The Dummy

Our grandson is turning 2 next month, and until yesterday he had a dummy. He had several actually, often at the same time. Sometimes he would walk around with one in each hand, one in his mouth and swap them around, as if somehow one of them could give him more than the one he already had. He is very expressive, but would speak with the dummy in his mouth so that we could not understand him, and when we asked him to take it out so we could hear what he was saying, he would get upset.

Our grandson was very attached to his dummies, and this was one of the few things we could use to discipline him, as he cared about them so deeply. He would get very agitated if he could not find his dummy, and at night, if he fell asleep and the dummy fell out of his mouth, its absence would wake him up.

We wondered how we were ever going to wean him off them.

Yesterday, he was playing around being his cheeky little self and throwing the dummy on the floor. He had been doing this quite a bit and he was down to his last dummy, as several had been thrown in the bin. We told him that if he did it again, we would put his last dummy in the bin. He did it again. His father calmly stood up, picked up the dummy and placed it in the bin. His mother and I gasped. His grandfather stood firm. He was in shock for a bit, then started screaming. This went on for a while.

He was put to bed, comforted and held, and the screaming went on for a while longer, until he finally fell asleep. We thought we were in for a wild night, but once he fell asleep, he slept soundly, and woke in the morning, shining and bright.

He came out to share a cup of tea with me and when the rubbish truck came, we went outside to watch it pick up the rubbish, with his dummy in it. He was so different. There was a calmness, an ease about him. Gone was the anxiousness, the plaintive wailing, the demanding, the insatiable desire for something to put in his mouth, whether it be food, drink or the dummy.

He was so expressive, chatting away clearly and interacting happily. It was as if someone had taken the stopper out of a bottle, and the contents were now free to flow. He went to day care for the day, and when it was time for his afternoon nap, there was no dummy. He giggled and said: “Daddy threw it in the bin!,” then went to sleep. No fuss. He had just let it go.

I learnt a few lessons from all of this.

Firstly, love is not always what we think it is. In these days of ‘helicopter’ parenting (parents who hover over their kids, attending to their every whim and desire), we think it is somehow a loveless thing to let kids feel the consequences of their choices. It is not. That is what love is. Holding another in the love that we are and allowing them to feel that they too are that love.

Secondly, we never know when another person is ready to evolve to the next level of their life. And we should never get in the way when the time comes. I felt he was actually wanting to get rid of the dummy, but did not know how to do it. It had become a burden for him, and getting rid of it has created an enormous sense of spaciousness and ease in his body.

Thirdly, we can use anything in an addictive way, even a bit of brightly coloured plastic. Anything that we use for relief, to numb ourselves, to not feel, to distract ourselves from what we cannot but feel, can become a crutch that we depend on. And knowing that we are dependent on it creates a contraction, and a sense of unease in us, for if we depend on it, what on earth are we going to do without it?

Fourthly, children are amazing, and we can learn so much from them. Their so-called bad behaviours are often their way of communicating to us what is not true, and offer us a way of bringing them – and ourselves – back to truth. We can listen to and honour these markers of what is and is not true… or not. When a child “acts up”, what are they communicating to us?

I love that I live with our daughter and grandson and get to witness and be part of raising another child, having learnt some lessons the hard way while raising my own.

I love that life is a cycle, how everything comes around, how we are all in this together, and how we are all growing and evolving, back to the oneness we are from.

Published with permission of my family.

By Anne Malatt, grandmother, eye surgeon, Richmond Hill, Australia

Further Reading:
Good Parenting Skills
The Purpose of Parenting
The Beauty of Meeting Children and Allowing Them to Be

569 thoughts on “The Dummy

  1. This story is so symbolic of what we can all go through even as adults – we can spit the dummy so to speak, we can resist growth and want to stay in our comforts. And then with the loving support and a nudge from a friend or family member, it can be just the thing that supports us to let go of the old and embrace the new, which really is not new, but is simply our return to a way of being that is natural and normal with its levels of responsibility that are forever deepening.

    1. Thank you Henrietta, I had to smile at “spit the dummy”. It’s very true, I see this also when people don’t want to move out of an old, familiar way of being into new territory, there is clinging, wailing, resistance….and then they glide into it. The fight we put up to prevent the new is really the only hard part.

