The Continuum Concept - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 3 Old 02-27-2003, 11:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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[B]Welcome to our conversation on the continuum concept.[B]
I had sent a private message to Blue Violet after my search turned up a post of her’s which mentioned “Continuum Concept”. She was kind enough to answer my initial and subsequent questions and then I realized perhaps others might wish to participate or listen in on our conversation….so I’ve tried to summarize it thus far.

Pema’s Father: Liedloff speaks of how a continuum fulfilled child is never made the center of attention by adults. Ideally, toddlers are allowed to have time to themselves or with other toddlers according to their need and desire, and the parents are better off focusing most of their attention on activities and interests more relevant to the adult mind.

Blue Violet: In context of the rest of her work, I think that when Liedloff says that a continuum child is never the "center of attention" is that s/he is not treated more specially than anybody else, unless some biological need warrants it. So in a continuum community a father may sit down with a baby and enjoy its company (just as he may do with any other member of the community he particular enjoys) and the mother may carry the baby with her all day long (which is practical and which the baby is biologically wired to expect), but you don't see situations like a group of adults getting together just to sit and watch a baby, or mealtime interrupted because the mother is making special food for the baby and expending energy to try to get him/her to eat it, or parents playing children's games with their children, or taking them to Chuck E. Cheese for pizza parties, or supervising their play, etc. In other words the child is not specially catered to, nor do adults attempt to become part of the child's world.

It naturally follows that parents in a continuum society *never* cease to focus on interests relevant to the adult mind. Childen do not hamper this because they are already assumed to be an integral part of every-day society, not a special sub-set that is assumed to be completely separate from general society (as is the norm here.)

Pema’s Father: I feel a bit unclear about how these ideas might be applied to child rearing. For example, when you say parents do not play children's games in a continuum society, do you mean adults should leave children's games to children?

Blue Violet: Not exactly. What I mean is that in a continuum society nothing is contrived, everything is done according to some sense of inner integrity and harmony and honesty. It is as simple as this: an adult plays with children (and vice versa) only when the play is mutually appreciated. (I have to admit that I enjoy doing "this little piggy" as much as my daughter does. )

Pema’s Father: At present, my wife and I live in an apartment and other children are not immediately available. How will we interact with our child? All of the AP literature I've read (not much) say infants and toddlers thrive on social interaction. So clearly, we will need to create some connections with other parents and their children, but when our current societal situation places us in our separate dwelling and there are just two parents and one infant - not a whole tribe of adults and children....how to proceed?

Blue Violet: You have hit on the problem -- it is impossible, in our society, to give our children the full continuum experience because we are so isolated. I think, though, that if we're talking about an infant the negative aspects of social isolation fall mostly on the parents, as they have so little help and support. This can indirectly affect the infant if the parents are stressed out from the difficulties imposed by such isolation. But the infant (socially speaking) needs only human contact with known care givers who are emotionally invested in the infant, especially the mother.

[Blue Violet clarifies her answer further:] My definition of "children's games" is those that are meant to appeal only to children. A game that appeals to adults as well is then not, by my definition, technically a "children's game", it is simply a game.
I think you might benefit from a second reading of The Continuum Concept (it is a dense book, hard to grasp all the implications in a first read.)

The message, to me, is not about what rules to follow in order to be a good parent (in fact she says relatively little about parenthood specifically) but rather that happiness comes from recognizing and acting according to an inner sense of rightness (which may be instinctual or spiritual), which means striving for harmony and being true to the essential nature of things (the ultimate morality) and refusing anything that will interfere with that. Which is a recipe not just for parenting, but for life.

Pema's Father: Thank you Blue Violet.
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#2 of 3 Old 02-28-2003, 03:04 PM
 
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Pema’s Father: At present, my wife and I live in an apartment and other children are not immediately available. How will we interact with our child? All of the AP literature I've read (not much) say infants and toddlers thrive on social interaction. So clearly, we will need to create some connections with other parents and their children, but when our current societal situation places us in our separate dwelling and there are just two parents and one infant - not a whole tribe of adults and children....how to proceed?
Here are my ideas on this:

Invite friends to your home on a regular basis. Avoid setting up highly-structured socializing, and try to resist feeling that you have to entertain or cater to your guests; instead, try to simply welcome them into your life. After having a baby is a great time to start this, because friends will want to see the new baby and will ask what they can do to help you. Suggest that they bring dinner and eat with you, or that they do a few loads of laundry and visit with you while it's running. This will help build up that "village" feeling and give baby an opportunity to meet others. Of course, if baby is not in a social mood, one parent can quietly take her into another room while the other continues talking with friends.

One thing my partner and I have found is very satisfying to our continuum sense is to have a weekly open house. We call it "game night" and we do often play cards or other games, but sometimes we just sit and talk. We send an e-mail to ~10 people saying that we'll be "open" beginning at 7:30, and on any given Thursday any of them may or may not come over; typically, about 3 of them come, but it's not the same ones every week. Sometimes they arrive at 7:30, sometimes an hour or two later. Sometimes they bring food, sometimes we serve food or drink, but there is no standard. Often I or my partner will be in and out of the room during the evening as we do laundry, etc., or I will wash dishes and have a friend keep me company in the kitchen. Sometimes they help us with a project. It helps us to feel less isolated in our home and as if we have a bigger family. We don't have a child yet, but when we do we plan to continue this type of activity.

You could meet more families with children by joining La Leche League or another parenting group.

I see that your baby's due date is TOMORROW! How exciting! Good luck with this new adventure!

Mama to a boy EnviroKid treehugger.gif 9 years old and a new little girl EnviroBaby baby.gif!

I write about parenting, environment, cooking, and more. computergeek2.gif

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#3 of 3 Old 02-28-2003, 05:58 PM
 
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I love the idea of a game night. What are other things folks do for the community part of our continuum? I'm a part of a food co-op with kids running all over while grown-ups shop and socialize.
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