I came across some parenting articles via my Facebook feed after my third or fourth night-wakening, and decided to try to read something educational and interesting and give up on sleep. So here I am, blogging about it, because I think that it was interesting and educational enough to write about! Thanks to Evolutionary Parenting for sharing!
The article Educating the Experts - Lesson One: Crying by Tracy G. Cassels is written with the "Experts" as its reader's voice - written in second person, it accuses "you" of all the crimes of the "Experts", which can be a little confronting, but the information is great, so I kind of just get a shock whenever it refers to "All of you, whether you claim to be against crying-it-out or not, promote forms of leaving an infant to cry. And all of you promote ways of “training” your baby not to cry." But I digress...
I found it interesting to note that the more responsive a parent is when responding to the cries of their child, regardless how competent they were at reducing the crying at that point in time, the less their child will cry later on. I rejoice at this news! Most parents will rush to help their child, but then feel a little (or a LOT) incompetent, because they can't "fix" what's wrong with their child then and there. I think the news that just being there is helping might be pleasant news to parents who have had to comfort a lot of crying, but with little reward! After needs have been met, cuddling is the most effective way to reduce the severity and length of a crying episode - think of it as meeting the Cuddle need!
The article also makes a very important, scary point: a lot of these "expert" baby-guide books write with the not-so-subtle messages that your baby is a screaming, poo covered creature out to manipulate you. Ok - so they aren't that forward with this message, but the idea of hardening your heart against your child's cries for its own benefit is just plain wrong. Babies do not cry to manipulate us, just to let us know that everything is not ok. If we change our perspective on why the baby is crying (to get our attention to make things ok again, not to thwart our desires for time out, or keep us from getting any sleep) we can change the ways we respond, leading to happier babies, happier parents, and less guilt all around.
Sometimes you need five minutes to compose yourself before responding to your child's cries - that's ok, we're all human. Sometimes you might even tell yourself "that's it! I'm not going to go to her again!" (I know I'm guilty of saying this under stress, but I'm always there for her when I regain my composure, or my partner is). This is ok. We're fragile, imperfect beings, and that is ok too. Being a Superparent (in my view) means knowing how much you can take on, knowing when to back out, and knowing when you need to relax - not assuming that we can all carry on indefinitely with unrelenting stress levels, which is unhealthy and certainly unsuper.
I loved reading this article, and I hope you did too. Here are the links to the other "Educating the Experts" lessons, because I think the points made are valid, and will help you connect better with your kids, and stay away from the guilt-mongers and schedule-followers who will make your life miserable.
Educating the Experts - Lesson One: Crying by Tracy G. Cassels
Lesson Two: Needs
Lesson Three: Touch
Lesson Four: Self-Soothing
Lesson Five: Schedules