  2. “When a child “acts up”, what are they communicating to us?” This is such a great question and if we respond in this way, rather than berating the child, we are being given a great opportunity to learn something and in the process deepen our relationship with the person and ourselves.

    1. I agree Jonathan. I get numerous opportunities to do this in my job working as a teacher. Simply being aware enough to ask the question means I have not automatically gone into reaction, and can therefore respond calmly.

  3. Children never cease to amaze me, and like you Anne I was living with some of my family and a small child and it is a blessing to watch a child develop as you mention. How much wisdom does a small have? This points to the fact that we carry with us much wisdom from many past lives.

  4. It is remarkable how the whole family was on the same page and simply supported this next step. And it shows how easy life flows when we allow for what is next to unfold.

    1. So true Esther. Children can read adults like a book and if they sense that someone will give in to them they will make sure it happens! When a family of any sort unites in love it is hugely supportive and anyone who does not choose that love is made starkly aware of their choices and the impact they have.

  5. I love how children can surprise us with their innocence and playfulness when we bring love and understanding to a situation. It would be so easy to go into sympathy for your grandson, but you all united and stayed true to love, a valuable lesson for us all.

  6. ‘Their so-called bad behaviours are often their way of communicating to us what is not true, and offer us a way of bringing them – and ourselves – back to truth.’ This sentence reminds us of the importance of reading situations and bringing a deeper understanding to others ‘bad-behaviours’ and this can be applied to all ages.

  7. ‘Firstly, love is not always what we think it is. In these days of ‘helicopter’ parenting (parents who hover over their kids, attending to their every whim and desire), we think it is somehow a loveless thing to let kids feel the consequences of their choices. It is not. That is what love is. Holding another in the love that we are and allowing them to feel that they too are that love.’ Beautifully expressed. I understand that with a lot of parenting many parents feel guilty for not being able to give their kids as much attention as they feel is needed and so try to overcompensate by indulging. I have learned how important it is for my children to understand the consequences of their choices. If they do not then I have disempowered them and am sowing the seed of allowing irresponsibility. Letting this pass is not only damaging to the child, who is allowed to be self unaware, but is ultimately damaging for society as more young adults are raised believing they are entitled and owed.

  8. I keep coming back to this article simply because I really enjoy the honouring in it of the innate wisdom of a child. I then am inspired to accept that that same wisdom never goes, even when we have grown up and covered it over with social conditioning.

    1. I love what you are saying here Matilda, that what we admire in another too does live in ourselves, we simply haven’t given it the time and dedication it deserves.

    2. This innate wisdom is held within us all and when we honour it with the quality that it comes through without the ideal and beliefs of ages and experience we all receive the learning in the most profound way.

  9. What a fascinating blog! I had a similar situation with ending breast feeding thinking it would be a big deal but rather it was a deepening of our connection.

  10. There is so much richness in observing and supporting others what they feel is the right time for them. That does not mean we cannot provide limits and boundaries in raising children, but I can feel the beautiful allowing in this interchange.

  11. Love is not what we think it is – this I certainly have started to realise, understand and feel that what I thought love to be is not actual what Love is. Serge Benhayon since the first day I met him and over 13 years on has consistently shown me Love. Love in way that expresses sometimes things that I don’t want to here but he say’s it anyway because what he is sharing is supportive for me to see the choices I make that are not who I am. Serge constantly calls me to be All of who I am and this is what Love is, holding another in all the Love that we are so they can see, feel and live the Love that they are.

  12. It is so easy to react when your child throws a tantrum, I see parents doing this a lot and in reacting it seems to escalate the tantrum. I am sure that I also reacted when I was in such a situation, but what if we didn’t react? Perhaps suddenly a lot of space might be created for you both to read what is going on?

  13. I suspect that the dummy is a pacifier for the parent and never for the child. We struggle to deal with all this little person brings to us, struggle to feel what is going on, so we use a dummy to calm the baby but really it’s calming us. Great call to bring an end to that cycle Ann.

    1. Yes, the dummy could be quite convenient for both parties – the parents don’t need to hear things they don’t want to and the child does not risk a backlash for its expression.

