Friday, March 9, 2012

Why Love Matters....

The cute photo is Evelyn Anise Menasco (Amber & Sam’s new baby) and she’s appearing since she’s the most recent new baby photo on my cell phone and this is a post about babies. This was Evelyn as a newborn and she is already 2 months old!

Anyway, I’m reading a book assigned for class called Why Love Matters by British psychotherapist Sue Gerhardt. The book is fascinating (especially relative to some of the more tedious textbook reading!). It explores how critical love is to our brain development in the early years of life.

The book confirms the huge importance on new mothers being attuned to their baby’s needs. Parents who respond appropriately by feeding their baby when it’s hungry, engaging their baby when it’s bored, create a robust immune system and stress response.

Many parents do this instinctively but when needs aren’t met, a baby develops a rickety system with defense mechanisms in place. Babies that don’t have enough responsiveness from care givers have to learn to self-regulate as best they can. But the foundation is flawed.

Early patterns are persistent. They become inscribed in our brain’s neuronal networks. While they are learned in an unconscious way they ultimately become our emotional habits.

I wish I’d read this book before I had children, but, unfortunately it wasn’t published until 2004. But it’s a good read about the latest findings between neuroscience and psychology. And, a great reminder of how important parenting is (especially in the very first years of life!).