Truthfully I’m sick of hearing about gentle sleep training methods.
Something has been niggling me for some time now. Something, I, we, see all over the internet. It’s the ‘controlled crying’ versus gentle sleep debate. Really, it’s as bad as the ‘breast’ versus ‘bottle’ debate and it’s DOING MY HEAD IN!
Controlled Crying is the crime of the century that should not be committed by any parent according to some media reports, bloggers and parents alike. The subject is entirely emotive, inflammatory, controversial AND subjective as with all parenting styles.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I would ever agree that leaving a child to cry for an unreasonable amount of time with no form of comfort, love or parental involvement is acceptable. However, what is deemed as an ‘unreasonable amount’? Well, some would have us believe that any amount of crying is unreasonable, but let just put things into perspective here. Why do babies cry? They cry because they are hungry, bored, tired, overstimulated, want a cuddle, need attention, or simply just because! BECAUSE, sometimes babies cry because they cry. Simple, they don’t always need a reason. They cry end of. Crying is natural, normal, it’s ok for them to cry.
The mear words ‘controlled crying’ leaves some parents with this vision. A vision of a child locked away in a cold, dark room, fearful, frightened and left to cry themselves to sleep with no parental involvement or comfort whatsoever. Really? Is that what parents who practise ‘controlled crying’ do? I think not, It is my believe that most parents want what’s best for their child, they love them unconditionally and wouldn’t do anything that would compromise their safety or emotional well-being. Controlled crying to most, does not mean leaving a helpless baby to scream all night long whilst the uncaring parent goes about their business watching ‘catch up’ tv downstairs. Controlled crying is probably not even something that parents choose to practice without considering other alternatives and options given the ‘hype’ and attention around the subject of controlled crying. BUT I really just want to get one thing straight here. ANY form of teaching your baby to sleep will involve some crying. Of course it will. Look…. if you have previously rocked, nursed, cuddled, fed your baby to sleep then changing that routine will involve some crying. I’m not saying that rocking, cuddling and feeding a baby to sleep is wrong, of course it’s not. We as parents do what’s right for us. So, if for some parents, for the sake of their own sanity and emotional health ‘controlled crying’ is the answer, an option for them as parents then that’s ok too.
It’s not just about the baby’s needs. Excuse me if I am stating the obvious here BUT parents need rest and SLEEP. It’s essential, a human need, something we have to do to remain physically and mentally healthy. We simply can’t function without it. If a parent is totally, utterly and physically exhausted, can they really be a ‘good enough’ parent to their child. Can they meet their infants needs day in, day out?
Surely it can’t be just me that believes if a parent is looking after their child in a normally, loving, caring and responsive way then a few evenings with some tears out of a child’s lifetime is NOT going to emotionally damage that child. For pitty’s sake these parents are NOT child abusers. They are navigating parenthood by doing what is best for them, their family, their parenting values and their child.
A sleep deprived parent is not able to function and meet the needs of their child to the best of their ability. The parent also needs to look after their own needs, they are not being cruel. They need to remain healthy and able to function to meet the childs needs.
Now I know there are studies out there that say different. That we should never leave our children to ‘cry it out’ because they will suffer from toxic stress, which will impact a child’s brain development. But some of these studies have been blown completely out of context. One of these studies in particular refers to ‘Romanian orphans’. Now really, can we compare the likes of these studies with the acts of everyday parenting? We as parents need to be sensible about this. We need to go with our ‘gut instinct’. We need to do what is right for us and our child and stop listening to everyone else. The decision on what form of sleep training to use depends on many things, its not a ‘rash’ decision or a ‘one size fits all’ approach. It’s exactly the same as the ‘breast versus bottle’ debate. We do what is right for us!
So…. after my long rambling blog…. Just to confirm, there are many ways to help your baby sleep. I do not advocate one particular way of doing this. Whatever works for you and your family is fine. There is far too much opinion and guilt around parenting and the right, wrong way to parent and I’m FED up of hearing it. There is not just ONE way to parent. Whether you are a mainstream parent, follow attachment parenting or like the gentle alternatives. They are all ‘GOOD ENOUGH’ ways to parent and teach child to sleep. Whether you are a breastfeeding mother or bottle feeder. Whether you find ‘controlled crying’ works for you or you would never let your baby ‘cry it out’ THAT IS JUST FINE. But please STOP BANGING ON ABOUT how bad controlled crying is and how GENTLE SLEEP METHODS are the only way to go. STOP with all this guilt! For goodness sake. Parenting is hard enough. I am SICK to DEATH of hearing it. I am fed up of hearing all of this criticism from the so called ‘experts’ and ‘businesses’ in particular. These businesses are quite frankly completely and utterly biased. Get real! There are many, many influences around how a parents parent. It’s just not as black and white as that. Look up the ‘Ecological System Theory’ and then think about how parents parent. Stop making judgements about how others should or shouldn’t parent. Your way is not the only way. We are all trying to navigate this thing they call ‘The transition to parenthood.’ One of the biggest ‘life transitions for many. WE are ALL GOOD ENOUGH PARENTS. We are all doing our best. There! Said what I’ve being dying to say for months. 🙂
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