    2. I like what you are calling out here, that we often do to another to keep our own peace. So parenting starts very much with ourselves, When we are willing to let go of our own comfort we will know what steps to take with ourselves and our children.

  14. I find the ability of small children to be incredibly open and loving on the one side and to have quite sophisticated and successful strategies on the other side quite fascinating.

    1. Ha ha, I love this comment Christophe – it goes to show that no one, no matter what age, is an innocent little being…We all know exactly what we are doing.

  15. I like your description of ‘helicopter’ parenting Anne, and your blog reminds me that love is not pandering, imposing or nice but firm, steady, strong and so absolute.

  16. “love is not always what we think it is” – this is a big one to crack! On growing up, I used to think love was when you had a crush on a boy or when your heart felt tight in your chest because this is what everyone else told me love was! But wow, that was certainly NOT love at all, just an emotional roller coaster or a ride that numbed me from feeling what love really is. It took me a long time to realise and learn that Love actually has nothing what so every to do with emotions, in fact if there is any emotion involved then you know it is not about love. Love is a quality, a being, and in most cases it asks you to be very strong in the most gentlest of ways, so that you can lay clear boundaries, say no and do just what is needed to truly support and love another as well as yourself. And this is just the beginning…

  17. Thank you Anne. This story has helped me let go of a few things and bring much more understanding to myself when I discover I am using behaviours and patterns that don’t support me.

  18. It is actually so simple to let go and grow. But we put barriers in the way to hold us back and what I have come to realise is that it takes more energy to keep me
    Small then to let the natural
    Path of progression occur. For example if I hold onto a food that no longer supports me – my body has to give me a cold or a sore tummy to get the message across. But if I let the food go when I know it’s no longer needed, then it is so simple and my body feels a lot lighter.

    1. Very true HM, while I still hold on to the issue or hurt that I need a certain food or vice to protect, then I continue to have the consequences in my body. Once I heal and let go of what I’m protecting then the vice I’m using usually disappears quite simply.

  19. I could so feel the blessing of the ‘cycle’ of life in your beautiful words Anne: ‘I love that life is a cycle, how everything comes around, how we are all in this together, and how we are all growing and evolving, back to the oneness we are from.’ I am re-experiencing being with my daughter who now has her own daughter and the depth of love and understanding of our communication and expression with each other is quite wonderful to observe and be part of.

    1. It is incredible to build relationships based on openness, respect, love and a willingness to learn together. The cross-generation connections are an inspiration and gift for all of us.

  20. I am inspired by how this example of true parenting is firm but equally without any judgement or control what so ever. It is still holding the child in absolute love for who they are and respecting their choices whilst still knowing that some of their behaviours are simply not coming from them.

  21. “we can use anything in an addictive way, even a bit of brightly coloured plastic” and we learn it from very young that distraction is the way to go when we feel uncomfortable. But instead we should learn to stop and feel, even more, as only when we are, in the true sense of the word, ‘with’ ourselves can we know what is going on for us and the next step will naturally unfold.

  22. “…we never know when another person is ready to evolve to the next level of their life. And we should never get in the way when the time comes.” – and we do not need to know. We can support them if they need it but the greatest support for them is us living our own evolutionary path.

  23. Amazing how we dearly hang onto things we claim are valuable to us even though they actually hinder our growth…but it can seem difficult to acknowledge this whilst we are still holding on!

  24. I think often about the damage of helicopter parenting, and I admire those parents who are able to trust enough to let their child explore and interact with others and with their world. It must be a real challenge to stand up against a screaming child yet I guess doing so is how they grow and evolve into responsible people and a real mark of offering true love.

  25. I love that life is a cycle, how everything comes around, how we are all in this together, and how we are all growing and evolving, back to the oneness we are from. I love the inclusiveness of this Anne, all of us are here to support and hold each other in love, with a little nudge here and there, whether work mates, acquaintances, friends or strangers, by listening, honouring and allowing space for changes at just the right time.

  26. Beautifully shared Anne, I know of more adults than children that would have tantrums if there comforts were taken away. This blog highlights how the comforts in our lives keep us stuck in a contraction that holds us back from truly evolving – time for me to examine anything I am holding onto to and place in the rubbish bin as well.

