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Comments to the Aware Parenting Institute

Comments received in 2003

(The most recent comments are at the bottom of the page)

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We welcome your comments about Aware Parenting and this web site. We reserve the right to post anything you write to us on our page of comments, and to edit it as needed. Please give us your name, city and country. This is an archived page. Please see our current comments page.

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Please note that this is not a personal advice column. If you are a parent in need of advice or support, please visit our Parent Support Page or schedule a telephone consultation with Dr. Solter. Click here for more information about her consultations.

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January 20, 2003

Dear Dr Solter,

Hello and thank you so much for your books. They have, at times, provided me with much inspiration, sustenance, faith and hope...I am an independent mother of a 17 month old girl, Leah. I read The Aware Baby when pregnant, and it resonated with me. I sort of put the Aware Parenting method into practice, but not seriously until about six months ago when I read The Aware Baby again, and then Tears and Tantrums. I also became involved in an ongoing, weekly Aware Parenting group.

I find myself in the midst of a major parenting dilemma: my seeming inability to put any of the Aware Parenting methods into practice when I'm feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and fed up, which, at present, is often. Even in the midst of all this I still aspire to the ideals of the Aware Parenting method, but I feel so frustrated with myself and think, will they always just be ideals? The reality for me seems to be that changing 32 years of unhealthy conditioning is near impossible, other than a few fleeting moments. I fear for Leah. After all, I was going to be the one to break the vicious cycle of disfunctional parenting history with my children.

Meg Mottram
New South Wales, Australia

Reply from Aletha Solter:

Thank you for your message. I am pleased that my books have helped you. I realize that it is very difficult to put the principles of Aware Parenting into practice. My advice to you and to all parents is to get as much help and support as you can, especially of you are a single mother. It's unrealistic to think that you can do this alone. All parents need support. We human beings evolved in extended family networks in which no parent was ever expected to be the sole caretaker for children. So don't be too critical of yourself if you are unable to live up to your goals and be the kind of parent you want to be. You are probably already doing much better than your own parents. Please see our parent support page.


May 13, 2003

In 1985, when I was pregnant with my first baby, I received The Aware Baby from Gloria, a very dear friend. She had been my counselor for five years. My childhood had been very dysfunctional, and I had spent those years digging back into the past and healing old wounds. My husband and I had put off having children until I felt I was healed enough not to inflict on our children the abuse that had been inflicted on me. When Gloria gave me the book, she said that it was a book about raising children so all of their hurts are healed on the spot, and they won't have to spend years and years in counseling.

I just soaked in the book. It made total sense to me! It made parenting SO much easier for me. I realized that I didn't need to have all of the answers. The kids, even as babies, had the answers, and all my husband and I had to do was to honor all of their feelings. I adored holding and loving them when they needed to cry. I often shed a few tears myself at those times, being overwhelmed with how wonderful it would have been for me if I had had someone to love and hold me that way. It was so wonderful to know in my heart that I was giving my children a gift that would last a lifetime.

Now it is 18 years later, and my children are 18, 15 and 12 years old. They are absolutely awesome people. I feel so honored to be their mother. They are all very bright, they know who they are, and look you straight in the eye when they talk to you. They are peaceful, loving human beings, who are sensitive to the feelings of other people (of all ages).

I wondered for several years when the "Terrible Teen Years" would arrive. They haven't, and, at this point, I am doubting they will. Our kids have grown up with our love and respect. We have trusted them with developmentally appropriate responsibility their whole lives. Since they are already responsible for, and know themselves, they have no need to rebel against us. They have always been the people they want to be.

A young friend of mine is due to deliver her first baby in a few weeks. There was a shower for her last weekend. I wanted to give her something that she and the baby would have forever. I thought of a silver feeding spoon, a savings bond, etc. None of them felt right. Then I thought of The Aware Baby. That was it!! I took my copy, signed by Aletha, and started to thumb through it. About a third of the pages were dog-eared, many of them had notes in the margins or underlining, and the cover is worn and torn in a few places, but the rewards inside are still the same.

