Feb 03 2012
Cry It Out is child abuse. Please feel free to quote me.
This post is probably going to hurt some feelings. I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings. But if I sound judgmental, it’s because when it comes to child abuse, I am.
I am really really mad right now. My 11-month-old daughter woke up at 3 am and didn’t go back to sleep for a few hours. My partner who got up with her, played for a while and then rocked her to sleep before bringing her back to the bed that we all sleep in. It was a big fat pain in his butt, but it happens. Sometimes he gets up with her at night and sometimes I do. Then we both get up for work the next day. It doesn’t happen every night, but when it happens, we deal with it, because we are parents and parenting DOES NOT END because the lights are off. But that’s not why I’m really really mad. (And no, I’m not writing this to say I’m a better mother than you because I rock my kid to sleep at night and you don’t.)
I went to get my daughter from daycare this afternoon and walked into a heartbreaking conversation. The mother who was there to get her 10-month-old was enthusiastically explaining to the daycare provider how wonderful it is that her daughter sleeps through the night. All she has to do is let her cry for 15 minutes straight, then go in and check on her, then let her cry for 10, then 5 minutes. And voila! She’s asleep for the night. What a good girl.
Maybe that doesn’t sound bad to you. You’ve heard of this method before. Maybe you’ve done it. What’s the big deal?
WHAT? The big deal is babies cry when they need something. They don’t talk. They cry to communicate. We are sending a baby very bad messages when we INTENTIONALLY ignore their cries. Common sense should tell us that there will be repercussions later in life. Shouldn’t it? At the end of the day, it’s HUGE disrespect to the child, and it’s just plain not nice.
If I went into the daycare and said, “My daughter is such a good girl, all I have to do is smack her ass really hard and then she sleeps for the rest of the night,” what do you think the reaction would be? Is spanking a baby and letting a baby scream herself to sleep at night very different? No way.
We live in a society where it is completely unacceptable to spank our children (I’m okay with that, because I do not believe it is okay to purposely inflict violence on a baby–or any human of any age, for that matter….) YET, our society, with arms WIDE open accepts this “Cry it Out” bullshit. Yes, bullshit. I don’t usually swear on this blog, but as I said, I am very very mad.
Is it my business that this woman, or anyone reading this blog lets their kid cry all alone before falling asleep at night? Yes, just like it would be your business if you saw me swat my kid in the face in the supermarket.
I was interviewed on CBC in September about this blog and some of my views on parenting, and I got talking a little about the Cry it Out thing. I walked out of the interview a little sheepish, feeling I was being too harsh and too judgmental, and thinking that I might have come off as a crazy person. Maybe I’ll feel the same once I publish this post. But I’ll try not to feel bad. Because I firmly believe this method of “sleep training” has to stop.
Our babies cry because they cannot yet talk. When we leave them alone to cry we are abandoning them. We are abusing them.
I don’t think the mothers who “use this method” are bad people. I don’t think they are stupid. I do think they have been mislead by “experts” into thinking that this is somehow normal and acceptable. It’s not. It’s abuse.
The daycare provider kind of shrugged when I pried for her to tell me what the beginning of the conversation was (I walked in at the end) all she really said was that the kids were super happy. Super happy kids must mean that CIO is not harmful, right?
There are some things I can’t talk about in a calm, diplomatic way. This is one of them. But who am I to talk to you like this? What gives me the right? What gives any author the right to call himself an expert and tell you how to train your kid by letting him cry himself to sleep?
If you let your kid CIO and are actually still reading this post, I’m sorry if you feel bad now. I really urge you to look into gentler methods with subsequent kids.
Here are a couple more-eloquently-written pieces on why CIO is not a good idea (or why holding your baby is)
Crying for Comfort: Distressed Babies Need to be Held by Aletha Solter, Ph.D.
Cry it out (CIO): 10 reasons why it is not for us PhD in Parenting
” Dangers of “Crying It Out”: Damaging children and their relationships for the longterm by Darcia Narvaez, Ph.D.