Infant Mental Health for the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Ghosts in the nursery

Ghosts in the nursery is apt descriptor for the "emotional baggage" vulnerabilities parents (and other caregivers) may carry from their own experiences of being parented including conflicted feelings about their parents, a sense of being unsupported in childhood, and traumatizing memories. These ghosts often negatively impact feeding, sleep, toilet training, discipline, and other areas of current parenting abililites by influencing the way parents interpret their infants behavior. Parents with histories of child abuse may find certain aspects of appropriate early childhood development as purposeful acts of threat and aggression.  

Selma Fraiberg’s work 'Ghosts in the Nursery' (1975): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1141566 discussed how unresolved issues related to one's own childhood parenting experience may negatively impact and restrict one's ability to effectively and sensitively parent one's own infant. Much of early infant mental health work was predicated on Fraiberg's paper. Therapy with the infant-parent dyad is an approach to ammeliorate these restrictions.  

Reflection:  

What ghosts in the nursery might I be bringing to my PNP work?

References and Resources:

Shah, P., Muzik. M., & Rosenblum, K. (2011). Optimizing the early parent-child relationship: Windows of opportunity for parents and pediatricians. Current Problems in Pediatrics and Adolescent Health Care, 183-187.