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On “Mommy Wars”

 |  Interwebs, Parenting

So, I’m reading this post where one mum rants about the reaction another mum got for admitting she’s letting her kid “CIO” (cry it out).

I’ve talked about CIO and sleep training before, you know I don’t like it, so I won’t go over old ground. However, as Isabel gets older I am becoming more “live and let live” about parenting and so even if I personally wouldn’t do something, I try not to let other people’s choices bog me down. I don’t have the time or energy to be worrying about someone letting their toddler wail. I certainly don’t see the point in spewing hate-filled vitriol across someone’s facebook page about it.

All’s well that ends well, we all agree.

Except that obviously something has sparked me off ’cause you know I wouldn’t just be writing this post to agree that a) mommy wars are stupid and b) if some random blogger wants to let her 1 year old cry that’s her business.

Indeed… and here lies my problem: not the original post, but the responses. Responses like the one from the mother who let her 10 month old cry so much he hyperventilated and vomited all over himself. Again and again. Responses like the one from the parent who let all her kids cry it out from 12 weeks old because they clearly had no physical needs and were just trying to control her. Responses like the one from the mum who “let her boys cry it out” so they’d sleep through by 8 weeks old.

And do I then want to spam someone’s facebook page or start a ‘mommy war’? No, I want to shed a tear. I want to hug those poor little buggers tight and apologise to them because SOCIETY has such fucked up views on parenting and NORMAL baby behaviour that some parents feel the need to leave tiny, tiny babies to cry themselves to sleep and then brag about it — what a fucking awesome decision it was — on some random blog. On a blog that other mum’s are going to see, that other mum’s will then use to compare to their infants who are (quite normally and naturally) waking every couple of hours or more, and maybe even use as a starting point for a decision that they will have to live with for the rest of their lives.

Does that make me judgemental? Immature? Am I contributing to the “mommy wars”? Probably. But there has to be a line. A line drawn in the sand where we say to people: beyond this, it’s just not fucking acceptable. And if you’re still counting your kids age in weeks or mopping up their vomit because they’re so distraught? That to me crosses the god damn line.

Jem Turner jem@jemjabella.co.uk +44(0)7521056376

14 comments so far

  1. Jem said:

    I wrote the post to get this particular issue off my chest. However, if you’re interested in the science of normal infant behaviour (rousing often) I recommend googling subjects such as link between deep sleep and SIDS etc. I have some links in my pinboard as a starting point (use tags on right) … http://pinboard.in/u:jemjabella

  2. Sarah said:

    Couldn’t agree more. I’ve bit my tongue over hearing people say how they let their baby (usually under 6 months old) cry it out because it wasn’t like they needed feeding, yet at 13 months Thomas still feeds up to 3 times a night and at least once. Only recently has he gone more than 7 hours without waking a few times when he’s at full health and not teething.

    It also took me a while (and really bugs me when I hear it now) to realise whenever people say ‘is he a good baby’ they mean does he sleep through the night (so I’ve read). I can’t believe that there’s a standard subtle way to ask it without saying it :-/

  3. Melissa said:

    I read the posts, but not the comments. All I have to say is that you really can’t judge a person and their parenting choices until you’ve been in their EXACT situation. If you’re blessed with an “easy baby” (and I’m not talking only sleeping through the night), good for you, but if you end up with one who has colic for a year and you’re suffering with PPD, you can’t even compare the two situations. My two boys were/are night and day in that department – one I let CIO and the other, I wouldn’t even think about it. It really all depends on the kid and the situation at the time. If letting your kid cry for 10 minutes is what you need to regain your sanity, then by all means let him cry.

  4. Chloe said:

    I don’t like when I see blog comments and forum posts on the great results gained from sleep training. I don’t like that it might possibly encourage other desperately sleep deprived parents. When CIO is discussed, the positive comments are always focussed on the results achieved and how great everyone sleeps now, etc. It’s so easy to put the thought into a sleep deprived mum’s head that it’s the only solution, and it will provide miracle results. I don’t think it’s very fair to tell someone that sleep training was the best thing you ever did. Like you said, it plants a seed in peoples’ minds.

    Sometimes I think there’s no telling people either way. You can be armed with all the info, and still choose to go ahead, like me.

    Sadly, like most of my parenting actions, CC was something I could only
    decide was not right for us once I had tried it. Why it took me until then to realise that there was a real reason he was waking, and that he just NEEDED me, I don’t know. (And we DID get the ‘results’ people speak of but I didn’t see it as a result when he was so miserable). But I am at peace with his night time habits now and, finally, I am completely confident that my approach (to always go to him & accept that he WILL sleep better in his own time) is absolutely the right thing for him.

