It has been a while since anyone in the extended family of grandparents and aunts/uncles has asked how DS sleeps at night. I have been giving elusive answers as the honest answer would only encourage judgement and advice.
Yesterday I slipped up. I mentioned that DS has gone off the bedtime routine and we have had a couple of nights of wide awake infant at 11pm or even later. Despite my firm resolution not to leave DS to cry it out (CIO) and my clear explanations as to why, MIL brought it up again. After mothering 3 boys, her experience taught her that babies have to be left to scream and scream and eventually fall asleep exhausted and desperate and ignored. Her doctor and no doubt mother and well meaning friends all encouraged this action and it seems to have worked for her. She cannot entertain the idea that a child might get through his life not being left to shriek alone in a dark room.
And here is the irony for me. Her 2nd son is almost 21 and has sever sleep disturbances. He sits in his room 24/7 on the computer or TV , unable to sleep. When he does sleep, he can only sleep during daylight hours. Professional consultation resulted in suggestions for a behavioral approach of setting boundaries and both parents cannot bring themselves to do that to their son. And yet they didn’t think twice about leaving him shrieking as an infant. It boggles my mind it does.
To be honest the situation is much much larger than I am painting here – but my point is that I do not get why you would think it is OK to set boundaires for an infant. When infants have *no way* of even understanding what a boundary is let alone undersand that their parents are doing it because they love them. It just does not make sense. Most infants do not even undersand that their parents are there if they can’t see/smell/feel them. So it escapes me how this idea of essentially abandoning your child can make sense. The baby experiences abandonment – even if you are in the next room. Why would you want to put your child through that kind of suffering? All your baby can do is cry and scream in protest. They cannot exactly start explaining to you just how scary this it, or get up and walk out. They depend on you to protect and love them. And you take that away….
I guess I am ranting a bit. But I am very happy to be loving my DS wholeheartedly now. In a couple of years I will have to say no and there absolutely will have to be boundaries. Not when he is an infant. Not when he couldn’t possibly be manipulating me. You have to be a cunning sneaky person to manipulate. Babies are not. An older child maybe – not a baby.
This is not a new question, but worth thinking about *what* the baby is crying out when left to cry ‘it’ out. I think along the lines of trust. My baby is crying out his trust in me to be his parent. I would never chose to create a situation where my baby looses his trust in me.