kaden's first blog. our first kid. it's an entreprenurial adventure.

Friday, May 27

Baby sleeping is like religion and politics

Wow, I feel like I accidentally started attending church thinking it was just a cool place to hang out on Sunday. Apparently mentioning sleep theories is like bringing up religion or politics, everyone has made up their mind, and you will offend them with your opinion.

The tactic of putting Kaden on a cycle of "sleep, feed, play" that we started the other day is one tenet of a whole theory, religion, cult, belief system about how to be a parent, called Attachment Parenting. Like all good theories, religions, cults, belief systems, Attachment Parenting comes with it's own set of books. Apparently all parents but me knew this. So for those who have yet to have kids, let me sum it up.

Attachment parenting believes anything that might inconvenience the child constitutes child abuse and will make your child grow up feeling unloved, eventually leading to his/her committing grave acts of violence in a bid for attention.

This is in contrast to the Babywise & Ferber methods. Ferber believes anything done to console the baby makes you a total weak-willed loser bound to raise a hopeless brat who will fail at life.

Ferber also has books, mostly focusing on sleep.. but this also leads to offshoots like the middle of the road Baby Whisperer (you non-parents see how desperate us parents are that we would actually entertain a book with such a creepy title, and I know several people who swear by it).

I had a conversation last week with a friend who has a two month old, and he was asking questions on whether he should let his kid cry until he threw up (or more likely his mom did), or if he should duct tape his kid to him while they slept.. or something like that.

It's all so confusing, trying to pick what theory of parenting you are going to be a part of. So let me make it easy.

You've already made up your mind, stop fighting it.

All these theories you read (or are brought up by friends and loved ones) make it easy to get confused about what you really believe. It's like a business school graduate so hopped up on case studies he wouldn't know what his gut was s if it was removed from his body in a tricky at-home operation and then made to speak in a faux smarty-pants English accent.

You should listen closely to advice from friends and books, because many may match your beliefs. We've learned a lot from comments from friends, family, and the blogosphere. But just like religion and politics, you can't really fake it. Either you are a coldhearted disciplinarian, or you're a weak-willed love-dovey -- that was decided long before you had your kid. Maybe we can read a book and try to be a different kind of parent for a couple days, but eventually the kid is going to catch on and then we're done for.

Worst of all us for you to fake it, and be an inconsistent parent as we trend back to our normal selves. He's going to be shaped by what mom and dad's personalities are like, which is not going to suddenly be subsumed by some book or advice that forever alters our behavior.

Doesn't that sound a little more sane?

Now that I'm fairly sure I've offended absolutely everyone (chances are I didn't get your particular belief system exactly the way you see it), I'm heading home to my crying son.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that I am a victim of reading way too much, and opening myself up to too many different theories of child-rearing (Happiest Baby on the Block, Babywise, Attachment Parenting, Ferber, BabyWhisperer, Highly Sensitive Child, Dobson. You name it, I've probably read it.) It would be easier if I were a more black and white person, but I have a lot of gray shades. I can see the truth in many different parenting philosophies.

That being said, I studied up on Attachment Parenting, expecting to hate it, and Babywise, expecting to love it. To my surprise, neither happened. I have my issues with both, but there was a vast Grand Canyon of difference on the way each made me feel as a parent. AP, to my surprise, made me think, "Okay, I can do this. I know my child. I love my child. We're going to be okay." Babywise, on the other hand, immediately jumpstarted me into panic mode-- "Oh my gosh! I've been doing everything wrong! I'm screwing her up! What do I do? What do I do?"

Again, I have issues with both. I do not think that leaving my child to cry for a little while is going to cause her to never trust me again, nor do I think that if my child isn't sleeping through the night by 3 months, she is going to be hyperactive when she's eight years old. But I like that AP emphasizes respecting your child as an individual, and not going against your motherly instinct. I like that Babywise emphasizes getting into a routine, so that the baby knows what is coming. (I found that The BabyWhisperer was a nice median between the two.)

I just hate that so many of these philosophies use guilt to inspire you to action. Halo-ed Breastfeeding vs. Disease-inducing Formula (And then there are the Weirdo Pumpers, of whom I was one for two months before Anna finally latched. The pumpers are in No Man's Land-- nobody knows what to do with them. Still using breastmilk, but also using the dreaded bottle. Bah. Don't get me started.) Spoiled Demand feeding vs. Soul-sucking Scheduling (I fall sort of in the middle.) Unsafe Co-sleeping vs. The Evil Crib (Definitely The Evil Crib for us. No one sleeps if she's in our bed. Leads to pissed off family members.) Phantom Colic vs. "You just aren't reading her cues to sleep correctly" (Oh, bite me on that one. She had colic. She wouldn't sleep. Period.)

Anyway, my point being that the last thing women need is more guilt in our lives. I think I'm going to go throw the books away and start over.


Anonymous Sam said...

There was an article someone posted at a little pregnant that I think is appropriate. Perhaps a more "expansive" version of attachment parenting.

Blogger Nabeel said...

sam, just so you know I'm not totally against any of these books, or against getting advice from friends and family.

we use that stuff all the time. it's just treating it as doctrine, or allowing it to question what you already believe about yourself and your child that I think is derailment.

Anonymous eleri said...

Someone handed my Babywise with my second child.

I put it down when I read the part about smacking your 18 month old with a ruler.

Firmness, rules and limits are one thing, hitting kids is quite another.

read this from Salon on it


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