By now the reader will be aware that just as Climate Change is the biggest threat to the earth’s ecology, so is Developmental Trauma to our socio-psychological domain.
If we could only get those first 3 years of life right, a huge range of negative behavioural consequences would be reduced to more manageable levels……less violence, less terrorism, more empathy and compassion, more energy to apply to positive ends.
And yet, there is not a single government on Earth that has a well-developed policy on supportive interventions in the first 3 years of life. Not even the Scandinavian countries.
In the past few years, spurred on by increasing anxiety about child abuse, violent crime, delinquency, and drug misuse, public debate about the contribution of parents has become more intense. It has always been tempting to blame parents for the bad behaviour of their children, but there is a more thoughtful discussion. Without blame, it is possible to see what effects different kinds of parenting have on the lives of children, even extending into their own adult lives in the next generation. An enormous number of books and articles, conferences and policy statements have appeared, to the extent that we can say there is a movement towards supporting parents in their task. It is only possible to do this now that we understand just how difficult and stressful the task is. Until recently there was little public or professional acknowledgement of the immensity of parental commitment, perhaps because much of it was carried out by women, mostly mothers, whose voices were not heard. Even now it is easy for busy adults to resist a serious exploration of children’s needs, because to do so arouses poignant memories of one’s own childhood, both happy and sad, nostalgic and painful. In this chapter I outline a story of parenthood, from past to future, seen through the lens of attachment theory. Those working closely with families, such as health visitors, social workers, child carers and parent supporters in the voluntary sector need a coherent framework in which to understand family processes. They also need to know that their work cannot flourish in the absence of a coherent national policy on parenthood. The privatisation of children’s care and needs is no longer an option.
How to get the political parties in our nations involved in this vital task? They are not interested.
What we need are Ministers and Ministries in Early Childhood Nurturance, departments that can identify mothers/fathers at risk and in stress, and programmes that protect and nurture them, and help them develop their nurturance skills.
We can make a start by educating the public. It would be good to have a range of strong media presentations on the subject. In Australia, the public broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), could make a range of programmes for general consumption, examining findings in developmental neuroscience, looking at Developmental Trauma (the consequences of dysfunctional nurturance n those first 3 years) , and featuring a range of preventive and reparative programmes like the Bumps to Babes and Beyond organisation we featured earlier.
The commercial media would then become interested in offering similar productions, and past a certain point, there would be sufficient public energy to impact on the political process.
I’ve been working on this thing for several years…a book about how if we can only put more loving energy into the first 3 years of life, we might just save the Planet………problem was……it was too overarching…….there are so many excellent texts on developmental neuropsychology.
I’ve decided to focus JUST on Indigenous issues……starting with the Wati Kanyilpai story and Dreaming, extending that to what is happening in the Central Australian communities I have been visiting over many decades, but then extending it more broadly, but in a concise fashion.
The central message…….men need to do Watikanyilpai, nurture the nurturers….the more we do that, the more our Planet has a chance of surviving.
This must be the most neglected blog on Planet Earth……is it the subject? the writer? the writing?
In the last two years, I have tried to publish a paper called “Healing Trans Generational Cascades of Distress in Disadvantaged Indigenous Communities”…..I submitted it to 4 different Journals, and it got rejected EVERY TIME….I have submitted many other papers to many other journals…..NO PROBLEMS…at worst, the editors have asked me to make some revision changes.
I continue to write my “Nurturing the Nurturers” book with a sinking heart.
This must be Planet Earth’s most neglected blog……..even I have been neglectful…..is it the subject?……how I write to it?……
I have published many many papers in various scientific journals, but one of my papers, called “Healing Trans-generational Cascades of Distress in Disadvantaged Indigenous Communities” ……has been reject by 4/FOUR Journals. This has never happened with any of my other publications….at worst, with other papers, the editors suggested various changes that I complied with, and the thing got published……what on Earth is going on ?????
Since no-one will read this blog, there won’t be any responses that I can incorporate into making whatever editorial changes might help.
I continue to work on my “Nurturing the Nurturers” book with a sinking heart.
It is obvious that a project to nurture the nurturers needs the men on this Planet to take a major part.
How can we nurture men to develop more nurturance ?
If a man scores high on the ACE scale, and has some degree of Developmental Trauma, then psychotherapy and neurofeedback will be useful.
But what about the rest ? Here the issue is more of a “Peak Performance”one. Some suggestions.
