It has been over 15 years since I last dealt with a newborn/infant/toddler. There are things I remember and things that got buried. Only as the days go by do the things that got buried start to come back to me. This is one of those things. But, more importantly, I have some anecdotal data to back it up. Most academics dismiss anecdotal data by saying there is not enough of it and it proves nothing. I call BS. Anecdotal data is critically important to the person experiencing it. Trust me when I say, reading an article that says some experts are dismissing my experiences as not real is hogwash. So, do not fall for it. Your experiences are real. Most likely no one has bothered to take the time to find others and quantify it. But, your experiences are real!
So, emotional sorcery. What the heck is that? In my job, we work with technology. When we listen to people that ask dumbfounded questions about technology and do not understand our explanations no matter how simple we make them, we do this funny little thing – we wave our hands around like those Vegas magicians and state loudly “Sorcery” followed by the ever popular “Magic”. It is our way of finding the humor in humorless situations where people are failing to understand how to use technology. That which we do not understand is basically magical.
So, babies. Yes, I get long winded, but I still hope you are reading. Babies are like emotional sponges. They absorb emotion coming from the parent. Empath is a good word. According to Wikipedia:
Being an empath is when you are affected by other people’s energies, and have an innate ability to intuitively feel and perceive others.
I have come to realize that babies are natural empaths. So, the real challenge for a baby is not being soothed. It is not being held. It is you! Let me explain by personality types…
- Type A – competitive, over achiever, things done on time.
I am a Type A kind of guy. I am competitive by nature. I strive to be good at all I do. I want things done on time and done right. I am a project manager. I see everything as mini projects to be handled. Whether it is cleaning the house, doing a chore, going to the gym, doing my work, etc. As I engage with my son now, I realize that despite my best intent, I have expectations. If I hold him this long, follow these motions, and do these things, then he will soothe and stop crying. So, I will start taking these actions. After a set period of time and with my actions failing, I can feel my intensity rising. Interestingly, I see a direct correlation between this and my son becoming more agitated. If anything, he cries even more. He becomes even more frustrated. I have noticed that about the only time I can regularly calm him is when I am sleeping. Even now, when I was awake and in bed, I was agitated because he was being crazy in his crib (which is in our bedroom). I left the room to come write this post and he calmed down. Not one peep. Coincidence? Maybe. You decide.
- Type B – calm, relaxed, laid back, flexible, analytical.
This is my son, Joshua. He is an extreme Type B kinda guy. Anymore Type B and you would have to check him for a pulse. He is an amazing kid and I love him, but he is an under achiever. However, he is amazing with animals and with kids. He has a calming effect on them. I have seen this repeatedly. Animals love him. So do small children. Naturally, with Luke, he helps as one would expect a big brother to do. What is truly amazing is that he can pick Luke up and sit him in his lap. Hours later, Luke will just be laying in his lap cooing and chilling. He is not agitated or upset. He just lays there, wide awake, kicking a little and taking in the world around him while Josh casually watches YouTube videos and occasionally talks to him. He has this amazing calming effect on Luke. Once again, coincidence? I am starting to think not.
- Type C – detail oriented, not assertive, suppress wants, needs and desires.
I have a Type C person in my life. It is an in-law. This does not mean that this person is bad or less successful. As a matter of fact, this person is frighteningly successful. Soon to be medical doctor. Very detailed oriented. Excellent student. All the bells and whistles. When interacting with Luke, he just generally chills. Not nearly as much as with Josh, but enough that he has a good time and will not get worked up. This Type C is not around enough to do more research, but so far, Type C seems to be good with kids too.
- Type D – negative outlook on life, fear of rejection, prone to depression.
I have a Type D in my life. I will not mention who exactly, but suffice to say, it is clearly Type D. While dealing with Luke, he stays calm. See, Type D people remind of of that character Sadness from Inside Out. With him, this person is very mellow and because he has no concept of sadness yet, he just relaxes. Although, he will occasionally get frustrated, he can calm himself down because the Type D does not get easily agitated. So, this type also is not bad with a baby or an infant.
Within these personality types also exists levels of intensity. By that I mean, some people can turn it up and down as necessary. Some people can turn it off totally for a bit. Me, I am forever stuck in Type A full steam ahead. When your life saying is “live by the sword, die by the sword”, well, you get the idea.
So if you are a new dad or starting over again and have changed a great deal since your last run, take a moment to do a self-inventory and ask yourself, what kind of personality are you? What makes you tick? And then remember, your baby is an emotional radar dish picking up on your signals. They may not always have this ability, but for a good while, they will. They will sense and feel everything you project. Be mindful of that as your raise and interact with your child. As always…good luck.