I don’t think it will come as a shock that I’m not the cry-it-out kind of parent. In fact, I’ve written before about my feelings on the issue. We wouldn’t subject a physically limited adult to such treatment, so the fact that we routinely subject children to it is evidence that our society considers children as less than human. And that offends me.
I would be lying though, if I said I haven’t had my low moments, with Little Man waking up for his sixth time that night, when I haven’t considered it. I mean, who wouldn’t find the idea of endless, sleep-filled nights enticing. Especially if it only takes a couple of hours of crying to get there, which is how it always seems to be presented. Luckily for Little Man though, I’ve always had the sneaking suspicion that it doesn’t work quite that easily, and the other day I got my proof.
We were at a party at a friend’s new house and he was giving everyone the tour. Another acquaintance was there taking the tour at the same time. He’s the kind of guy who makes me cringe just about every time he talks about parenting, so really I shouldn’t have been shocked… but I still was.
The new homeowner is expecting a baby in a couple of months, so he pointed out which room would be the nursery. The cringe-inducing acquaintance had this to say:
“God, I’d hate to have the baby’s room right next to the living area like that. I like that ours is upstairs so when he’s crying when we’re getting him to go to sleep we can just mute the baby monitor and we don’t have to listen to him.”
I just stared at him in disbelief, so he quickly added “Well, he doesn’t cry as much anymore.”
He doesn’t cry as much, but it’s still enough that you have to resort to muting him? How much did he cry before?? And how long has this been going on??? And if you can’t stand listening to it, how do you think he feels doing it for goodness sake????
It was one of those conversations that, well, left me wanting to call child protective services, to be frank. It was one of those conversations that made me wonder why people have babies, if they’re clearly not interested in parenting them.
Like I said before, I’ve had my moments too. I can totally grasp why a parent might have to resort to something this drastic in a moment of exhaustion to preserve their own sanity and health. But let’s clarify: this dad wasn’t talking about getting a few minutes of desperately needed sleep for himself. He was talking about making sure his baby didn’t interrupt him while he was trying to watch American Idol, or some equally inane TV programming.
He also wasn’t talking about a couple of nights of concerted effort, after which the baby calmly (and presumably happily) goes to sleep with little or no parental intervention. He was talking about a months-long routine of crying that is so extreme he – a grown adult with a range of stress-handling techniques at his disposal – can only cope with it by turning off the very device that was designed to alert him to the baby’s distress.
That’s a pretty ugly reality. I wonder how popular the technique would be if more parents knew this was what it looked like before they started?