  5. C Planer said:

    Hi there! I would be the ranting mom writing about the mom who let her 1 year old cry it out. I just wanted to throw this out there. You say that when you read these types of things you want to hug these poor crying children, and I get that. I really do. But what about the mother? Aren’t her feeling, her mental well being and sanity just as hug worthy? Maybe if we “hugged” these mothers more often there would be less crying from everybody. And I get that her tone was smug, but sometimes you have to look beyond the tone to really see the person behind the message.

    • Jem said:

      As I said in my post – the problem I had was not with the mother of the 1 year old who had reached the end of her tether (despite my distaste for many forms of ‘sleep training’) but with the fact society has made it so that ‘we’ could possibly think 6, 8, 12 week old babies need to cry themselves to sleep. There was no mention of loss of sanity, mental well being etc in these comments, just the overriding desire for control.

      Let me know if you’d like me to find the comments in question.

  6. Mumblies said:

    I neither know nor care much about what other mothers do but I do know this… I cannot bear to listen to a little one cry. Be that a tiny baby, or an older toddler or anything in between; to me their cries mean they hurt or have needs and for me it causes physical pain to hear. How any mother could ignore those cries I simply cannot comprehend.

  7. April said:

    My mum tried the whole “cry it out” with me once I was over 12 months old but when I spoke with her about it the other day (after I read this entry, I was curious haha) she told me that she would have never dreamed of leaving me to cry while I was under 6 months – she said it just wasn’t right.

    It’s cruel to think parents do it to “control” their baby like they might a pet. we are human beings – we were all babies. And even though some people can argue all they want that their mother did it with them, and they are now fine, it’s more or less the fact that its almost heartless to let them be in so much fear and anxiety that they vomit on themselves.

    When a baby cries, it cries for a reason…not just for the sake of it. Whether it be out of pain, discomfort or whether they just want a cuddle.

  8. Angela said:

    Responses like the one from the mother who let her 10 month old cry so much he hyperventilated and vomited all over himself.

    I’m not going to look at the posts because they’ll just make me upset, but reading your post, this is the line that really got me. This is abuse, plain and simple. I don’t believe in CIO, but it’s still one thing to leave an over-6-month-old child crying for a few minutes and letting a newborn cry all night with no care. What makes people think their babies are capable of taking care of themselves?

  9. Katherine said:

    I read the first blog post, and I didn’t personally think that the sleep training mother came off as overbearing or overly callous. (Although her stance was quite strong). I can understand a parent who has a child that is prone to fits being at her whit’s end. And it certainly didn’t seem like she was abusing her child, from her explanation it seemed to me that she was aware that her child was throwing tantrums, and did not want to encourage that type of behavior.

    To me that seems fairly understandable, and I agree with you that if she wants to let her 1 year old CIO then that is her own business.

    But the other commenting mothers/(most likely 16 year old’s who want to drop out of school and be a “Mommy”) those I have to admit do disgust me.

    I’m not a mother, nor do I have any desire to become one in the future. I enjoy children in short bursts, and I like them a great deal more when I know I can hand them back to their parents when I’m done bouncing them on my knee. But even I feel like I’m not crossing any “Well-you-can’t-say-anything” line when I say that letting a newborn vomit all over itself out of anxiety is not acceptable. What I’m curious about is how long it took the mother to go in and check on her child to make sure it wasn’t choking to death.

  10. Lea said:

    I am strongly against that CIO crap. I have never let my child cry it out – ever. He has been sleeping through the night at 4 months, which is not so bad for a child CIO advocates consider as extremely spoilt. He has always slept in his bed, and is now 3 and never fusses at bedtime. Simply because he knows it in his heart that he is safe, that I am nearby and that if he feels scared I’ll be there. I love providing that feeling of safety, that is what a mama is there for.

  11. Anita said:

    My mom sleep-trained me when I was 1 month old lol! And I dunno exactly how I felt about it when it happened, but according to my mom I stopped crying myself to sleep after 3 nights and then I slept like a rock. However my sister wasn’t sleep trained for a while because she was a premie baby and she needed to be fed a lot.

  12. Daly said:

    I agree with you. I like to stay out of the mom wars but something like this simply urges you to speak up!

    It’s not about mom wars – it’s about what kind of person you are. Something like this asks for a response. Even though it won’t change anything.

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