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authoritarian

a friend of mine read something today about how ferber will teach your baby to hate life and mistrust you. cio will generally set the child upon a path of emotional destruction. she was practically in tears.

i know that infant sleep training is a hot subject for a lot of people. i understand that people have made lots of money trying to persuade new (and frustrated) parents that their way is the best way. BUT when will people realize that terrorizing brand-new moms and dads doesn't exactly make for the very best parenting experience?

i won't go on and on about our own parenting strategies. god knows they won't work for everyone -- they don't even always work for us -- so i won't sit here and tell you what we believe and what we do as if our approach is ideal and everyone should listen to us. i write a blog, not an advice column.

the purpose of this post is pure rant against the delivery, not the message. i don't wholly disagree with the message -- we didn't practice cio or ferber -- but i am so completely anti about the way the author presented his views. "i am the expert," he declared, "and you are bad, cruel, evil people if you disagree with me." my friend was a basket case after she read this guy's stuff. all she was trying to do was what so many new parents want to do -- a little research. she was trying to do some reading on sleep training and ended up feeling like she was dooming her little girl to a lifetime of therapy. she handed the printout to me and i wanted to throw it away after a few seconds. it was so painfully extreme and alarmist that my second instinct was to find something online to combat it -- some real-life experience. moms talking about babies and sharing their wisdom. i hit my favorite parenting boards and found a thread that i showed my friend. i left it with her and i went back to work.

she stopped by to see to me a while later. the stuff i left for her made her feel a lot better, she said. the relief in her voice was almost tangible -- she finally had some proof that what they were going through was normal. not all babies are the same. some babies are sleepers and some just aren't. you can't judge your own child by your friends' children. it sounds like platitudes, but it's true. when i realized that my moods were tied too much into whether or not my child was hitting the "appropriate" milestones at the "appropriate" times, i put the parenting books away and concentrated on what my child was telling me. i tried very hard to not put too much stock into what so-called, self-proclaimed experts on all things baby had to say -- and eventually i stopped caring about such "expert" advice. there are just so many opinions, my friend lamented, and as a first-time parent it's hard to know what to follow. follow what's best for your family, i said, and do what you need to do. being stressed out and miserable isn't good for anyone. being sleep-deprived and stressed because you are putting your needs below everyone else's is not going to make a mom a good mom but possibly an angry and depressed one. who wants to look back at their baby's first months of life as being filled with nothing but anger and resentment?

maybe i'm just a bitch, but any adult who has been raised in a happy loving household who then chooses to believe that s/he is scarred for life only because her/his parents followed possibly outdated advice on sleep training is NOT TELLING YOU THE WHOLE STORY.

i know tomorrow her sense of well-being might be a bit lowered, depending on whether or not they had a good night. that's what it's like being a parent, right? it's funny how i myself sometimes play the expert, but what i preach is the language of flexibility -- the language of changeability. i can sound confident one day, hopeless and depressed the next. mood swings (sort of) are where it's at. but the ability to accept and deal with change -- that's constant.

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