Home Sweet AnnaBelle











{October 18, 2010}   They’ll Tire Out Eventually!

Aaaah, the well-meaning words echoed to new mothers everywhere, as their babies colic, teeth, fuss and sob.

I truly wish someone would explain to me the appeal of letting my child “cry it out”. It is a suggestion I get over, and over, and over, by mothers of all different levels of experience. I am working on dissecting it a little…Trying to understand it while not attaching judgement. I am trying to look at it from a strictly pragmatic position.

Let’s break it down by using some rationalizations that I have heard from others:

“You’re no good to them if you’re tired and frustrated!”

Frustration. I get this. To an extent. Many of the advocates of the CIO method have touted it as some kind of child abuse prevention method. I have to admit, this is hard for me to understand. Not because I’ve never been tired, frustrated, or crabby…My daughter’s first few months were rough. She was a sick kiddo, and cried a lot. But because hitting my kid would simply be counterintuitive to me. Ask me again when they’re teenagers. 😉

“You can’t be with her every second…You need ‘you’ time.”

Okey doke. So, while my child is screaming in the next room, I’m supposed to put up my feet and enjoy some bonbons? If my child is crying, I am stressed. It is physiological for women, I think. Even if it’s a stranger child on a plane, the sound of a baby crying raises my blood pressure and makes me want to jump up and tend to them. Maybe it’s not physiological, and I’m just a creep. I don’t know. But babies crying stimulate a response in me that I have seen in many, many women, with and without children. Point being, I won’t be relaxing anyway. I might as well be with her.

“They need to learn to soothe themselves to sleep.”

When was the last time you found it soothing to essentially scream yourself to sleep? How did you wake up feeling the next morning if and when you have cried yourself to sleep? I know I end up feeling like garbage. Puffy eyes, headache, hoarse voice, fatigue. Sounds restful, doesn’t it?

“They’ll learn to manipulate you if you go to them every time!”

I don’t think babies manipulate. I think they’re very clear. They want their moms. There’s no hidden agenda there. They want love, affection, food, a change, whatever. It’s not manipulative if the kid needs love. Instead of thinking of it as a “scheme”, why not just give them the affection they are seeking? Is that really a bad thing?

“They have to learn to be away from you!”

Really? Why does an infant need to learn to be away from its primary caregiver? They’re infants. Their entire existence is based on the need/relaxation cycle…Having their needs met when they express them. I’m not sure I can buy into the theory that depriving my child of her needs is a way to make her somehow stronger.

Here’s the other thing that I wish others understood. My children (siblings) are adopted. We are adopting them from foster care, and were not expecting to have children so young placed with us. When they were, it definitely took a lot of adjustment, not just for us, but ESPECIALLY for them. Children grieve. I truly believe this, though my friends who are not involved in adoption in any way think I’m a crackpot when I say it. Even babies understand when those with whom they are familiar are just…gone. Because we were expecting older kids, it was a little tough for us to know how to express to non-verbal children that they were safe. That we weren’t going anywhere. And that we knew they were hurting and wished they weren’t.

My son was 16 months old when he came home, and lost everything he knew…His foster family, his home, his pets. Everything. He was afraid. He grieved openly. He didn’t sleep for at least a couple of months. He was confused.  He had suffered 2 MAJOR losses in his life already. His First Mother and his foster parents, to whom he was very attached.

Our daughter, while only 10 weeks at the time, had also suffered two losses in that short period of time. Her First Mother, and then her foster family.

Kids don’t just “forget”. Maybe cognitively, but not physiologically. They remember those losses, and their grief is locked up in there somewhere. It’s my job to respond to their needs so they know that they CAN trust. So they know that they WON’T lose us. I don’t know if it will get through, but I know that NOT responding to their needs won’t get it done. I tend to be verbal (shocker), which is why I do so well with older kids. I can talk to them, and I can often get through. Babies were a huge challenge and learning curve, but I knew that what I couldn’t express verbally, I could express with consistency, nurturing and unconditional love. It’s really the only tool I have, so letting them cry, in my view, would really send them a glaring message, wouldn’t it?

In the end, I think it worked out. I can’t say for sure it was because we didn’t use CIO, but I think it’s probably a good bet that they feel secure that their needs will be met. Both kids are very affectionate, expressive, and have healthy attachments to us. Hopefully, as they get older and work through their grief, they will be able to express it (not necessarily to us, if they don’t want to) because they have not been made to feel unsafe in expressing emotions, even difficult/negative ones.

I am not writing this to judge other Moms. We all have our way of doing things, and while I may disagree with another mother’s methods, I am certainly in no position to be sanctimonious, and I hope that’s not how this post reads. I am just really trying to understand what, if any benefit is to be reaped in allowing an infant or small child to cry his/herself to sleep. Because I am at a loss.

Advertisements


This is a very thoughtful post, thank you. I tried the crying it out business and I lasted about 1 hour and 15 minutes. And during that time, I was in no way shape or form, relaxed or busy doing something else. And in the middle of the night, let’s face it, nobody is sleeping through that noise, including the rest of the building. He’s loud enough that he can be heard in the alley if the window is open. My little guy generally doesn’t cry for no reason, so I just give him what he needs and sometimes that a little more time in my arms or a change of diaper.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

et cetera
%d bloggers like this: