosed with learning disabilities, behavioral problems and mental illnesses. When our bodies and minds can no longer contain themselves under such unbearable conditions, we may be drugged in efforts to subdue and control us. No one will choose to see that it isn’t possible to learn, develop or feel good when we are locked up for 13 years in a prison that numbs our minds, renders us docile, confused, apathetic and unmotivated. No one will realize that nature didn’t intend for children to grow in environments devoid of free time, joy or childishness.

If we can find some time outside of public school to play, dream, explore, invent, run around and revel in childhood, time will be stolen from us with homework, organized sports, TV, video games and media, all designed to keep us “busy” or craving and consuming more material objects.

We grow up on an unnatural diet of refined sugar, wheat flour and dairy.  We grow addicted. Slowly, overtime, we develop irritability, sluggishness, weigh gain and our bodies’ defenses break down. Inflammation will set in motion physical and mental health problems that we may not see for several decades.

Time with our friends is regimented, watched and limited. And as time goes on, our peer relationships can turn  superficial and even toxic, based on fads, clothing, gadgets, gossip, drama or cliques. After all, as comrades in a hostage situation, some youth can only find a sense of individual choice  or power through pop culture, materialism or bullying.

Time with our parents is less and less as we get older. Although we need them desperately, our parents treat us more and more distantly as we approach adulthood, telling us that in our empty, disconnected confusion we are just “individuating”, going through a phase and “being a typical teenager.” What they don’t know is that nature didn’t intend for us to stop needing our parents’ involvement and affection. However, if they didn’t want to caress us, rock us, hold us and share their attention with us as often as we needed when we were very little, they certainly won’t want to do it now that we are the same size as they are, or bigger. But our society’s focus on peers, media, material objects and buying confuses us into accepting this as “a normal part of growing up”…

We may turn to recreational chemicals, empty acts of useless rebellion, and put on a show of defying authority. We know this is as futile as anything else we try to do to put meaning back into our lives.

We graduate public school when we are too old to go back and relive all of the childhood that we have hopelessly lost. We are released into the world when we are too confused, apathetic and numb to remember what we really wanted to be when we grew up, or, when they’ve convinced us that it isn’t practical to do it if we do remember. Like a prisoner that craves the security of confinement, we go to college because we are told we “need to make something our of ourselves”, we jump through more hoops, earn more carrots and then we get our first real job.

We get up each day, we go to work, we take orders, we text, we type, we shuffle paper, we drink our lattes and we make small talk with people. We go home, watch TV, hoot at sports teams, blink at politics and social issues, go to bars and clubs on the weekend, eat processed foods, try hopelessly to work off the effects of those food in gyms, we shop, we grow addicted to distractions and we layer masks around our true identity. We start a family and maybe steal a little time with them on some occasional rushed vacation. We see counselors and doctors for all of the  health problems our lifestyle has manifested. Then, we go to bed, get up and start it all over… until we are too old to do anything different…

When we retire, we are too worn out to go back and recapture the youthful rapture we still had when we were  connected to our innate purpose in life. It’s too late now, our entire lives were lived for us… If we are religious, we sit and wait for the hope of being able to regain the joy in some other realm that nature intended us to have the moment we were to be born into our mother’s arms…

This depressing, sobering picture is the reality of far too many lives in industrialized society. This way of life is a waste of precious life and of precious lives…

Now, imagine how nature intended our lives to be: We are born into a loving family who attunes with our bliss, meets our needs and blankets us with the rapture of skin-to-skin touch, nurturing and affection. We are cherished. We are breastfed for three years, held constantly in arms our first year of life and are rarely put down. Our cries are soothed as soon as we breathe them and our connection to our mothers is warm, empathic, passionate and deep. We sleep in the family bed.

We grow and develop at our own pace. Nature, our communities, our homes, our lives are where we learn. We are with family, friends and people who care about us. We learn what moves us. We play, run around, climb, jump, dream, invent, explore, muse, imagine, wonder and test, challenge, make, build, modify, create, share, help, care and love. We have mentors and guides, friends of all ages and endless possibilities for learning.

Our parents model for us strong values and guide us in principle. Our home life looks like a democracy and there is room to discuss and exchange needs, wishes and restitution.

We eat healthy and naturally. All of our physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs are provided for.

Our friendships are many, strong, deep and fun. We get together whenever we wish, focus on mutual interests, form groups, clubs and bands and feel connected by our laughter, intense physical activities, our mutual projects and the fun we have together.

We feel safe, secure, protected and loved in our families. Our parents are physically, emotionally and spiritually attuned to us and affection is abundant and constant as we grow older and bigger. We stay close to our parents in our adolescence and in doing so, we become strong, mature and interdependent. We show good judgment and respect all people and our planet because we have been allowed to develop spiritually and morally through guidance and principle.