I became nostalgic, and even felt bad that I had forgotten the original source for my parenting model. Every parent and everyone who deals with children should read this book. If all children in the world were raised as suggested in The Aware Baby, there would eventually be peace on earth

Actually, the best testimony for this book came from my oldest son who recently said, "Mama, when I have kids, will you raise them for me! You have done such a great job with us." I told him that I was honored by his request, but I assured him of the truth that I know in my heart: he has absorbed every gift that I got from The Aware Baby, and he will be an awesome father some day.

May Coors
San Luis Obispo, California, U.S.A.


May 14, 2003

Dear Dr Solter,

I have been working as a professional maternity nurse for about one year now. After my children grew up and left home, I started studying for this profession. During my studies I wrote an essay with the title "Help! The baby is crying!" For this subject I made use of your books in Dutch (Tears and Tantrums and The Aware Baby). As I gained experience during my studies as a trainee with crying babies, I was greatly inspired by your books. My essay was judged the best of my class, and recently I was nominated second in the Netherlands for the best essay in the year 2002. The comments of the jury were very rewarding regarding this subject, as well as the approach. Also, I myself, as well as the families of newborn babies that I work with, are always impressed when we apply the suggestions you give in your books. I have much success in this field, and I receive a lot of questions about this subject, and everyone is begging for a copy of my essay. I have been asked at my school to give lectures, and also at the bureau I work for. So I apply the suggestions from your books, combined with my own experiences for the Dutch situation.

Els Spoelstra-Schoen
Arnhem, The Netherlands


October 7, 2003

I am training to be a counsellor and am currently studying Winnicott and his theories about transitional phenomena, in which he seems to be implying that use of so called 'transitional phenomena' is healthy and leads to so called 'normal' development. Having also read your book, Tears and Tantrums, my understanding is that the use of these objects as well as the excessive need for the breast is a way of repressing emotions which really need expression, and that healthy development would be developing ways of expressing emotions in a safe way, which does not harm others, rather than moving from one mechanism of repression to another, such as food or drugs later on in life. We will be discussing the paper in a few days time and I would really be interested in your views on the subject of Transitional Objects/Phenomena, to contribute to the discussion.

Thank you.
Aishah Ball
London, UK

Reply from Aletha Solter:

Thank you for your comments to our web site and your interest in Aware Parenting. You have summarized my views on "transitional objects" very clearly. In my book, The Aware Baby, I further clarify this issue, and I refer to Winnicott's term of "transitional objects". As you have probably already figured out, explanations for children's behaviors based on the philosophy of Aware Parenting are quite different from those that are based on psychoanalytic theory.

Here is what I wrote:

"Objects such as a special blanket have traditionally been called "security objects" or "transitional objects." Some professionals believe that it is a good sign when babies learn to "comfort" themselves with the help of a special blanket, a pacifier, or thumb sucking. I disagree, because I consider these behaviors a means of shutting off feelings and suppressing the need to cry in an environment that does not understand or encourage crying. In my experience, babies who are given loving attention when they need to cry, and who are allowed to cry as long as needed, do not acquire any of these habits or attachments to objects." (from The Aware Baby, revised edition, p. 58(.

I would clarify further that these so-called "transitional objects," in addition to being a control pattern (a way of repressing the healthy expression of emotions), can also be a substitute for a mother's or father's loving arms in babies or young children who have been made to sleep alone. Transitional objects are by no means universal. In cultures that regularly practice co-sleeping, such as Japan, there are fewer young children who need a special blanket or stuffed animal in order to fall asleep. My book, The Aware Baby, explains my entire approach, which combines attachment-style parenting, non-punitive discipline, and ways to help children heal from stress and trauma.

You may be interested to know that I will be leading workshops in the UK in February/March of 2004. Please see the page of my upcoming workshops on our web site for more information.


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