In my search for authors who share their insights in native Spanish about unconditional love and trust in children’s natural abilities to grow and learn I am reading Carlos Gonzalez’ Bésame Mucho; cómo criar a tus hijos con amor.
Gonzalez, from Zaragoza, Spain, is author, teacher, pediatrician and founder of the Asociación Catalana Pro Lactancia Materna.
I’ve enjoyed reading his sometimes humorous anecdotes that illustrate a compassionate take on a child’s point of view. Rooted in an evolutionary and somewhat continuum-concept-y point of view, he points out the many ways adults have different rules for children than they do for themselves. He demonstrates ways in which children are compassionate, sincere, brave, honest, loving and forgiving, rather than the adult-assigned labels of being selfish, mischievous, deceptive and needing control and rules.
As far as I can tell the book is only available in Spanish, but here are a few interesting excerpts I’ve found thus far to share with those who don’t read Spanish:
- He makes a distinction between choices that we make as rational animals, and actions that we make as a genetically evolved species: “The first gazelle that spent the day licking her baby didn’t do it just for fun, or because it just occurred to her at the time and she didn’t have anything better to do, nor did she do it on purpose thinking, “This way the leopards won’t smell my child.” She did it because a genetic mutation changed her conduct; she couldn’t have done anything else. And if the gazelles of today continue to do this it is because, in effect, this behavior happened to be useful. On the other hand, the first person to hit a child, or let it cry without picking it up, or that put it on a feeding schedule, or that made it wear an amulet, these people did in fact do this because it occurred to them. These are voluntary behaviors, that don’t obey the genes.”
- There is a lovely anecdote about a mother with her distraught child standing by the chimpanzee enclosure at the zoo. An adult female chimp approaches the glass and reaches out kindly toward the crying child and then offers him her breast.
- He also makes an interesting distinction between animals who cry when left alone (many larger mammals and primates), and those who don’t (rabbits, fish, amphibians), pointing out that nature has a reason for the crying. “If scientists were to find a new animal, unknown until now, and wanted to find out quickly (without weeks of observation) which is its normal way of caring for its young, they could do a very simple experiment: take the mother away and leave the babies alone. If they stay quiet and still, it is normal with that species that the young stay by themselves. If they start crying out for dear life, it is normal in that species that the young are not separated from their mother for even a moment. What about your child? How does he react when you leave? What do you think is normal for our species?”