The President's Address
Early and Very Early Parenting: New Territories
by David B. Chamberlain, Ph.D.
For most of us in the Western world, the real beginnings of parenthood have been obscured by the pervasive materialism of medicine and psychology, by ignorance about life before birth, and by an urban life-style of pressure and pleasure that tends to dull inner consciousness. Often unintentional and discovered weeks after the fact, parenthood is pragmatic and starts whenever we want it to start. But is this the real beginning? Perhaps by definition parenting should begin when the baby begins, but when is this? Is it after birth, after conception, or sometime before?
In our culture, the conventional answer is after birth. This view is fostered by scientists who tend to define a baby as matter, especially brain matter, which is considered insufficient to support memory, learning, experience, trauma, emotion, or meaning until some time after birth. In this outworn stance, science has become dogma, and scientists believers. In this perspective, parenting is focused on the body (not the mind or soul) and is distinctly late, not early, as it is now fashionable to claim.
Parenting after conception is perceived by many in our society as radical and unnecessary, since there is, as yet, nothing (material) to parent. Howe ver, the evidence continues to mount that life before birth is a formative, dynamic matrix of interactions in which all parties are profoundly affected. The empirical evidence contradicts what we have thought about the nature of babies. Parents have discovered they can exchange signals, play games, and communicate in other ways their unborn babies. Piercing the cultural haze, these parents have developed a perspective that is holistic, including the body, emotions, and mind of the baby. You can accurately call this early parenting.
For a pioneering minority, parenting begins before conception, if for no other reason because they know that their health, habits, and environment can determine the quality of that conception. For them conception is conscious. not unconscious. This group is currently expanding to include more people who have been drawn into spiritual contact with babies in advance of conception. This perspective on parenthood is spiritual and their view of the baby transpersonal. New information on the nature of babies points to the true beginnings of parenthood. New adventures with babies will point to the true nature of parents.