They say it will be believed if you tell a big enough lie, and repeat it often enough. It will become a cultural reality, although there are no factual roots to it. We also claim fear can induce an individual, or a community, to do just about anything; no matter how unpleasant the act can at first appear. When enough people do that, then more will obey. If enough people believe it, it is not going to be challenged.
Terms such as “it is for his own good” are often derived from our primary need to rationalize and justify choices which abrade our instincts. We know they just don’t feel right to help us explain choices that deep down. Of course, there are extremes in everything in life; urging our children to brush their teeth or eat their greens seems certainly for “their own good.” But, other practices like cutting back on their basic emotional needs; not so much.
And that’s okay, because I don’t write for popularity. I use the written word instead to advocate for the needs of those who can’t speak for themselves. To brighten up the facts. And to throw unquestioned mistruths into the arena and start a conversation, as uncomfortable as it might be. Because the further I go on my parenting journey, the more I feel many detached mainstream parenting practices can be traced back to the mistruths that we’re told when our kids are young.
It raises the question from crying it out to time out; how are we persuaded, in the first place, What incentives could justify being non-responsible to the needs of our children? When it comes to sleeping the baby the reward that we are promised is self-reassuring. The idea is that by ignoring the needs of a baby we are simply teaching them a valuable lesson; how to soothe themselves so that we don’t need to have to do it for them as parents.
Luckily, the self-relief is an illusion. And when we break an illusion, it has no control over us; it cannot take advantage of our sleep-deprived desperation. We ‘re immune from being duped into believing that in an attempt to achieve something that doesn’t even exist we need to perform parenting practices. Exposing and debunking these myths before they embed in our subconscious; creating unrealistic expectations, fueling unnecessary frustration and driving a wedge between us and those we love the most.
Our decisions can have powerful effects, either enhancing our common link or weakening it. Building or eroding trust, and increasing or diminishing our trust as new parents. In a modern world that places such high value on the species-inappropriate expectation of lonely sleep we need to feel emboldened to ask tough questions, scratch beneath the surface and seek the truth. So, why is the greatest con in new parenthood self-soothing?
Because for babies and young children self-relief is a physical impossibility. The ability to self-relieving refers to the ability to regulate one’s own emotions; a developmental milestone which can not be rushed. Neocortex is the last part of the brain to mature; it is the logical or analytical part of our brain that helps us to analyze a situation and mediate our reaction.
Because it fuels the practice of the sleep training which is not responsive. For me, sleep training that is self-relieving and non-responsive is like chicken and egg theory. Which one did come first? I don’t even remember. But, what I do know is that there are two lies stronger than one. What these myths rely on are massive assumptions, the desperation of parents who are deprived of sleep and the failure to fully examine what is actually going on.
Since babies are conditioned to freeze. When babies are silent, it doesn’t necessarily mean they ‘re peaceful and calm. Because it’s a experience for them when babies are left alone, with physical or emotional needs that they cannot meet. The only option babies have is to freeze or grow a behaviour called ‘learned helplessness’ or ‘shut down syndrome’ as Dr Sears describes it.
Since it affects brain growth in a material way. The brain of a baby develops from a mere 25 per cent to 80 per cent of its ultimate adult size during the first three years of life. This period of rapid brain development is to mental and emotional health over the long term. Early childhood experiences that our kids will have for the rest of their lives literally wire the brain.
Because it trains the children to believe their needs are irrelevant. When we ignore communication with a baby, they learn that their needs are irrelevant. Babies who learn this lesson early in life are predisposed to experience unhealthy attachment which can result in a variety of negative mental and emotional outcomes.
Because babies, themselves, believe they are the source of their experience. Young children themselves believe they are the source of their own experience. How we handle our babies for the rest of their lives lays the basis for the values our children will come to hold true for themselves. Babies don’t understand why we’re purposely choosing not to respond to cries because an author has suggested making them weep for X amount of minutes, so they can learn to soothe themselves. All they know from a baby’s perspective is that they communicate a need and no one is coming.
Since it sabotages the REAL direction to teach the children how to soothe themselves. Our children learn how to regulate their own emotions effectively through observation; by watching us model healthy emotional regulation. Nurturing close, connected and respectful relationships with our children when they are young offers the greatest assurance that they will not only be able to soothe themselves when they are neurologically capable but will also develop empathy and healthy pro-social behaviour.
Now is the time to confide in our children. To have confidence that they can spread their wings and fly when they’re developmentally ready. And one day, they won’t need us any more in the not too distant future. And we’ll look back and feel grateful for the times that we hugged our children, soaked in their precious innocence, amid our sleep deprivation, and sang to them in pure black silence while no one was watching.