  27. “Anything that we use for relief, to numb ourselves, to not feel, to distract ourselves from what we cannot but feel, can become a crutch that we depend on.” – Too true, we can be very creative when it comes to ways and means of holding back, distracting ourselves or avoiding something!

  28. “Firstly, love is not always what we think it is.” This is so true I am having all my parenting ideals thrown in the bin at the moment. Helicopter and Lawnmower ( preparing and preventing any obstacles for the kids before it happens) parenting is not only disabling our kids it is extremely harmful to the parents as well.

  29. Trusting that everyone gets what they need is a great way to not get involved in other peoples stuff. If i think I know what another person needs then it is just a way of not dealing with my own life and how could i possible know what another person needs?
    Children have a wisdom that I have forgotten. I realize that I may have learned more from my children then they have learned from me.

  30. This is a beautiful piece of writing Anne, filled with so much wisdom and understanding. When I come back as a little bubba with dummy mania, I’d like to have a grandmother like you!

  31. I have had many dummies of my own over the years which have ended up in the bin when the time was right and one or two that I am still clinging on to that it is time went to their rest in the dump truck.

  32. Whenever someone criticised my mum for letting me have a dummy as a child, she would ask them why it was okay for them to have a glass of alcohol as a comfort or relaxer, and yet it was wrong for me to have a dummy. As I have grown up I can see the logic in what she said, but in both cases be it adult or child what has to be considered is why it is the pacifier that is needed.

  33. Love can come in many different expression,it is selfless, for the all and absolutely honouring and appreciative of the truth of a persons essence and gentle. I am a parent and I am learning that I need to hold authority, be sure and not tolerate some behaviours, while begin gentle, (not weak…gentle) it is important that I be role model and be responsible.

  34. I love that when something that we are using as a crutch is truly let go of… spaciousness and ease is left in it’s place to confirm the choice to discard what is no longer needed and a place for something more to be. A great and inspirational reminder in the beauty of choosing to evolve.

  35. Children are amazing as you say Anne and we can learn so much from them from their ways of playing and how they interact with others to things that may be upsetting or disturbing them. When we hold others with love and allow them the space to be it is awesome what we can learn. Thank you Anne.

  36. Often it is us adults who cannot let go of the measures we have put in place to support our children, even when these measures are clearly not supportive anymore. Children, when given the space, are remarkably ok with letting go as long as they do not sense the attachment on the adult’s behalf. Great example Anne!

  37. Adults acting childish, when, it is used in a reactive way, like the over reacting saying of throwing the baby out with the bathwater doesn’t do Justice to really acting childish! Your actions with the dummy have shown how expanding, small things we let go of and the large effects they have. Maybe, we need to act a bit more childish more often. We can leave things that are holding us back and just move on and have a little fun!

  38. I love this blog and the symbol the dummy offers us all Anne. Reading your words today it’s clear to me that even having issues and difficulties in the first place is a huge distraction to me being me. I don’t actually have the problems I think I do, and whilst I might kick up a fuss at first when this is pointed out – the easiness and flow that comes through is beautiful to feel. These dummies we have are all just a way to avoid our natural power.

  39. Yes holding another as an equal and not looking down on them because they are expressing from a smaller body…is love.

  40. Reading this you can see how we as adults can transfer our insecurities onto the child by having a picture of how they may or may not react, and then hold a tension waiting for the tantrum to start. Also having learnt the hard way whilst bringing up my children, it is easy to see that too much emotion clearly never helps any situation, and feeling guilty for saying no is a belief that we could well do without.

  41. Beautiful Anne, thank you so much! What a magnificent blog , example of how we can be with things we need to break through in life, and showing us that there is a very deep love in true discipline. From this example I know that love can be very different that I would have imagined to be.

  42. Wow I love this Anne! The palpable change in your grandson could so be felt by just reading your experience. I have seen this countless times with my own children… how I might feel worried about how they may react if something is taken off them or another consequence, and more often than not it’s a great opportunity for them to let go of a vice that does not support them. My go to at the moment would be my phone and before I know it I’ve wasted so much time on it.

