The Scientology Factor

04/07/2006 at 03:00 PM EDT

The Scientology Factor
Bauer-Griffin

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise

On Parenting

Just as Scientology advocates a "silent birth" approach that calls for maximum quiet during a baby's delivery, it also advises similar quiet around a child who has been injured in any way. As outlined by founder L. Ron Hubbard, such restraint helps prevent unwanted emotions and irrational fears from being recorded in a child's subconscious mind.

"When your child gets hurt, they kind of look for your reaction," says King of Queens actress Leah Remini, Tom Cruise's friend and a fellow Scientologist. "We just give them a second and try not to gasp. You console them, but you don't do the initial 'Aaah!' They might not react as much if your reaction isn't as big. It's about letting them be self-determined but in a safe environment."

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What else does Scientology say about raising kids? In his 1950 treatise Dianetics, Hubbard counsels against punishing children and notes that "it is not possible to 'spoil' a child with love and affection. ... A child needs all the love and affection it can possibly get."

The 'Silent Births'

Remini wants to get one thing straight about giving birth the Scientology way: Sometimes you gotta scream. As outlined by founder Hubbard, the church's "silent birth" approach calls for maximum quiet at the delivery. "I attempted to do it," says the actress, a Scientologist who gave birth to her daughter Sofia, 1, at L.A.'s Cedars-Sinai hospital.

"But I don't want there to be a misconception that you're sitting there not grunting or screaming when a child is coming out. It's pretty painful. You just want to try to have the birth be as pleasant as possible for your baby."

So Remini asked her doctor to keep chatter to a minimum, and her midwife used hand signals to tell her when to push. Why the shushing? Scientology posits that words spoken during birth may be recorded in a child's subconscious mind and can "cause unwanted emotions and irrational fears later in life," says Greg LaClaire, an executive at the church. He adds that Scientologist moms are free to use painkilling drugs if they choose.

Actress Kelly Preston followed the quiet method in 2000 when she gave birth to daughter Ella Bleu, telling Redbook it was "a peaceful, beautiful entry into this earth" (though she groaned plenty during the 13-hour labor). Remini says she'd try a silent birth again, "but I'd be better prepared," she says, "because I didn't know the shock of the pain that is childbirth."

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