We grow up and we create a life for ourselves that is based on fulfillment, contribution, happiness, creativity and sharing our gifts with others. We travel, play, explore, grow, evolve, improve and change the world for the better. We raise our own families in love and joy. We choose activities that are fun, refresh and enrich our lives and bring us joy. We eat foods that sustain us, we are physically active in the outdoors. We are empathic, peaceful, mindful, insightful, stable and compassionate.  Our lifestyle supports us being as mentally and physically strong and healthy as possible. We live a full and passionate life.

We drink the abundance of life until we use ourselves up fully. We sit one day, smiling, content, tired and fulfilled… And as we pass from this realm into whatever we have come to believe will be the next, we know we drank every drop of the physical world that our vessels could grasp. We have lived a life of true freedom and joy.

For those of us who have children, there is always time to re-introduce them back into their freedom, passion and joy, back into what nature intended for them. For those of us who have grown, there is always time for us to journey ourselves back to that path of freedom, passion and joy, as well!

5 Responses to “(Putting Joy Back Into) A Day in the Life of an Industrialized Child”

  1. Hellena Post 9 January 2011 at 8:24 am (PERMALINK)

    What a masterful portrayal of concepts that Currawong and I have been throwing round for years…..What you’ve written is POWERFULL!!!! In the first part of this missive, I squirmed as I remembered living the childhood you described, and felt heavy reading you so eloquently express ideas and realisations that we’ve had about the society and families that spawned us. And then oh joy you provided the antidote in the second part, and I got shivers and felt huge elation as I realised that you were describing the life we’re all living now!! (with the stormier moments thrown in as well of course). As attachment parents of 6 young children, some of whom sleep in our bed, living on a hippie community, radically unschooling – ourselves primarily – to leave our kids to find their own passions, mixing with a huge range of people from the folk on our community, to the WWOOF’ers, to the multiverse of people we talk to on the street and in our day to day lives with no alarm clocks or scedules……….it feels pretty good:)

    Thank you so much for this. I was feeling kinda lonely, and then I saw you standing here!

    Author
    • Laurie A. Couture 9 January 2011 at 11:00 pm (PERMALINK)

      Hellena,

      Wow! Your post really invigorated me and also described how I felt actually writing the piece- I went from the gloomy, depressive, heavy description of what life was like for most of us… And then I felt impassioned, empowered, elated and energetic describing the lifestyle that I have worked so hard to provide for my son and me. I love hearing from other radical hippie Moms out there- Thanks for taking the time to share such heartfelt thoughts- I am so appreciative and grateful for your gift!

      Laurie

      Author
  2. Jaimie 15 February 2011 at 12:36 pm (PERMALINK)

    I could use some guidance please. I have 2 boys, ages 5 and 15 months. I feel like I’ve done everything (well almost) right when it comes to wearing my babies, breastfeeding, responding to every cry/need, and truly connecting with them. We don’t use punishment… it isn’t even needed because the attachment is so strong. I stay home and I cherish my time with them. The part that is troubling me every day is that my 5 year old started public school last August. I struggled with the choice between homeschooling & public school all summer and ultimately made the decision to send him off. Now that decision torments me, therefore I want to listen to my instincts and make a change. I feel confident that I can teach him academically everything he needs to know in case he makes the decision to attend college in the future. What I struggle with is… how do I teach him the things I don’t know? Like art? Music? Foreign language? And how do I get him connected to other children to play and make friends? There are hardly any children near where we live for him to meet.

    Fortunately, I like his teacher. She is a kind, warm person that is responsive to his needs….. but I can’t always count on liking the teacher he gets stuck with. Also, the amount of time he is away from me (35 hours a week). I know I will never be ok with that. I need my boy back with me…. I feel like we’re missing out on so much…. and I feel guilty that all my time is spent with my toddler. I need both of them. Thanks.

    Author
    • Laurie A. Couture 16 February 2011 at 8:34 am (PERMALINK)

      Jaimie,

      I would be happy to help you out with all of the questions you asked, and your dilemma of whether to homeschool your five year old son. I offer consulting and coaching to help parents who are struggling with the issue of school vs. homeschooling and I support parents in following their instincts. If you would like to read more about what I can offer, please visit this link: http://www.laurieacouture.com/services/. You can reach me directly at LAC@laurieacouture.com

      Laurie

      Author
  3. Jaimie 16 February 2011 at 8:56 am (PERMALINK)

    Thank you! I will check out the link and get more info! :)

    Author

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