Translating Janet Lansbury’s respectful parenting approach
20 June 2016
“There is no single effort more radical in its potential for saving the world than a transformation of the way we raise our children.”
― Marianne Williamson
What an honour to be given the opportunity to translate Janet Lansbury’s work! It is my hope that readers of Spanish will find the translations as interesting and useful as the original books. Technically speaking, this was a challenging project. As it is addressed at an international audience, I had to try and use the ever-elusive “neutral” Spanish variety. This can be tricky when discussions center around deep feelings, primal urges and fears, and language related to the world of babies. Nevertheless, I decided to embark on this project because I believe that Resources for Infant Educarers® (RIE®) is a respectful parenting approach which can make a significant difference to people’s lives. It is also easily adaptable to different contexts and diverse families, as well as day care and preschool settings.
RIE®, an international non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the quality of infant care and education worldwide, was founded in 1978 by infant specialist and educator Magda Gerber and paediatric neurologist Tom Forrest. Magda was born in Budapest in 1912. She had a master’s degree in early childhood and was then mentored by paediatrician Emmi Pikler in her unusual approach to caring for young children. Magda joined Emmi Pikler at the National Methodological Institute (better known as Loczy) in 1945 and worked with her until 1956, when the political situation in Hungary made it impossible for her to remain there. Magda and her family eventually settled in California, where she became Janet Lansbury’s mentor and friend. Interestingly, Magda Gerber also had a degree in linguistics from the Sorbonne in Paris.
It is hard to imagine how my husband and I would have cared for our daughters and guided them without some of RIE®’s core principles, which illuminated both our daily routine and the bigger picture. This insight has reassured us about slowing down, being patient, learning to observe more, living in the moment and trusting. It has reminded us about the importance of boundaries and of acknowledging our children’s feelings. It has also guided us through the specific language to use as gentle but firm leaders —the language, of course, reflects the mindset, and it is so important! It has shown us why time-outs, rewards systems or distractions are not wise or respectful tactics for addressing a child’s challenging behaviour. It has confirmed the power of connection, intrinsic motivation and honest communication, as opposed to using tricks and gimmicks to “get them to do something”. These are some of the elements that set RIE® apart from other parenting approaches. Such insight has made us more aware, allowing us to remain (mostly) sane and be a consistent, respectful home for our little ones.
“Parenthood is sneaky. You think you’re just raising a child, teaching this little person how to live and be in this lovely, chaotic world, but in truth, you’re learning and growing right alongside them. If your heart remains open and your mind conscious, you’ll find that parenthood is the ultimate journey of self-discovery and that, through raising this precious being that has been entrusted in your care, you rise to your own fullest potential.”
― Rebecca Eanes
Through the years, I have been involved in various interesting projects in my professional career. Yet, on a personal level, these are two of the most significant translations for me in terms of purpose, audience and content. They hold a dear place in my heart, for this parenting approach also marks a profound change of direction in my own life. The fact that the translations were copy edited by Andrea Morete de Bullrich, a valued colleague who happens to be an old family friend, makes this work all the more treasured.