Baby Talk

“Kids grow within the soil of relationships” - Dan Siegel
In comparison to other animals the human infant is born prematurely. Apparently this is a consequence of the large head size of the human fetus, which would make it impossible to give birth at a later point in time. During the first year of life an infant’s brain more than doubles in size, which makes experiences during that time crucial for her mental climate throughout life. The mother’s presence alone can make all the difference. It’s best if she establishes a good bond, where her baby comes to develop trust.
Human nature developed through the ages to ensure survival in the wilderness where being left behind could mean deadly danger for a baby. Nonhuman babies must get up right after being born and run along. Unlike other highly developed mammals, humans are helplessly dependent. We cannot even walk or feed ourselves for years and require being taken with in order to survive. Human infants are “wired” to form attachments to an emotionally present caregiver for continuous attention, encouragement, and guidance. But babies are left behind for extended periods of time as a consequence of modern city life, where mothers are busy with other things.
Instinct tells an infant that attachment and bonding with her mother (or a reliably present caretaker) is of the essence and she cries desperately when this is not the case. If this happens a lot, the child acquires a mental set of fear and resistance to her existence in the world. She will tend to distrust love and intimacy, and she may resign to hide and even despise “needy” vulnerability. This then becomes fertile ground for pain-killing, anxiety-reducing, confidence-raising drugs or distracting activities throughout adult life.
The presence of a caregiver who bathes the baby in love instills a sense of joy and safety. When this is not reliably the case, either because the baby is left alone too often for too long or because the caregiver is distracted and not emotionally present, disturbances tend to develop. As a consequence of extended emotional neglect it can happen that the window closes. Eventually, she might remain with an undercurrent of discomfort, confusion, and anguish. She may feel nervous, anxious, irritable, or melancholic and express it with a variety of disturbances, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Abandonment, neglect, and abuse during the first three years engender the most severe damage and brain circuits are altered to accommodate a chronic sense of threat and danger. This is where persisting fear and mental confusion originate and addicts self-medicate this.
Since alcoholism runs in families, we know that some people are born with a genetic predisposition for addiction. But child abuse and neglect also tends to get passed down over generations and an overwhelming percentage of addicts have survived damaging parenting styles, as well as the loss of a parent. This is a plea for continuous TLC, gentle guidance, and encouragement for your children. Early childhood experiences are of utmost importance for the development of mental health or illness.
“The creation of meaning happens with each other” – Dan Siegel