What are we looking for?

Its is striking to me that when you look on Sittercity, you can find babysitters with experience in epilepsy, asthma, autism, and all kinds of sensitivities. All of these specialties, and “will care for sick children,” are drop-down menu items that sitters put in their profiles. As comprehensive as the list of specialties are, you can rarely find babysitters with experience in attachment or holistic parenting – and certainly not on the clickable drop-down menu! I am so glad that children with certain illnesses can find skilled caretakers, and it is also sad to me that overt thought about wellness is not at the forefront caregivers’ skill set. One babysitter told me that she had a much harder time finding work until she was certified in first aid and CPR. As important as these skills are, I wonder what other values that are getting ignored when we make prevention and treatment of major catastrophes the top priority.
When we were living in Israel, we visited the Hebron Hills with the organization Breaking the Silence, and we heard the story of an IDF soldier who realized that while he was guarding a small settlement in the West Bank, a terrorist had walked through the dessert to a different city in Israel and people were killed. This soldier felt had his unit been patrolling the dessert rather than guarding the settlement, that attack could have been prevented.
Every place we guard leaves other places unpatrolled.
When we patrol all of our child’s environment with gates and locks, we aren’t protecting our child’s need to explore.
When a woman is in labor, we often patrol the value of making sure nothing goes wrong, but we don’t protect the privacy or calm that makes labor go smoothly.
When we make fear-based decisions, we’re not guarding our parasympathetic nervous system’s need for peace and are loosing the opportunity to make a trust-based decision.
The problem is when the very policy set to avoid damage is doing damage – and it often comes from what I’ve dubbed titanic syndrome – we are in trouble when we think we’ve created an unsinkable ship. We let our guard down and forget common sense, and end up in graver danger than if we accepted an inherent risk and worked with it. You’ve prevented all the things you don’t want – but have you taken the right measures to get what you do want?
Next time I leave a babysitter with a list of emergency numbers, I’m also going to leave them with a short check-list of reminders about what we do to nourish our child.
Coming soon – “Check-list for my babysitter…(and myself).”


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