Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"Don’t go in the room! Let the baby cry, eventually she'll fall asleep. She just wants attention"
"He didn’t really hurt his knee, he's faking! He just wants attention"
"She’s not really that angry, she's being a drama queen! She always wants attention!"
"He didn’t want to die, it was a cry for help - he just wants attention"

We're told we shouldn’t feed this need for attention.
People need to grow up and toughen up!
They need to be independent, strong, and autonomous and the worst thing we can do is give them attention every time they call out for it.

If the baby's really scared, then mom can go in the room and calm her fears.
If the toddler really hurt his knee, then he can get a band aid or go to the doctor.
If the teenager truly has a reason to be angry, then we can talk about it.

If the suicide attempt succeeds.. then we can really bury the person...

If someone experiences real fear, real physical pain, real injustice.. then we agree that they deserve to be taken seriously - but if someone “just” wants attention, then we view it as a sign of weakness that needs to be ignored until it goes away.

The thing is, how often do we complain that G-d doesn’t seem to hear us or doesn’t make Himself be seen or felt? How often do wish that G-d or a teacher or a parent or a friend would just pat us on the back or reassure us. How much more would we be able to endure if we felt this presence tangibly?

We all knows G-d is there, we know He listens and feels and protects us.. and yet we cry when we feel that distance from him - but when someone needs attention, or they need to be reminded that someone is there listening, hearing, caring, we dismiss it “just” attention seeking.

Rabbi Kelemen writes in his book To Kindle a Soul:
"Parents sometimes worry that attentive parenting undermines independence and confidence. The opposite is true, however, "children who experience consistent and considerable gratification of needs in the early stages do not become 'spoiled and dependent' writes Dr Terry Levy. "They become more independent, self-asured, and confident." [...]

Children cry less frequently and for shorter duration after their first 9 months when caregivers respond promptly during the child’s first nine months.
conversely, children who do not receive enough attention early on tend to be clingy, suffer from separation anxiety, and respond with panic when pushed to explore the world or when left in the hands of unfamiliar caregivers.” (page 104)

"Ignoring a child’s night time cries might eventually produce quiet, but it does not cultivate security"" (page 107)

He is referring to the idea of letting a baby cry when we put him to sleep, as some suggest -
but I think this applies throughout life.
When babies are left alone, in the dark, and and they start getting drowsy and find themselves all alone, it's normal for them to be afraid. Their memories and senses are not very developed and they suddenly find themselves in a dark room, all alone, very disoriented.
So they cry.
They cry for attention.
And what do the 'experts' suggest? Leave them alone until they stop crying.
The crying eventually stops..but has the fear gone away? Do they feel any more secure?

The same applies to adults, I believe.
We act out and want attention when we feel insecure, afraid, and alone. A baby can’t verbalize that anxiety, and although we have the verbal skills, very often, neither can we.

We need attention because we feel a lack.
Something is missing and we can’t find the words or the behaviour to express it.

A baby cries.
A teenager rebels.
And as adults we find a multitude of behaviours that we have learned will get us the attention we need.

Attention in itself may not have any intrinsic value, but giving it to someone who is in need of security, approval, acceptance, affection, empathy, nurturing … indirectly leads them to feel those things.

No one wants to feel abandoned. Teaching a baby that his cries at night will be left unheard creates a sense of abandonment. When a spouse ignores the cries of attention of their loved one, when a parent ignores a child’s needs for attention, when a teacher ignores the acting out of a student.. we create fearful, insecure, needy people who constantly fear abandonment.

Sometimes people don’t have the answers or the solutions to our problems. They cant fix what’s broken or make whatever is hurting go away. They can’t necessarily make sense of the chaos in us and they cant get rid of the fear eating us up, or the guilt smothering us - but they can pay attention. They can reassure us and make us feel heard, maybe even understood.
A lot of times that’s all we need to feel reenergized.

Most of the answers are found inside us, but we cant tap into them because we're so busy fighting off whatever demons we believe are after us. If we don’t feel alone, and we are given the attention we crave, often that will be enough to make us feel secure enough so we can forget the imaginary demons and focus on finding the truths inside us.

excellent example of a father paying proper attention.


At Wednesday, October 11, 2006 8:27:00 PM, Blogger Random.Bochur said...

very interesting. its not at all crap.

At Wednesday, October 11, 2006 8:35:00 PM, Blogger socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Wow so beautiful.

At Wednesday, October 11, 2006 8:47:00 PM, Blogger A Frum Idealist said...

Very well said. The timing of my post truly couldn't have been any better. :-) Thanks!

At Wednesday, October 11, 2006 9:20:00 PM, Blogger skepticbentorah said...

from the gut

At Thursday, October 12, 2006 1:21:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

curiousity got the better of me
i'm not in school
yet (soon soon)
but i read it anyway
and i'm yawnin away

what a tremendous post
a m00kie classic
she did it again
wowie wow wow

and an exemplary dad frum idealist is
need more of 'em dads in this world

u know hu

At Thursday, October 12, 2006 2:18:00 PM, Blogger Lvnsm27 said...

So true. People should look at WHY the person is seeking attention and find out what they need and give it to them instead of ignoring them.

During infintcy, the child is in trust vs. mistrust stage. And if the child doesn't get what they need, then they have a hard time with trust later on.

Thanks for sharing mookie

At Thursday, October 12, 2006 4:27:00 PM, Blogger kasamba said...

