Archive for » June, 2012 «

Where angels fear to tread ~ bedtime routines from infancy and on…

Lullabies, nursing, rocking chairs, walking the floor, snuggling, prayers, stories, co-sleeping – for many of us these things all represent a special time in a child’s life…the time before a simple good night kiss is the last you see of your child at night. I want to be clear up front…parenting is a risky business to write about. We all make different choices and most of us feel strongly about our choices. Frankly, if I didn’t feel strongly about things I doubt that I’d be inspired to write about them. I have made some wonderful friends when others read my articles and loved them. I’ve also been ostracized and utterly disliked based on sharing my opinions. I realize that many agree with what I’m about to write and – more than likely – far more will disagree. This is not meant to be a diatribe to the families who disagree. I will willingly share this, though: while there are many different ways to approach parenting and not all of them are one-size-fits-all, there are some things that shouldn’t even be tried on. I know people who have handcuffed children to bed, given them Benadryl regularly to put them to sleep, turned off monitors so they would not be disturbed, locked them in their rooms until morning, and belt-whipped children to exhaustion. I think most of us would agree that these things do not make for joyful child training or happy bedtimes. If you feel they are appropriate, perhaps you would consider re-thinking your methods. This article was originally specifically about lullabies. I’ve adapted it to add some philosophy and some practical tips for those who either share my parenting philosophies or are interested in opposing ideas. I most certainly don’t plan to engage in a debate. Been there. Done that.

Lullabies were cooed long before the days of cry-it-out (definition for the unenlightened—CIO=teach your baby to put himself to sleep while he screams in protest and you kindly pat his back intermittently in short increments until he is conditioned to go to sleep without you…). I know this method has a following and I know many of you believe in it. I know that people I love and respect have done this. I respect the rights of parents to make parenting decisions – but this does not mean that I support the philosophy or behavior. Simply put this is about why I don’t do one thing, but instead choose to do another. Remember, this is not a diatribe. I have read countless articles about this and absolutely nothing has persuaded me to believe that this is nurturing. I understand the training philosophy, but that doesn’t mean I agree with it. If you are a CIO proponent and are not interested in hearing opposing viewpoints or are easily offended, you might want to hit the back button on the browser right about now.

I have come to the conclusion that the heart of the matter is our different perceptions about the act of crying. Good parents disagree. After discussing this with several who are not quite so opposed to CIO, I have concluded that how we look at crying may determine how we respond. One particularly poignant memory comes to my mind. Many years ago, I was in the ER with two of our children (spider bites while traveling which became blood poisoning) … Jonathan was with the one who was being tended to first and I was waiting in a hall way with the other child. Beside me sat a very very young mother. I can still picture her. She was probably a young teenager and she had an infant. I asked her how old her baby was and she told me … just a few weeks old! I told her that the baby was precious and smiled at her. She looked at me and said these words I will never forget, “But she’s so mean. She cries and cries.” I almost burst into tears. To think that her baby was crying out in need and she interpreted that as meanness. It was heartbreaking to me. I finally understood something that I’d never understood before. We don’t all see crying the same way. We come from different places; have different experiences and levels of education. This child truly didn’t understand that her baby wasn’t mean. Either no one told her anything about babies, she had no experience with babies, or she was unable to understand what she was told. She honestly and ignorantly believed her baby was mean. Do you know how much I wanted to ask for that baby? Tell her that I’d give it a good home and answer those cries? Instead I told her that her baby was talking to her and just needed her to meet those needs. I’ve often wondered about those two children and where they are now…

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