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Modern Day Neglect

A few weeks ago, I went out to lunch with some of my family in the Swan Valley. During lunch, I noticed two couples sitting at a table together with a baby (about 9 months old) in a pram sitting behind one of the couples. 

I occasionally glanced over and noticed the couples chatting away, eating and not paying any attention to the baby. I saw the baby make numerous attempts to make “conversation” and try to join in but during that time I saw neither parent acknowledge or respond to the baby, bring the baby out of the pram or move the pram around so it was more included in the group. 

I know, I can hear laughs about how I said a baby should be moved to be included in the group. You’re probably thinking, it’s just a baby, it has no idea what’s going on so why should it sit with the adults (well babies do know what’s going on and early experiences shape brain architecture.) Anyway back to the story.    

In this case the baby was making noises, looking at its parents and trying to have a “conversation.” Just like adults, baby’s talk and need to socialise. Babies know exactly what is going on and by ignoring a baby’s needs, it is learning that it’s needs aren’t important and it won’t get it’s needs met by it’s parents.

If this situation happened on a regular basis where the baby’s needs were continually not met, it would eventually give up trying to get it’s needs met. The child believes that it’s parents can’t meet its needs so it won’t go to it’s parents when it needs help or support and it will learn and believe that it can only rely on itself and not others. 

That’s a very unhealthy belief to have as everyone needs to be able to go to other people for help sometimes and not be solely reliant on oneself. It is extremely difficult to have healthy relationships throughout one’s life having the belief that you can never rely on anyone else. 

Humans need to be able to trust others to have secure and healthy relationships. When people can’t trust others and don’t feel valued or worthwhile it often leads to major mental and physical illnesses like depression, anxiety and inflammatory diseases. 

Unfortunately I’m seeing this modern day neglect expanding exponentially due to technology, the high cost of living leading to an unhealthy work, life, balance and the increasing lack of knowledge of infant and early childhood development. 

The important thing to take away from all this is that the quality of the relationships our children have with their parents or primary caregivers is more valuable than just thinking we need to spend lots of time with them. It’s quality over quantity. 

We don’t need to give 100% devoted attention to our children all the time but we do need to sometimes put our phone down or say that the dishes don’t have to be done right now and just be with our children when they need us.