Gentle Parenting

“Comfort” is only for adults!

At the weekend I was feeling stressed. I had loads of writing to get done in a short space of time, my daughter was going for her first sleep over, my son’s birthday is coming up and we are living in a disaster DIY zone…

And then the dishwasher broke.

It was just one of those weekends.

As an adult I was able to use my legs to walk to the kitchen where my hands made me a cup of tea. I used my words to ask my husband for a chocolate biscuit. When I entered my living room I realised I felt cold, so I walked over to the thermostat and turned the heating up. My legs walked me back to the sofa where I sat down and covered myself with a blanket. My husband came and sat down next to me.

I used my developed brain to formulate words and I expressed my thoughts using speech. I voiced a want of comfort and reassurance and that’s what my husband offered me. He put his arm around me. He helped me make a plan and he told me “you’ve got this”.

Luckily I’m not an infant or a young child. If I was I wouldn’t have deserved that comfort.

It’s only for comfort

Over the last few days this statement seem to be creeping up everywhere. Never really in relation to adults though.

Don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say: “my husband kept asking me for cuddles last night. In the end I told him to just go to sleep. I ended up just leaving the room and shutting the door! He did call for me but he was dry, warm and had a full tummy. He was only asking for me for comfort, so I walked away.”

No, we only hear this type of statement in regards to babies. Babies with immature brain development, babies who can’t walk to where they want to go, babies who can’t talk to express their needs, babies who’s motor skills won’t allow them to fetch themselves a drink, babies who can’t get a blanket and cuddle down whilst expressing with words a need for reassurance or company, fear or sadness.

Babies can call out for us and babies can cry. Babies can express feeding cues and as toddlers they can ask for us to be there for them, yet we think it’s ok to choose to not hear them.

Why are we so hellbent on denying children comfort when they’ve been feed, changed and tucked in?

Does having a full tummy, a warm blanket and a dry backside leave you completely worry free?

Does physical care only, reduce psychological stress for you?

Why is it bad if babies ask us for comfort?

Comfort to me is a word of hope. Comfort is what I’ve attempted to give my babies through developmental leaps, teething and illness. Comfort is what I’ve tried to achieve with my breasts, with bottles, dummies and cuddles.

Comfort is what we offer those we love, and comfort is what we expect others to offer us at a time of need.

Comfort” is when I find my children distressed, and I lift them up in my arms, hold them tight and give them reassurance. Comfort is when their upset resolves as their need for emotional support has been met.

Comfort is when they exhale sharply with that last sob; as I stroke their cheeks and whisper that I’m there for them.

Comfort is love.

The majority of parents would never question giving their children comfort during the day, so what changes when the light goes out? Why do we suddenly feel that comfort is something children aren’t entitled too?

At night It gets dark, there are shadows. It’s the end of a day with constant influences and new impressions which leave imprints on a developing brain. Relaxation doesn’t come easy to an overstimulated child.

When I was pregnant I promised myself to be the best mother I could. I don’t remember ever thinking that I’d be a super mum during the day, but at night I’d check out. I knew that parenting was a 24 hour commitment. I knew that growing a child from an infant, to a confident adult would take all my devotion and I knew I would be exhausted at times.

What I didn’t know was that as adults we can use the “comfort card” as an excuse to ignore our children’s needs during the night.

It saddens me that we are so ready to dismiss the emotional needs of children as soon as the lights go out….

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