Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Parental Politics

Sometimes I am jealous of my parents and grandparents, who raised their children before the days of Parent magazine and the What to Expect books. Nowadays, the majority of parenting issues are very politically charged. And no group is more charged than sleep issues. These issues range from how the baby should sleep (on their tummies vs. on their backs), to where the baby should sleep (in a crib vs. with their parents), to how to get the baby to sleep (cuddle them vs. let them cry). Proponents of each method preach that their way is the only way and that not following their approach will lead to long term psychological damage or death.

All I want to do is be a good mom. If I rock Isla to sleep and the people who say let her cry are right, then Isla will not develop the ability to self soothe and will be dependent on others and/or objects to provide her with comfort for the rest of her life. Also, we, her parents, will face a major and emotional battle when she get older trying to teach her to go to bed on her own. However, if I let her cry herself to sleep and the "experts" who say I should cuddle her are right, then I risk raising an anxious, distrustful child. This child will be unable to form attachments to others and, as an adult, will be more likely to have marital problems and will find it difficult to form a bond with her own children. No pressure here, right?

All I want to do is be a good mom. In all actuality, my real problem is not the struggle between the "experts", but my own struggle with my husband over which is the best approach. Mike very much wants Isla to learn to put herself to sleep. When she won't go to sleep at night, Mike wants me to leave her in the crib and let her cry it out. I have no problem doing this when she is crying her whiny, low pitched cry. When she cries her high-pitched, angry cry, however, I can not stand to listen to her cry and believe she needs to be comforted. Mike, in turn, gets frustrated if I go to her. So,truly, my struggle is an internal one, of who I want to be upset with me: my husband or my baby. This parenting thing is really hard.