Yesterday, the New York Times tossed a story onto the front of their living section, "Whose Bed Is It Anyway?", featuring chic and privileged New York couples who are struggling with their children encroaching on their bed space.
Oh, I so sympathize. The article, however, doesn't. Nor do lots of people commenting on the article.
The article talks about "sleep specialists", who charge a pretty hefty fee to see parents and their children. The article proclaims: "Ms. Kunhardt and others suggest that parents, stung by the sometimes arbitrary boundaries set by their own parents, are concerned to a fault with the emotional well-being of their children." Another says, "Mostly the origin of the problem is the difficulty parents have in setting appropriate limits", and then blames the fact that parents just can't say "No."
Many of the comments are the same: "It's easy...don't put them there in the first place!" "Why hire a sleep specialist when all you need to do is set limits? It's just basic Parenting 101." "...all these stories of kids who just won't go to bed until midnight, and so forth, drive me crazy. Come on, people, parenting is not a democracy. It's *your* job to teach your children behaviors that will help them be successful adults, not just to be their best buddies..." "Let 'em sleep on the floor!" "In addition to ensuring nobody sleeps well, the family bed just screams major codependency issues." "BABIES DO NOT BELONG IN YOUR BED." "...either the parent trains the child, or the child trains the parent..in this case, it looks like the children are winning the battle..." "Another disasterous example of insecure, weak willed, and incompetent parenting!"
The implication--or even outright statement--is that any parent who does this is unable to say "No" to their child at all, that their children have no limits, that their children will be forever psychologically scarred by having them in bed with the parents, yadda, yadda, yadda.
My only wish is that each and every one of these people has a child like OmegaDotter.
We weren't trying to "be her buddy". We weren't codependent. Our dotter wasn't "winning the battle"--hell, no. She was losing the battle. She was terrified. We're not talking a child who cries quietly for 8, 10 minutes, then sniffles herself to sleep--we're talking a child who went into full-fledged, terrified hysterics at being left alone. Period. Who did the same thing if she woke up alone after a nap. Who did the same thing if she woke up in some place different than where she fell asleep. The times we tried the standard advice of putting child to bed, going in at 5 minutes, then after 10 more minutes, then after 15 more minutes--by the time we reached the third go-round, she was hysterical enough so that none of us got any sleep at all those nights. And it didn't change, night after night after night of this. The nights that she did go to sleep, she would wake up two hours later (you could set your clock by that) in night terrors.
Sorry, all you parenting experts out there. We weren't going to let our child scream herself into hysterics night after night after night forever.
One comment I read was from a child development psychologist who said that kids needing to sleep with their parents was a sign of anxious attachment--hear, hear. Then, he ruined it by stating categorically that it was the parents' fault that the child had the anxious attachment, and, once again, that parents who do this are setting the child up for Damaging Psychological Problems as adults.
Y'know, some kids are just born like that. Some kids are premies who spent the first few weeks of their lives in incubators, separated from their parents. Some kids are fine up until they reach a certain age. Some kids need it for just a while, while they're going through transitions. Some kids are dealing with childhood trauma (like our dotter). Some kids need a long, long, slow, gentle process. And some kids do just fine sleeping on their own from the very beginning, and actively resist sleeping with their parents.
OmegaDotter sleeps in a nest by our bed. It's not perfect. But she has started talking about wanting to sleep in her bedroom--a little bit. We're not going to push it this time--the nest is okay with us. We get to sleep together, without the writhing, squirming, arms-akimbo, foot-kneading child in bed with us, and we sleep the night through; she sleeps all night through and is a happier, healthier child as a result.
OmegaMom wanders off, grumbling about interolerance...
At 3/03/2007 06:33:00 AM, said…