  43. This is very beautiful. Not only your grandson was able to let go of his dummy, but your whole family had an experience of how true love would look when it comes to parenting and allow us to be open to observe and learn so the entire family evolve and now you sharing it with us all – we all evolve. We indeed are all in this together.

  44. “And knowing that we are dependent on it creates a contraction, and a sense of unease in us, for if we depend on it, what on earth are we going to do without it?”
    I can feel the choice to be stuck in the loop of dependency for certain things. It is simply an excuse of not wanting to evolve. Your grandson was supported to take the step, when we are older we have the responsibility to initiate these for ourselves. By connecting to true purpose this can offer all the support and loving guidance required to take any step.

  45. A wonderful reminder that life is full of amazing lessons and often children are our teachers. I have had the joy of living just up the path from two of my grandchildren for all of their lives and boy have I learnt so much from them. They have had me squirming at their honesty at times but after the initial shock of what has been delivered I am always ready to listen and appreciate the lesson that I had been given. Our children may be small in stature but they are big in wisdom; it’s up to us to honour that and be open to listen and to learn.

  46. Breaking through the illusion of what emotional love allows us to understand the truth and power we hold when we live from an open heart and we can allow and hold another in space for them to be who they are and evolve at their own pace just by receiving our reflection as a marker of truth.

  47. I love what you are saying here Anne about never getting in the way of another’s next evolutionary step. This is a huge part of what it is to love and care of another.

  48. We can attach ourselves to all manner of things to avoid our true expression. We often times are aware of these but sometimes we need a nudge from a friend or even a firm hand, as in the case here, to allow us what it takes to really let go and free ourselves from the restrictions we have moulded our comfort around.

  49. What you have shared Anne has great value for us all, adults and children alike. Anything that was once evolutionary for us can easily become a comfort, attachment or addiction, hindering our development, if we do not continue to grow, let go and expand with the evolution that is always on offer.

  50. “We never know when another person is ready to evolve to the next level of their life. And we should never get in the way when the time comes.” Absolutely, we don’t know what is in front of someone and what might be next for them and we should never ever stand in their way when the time comes for them to step up and go to the next level.

    1. Yet how much do we presume there is an age to do things? I have found we also have a fear of the behaviour being bad and us not being able to cope that comes in when we consider supporting another to let go of their pacifier (child or adult!)

      1. Yeah could there be a right time for everything and that time is not age related, but related to that particular person’s evolution and what is right for them in their life.

  51. Allowing another the space to be and evolve at their own pace is true love, even if that means that it takes them years/ lives in misery and discomfort to come back to the essence of who they truly are.

  52. When we let go of our “dummy” or sources of comfort in life, we are naturally freed us up to be able to express more of who we are, just as your grandson was. What a great reminder for us all to let go of the things that holds us back from evolving.

  53. Your insight into why children do what they do is profound. When we accept that behaviours are a reflection we have to face our own responsibility and the consequences of what we are choosing.

  54. Gorgeous Anne – what a profound example of love and that is being expressed and has consequences, but clearly not in pain or reaction, but from absolute understanding of what is true and needed. That to me is absolute love.

  55. ‘Firstly, love is not always what we think it is.’ I love the simple truth shared in this line Anne, too many people live with a version of love that’s emotional and based on need rather than supporting another to truly evolve.

  56. Thank you Anne, I had a moment reading where I realised in my own way I too can experience the “anxiousness, the plaintive wailing, the demanding, the insatiable desire”. For me it’s often around pictures of how I falsely believe life needs to be or should be, then the internal chaos starts. Your two year old grandson is an inspiring example of the power of letting go, thank you.

    1. Yes, I have had to call the ‘whambulance’ for myself at times. The insatiable desire to not feel what I am feeling and desperate to find a way, any way, to numb what I am feeling. I have loved going with the vulnerability and seeing what is underneath.

  57. What struck me when reading your blog Anne was the calmness and steadiness of the boys father in following through with throwing the dummy in the bin. Following through an action expressed in love and truth is such a key to parenting. Thank you for sharing your experiences and wisdom.

  58. Helicopter parenting is a pretty telling phrase. I see it a lot with parents and I can see how the kids clock this – they react to their parents reactions. So then what are we teaching our kids? To me this is not love and I feel blessed to be able to read my toddler and not react to her – but talk to her as I would an adult and see the bigger picture.

