A Conversation with Karitane Nurse Dorothy Waide: parenting then & now
OHbaby! Editor Kristina Rapley talks to Karitane Mothercraft nurse, baby whisperer to the stars, and author, Dorothy Waide about how parenting has changed over the years.
Kristina asks Dorothy if living in this information-rich, social media-obsessed landscape has made it easier or harder for parents of today compared with previous generations, and what the main challenges were back then that parents needed help with. “A lot of the work was with newborn babies, providing support for mums that needed it. The rigid parenting back then was hard to follow, even as a Karitane nurse I found it hard. Having rigid routines is difficult and it’s hard to hear your baby crying. Back in those days we were taught to put our babies in the cot and let me cry to go to sleep, for a lot of parents that was hard to do” says Dorothy. She also explains that now, after all her years of experience, she would probably do the total opposite of what she taught mums to do when she was younger.
Kristina asks Dorothy whether back then there was a clear divide between the people who did what Plunket suggested to do and left their babies to cry, and were more firm in their approach, and then the relaxed hippy style parents? “Yes, there was a big divide and the sad thing is that today we still have that, the extremes either way, we need to go down the middle and not parent to one extreme or the other in my opinion. A lot of mothers did what Plunket said because “that’s just what you did” she shares.
Dorothy believes that these days mothers have far less support than they used to. “It’s time the government sat back and had a good look, there’s barely any support for mums that need it, when things are hard. Plunket nurses used to be more practical, they would roll up their sleeves and help mums. We need to bring back Karitane but it’s gotta be looking into the future, not the same as it was in 1955” she says.
Dorothy remembers some of the crazy advice that used to be given out to parents in the past. “In the 1970s it was recommended to start babies on solids at six weeks old! We’ve still got crazy advice like that going around though, often about sleep. I saw on a Facebook group recently somebody saying they let their baby cry for two hours, why would you let your baby do that? They’re telling you something. In a lot of the babies that I’ve worked with where crying hasn’t been able to be resolved, there’s an underlying issue, the baby was trying to tell us something” she says.
The biggest change that Dorothy says she’s noticed between how things used to be and now is the attacking of anybody with a different view or style of parenting. “There’s left wingers, and right wingers, I trained as more right wing but now I’m in the middle, I take some of both. My advice is stay in your lane, don’t criticise other people for how they’re doing things. We’re not supportive of each other like we used to be. Dorothy also says that one of the biggest challenges for parenting these days is that the medical professionals are no longer listening to us. “We need someone who’s going to stop and listen and not say ‘Oh you’ve just got one of those babies’, or ‘Oh they’ll grow out of it’. Parents want support, they want someone to listen to them” she shares.
There’s no one size fits all approach to parenting, but Dorothy recommends taking a holistic approach.
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