Taylor's Reviews > The Continuum Concept: In Search Of Happiness Lost

The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff
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Apr 26, 07

bookshelves: non-fiction, parenting
Read in October, 2006

What is a more perfect picture in this world than a contented baby in loving parent arms? Leidloff claim that this is the place to be if you are an infant; that the modern traditions of swings, cribs, playpens, and other child-holding-devices go against our nature and evolution, and can do great damage to a person by denying an infant’s automatic expectations.

I agree with much of what she says. Obviously, babies are made to be held. We are the only primates that willing sets our young down for (often) hours at a time. We are the only primates that purposefully ignores our young’s cues for food/comfort/attention/etc. (Just let him cry…he’s fine…) We are the only primates that listen to the advice of “experts” rather than follow our own finely tuned and well evolved instincts when it comes to caring for our young.

It’s an interesting book. Parts made me cry. Parts made me scoff. Parts made me want to throw the book across the room and throttle Ms. Leidloff. Parts resonated very strongly with me. She’s on to something, but I am only inclined to trust her so far…given that she has never had her own children. It’s supremely easy to talk expertly about theories. It’s an entirely different game to see those theories in action.

I think the most amazing part was her conceptualization of the modern infant born in a hospital and placed in a crib, instead of in where it instinctively knows he belongs (in Mama’s arms).

Reading this made me think about the many times parents have told me (as their childcare provider) to allow their infant to cry itself to sleep. I was deeply grateful for my safe homebirth and my son that is rarely allowed to cry without our loving attention and cuddles (only in the car seat…we run many errands on the bus now). It is no wonder infants sound like torture victims when allowed to cry alone. How horrible that must be.

I have such a strong, mama-bear, visceral reaction to the very idea – and a holy horror of myself for the many times I have listened to parents instructions instead of my own heart and let babies cry – that I can’t seem to get cohesive sentences out just now.

There are many places where Leidloff is full of crap…but anyone who writes a “raise your child this way” kind of a book is full of crap. If I were writing a book about caring for children it would go something like this:

Every child is completely different and you are always flying by the seat of your pants. You’ll work it out. Just keep on loving them. That’s all.

But that’s all personal opinion. If anyone else has thoughts on Leidloff’s concepts, I would be extremely interested…
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