We have brought together world renowned experts in family and child psychology, psychobiology, education, parenting, midwifery, medical research, prenatal and birth therapy to present ‘Light on Parenting’ – an extraordinary two day conference on the whole spectrum of parenting – from the neonatal period through birth to early childhood years.

The structure of the conference will be based on the following three areas:

  • The scientific and sociological research
  • Practical parenting methods aimed at positively influencing the parent-child relationship
  • Experiential workshops for profound personal growth and healing

The way we parent our children has a tremendous impact on the individuals they will become. When we parent with love, warmth and light and are open and responsive to our children’s needs, their innate potential to become loving, emotionally connected and fulfilled simply unfolds. This is not limited to the singular family units; we will demonstrate how the collective impact of parenting shapes the future of communities, countries and world in which we live.

This truly unique event – the first of its kind on this scale – will convey a powerful and important message on the potential and the need to enhance parent-child relationships and the impact this has both at the individual and societal level.  Moreover, these two unmissable days will empower parents to relate both to themselves and their children with greater awareness, intuition and sensitivity.

‘Light on Parenting’ is for parents, and those who are passionate about their work with parents, children, and around pregnancy and birth.

Conference Review

Conference Poems

Day 1 – Saturday 5 May 2012

08.30 – 09.00Registration
09.00 – 09.10Welcome Address
09.10 – 09.15Special blessing for all faiths and none
09.15 – 10.30Robin Grille – Parenting for a peaceful worldWith the aid of recent revolutionary discoveries about early childhood development and the human brain, the history of childhood offers vital clues about the roots of human violence and social disharmony. This inspirational lecture, based on Robin Grille’s book of the same title, will provide a fascinating look at parenting customs that have shaped societies and major world events, revealing how children adapt to parenting styles, how these experiences underpin the adults they become and, ultimately, the way societies are structured. Drawing upon revolutionary new research Robin argues that safeguarding children’s emotional development is the key to creating a more peaceful and harmonious world, and therefore our future rests on the way we care for parents. You will learn how recent fundamental changes in child-rearing approaches have shifted human consciousness, giving birth to modern movements for human rights, justice, democracy, equality and sustainability. What would the future hold for humanity if these positive reforms in child-rearing continue to grow? What is your personal/professional role in this unfolding global movement?
10.35 – 11.00Morning Break – Coffee, tea, biscuits served + Exhibition
11.00 – 11.45Vivette Glover – Prenatal stress anxiety, depression and stress; effects on the fetus and the childThere is evidence from several prospective studies that prenatal maternal stress, anxiety or depression are associated with long term adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes for the child.  However some doubts remain about whether these associations are really causal, and the role of postnatal maternal mood. There are also questions about underlying mechanisms. It may be that evolutionary pressures have resulted in prenatal stress or anxiety, altering the development of the fetus and later child, to enable  them to cope better with a stressful environment. The clinical implications of this research are that it is important to detect, and treat appropriately, emotional problems in pregnant women. This matters both for the woman herself but also for her future child.Slides from presentation (pdf)
11.50 – 12.35David Haas – How babies and children show us the parenting they needThe journey from conception through pregnancy, birth and early life is a momentous time of growth, developing relationships and challenges. What does it take to meet the needs of the growing foetus, baby and child: to support relationship with her parents and family through birth and into early life? This presentation provides a look from the baby’s perception: what will support her to relate with her parents and family?
