Hot on the Titties: Crying It Out

Hot on the  Titties Friday!  Who is ready for a healthy debate?  I’m beginning to observe that the topics that really get people talking are the ones that hit closest to home.  Often, they involve us feeling as though we need to defend our choices to others, and it can get quite passionate.  And as always, as parents, we feel the need to justify whatever choice we end up making to parent our children.

So, here is the kindling to today’s fire.  It’s sort of a lengthy article, and is written by someone with a PhD, presumably in some sort of neuroscience or child behaviour.  Basically, it spends most of it’s time explaining why letting a baby “cry it out”  is the evil of all evils.

It is a scientific, anthropological argument for attachment parenting.  Which we all know is a bit of a hot topic at times.  As usual, it explains that “giving babies what they need leads to greater independence later.”  Hmmmm.  No shit.

One interesting comment made was how the extended family unit and “village” so to speak was all involved in a child’s care and instrumental to promoting this happiness and independence in a child.  And I can totally see how the break down of these family units where the mother is doing it all by herself can be detrimental to a child’s behaviour later on.  Being a parent is really, really, tiring some days.

Anyway, the real meat of the debate today is whether or not you let your child “cry it out” sometimes.  Or all the times.  Or none of the times.

If you do, you probably won’t read the entire article because it will make you feel like shit.  There’s a lot of talk of neurons and psychological damage to the child that can’t be reversed and how neglectful it is.  How selfish it is to ignore a child’s needs based on your own and that the more you do it the more desensitized you get to the sounds.  It was a total bashing.  And even though the article had a scientific “smell” to it, it was fairly obvious to me how un-objective this scientist was when writing it.

letting babies get distressed is a practice that can damage children and their relational capacities in many ways for the long term.”

I’m not sure there are many parents who let their babies get distressed.  Nobody wants to allow their baby to cry, or feel hurt or not try their best to comfort them.  This is not a scientific statement.  It is an inflammatory one.

The fact is that caregivers who habitually respond to the needs of the baby before the baby gets distressed, preventing crying, are more likely to have children who are independent than the opposite (e.g., Stein & Newcomb, 1994). Soothing care is best from the outset. Once patterns get established, it’s much harder to change them.

This statements makes the assumption that Attachment Parents respond to their babies needs and parents who do not attachment parent do not.

I can’t disagree more.

Because I’m fairly certain that babies who are fed on demand and co-sleep or are rocked to sleep or whatever cry sometimes too.  In my experience and observation they fucking cry just as often.  That’s how they let you know what they need.

As someone who did not “feed on demand” and allowed their baby to “cry it out” on occasion, I find the above statement completely fucking ridiculous.  I got my kid on a schedule as soon as possible.  And it wasn’t just about me.  It was about watching her and anticipating her needs and creating a pattern where her needs were met before she needed to get upset about shit.  And you know what?  Sometimes she cried.  And then I figured out what she needed. And as she grew and her needs changed, I shifted things around according to what she needed.  Fucking Duh. Putting a baby on a “schedule” doesn’t mean you don’t adapt to the needs of your child.

As for the crying it out, yeah, we did that too from time to time.  It’s not like we got sick of hanging out with her so we put her to bed to cry herself to sleep every night.  There was feeding, and changing, and cuddling and rocking and singing and all the nurturing things you do for your child. And then we put her in her crib, once we knew she was comfortable and all her needs were met.  And sometimes,  there was some fussing.  Most of the time she went to sleep.  But on the nights she didn’t, we let her cry for a few minutes.  And it was fine.

So.  Is my now toddler damaged from this?  Is she dependent and clingy and whiny as the article suggests she would be?  Is she full of anxiety and stupidity and lacking confidence?   She couldn’t be the farthest thing from any of this.  Honestly.

So what I think is this.  There is a great difference between methods in determining and meeting your child’s needs and child neglect.  I believe that the negative outcomes described in this bullshit propaganda  psychology article is blurring the lines between parental choices and parental neglect.  I’m sure that all of these developmental and psychological outcomes are possible, but in the extreme form of non-parenting.  I ALSO think, that if you are going to publish in a scientific magazine or journal, you should be careful to write in a scientific manner, and not an obviously biased, inflammatory, and accusatory manner.

Over to you kids.