Posted by: Roseann Murphy | March 1, 2011

“Bye Bye Babying”

In 1979 the first printing of the RIE manual was published.  In the manual Magda is asked what kind of wishes she had for children.

Magda answered, “First, my wishes for children.  I wish they could grow according to their natural pace, sleep when sleepy, eat when hungry, cry when upset, play and explore without being unnecessarily interrupted.  To be allowed to grow and blossom as each was meant to be, not molded or shoved into some mode of faddism that confines like a violin case.”    We certainly are not following Magda’s wishes with these misrepresentations on news clips.

On Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 10:25 pm on CBS Channel 2 Chicago RIE was lumped together with the Waldorf method.  Nice, I guess if you want to be lumped together with “Bye Bye Babying” and the focus of the news blurb had to do with the fact that RIE uses glass cups and not sippy cups for drinking, no high chairs, and lets babies cry.  They re-broadcast partial clips from New York and Los Angeles with a quick sentence by Deborah explaining that in diapering we would not wish away an adult to another room why do it to a baby… cups, leave them to cry, no high chairs, no baby talk and let them run around the house…that is what the news team here in Chicago took away from Mary Kay Kleis’s news blurb.  The anchors both looked at each other and said, “would you use this method?”  No, they both answered.  The glass cups, if you were a working mother you could never follow through with this method.

Experts are worried that RIE let’s babies cry and that is not healthy.  That is what the general public took away from this two minute (if that) explanation of RIE.

In an interview with Magda in 1981 she was asked how Emmi Pikler felt about people taking the philosophy to other countries.  Magda’s answer was very concise and to the point.  “What Emmi finds most difficult is when people pick up some of what looks like the philosophy, but not the essence.  Many people pick up some of it, but they do not quite understand the underlying principle.  That’s when Emmi would stop working with a family.  You can do it your own way if you understand why you do what you do.  You always help the child.  It is the way in which you help the child.  It can be very easily misunderstood.  I now can go to places and see exactly if people know the spirit and then they can things differently from the way I would.  Or they do things almost as imitation of what they saw me do and they have no idea why they are doing it.”

This is what is happening with RIE , Magda and Emmi’s philosophy…people are imitating what they think they see and they have no idea of why they are doing it.  The misrepresentation of the essence is just getting to be too much.  I wonder who in heaven’s name is telling people what the tenet of RIE are?  Who keeps focusing on glass cups, leaving children to cry and eating on the floor.  I guess the news people are just not listening to what RIE really is.

Post by: Roseann Murphy


  1. The news people are not listening, or the organization is not doing a good job of presenting itself and the philosophy in a way that can be understood by others? I’m not sure which, or if it’s both, but luckily there are some who are working hard to change that !

    The concept of caring for babies with respect a la Magda Gerber or Emmi Pikler is sadly still very misunderstood, and not mainstream enough… but we can keep working to turn that around.


    • Lisa, thank you so much for your honest and courageous comment. It is so difficult to understand after so many articles and many television spots how we can continue to perpetuate such misunderstandings. But, as you say, luckily there are some of us working hard to advertise the work of Magda Gerber’s RIE. Thank you again…


  2. Well said. I think part of the problem is that RIE thinking is a paradigm shift. You have to rethink almost everything about the way you interact with your child. People who get their parenting ideas from a 2 minute segment on the news are just looking for a quick fix. It doesn’t take long to read Dear Parent or the Self Confident Baby but I think it’s hard to get a grasp of RIE without reading those books or attending a class.


    • Thank you for supporting us. Parents go to the internet to get information about how to be a better parent. Unfortunately, the information they get is not always from a serious source because of many different factors, such as attracting readers to their site. Education is a very serious field where there is no room for “fads.” The problem is that unsuspecting parents end up using missinformation to educate their children. The result is seen from infancy and throughout their entire lives. Today’s “fads,” could end up creating tomorrows bully’s. This is why we only advocate serious, researched and proven methods of education such as the Gerber/Pikler method.
      – Magdalena S. Palencia


  3. I agree wholeheartedly with Erica’s take on the situation. RIE can’t be presented accurately in 2 minutes. People are inclined to sieze on the small, unimportant details that sound unusual to them and use those things as an excuse to reject the rest.

    When I spoke on the phone to the producer of the CBS News Los Angeles segment (who was lovely, and did a positive segment on RIE that I’m hoping will be posted online soon) she kept bringing up sippy cups. And I kept responding that sippy cups have nothing to do with RIE and are totally fine, just unnecessary. But she had heard something somewhere…and “not using sippy cups” is what stuck with her. That is human nature.

    The good news is that websites like this one are raising awareness, and for every dozen people that reject what they are hearing, there are 1 or 2 who are intrigued, seeking out more information about Magda and RIE… So, Roseann and Magdalena, THANK YOU for your hard work…. It is paying off, believe me!


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