12.35 – 13.35Lunch + Exhibition
13.35 – 14.20Naomi Stadlen – A special timeOften, it is only when they have time to look back that mothers realise what an extraordinary experience they have lived through after the birth of their first child. As they begin to relate to their babies, many mothers are too busy and too tired to take stock. So what characterises those early months? Are there experiences that are common to many mothers? Naomi will present some of what she has learned from mothers, and then you are invited to discuss and contribute.
14.25 – 15.10Menis Yousry – The essence of parenting – how can parents become influential rather than influencing?Our children are the extension of our consciousness; we are also the extension of our parent’s consciousness. This notion can lead us to one of the most effective ways of parenting. From before each of us was born and up to a young age, our experiences of the world and of our parents have shaped us in ways we do not even comprehend. As children, our brains were not developed enough to make sense of our early experiences and so these become unresolved, unconscious memories. Today as adults our responses to situations and events often still stem from these unconscious reflexes we devised to protect ourselves. This can lead us to repeat unwanted patterns that affect the way we parent our children. This talk will explore some of the subconscious memories we carry from our early experiences, which have shaped our lives and our behaviors.  Deep insights, reflections and observations can lead us to the experience of harmony, compassion and acceptance of others and ourselves. When we live with such consciousness in our every day life we become a true statement of what we want our children to be.
15.15 – 15.35Afternoon Break
15.35 – 16.55Naomi Aldort – Raising our children, raising ourselvesAs parents we strive to be always kind, loving and generous. Yet sometimes we feel irritated, impatient or even hurt or angry inside. These normal human emotions must be cared for so we can stay connected with the baby/child. How can we respond with delight in the face a tantrums, sleepless nights or other difficult baby/toddler behaviours? In this session you will learn to free yourself from your own emotional reactions so you can understand your little one and respond with compassion. Using your own examples, we will learn to understand the valid reasons for your baby/child tears,  tantrums, and needs. We will discover authentic ways to respond rather than react; ways that are kind both to you and to your baby and that build your baby/child self-esteem, inner peace and joy.
17.00 – 17.55Birthlight : Françoise Barbira Freedman, Sally Lomas & Ingrid Lewis  –  Transcultural joyful parenting‘Birthlight’ contributes to ‘Light on Parenting’ with body-based practices adapted from grassroots traditions to cosmopolitan lifestyles under labels that have now become mainstream, like Perinatal Yoga, Mother and Baby Yoga and Water Parenting.  There is a great deal of controversy about drawing inspiration about parenting from ‘indigenous people’ or those people living ‘close to nature’. Yet we have a lot to learn, with full respect, from the ‘first nations’ we colonized with health and education values alien to them. Françoise Barbira Freedman, the founder of Birthlight, learnt to be a mother from the Amazonian forest people she lived with during fieldwork as a Cambridge trained anthropologist. This visual presentation addresses the need to offer parents skills so simple that they are forgotten in mainstream care and parent craft. Informed by both observation and scientific research, Birthlight techniques reach parents’ hearts across cultures and lay a foundation for ease and self-esteem in babies’ lives.  From different angles, Sally Lomas, Ingrid Lewis and Françoise call for a radical re-thinking to promote body-based and practical support for new parents, in real or virtual ‘circles of friendship’. The greater the role of new technologies in our lives, the greater the need to promote less anxious and more enjoyable pregnancies, more fulfilling birth experiences and mostly, ease and delight in early parenting.