- Babies are your best teachers. They are non-verbal, so you have to relate to them with your Right brain…….gestures, prosody, entunement, empathy, loving kindness.
- Meditation will be of some use. Concentration meditation helps develop mindfulness….but it is not enough…Pol Pot was a great meditator. Loving Kindness Meditation (Metta, compassion) needs to be included. Dan Siegel would also include a thing he calls integration, the capacity to use mindfulness and empathy in an inter-relational way.
- Reflective listening skills………Carl Rogers, 50 years ago, knew that tuning in to the the person through reflective listening was much more useful than all the interpretation/ advice giving/clever responses. It gives the other person a sense of being caringly reflected, so that they can process their own internal state more fully.
- Neurofeedback. Here the paradigm is one of “Peak Performance”. We are developing protocols which enhance people’s entunement and empathy skills.
As the males of the species develop more and more “nurturing the nurturers “skills, it becomes easier for the primary carers, usually the women, to do their nurturance more effectively. The babies benefit, the Planet benefits.
Nurturance deniers at the political level.
A little exercise to bring cheer into your life. Maybe even a tiny bit of power.
Below is a list of 10 major world figures…..politicians or leaders of major organisations.
- The Dalai Lama
- Angela Merkel, German Chancellor
- Kim Jong-un, North Korean dictator.
- Mother Teresa, missionary worker with the poor
- Pope Francis
- Queen Elizabeth II
- Barack Obama
- Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese political leader
- Donald Trump
- Hillary Clinton
Arrange them in the order of 0 to 10 according to your intuition of how nurturant each person might be. .
A wonderful nurturer might get score of 10. A score of 5 indicates that they are just barely good enough. A monster nurturer would score 0. For the purpose of this exercise, nurturance has a broad range. Even though the most difficult job is obviously the one of nurturing a baby, a being that cannot speak, and is utterly dependent, we are talking about the broader aspects of nurturance: how someone might look after babies, but also relate to adults, animals, plants, the environment. This is not an intellectual exercise. Just go with your gut feelings, and arrange them from 0 to 10 on a piece of paper, whatever.
Now give your mother a score from 0 to 10 on this scale. Anything less than 5 tells you that you had a very difficult start in life.
Finally, think about the next election in your state or country ? Who are the candidates asking you to vote for them ? Give each of them a score from 0 to 10.
Should you give a vote to anyone who scores less than a 5 ??
Leon’s agenda: The more politicians find out about this, the more likely they may be to include nurturance on their political agenda.
Yesterday was Australia Day in this country……..some of us may have difficulties with the date….I for one would prefer a date that our Indigenous people feel good about, rather than the date that commemorates the invasion of this country by Europeans.
But there is one feature that is unreservedly good; the nominations of “Australian of the Year” for 2015 and 2016 were Rosie Batty and David Morrison; and both of them have taken a leadership role in encouraging us to find ways of dealing with Domestic Violence.
While it is clear that exposure to family violence damages children emotionally and psychologically, a range of further research findings supports the obvious intuition that many perpetrators of domestic violence themselves come from backgrounds of the various kinds of problematic early developmental nurturance that have been described at length in various postings on this blog.
The stage is thus set for a transgeneration cascade of domestic violence……..and of course, a perpetrator of domestic violence is unlikely to confine their aggressive action to the home front alone.
It is encouraging to see how plans to minimise domestic violence are coming more and more into national prominence. And here again, while there is a whole range of measures that have a positive effect, the earlier in the life cycle that they are deployed, the better……nurturing the nurturers……identifying those at risk and supporting them sensitively.
I am currently working on Chapter 6 of my “Politics of Nurturance” book. This is the Chapter on identification and sensitive supports and interventions…..and how our recent understandings of developmental neuroscience can inform this. An extremely difficult area……one of the core problems is that because so much of this stuff is PRE-verbal…i.e. addressing the emotional/relational “networks”and “programmes” of the right hemisphere of the baby and infant, but ALSO of the nurturer, much of the supportive input needs to be pre-verbal as well, if it is to be effective. And a book is very VERBAL after all. Prosody is largely absent unless it is read aloud, and then much hangs on the reader’s voice.
I’ve had some ideas about how to subtly address this issue, but I want to do it “under the radar”as it were, without making it so obvious that it loses any good impact.
Any feelings or ideas , dear reader?