Welcome to The Path of Water

This site is dedicated to exploring the Tao and Philosophical Taoism; and how it relates to everyday modern life in the 21st Century. It also includes posts relating to how I feel Taoism can provide insights for dealing with the problems of everyday living.

The process of writing out my thoughts helps me to explore what I believe and why, so these posts will probably develop over time. I hope that you'll find this site interesting and, for those of you new to the Tao and Taoism, I hope that it can provide you with a first step on the path to a rich spiritual life. If you want to post comments relating to a post or the site as a whole I'd be grateful as all feedback is helpful.

Enjoy your visit - In Tao - Woody


Who would follow the Way must go beyond words.
Who would know the world must go beyond names. *

No man ever steps in the same river twice,
for it's not the same river and he's not the same man. **

Friday, 22 August 2008

Crying children

On a more upbeat topic, a poster on the Reform Taoism forum was a while back asking for ideas on how to deal with a baby who was healthy but crying a lot due to teething, and the stresses that places on parents. Obviously it's important to check with professionals to ensure there is no serious problem, but assuming all is OK, here are my few thoughts....

I was helped by my mother-in-law's experiences - she used to be a maternity nurse training as a midwife but even she found times where being a new mother got to her. Her life got a lot easier when she reasoned that when she worked in the hospital they checked that any crying baby was basically OK healthwise, well fed and with a clean nappy, and then the nurses would leave them to cry because they were very busy. The babies in the hospital grew up fine, so she brought up 3 kids working on the basis that if the baby was basically OK (e.g. suffering from teething) then if the crying was getting to her the simplest thing to do was to put the baby somewhere where they were safe (e.g. their cot/crib), shut the door, sit down & have a cup of tea for 10 mins, then go back to trying to comfort them feeling a bit less stressed.

If you feel you're close to snapping the child will be a lot better off if they're left to cry in a safe location while you regather your composure than they will be with a stressed out parent. The other thing of course is that babies can sense their parent's distress and that makes them distressed which makes them cry, so it becomes a vicious circle.

Another important thing is to look at your expectations. If you're getting stressed because you want or need to be doing something other than comfort the baby, just accept that it isn't going to happen & just live for that moment.

One other thing I'd add is that as parents we seem to feel pressure to "fix" everything "wrong" with our children. I'm not suggesting that you don't try to comfort your child, but teething hurts, and when things hurt, children (and adults) cry. It's a natural process. Don't feel that if you can't stop your child crying you've failed somehow - just comfort them and be there for them, calmly soothing them as they work through the pain of growing.

All the world knows beauty but if that becomes beautiful this becomes ugly
all the word knows good but if that becomes good this becomes bad (11)

Taoism teaches us that our judgements are relative. By deciding that something is good (e.g. a quiet baby), something else (e.g. a crying baby) is therefore bad. We then try to achieve the good and remove the bad but in reality they are two sides of the same coin. Through excessive efforts to quiet a baby we can actually cause the baby to cry more, or we can get the baby quiet but the methods used can cause more problems further down the line.

In Taoism we seek a middle path, trying to find balance. A baby that cries all the time or never cries should both be causes for concern, but so too should be parents that seek to have a baby that never cries or that they consider to be a burden to their lifestyle.

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