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"Child up close"


It is true that Agnieszka Stein's "Child up close" reads lightly and well. As many people have described before me: you get the impression that you are talking to a loved one who will comfort, hug and say "you can do it". On the other hand, there is one picture emerging from each card: the need to create an unreal fairy tale in which children are more mature than in reality, and parents do not lack the time and patience to follow them without forbidding anything or limiting their untamed the need to discover and cross all boundaries.

The author has one child. You can feel it. As much as the fact that her vision of parenthood is so difficult to put into practice that it is virtually impossible. While parents of an only child, with great support from relatives and family, can implement the author's instructions in life, it is very doubtful that they will be able to raise two children in the same style, not to mention twins or a larger bunch.

Way to an only child raised throughout the village

"So we can say that the best preparation for parenthood is to create a network of supportive and kind adults. As the African proverb says, a whole village is needed to raise one child. "(P. 120)

You want to ask - what if a woman has no help? If she is a single mother, does she have to get back to work quickly, constantly rushing and chasing to meet all challenges? What if parents face the upbringing of twins or children born year after year, how can you imagine running with a headscarf with a sleeping infant after a year-old on a walk? How to feed and be ready for any call and sleep with the child (because the toddler after the mother gets up immediately wakes up) when we have a second child who also demands our attention? The realities are different: not all of us have a team of helpers ready to help us raise and take care of a child. Then what? The author gives no answer, but is aware of the limitations of her vision, writing at the very end:

"The situations and information contained in this book most often concerned the relationship of one adult with one child. And yet reality is much more complex (...) "(p. 302).

Of course, the idea of ​​parenting closeness presented by Agnieszka Stein looks beautiful and I would like the world to give parents the opportunity to implement it. Unfortunately, only a few have such a perspective. And who knows, because of these high expectations of parents' responsibilities, many parents decide on only one child?

We are parents

One of the main ideas of parenting closeness is sleeping with children and long breastfeeding. The author also refers to these aspects, but does not pay too much attention to them.

"If parents want to be really alone, then the only way to guarantee this is to provide child care during this time. If you have a small child at home, whether you are sleeping in your room or your family bed, there is a risk that you will wake up at the least expected moment. " (p. 92)

Each parent decides alone whether to sleep with the child. It's his right and there is nothing to interfere with. If he accepts the lack of intimacy and needs a lot of space in the toddler's bed, then of course his choice. Even when he decides to sleep with three small children and bring his partner to bed in the living room: also.
However, I cannot comprehend the goal of equating these two situations. For me it is obvious that it is easier for a woman to have a close relationship when a child is sleeping in a different room than when he is hugged to his mother's breast, satisfying his need for closeness.

Controlled Reaction

"When a child does something that adults don't like, they have two ways to interact. The first, which consists in interrupting the child's actions and assessing them as incorrect, and then trying to settle the situation, i.e. get the child to give up and do what is expected of him. And the second, in which he begins by observing the child and trying to understand what he means. You may want to think about why a child needs his behavior, and how his strategy helps him. And then support them in meeting the needs that were discovered under his behavior. The child throws food. You can punish them, say you can't, you can finally warn them what will happen if he doesn't stop immediately. You can also think about what he means. Does he like to abandon - so he can offer him a game of throwing ... "(126)

Well ... I can imagine ... Husband at work, I try to go shopping with my child. First I try to put my daughter in the pram, she protests. As per the requirements of parenting closeness, I stop doing this, thinking "maybe my daughter wants to come". In that case, "I lose one" hand to grab my daughter if necessary, and I reserve the other for shopping. I know I have fewer opportunities but I don't give up.

We are leaving. Daughter finds a puddle. As a parent raising parenthood in accordance with the principle of closeness, I do not forbid to enter, even play or splash in it. The daughter is wet but happy. In the end, nothing happened - I say to myself. I am asking my daughter to follow me. She protests, wants to take a different path. I don't limit her freedom, let's go. That's how time passes. We collect pebbles, look at the leaves. The daughter is getting dirtier and hungry. Shopping not done. People look at me strangely. Suddenly I am convinced that it is getting late and we have to go to the store. The daughter protests and throws herself to the ground, striking the grass with her hands and clearly angry. I still don't punish her and don't punish her. Waiting for it to calm down. In the end I manage to take her to the store. I can hardly shop. Right next to the counter, the daughter in her arms is dropping a glass beer bottle. I think: "well, maybe she wanted to see it fall" ...

You tell the story exaggerated. Maybe ... And who else asks, what does parenthood look like, and you can't demand too much from a small child? On the other hand, in this case, should each parent's day look like a continuous battle?

Close parenthood: yes, but only at home

I am still troubled by what the author goes on to say: that it is impossible to convince others of our methods. Rewards and punishments that Agnieszka Stein does not recommend are common practice: all educational methods actually assume them. The child meets them in kindergarten, at grandma's and aunt's's. In various forms.

So what to do when we are at the parents' house, and the toddler is not accustomed to our prohibitions, it makes a mess and displays the contents of the cabinets with underwear. How will the child react to the firm "no" of his beloved grandmother? And what will happen in the kindergarten, in which the toddler will also try to follow the rules that he knows from home? Will parents applying the idea of ​​closeness parenthood be able to accept the difficulties they will most likely encounter when their child faces a "different world"?

In a sense, the author develops my doubts. I suggest that you focus on what is "here and now" and not look ahead, because nobody knows it and that everything depends on parents. It is true. But are we to agree that nothing or almost nothing depended on us?

Not for everyone

"Child up close" is undoubtedly an interesting publication. Unique and full of information that will make us reflect on our behavior and methods. However, I am afraid that the vision he presents is too perfect and at the same time impractical. Despite pointing out that "only those who once sat all day alone with a small child know how strong emotions arouse their behavior when the needs of an adult are unsatisfied", the author's advice becomes virtually worthless in the world of working mothers, women combining many responsibilities, raising more than one child, and living away from the family, without support from friends and relatives. In such situations, simply thinking of yourself and your needs as a parent, partner or person realizing your dreams, it is better to prohibit, encourage the child to act in a certain way, just start raising instead of waiting for the toddler to mature himself to gain certain skills and introduce certain behaviors ... or wait without success.

What remains

When I think more deeply about the idea of ​​parenting closeness presented by Agnieszka Stein, I can't help the impression that it is actually not very revealing. Every parent who wants their child's good, tries to spend time with him, hug, talk, support. You don't need special terms, names or additional ideas. Every loving parent has a need for intimacy, just as instinctively, everyone tries to raise a child to be a good person. It is, in fact, easier than making the child responsible or shifting the responsibility of raising them to others ...