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“Well, MY mom did it to me and I’M okay!”

Posted by Sandra on January 14, 2009

Does this saying, or a form thereof, make anyone else want to wrap their head in ducttape lest it explode?

This, along with “they will NEVER leave your bed/stop using a pacifier/fall asleep on their own if you rock them/stop their bottle/insert any other ‘bad’ habit here”, are a some of perhaps the most ignorant statements I read in today’s parenting chat rooms.  For example, if you co-sleep, they will NEVER leave your bed (yeah, my high schooler barely fits in anymore, right?)… the list goes on and on.

But the one that kills me, my biggest pet parenting peeve in the world, is the whole “my mother left me alone in a room all by myself to cry myself to sleep every night and I’m okay”.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

This whole theory that one does not need to parent a child to sleep needs to stop.  This whole mainstream Western Culture belief that you must “train” an infant to sleep, that it’s a bad thing to parent from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., that your infant has the biological, physical, and emotional ability to not only put themselves to sleep but also sleep throught the night from weeks of age on, MUST END. 

PERIOD.

Like a lot of things, when one grows up living it, the circle is rarely broken so that one perpetuates the behavior in their own lives.  Hitting a child (whoops, sorry – those that hit their kids prefer the term “spank”), abandoning them to cry themselves to sleep, etc. etc.  Usually, when it’s done to you as a child, you assume it’s okay to do it to your child.

Well, it’s not.

When I was a baby, carseats weren’t a law.  And I’m okay now.  Does that mean my children don’t need them?  Absolutely not.

When I was a teenager, seatbelts weren’t law.  Does that mean today I can go without them, because “I’m okay”?  Nope.

Lots of women are victims of domestic violence.  Today they’re okay.  Does that make wife beating okay?  Shouldn’t even need to answer that one.

Your mother may have given you condensed milk and karo syrup as a baby.  Or started you on that awful boxed pureed cardboard – I mean rice cereal – at just a few weeks old.  And you appear to be okay now.  So does that mean you should do the same?  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  We now have proof – undisputable proof – that an infant should not have anything other than breastmilk (definitely preferred) or formula for the first six months of life.

But hey, your mom gave it to you, and you’re okay.  At least those of you not fighting allergies, obesity, diabetes, or other health problems that you probably didn’t realize were caused by the early introduction to solids.

But that’s not nearly the horror of the practice of  leaving your child alone to cry.  The whole theory behind “cry it out” is to train your infant to sleep without needing you.  The mom or dad.  The one who chose to let the sperm hit the egg, knowing your life was going to change (at least I assume you knew that) and you may not be as free as you was before.  Yup – you may have to miss an episode of Grey’s Anatomy to take care of your baby.  Yup – you may have to get up in the middle of the night to soothe a baby.  That’s called PARENTING.  It doesn’t end at 8 p.m. when you think it’s time for baby to go to sleep (or your TIVO’d soap opera is ready to be watched).   But to read that “your baby will NEVER get to sleep if you don’t do it” makes ME want to cry.  Your child isn’t learning to self-soothe.  Your child is learning to GIVE UP.

There is real evidence – real studies, real proof – that this method is harmful to a baby.  You spent nine months under the paranoid impression you couldn’t even so much as smell a cup of coffee, eat a ham sandwich, or sleep on your back because of the love/safety/security of your baby, yet you give birth to this little miracle and immediately think you need to start neglecting him –  I mean TRAINING him.  What’s wrong with this picture?  Some start this unacceptable practice when their little precious bundle is but a few weeks old.  How horrifying for that little being, barely out of the comfort of her mama’s womb, to be taught that no one cares because it’s dark outside?  What a scary place that must make a crib or a bedroom for her.  How sad that her little heart is racing, her blood pressure is rising, she has endorphins and hormones being released to her brain causing harm, her eyes seek out someone to hold her but no one’s there, her little arms and legs quiver with the sadness and fear she feels.

But that’s okay – you get to watch CSI without interruption.  You GO, mom!

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5 Responses to ““Well, MY mom did it to me and I’M okay!””

  1. Kathy said

    I agree. It was very hard watching my brother & SIL and two of my husband’s brothers & SILs do the whole “cry it out” thing with their kids. {{{Shudders}}}

  2. Amy said

    I love this!! I just had to comment again that I forwareded this to all of my friends – thanks again!!!!!!!!

  3. Amy said

    I meant to add this to my last comment – I too wholeheartedly agree about the rice cereal – I think it’s borderline abuse to give an immature digestive system something so nutritionally void an unnecessary! Thanks for reiterating that!

  4. Amy said

    You are so right. I’m glad you posted this – it gives me food for thought on how I’ll treat my kids. I hope everyone learns this lesson.

  5. Leigh said

    There are also the parents that are the exact opposite. Some friends of mine had their first baby a week ago today. They both took three months of maternity leave to spend with their child.

    She called me yesterday, as one of her few friends that actually have children, and asked what they should do with the baby. They feel bad about leaving him alone in his crib, so they had held him the entire time he had been home from the hospital, over three days.

    I could hardly stop from laughing when she told me this! I had to tell her it was alright to lay him down when he is sleeping!

    New mothers are so amusing sometimes!

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