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March 30, 2006

Babies, Dependent and Demanding

"Unlike animals, which generally become self-reliant shortly after birth, the human infant remains dependent on others for a very long time. He comes into the world as a bundle of needs, relying totally on the warmth of human arms, watchful eyes, and tender caresses. Incubators and electric heat are merely a very inadequate substitute for human contact, and the touch of cold instruments can be torture. A baby requires the certainty that he will be protected in every situation, that his arrival is desired, that his cries are heard, that the movements of his eyes are repsonded to and his fears calmed. The baby needs assurance that his hunger and thirst will be satisfied, his body lovingly cared for, and his distress never ignored."

--Alice Miller, the opening paragraph of the preface to "Banished Knowledge"

"If you want to look at how infants point us toward the reality of sin, I think most adults need to quit picking at the sliver in the baby's eye and start with the plank in their own. Here's a secret, (very sarcastic tone), babies are so demanding because if they weren't, their selfish, sinful parents would let them starve rather than interrupt their own activities to feed and nurture them. Really, what would happen to most infants if they never fussed or demanded attention? I think most adults would leave them alone and only interact with them when it was convenient."


"Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.

Isaiah 49:15, via Heather


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I never understood this idea that babies cry because they are sinners. Aren't they supposed to cry? Isn't that the one communication that God gave them? And isn't it the poor deprived motherless babies in orphanages who don't cry?

Though I would still pick up my babies if they didn't. :)

Posted by: kerri at March 31, 2006 12:33 AM

I watched TLC's Bringing Baby Home *ick* this week, and have been thinking exactly what you quoted.

Posted by: Carol at March 31, 2006 07:05 AM

My husband and I were just talking about this again today. I was telling him how I was being convicted that often times I will only go play with Becca (our 10 month old daughter) or pick her up when she is getting fussy. He agreed that he did the same thing. We both have been trying to spend time with her even when she doesn't seem to need us to and to hold her so she can experience some more things up on our level.

That second quote especially hit home. I think I'll share it with him. Thanks for posting it.

Posted by: Tricia F. at March 31, 2006 10:15 PM

What are contexts of these two quotations? Why the angry sarcasm?
Is. 49:15 came to mind when I read this post.
"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget I will not forget you!"

Posted by: Heather at April 1, 2006 12:37 PM

Heather, the first is from the preface of a book related to child neglect and abuse. The second is from a pastor's wife who has seen people use the idea of sin nature to justify parental selfishness and ignore the legitimate needs of children. She had sarcasm, but it wasn't angry.

I appreciate you sharing Isaiah 49:15. Because while we know a mother may block her compassion, or that sin in her life may lead to neglect and abuse--the Lord is always holding us in His hands, as infants and as adults.

Posted by: TulipGirl at April 1, 2006 06:10 PM

I don't get to be profound, because I'm still a single guy (though I've been blessed with getting to spend a lot of time with my pastor's nearly-4-year-old autistic child)--I just wanted to chime in and say, "Thanks!"

One of my deepest, snarliest pet peeves for a long time has been folks who would point to babies crying, call it selfish, and label it proof of original sin. (you know, folks like Augustine) Not that anyone escapes sin, but...c'mon!

It is a great relief to hear someone turn that one neatly on its head where it belongs, and to hear it in the Calvinist suburbs I get to visit when I'm not in my, er, not-so-Calvinist shanty, well, it does me good.


Posted by: pgepps at April 3, 2006 01:34 PM

I was so looking forward to trying a more attached parenting style with this baby -- I'm so sad that we won't have the opportunity to do that now (among other sadness, of course). Hubby is pretty adamant that we won't by trying for a fourth, now that our 'surprise' fourth isn't to be.

Posted by: Gem at April 8, 2006 11:19 AM

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