Fantastic post!
So true and so well observed!

Sometimes it's hardest to give attention to those that crave it the most.

At Thursday, October 12, 2006 7:27:00 PM, Blogger FrumGirl said...

I can relate! I didnt get enough attention as a child now I wonder if I ever can be satiated. As a parent Id have to completely agree. Sometimes I fear Im spoiling my child but ultimately I know its more important to be raised with such love and security.

At Thursday, October 12, 2006 10:17:00 PM, Blogger pobody's nerfect. said...

this is a new perspective, and i think i like it.
ya'll think its normal for a person to take both roles at time- both the one giving the attention, love, acceptance, etc, and the one needing it?

At Friday, October 13, 2006 8:05:00 AM, Blogger anonym00kie said...

rb - thanks, im not at all displease with your comment :P

swfm - thanks

afi - isnt that amazing, just as i was writing it, i went over to yours and found it.. sometimes i feel like ideas are like teeny weeny virus in the air that infect some of us.. triggering similar thoughts in different poeple at the same time

skeptic - that it is

i know hu anonyous - go to sleep!

lvnsm27 - i totally agree, im sure that so many of the fears, distrust, anxiety we suffer from for our whole lives have a source in the first few years

kasmaba - that should be our measuring stick to know who needs it..

fg - intuitively we fear conditionning children into being needy and insecure if we give too much attention, but intuitive pscyhology is often wrong..

pobody's nerfect - thanks for coming by. i think everyone plays both roles at some time - i think a good relationship is one where both parties can take turns filling eachothers needs for attention, security -
accepting that somtimes its your turn to give, and when ull need it, someone strong and secure will be there to give it to you

At Friday, October 13, 2006 10:20:00 AM, Blogger Sara with NO H said...

the thing is...when someone is crying for attention, only they know if it's really needed.

When I was a little girl (time warp) I was doing some kind of relay race in school for a physical fitness test. We were running backwards and I fell on my arm and another little girl fell on top of me. I shreiked and they sent me to the nurses office. The nurse told me to stop complaining and that nothing was wrong. SHe finally sent me home (no ice pack) and I cried all night long while my mother told me that nothing was wrong and the nurse told her I was fine. She told me to stop looking for attention. Needless to say by morning I was still crying and saying it hurt. My mother came to me with angry eyes and told me that she would take the day off of work and prove to me I was fine. I told her fine. she said then that if my arm wasnt broken she was gonna break it lol. Needless to say I had a broken arm.
You never can tell. There was no swelling. There was no redness or bones sticking out. Just a child up crying all night "for attention"

At Friday, October 13, 2006 10:37:00 AM, Blogger anonym00kie said...

sara with no h - the point is that even if you didnt have a broken arm - if you spent all that time crying.. "just" for attention, that signals there is a need not being filled.. maybe its not the need for a bandage or a cast or meds.. maybe its just a need to be reassured, or a need to feel heard or secure - but why should those be ignored? no one cries for attention, just for attention's sake..theres always a reason behind it

At Friday, October 13, 2006 1:48:00 PM, Blogger pobody's nerfect. said...

sara- i agree with anonym00kie and add this- in the broken arm case, if you were a kid who always craved attention, your parents/teachers/etc needed to find a way to give you that attention in a positive way. (im not criticizing their parenting skills; i have no experience as a parent so it's not my place- i'm just offering my thoughts). it's kind of the boy who cried wolf with kids who are always overreacting- you just assume they aren't really hurt. and if you find out it was real- then you apologize. but in general, i believe that a limited amount of attention should be given when the kid is acting up- a quick hug if s/he is crying, or a small (pre-thought out) punishment- and then shower her/him with positive attention and love when s/he is behaving properly. dunno, just my theories. check back when iy'h i have kids who can tell you how i am as a parent!
oh, and good yontif!

At Tuesday, October 17, 2006 9:37:00 AM, Blogger Pragmatician said...

Love this idea, I'm completely against letting people 'handle things'.
We need to react to cries, as if anyone cries loud enough for someone else to hear it, it's often intentional.
As a kid I frequently forced loud tears so that someone would ask me what was wrong.
Excellent topic.

At Tuesday, October 17, 2006 10:51:00 AM, Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

so profoundly true...
in a very deep sense..we want attention...we need attention..
there are different types of attentions though..some will do anything for attention and that aint good

At Tuesday, October 17, 2006 12:27:00 PM, Blogger anonym00kie said...

pragmatician, i totally agree.. no one cries for the fun of it, sometimes we just dont know how to express wats bothering us and we need someone to seek us out and ask whats wrong.

david_on_the_lake, im not sure i understand, what would be the point is someone wanting attention for attention's sake? some will do anything for attention because they want so desperately to fill whatever need they have. what kind of attention seeking isnt good?

At Tuesday, October 17, 2006 11:12:00 PM, Blogger Maven said...

what a great post, and believe me, i needed it.

At Thursday, October 19, 2006 6:34:00 PM, Blogger Pimplesoflife said...

As i was reading i was getting turned of with wat you wrote... a baby is a baby if it cries it needs you... its not crying for attetion... not everything is about attetion.... but then at the end of you blog...
it is 100% true...
but life is tough some people need it and that how they live life... pretty sad... but true fact... and i guess ur right when you said "Most of the answers are found inside us, but we cant tap into them because we're so busy fighting off whatever demons we believe are after us"
well said....


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