Mind Matters: Give our children a future

It has always amazed me how people manage to bear children in the most horrid circumstances. Babies have been born all over the world with bombs bursting in air from hither and yon. Poverty, famine, war—all sorts of violence does not stop procreation. Ever wonder why?

Maybe it’s the very word: pro-creation. Having children is for rather than against creation. Apparently, the human condition is such that we hope the future brings a better life and so bring children into the world to fulfill our dreams for a brighter time.

However, it has been said, if we want the future to be different we must make the present different. For children to flourish, they need nurture and safety in the now. Neuroscience has proven what Maria Montessori intuited long ago: that the years from zero to three are critical in a child’s development. Neural and motor pathways are laid down, and loving interaction with an infant directly affects the young developing mind. Mirror neurons get fired up in the brain of both the infant and the caregiver.

It has also been proven that adverse childhood experiences have a lasting and profound effect into adulthood. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention notes:

“Childhood experiences, both positive and negative, have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration and lifelong health and opportunity. As such, early experiences are an important public health issue.”

There is an ACE quiz that tallies different types of abuse and neglect in childhood. This quiz is the result of an in depth study of adverse childhood experiences. The more difficult the childhood, the higher the score which in turn can indicate a higher risk for health problems—both physical and emotional—in later life.

We may understand the need to care for children, yet we often myopically balk at funding programs that would be beneficial not only for children but, in the long run, for society as a whole. Taking care of little minds is a no brainer. Nevertheless, we chafe at considering family leaves of absence. Why not provide time, especially for mothers who work outside the home, to bond with and nurse their infants? Why not support daycare and preschool? Of course, this costs money but taking the best care of our children should be a top priority and considered a necessity, not a luxury.

We want to make sound investments for our financial future. Actually, the soundest investment we can make is that which guarantees a healthy future for our children.

That future includes the environment too. What world are we bequeathing to our children? Are we taking care of our home earth as we need to? We don’t seem to be doing a very good job on this front.

We have a hard time believing the scientific evidence that has given us many warnings about the effects of climate change. We only like science when it gratifies us and gives us stuff—medical breakthroughs, rockets, phones, electricity, etc. however, when science tells us a difficult truth, we stick our fingers in our ears and go, “la, la, la.” Such deafness does a disservice to our children and their future. Children may come into this world under the direst of circumstances. It is our duty as adults to give them hope for a better future.

Here’s a little analogy: I believe that I have improved every house I have ever lived in, and when I sell my home, it is always far better than when my husband and I bought it. We are good stewards of our homes and we want to pass them on for future lives. Children are vastly more important than any house. So why should we not all want to provide a better future for them—a healthier environment, both emotionally and physically?


Child Abuse and Neglect: Prevention Strategies (www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childmaltreatment/prevention.html)
Take The ACE Quiz — And Learn What It Does And Doesn't Mean (www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/03/02/387007941/take-the-ace-quiz-and-learn-what-it-does-and-doesnt-mean)
The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study: A Springboard to Hope (www.acestudy.org)

* The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ownership or management of Chadds Ford Live. We welcome opposing viewpoints. Readers may comment in the comments section or they may submit a Letter to the Editor to: editor@chaddsfordlive.com



About Kayta Gajdos

Dr. Kathleen Curzie Gajdos ("Kayta") is a licensed psychologist (Pennsylvania and Delaware) who has worked with individuals, couples, and families with a spectrum of problems. She has experience and training in the fields of alcohol and drug addictions, hypnosis, family therapy, Jungian theory, Gestalt therapy, EMDR, and bereavement. Dr. Gajdos developed a private practice in the Pittsburgh area, and was affiliated with the Family Therapy Institute of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, having written numerous articles for the Family Therapy Newsletter there. She has published in the American Psychological Association Bulletin, the Family Psychologist, and in the Swedenborgian publications, Chrysalis and The Messenger. Dr. Gajdos has taught at the college level, most recently for West Chester University and Wilmington College, and has served as field faculty for Vermont College of Norwich University the Union Institute's Center for Distance Learning, Cincinnati, Ohio. She has also served as consulting psychologist to the Irene Stacy Community MH/MR Center in Western Pennsylvania where she supervised psychologists in training. Currently active in disaster relief, Dr. Gajdos serves with the American Red Cross and participated in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts as a member of teams from the Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.Now living in Chadds Ford, in the Brandywine Valley of eastern Pennsylvania, Dr. Gajdos combines her private practice working with individuals, couples and families, with leading workshops on such topics as grief and healing, the impact of multigenerational grief and trauma shame, the shadow and self, Women Who Run with the Wolves, motherless daughters, and mediation and relaxation. Each year at Temenos Retreat Center in West Chester, PA she leads a griefs of birthing ritual for those who have suffered losses of procreation (abortions, miscarriages, infertility, etc.); she also holds yearly A Day of Re-Collection at Temenos.Dr. Gajdos holds Master's degrees in both philosophy and clinical psychology and received her Ph.D. in counseling at the University of Pittsburgh. Among her professional affiliations, she includes having been a founding member and board member of the C.G. Jung Educational Center of Pittsburgh, as well as being listed in Who's Who of American Women. Currently, she is a member of the American Psychological Association, The Pennsylvania Psychological Association, the Delaware Psychological Association, the American Family Therapy Academy, The Association for Death Education and Counseling, and the Delaware County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Board. Woven into her professional career are Dr. Gajdos' pursuits of dancing, singing, and writing poetry.



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