Day 2 – Sunday 6 May 2012

08.30 – 08.45Registration
08.45 – 09.00Opening Address
09.00 – 09.45Julie Gerland – Sustainable development begins in the womb: mothers leading for a changeLight on prenatal life inspires hope for future generations and the world. Mothers are the key to sustainable development as she is the Mother of Humanity. Over the last thirty years science has confirmed what many ancient civilizations have known: It is during the primal period from before conception to the first year after birth that lay the foundations for every human life. What mothers live during pregnancy affects their child’s long-term health, emotional security, self-esteem, intelligence, creativity and their capacity to love and respect Mother Earth. The womb is a child’s first environment and the mother the child’s first universe. Future parents need to be informed and empowered to offer optimal conditions for future generations to not only survive but thrive. During this crucial year of global talks on sustainable development the Organization for Prenatal Education Associations is calling upon all levels of society to support future parents and especially future mothers to offer optimal conditions for sustainable, secure and prosperous human development. A call to all to support the campaign that will bring “prenatal education” to RIO+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.
09.50-10.35Mavis Kirkham – Birthing in relationshipBirth is about relationships: the mother’s developing relationship with the baby, the network of relationships within which birth takes place and the relationships which support the mother and her growing baby. If we hand ourselves over to experts for the birth of our babies, it is rather a shock when the experts lose interest in us and we are left holding the baby. Passivity in birth does not prepare us for the intense activity of parenthood. Pregnancy can be used as a time for building a network of relationships which will be supportive for the new mother and her baby. It is possible for mothers to birth in a way in which they feel safe and strong. It is possible for midwives to experience great job satisfaction as they mother the mother in the early days of her mothering. This session will explore how these things can be achieved and how we can feel confident rather than fearful around birth, just as we want our babies to feel safe and secure.
10.40 – 11.05Morning Break – Coffee, tea, biscuits served + Exhibition
11.05 – 12.00Margot Sunderland – The science of parentingDr Sunderland will explore the brain’s amazing pro-social systems, which are activated and developed through positive adult- child interaction enabling young children to thrive. Dr Sunderland will explore how positive adult child interaction (e.g. relational play, meeting the child in both their joy and their distress, addressing key attachment needs) has a profoundly beneficial effect on the developing emotional brain, establishing emotion regulating functions and enabling children to naturally inhibit their primitive impulses for fight or flight and so to manage stress well. Dr Sunderland will also discuss the foundational genetic systems for positive arousal and how these systems unfold dependent on the interaction of certain genes with specific relational experiences. The repeated activation of optimal levels of key emotion chemicals within these systems can enable a child to move with ease into positive feeling states, and to access many other wonderful human capacities, namely the capacity to be spontaneous, the drive and will to follow a dream, and the ability to feel awe, wonder and delight. Dr Sunderland will demonstrate how the repeated activation of these systems in early childhood is also linked in psychological strength in later life, leaving children far more able, even under duress, to maintain or quickly regain a sense of hope, optimism and a   “Yes we can” attitude to life.Handout from presentation
12.05 – 13.00Michel Odent – Male post-partum depression“For several decades I have routinely and discreetly made inquiries into the health and behaviour of the baby’s father in relation to his participation in the birth process. Further studies are needed to confirm the conclusions suggested by an accumulation of anecdotes.”
13.00 – 14.00Lunch + Exhibition
14.00 – 15.15Concurrent SessionsRobin Grille – When parents were childrenThe most powerful agent of change is for parents to reconnect with how they FELT when they were children, toddlers, even babies. Robin has devised an ‘inner child process’ (unique while there are countless similar processes around) that helps parents re-view whatever difficulties they have in the parenting relationship in terms of what was happening for themselves as children. This opens up the dilemma into a profound personal growth and healing process, beyond just a parenting issue. Our children press our buttons in those places where we need healing and development. Doing this process offers the double whammy of healing something personal while delivering deep changes in how we see our children, releasing them from our projections, and empowering us with unimagined new ways to reach and connect with them. As this is a practical and experiential process, with the possibility of being a training, it asks participants (or at least a couple of volunteers) to be open and about their own experiences, in an environment of safety and confidentiality.Naomi Aldort – The price of praiseDo you ever take actions that don’t resonate with your own convictions, in an attempt to please others? How would you like for your baby/child (and yourself) to become free of this dependency? In this lecture you will learn to express your enthusiasm for your child authentically and without stirring her direction or contradicting her inner experience, so she can be nobody but herself, confidently. We will cover ways to provide emotional support and unconditional appreciation, nurture self- motivation and encourage without undermining the baby/child’s self-direction. We will learn how to raise a child with self-esteem so high that she is not needy of external approval.Discussion Panel chaired by Suzanne Arms.Panellists: Toni Hartman (One World Birth), Mary Nolan
15.15 – 15.40Comfort break
15.40 – 16.25Suzanne Zeedyk –  Believing in the connected babyWhen people begin to really engage with the idea that babies arrive in the world already connected to other people, it evokes a surprising range of responses — including amazement, delight, guilt, worry, and even anger.  This presentation will reflect on this phenomenon, asking in particular what it can tell us about our current beliefs about babies.  The presentation will draw on excerpts from the recently released documentary the connected baby, in order to get us fully into the spirit of connecting emotionally with our beliefs.
16.30 – 17.15Kerstin Uvnäs Moberg – Oxytocin: the impact on motherhoodThis talk will be about oxytocin and motherhood, how oxytocin adapts everything from metabolism, cardiovascular function, the HPA axis to mother-infant interaction. Kerstin will also talk about the consecutive activation of these adaptations by oxytocin released during birth, skin to skin contact in particular after birth and, of course, breastfeeding. Support and closeness from within safe surroundings promotes these effects. Oxytocin mediated adaptations are disturbed by medical interventions in connection with birth. Kerstin will highlight the role of oxytocin infusions and discuss similarities and dissimilarities between endogenous and exogenous oxytocin.
17.20 – 18.00Closing AddressMarcy Axness – Parenting for Peace: birthing the next generation of peacemakersPregnancy, birth and postpartum are “Nature’s Head Start Program”: environmental cues from Mom’s physical, mental and emotional life tell baby what kind of world to prepare for, and development unfolds accordingly—to express optimal growth in a loving world, or to prepare to defend in a hostile world. From her 7-step / 7-principle Parenting for Peace model, Dr. Axness will spotlight practical ways that we can harmonize with Nature’s plan at these three critical stages for hardwiring our children with the brain circuitry for such essential peacemaker capacities as self-regulation, self-reflection, imagination, trust and empathy.
18.00Conference Close