Maybe you don’t need this advice, but I have a really nice story to share.
This advice could be mom advice or grandmother advice. Or it could just be another plank in the platform of communication. But I have found that children who are talked to from the moment they breathe on this planet are smarter and better communicators than those treated like a piece of furniture that happens to be in the room.
As they slip from the birth canal, children are alert to what’s happening around them. They sense calm and peaceful loving voices, disinterested voices and of course will be affected by shouting and angry voices. Because they cannot immediately see, we create their beginning world with our voices.
As a former labor and delivery nurse I often witnessed the beginning relationship that a mother has with her child. In most cases the comfortable exchange of love was automatic—mothers would hold a slippery newborn and exclaim right away—“I love you. How are you doing? Welcome, I’m so glad, we’re so glad you are here.” Connection, communication immediately.
Others were not so sure. They could hold the baby but the words were all directed to someone else in the room. Babies cannot talk back, that’s true. But they are instant communicators! They have heard the same voices all through pregnancy. When they open their eyes and have vision they will connect the voices with the faces.
I began to encourage and teach new teen moms to talk to their babies. I became part of a project in my community in Chicago called RISING STAR. I worked with pregnant teens teaching them about good nutrition, how to experience labor, what to expect at the hospital, and how to care for their newborns. I also helped them set goals so that they would focus on getting an education or finding a job and not immediately have another baby.
I wanted to help these new mothers form that mother-child bond. “Hold your child right away when they are minutes old; look at them, talk to them, whisper your love. And keep on talking. Explain who you are, their mother, and how much you love them. Don’t be shy. It’s not foolish or silly. Open your heart and your mouth and talk about your love. Keep on talking when they are months old, then 1, 2, 3 and on. Keep on talking and watch what happens.”
One young women in my group certainly listened to me. Months later, after the birth of her son, she called me at home. With joy in her voice she thanked me.
“My child so smart, he talk all the time. He so smart. You were right. He heard my voice. He love me and I love him.”
That phone call has always stayed with me. What I was able to give that mother she will pass on to her child. And that child will pass it on to her offspring. The family will talk to each other and share life experience. Speaking of one’s love opens not only the ears, but the heart and the soul too. It really works.