  59. What an inspirational blog this is Anne, and what a wonderful opportunity for reflection your grandson has given you and all of us. When we have attachments to anything – whether they are people, animals, places or objects, we do not allow the flow that is there to offer us so much more for ourselves and for everyone else.

  60. This is simply awesome Anne and shows that no matter what age we are, we can let go of something and move forward in our own time and it is us who can hold them and support them to bring through a greater understanding for their choices made, by simply allowing them to just be. What a gorgeous reflection this holds for all. Thank you.

  61. It feels really beautifull that you all live together and you are right we can all learn so much from this. I also agree as soon as I read the part ‘throwing the dummy on the floor. He had been doing this quite a bit and he was down to his last dummy,’ It felt like he was wanting to let go of this now but not knowing how to do it so on some level asking for help. Even if we find it hard to express love always finds a way to support us 💕

  62. “we never know when another person is ready to evolve to the next level of their life. And we should never get in the way when the time comes.”
    There is a deep honoring in actually following through with what you say, for both the child and yourself. You teach the child respect, and at the same time responsibility. Two fundamental foundations to all human interactions.

  63. I often look at children with dummies and I wonder what are they sucking in , they can spend most of the day and as described in this writing even when they talk its in their mouth. I always get the impression it stops the breathing that will support them and they are gasping for air.

  64. How different things would be within families if we were to understand that often ‘bad behaviours’ are children’s way of “letting us know what is not true”. A constant barometer in the home for living truth!

  65. I feel a bit like that with certain food choices or behaviours that I have grown out of and am ready to give up. I might metaphorically cry or react for a day or two but then afterwards the space, freedom and increased vitality is sooooo worth it!

  66. It is so gorgeous to observe children – especially babies and see how they do not take anything on. And as you say here – their bad behaviour is usually reflective of what we are not doing or behavior that is not true.

  67. This blog is such a delight to read. It brings greater understanding as to how toddlers communicate when they are ready to step up and make changes in their life and how we, as adults can support them to do this.

  68. What you share about being able to use anything as a dummy is very true! Attachments, pacifiers and coping mechanism are a teenage and then an adult thing too. How much simpler would it be to deal with the issue at hand, rather than pacify or comfort ourselves, learn resilience but never really deal with what the hurt or issue was in the first place?!

  69. When we parent our children truly out of love and truth, their rebellious behaviors which are signals to us that something is amiss, will have a greater possibility to shift into parenting us back also in love and in truth. This is a win win situation for all.

  70. Thank you Anne for sharing this great learning, what a beautiful story to see how something we are attached to can delay our evolution big time and by letting go it all flows again and we are ready for the next step that is already there.

  71. Our children are a fabulous reflection to us; there is always something to learn in what they are experiencing and communicating. They are very sensitive and they feel everything going on, this has been amazing to experience on a daily basis for the last nine years. We can choose to ignore this reflection or we can be open to it, and with openness comes an honesty, vulnerability and responsibility as a parent that is without question of deep support to those being parented and healing for us as parents. I love the rawness and divineness that children bring to life, always lots to learn and appreciate.

  72. I can feel the freedom of your grandson Anne.
    Great to see that something that may seem to be a support, can become a burden if it’s not let go when it arrives the time to do it.

  73. The responsibility that we hold as parents/Aunts/Uncles/
    Grandparents etc is great. Which was used in full in this sharing. There was an opportunity offered that was not ignored, and the results from acting responsibily speak for them selves. The greatest part though in this experience, I feel, is the steadiness that the adults held, no sign of giving in, just simply acting in the moment, with the child being fully aware of the consequences of their actions. Absolutely brilliant parenting.

  74. It is pretty amazing that often what we think will be the hardest thing to give up for a child (or Ourselves) can be done in such a smooth fashion. The signals have to be read that tell us it is time for this to happen!

  75. What a gift to share with us Anne. That there is a picture we have of behaviour that stops us actually listening to what our children are sharing back to us. verbal communication is such a small percentage of what actually is being presented, we would be wise to open all our senses when listening to another.

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