MFA Dad & I were talking about dealing with sleep & the cry it out thing the other night. We had both just read the blog post now making the rounds: The Dangers of Crying It Out. This was an interesting post & provided a great cultural background for our collective obsession with sleep training.

I think there may be something to the science that suggests there is a link to trouble later for the child who is left to cry herself to sleep. And I can’t say that these types of studies did not influence my decision to never do CIO with T.

But I also don’t think the leap from sleep training to problems later in life (as in, CIO now = anxious adult) is direct or clearly proven (& even if it were proven, I’m fairly certain different infants & children react differently to CIO).

MFA Dad doesn’t really care about the science when it comes to the topic of sleep, though. As he points out, our children are more than pet projects, waiting to be groomed for success at every step. He’s right, as usual.

No, our babes are real people right now, and they need the people the know & trust & love to treat them like real-people-right-now. They need us to respond with as much love & patience as we can muster. They need us to respond every time that we can sanely & safely do so (I say this because there have been times when I was so sleep deprived & so crazed that I had to let T cry while I got back-up—aka MFA Dad—or gathered my composure).

So whether it will make T a well-adjusted child or a more content adult, I don’t think we’ll ever know. And it doesn’t matter. He is who he is, right now & into the future.



Filed under Attachment Parenting, Mothering, Parenting

7 responses to “Sleep

  1. As the child of psychologists, I have to just caution about “Psychology Today” which is poppy and alarmist enough in tone that most therapists tend to discredit it. The other thing here is…I never see anything that either qualifies (let alone quantifies!) the following terms: “baby,” “crying” and “soothing.” When my friends get into heated debates on this, it usually turns out that they mean different things by these terms, especially having to do with the age of the baby and the quality of the baby’s distress. Any thoughts?

    • Thanks, winterfat, for your thoughts! I can definitely see the alarmist under- (over?-) tones of the Psychology Today post. I actually don’t buy into the “do x & your child is ruined” type of studies… But I like that these sorts of articles/studies make me stop & pause & think about how the parenting choices I make today *could* have effects on my child. I don’t know if that makes sense… it’s a fine line.

      As for the other aspect of your comment, I think you’re totally right. And I think that only a parent can decide what these things mean in practice. I’ve suggested in other posts that AP is a set of guidelines & not a checklist of things a parent must or mustn’t do. When he was itsy bitsy, T’s cries escalated in seconds flat & disappeared when I walked in the room. But other kids need to cry to blow off energy & a parents’ presence may even make things worse. Some mamas wouldn’t dream of soothing any way other than the breast, others need more techniques. Maybe I’m just conflict-averse, but I try really hard to not get into discussions about specifics with friends because I simply don’t know how their child is or what baby needs when (unless, of course, they really need a friend’s ear). I really think those things (baby, crying, soothing) can’t be quantified in a concrete sense because every child is different. Can you come up with some outer limits or a bunch of ideas for the toolbox? Sure, but I could see where the misunderstandings could quickly creep into discussions.

  2. Wow – your father sounds very wise. Lucky you!

    I totally agree that AP a set of guidelines – though of course, just with anything else, people can take it to extremes. I think it’s more of a mindset or a way of approaching your relationship with child, and ideas for constructing that kind of relationship within the real-life situation in which you find yourself and your family.

    The neuroscience of attachment is fascinating though. There is so much that we are just learning about the brain and how it works, but on the other hand there is no way to understand it’s complexity. Every child is different, every family is different, and there are just too many variables to be able to make a cause-and-effect connection between any two of them!

    • Thanks Kelly! Couldn’t agree more (especially that MFA Das is a wise man!). … Though sleep has been elusive at our house these days & we’re losing our minds (& not feeling very AP…).

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