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CIO in more than 140 characters

December 22, 2009

Yes, I admit it. I’m on Twitter. I’m addicted – well, I was until recently anyway. I spent alot of time on Twitter talking to like-minded mothers, trading stories, supporting each other, offering advice. I went there looking for the kind of advice that I wanted and wasn’t receiving from my family and friends. That’s not to say that I didn’t appreciate the advice I was getting but some of the advice just didn’t suit the way I felt about parenting. I didn’t know back then that my parenting style is called Attachment Parenting.

Attachment parenting… is a parenting philosophy based on the principles of the attachment theory in developmental psychology. According to attachment theory, the child forms a strong emotional bond with caregivers during childhood with lifelong consequences. Sensitive and emotionally available parenting helps the child to form a secure attachment style which fosters a child’s socio-emotional development and well being.

I love Penny to bits, and there’s nothing I’d rather do than cuddle with her. I want to parent her in a mature manner, which in my mind means including her in decisions, using reasoning rather than dictation, and I never want her to doubt my love for her. In general, my beliefs about parenting fall under the umbrella of attachment parenting, even if I don’t subscribe to every ideal.

One of the big issues that is raised with regards to attachment parenting is the concept of “crying it out.” There is a huge debate between the different parenting styles, with attachment parenting denouncing crying it out (or CIO as it is commonly referred to) as harmful to the child and your parental relationship with them. I’m not here to debate this topic. I have always felt that letting my baby cry is unnatural, and not what nature intended. I won’t go so far as to say it is harmful to the child’s mental well being, but the reasoning does follow that it could be. A child may feel abandonned or that their needs are not being met when they are left to cry. I haven’t often heard about the potential mental health issues for a parent who lets their child cry. I am currently on anti-depressants and in counselling, thanks to Penny’s crying. No, my child crying did not give me post-partum depression. But my reaction to her crying led me to finally seek medical help. When your child cries and you can’t fix their problem, you can’t make their world right, you feel incompetent and unfit to be a parent. At least that’s how I feel.

Anyway, back to the issue of CIO. The mothers I talk to on Twitter are generally of the same mind as me. They believe in attachment parenting, and don’t belive in CIO. About a month back I had alot of problems with Penny’s entire sleep routine – she wasn’t napping long enough, was napping too late into the evening, fought going to sleep for the night, and was waking multiple times a night. My family all said she had to cry herself to sleep. That wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I asked every one of them – my 2 sets of grandparents, my parents, my in-laws – and that was the answer I got from all of them. Only my father-in-law understood how difficult it would be and acknowledged that it wasn’t the best option. I turned to my friends on Twitter, and was surprised at how many of them said I had to let Penny cry. I still didn’t want to hear that answer. I never got the answer I was looking for. I don’t know what that answer was since I was probably looking for a quick fix.

After we moved and settled into our new house, Penny went to the dayhome and I went to work, and we all settled into a routine. Thanks to that routine Penny finally got onto a better sleep routine. But in the process of waiting for all of our routines to be reworked we ended up letting Penny cry it out. The first time we did was horrible, but I think it was less horrible than it could have been. Penny was still sleeping in her playpen in our room. The night we let her cry we stayed in the room with her, as we were trying to go to sleep as well. In my mind, being in the room with her helps mitigate the fear of abandonment. Hopefully it helped to have us there. Since then we’ve had to let her cry herself to sleep a number of times. It’s horrible every time. I just want to bash my head against a concrete wall every time we do it (fortunately I’m on meds that help stop me from doing it).

Ever since the first night that I let Penny cry, I’ve been avoiding my friends on Twitter. I’m disappointed that I let her cry, and ashamed that I continue to let her cry. I feel like I no longer belong to the ‘club’ of like-minded mothers. I am scared that they’ll look down on me and they won’t want to talk to me any more. I know better. I know that parents do what they need to do to get through. There’s no manual on how to raise a child. There’s no right or wrong way, just a right-for-you way (OK, there’s a wrong way, but we’re not talking about abuse and neglect here). But I still feel like I will be shunned if I admit that I let Penny cry herself to sleep. There are so many women I look up to on Twitter, and I think they’d never let a child cry. How can I aspire to be like them after I have crossed that line?

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9 comments

  1. wow.. god that’s rough. I wish I’d had your contact info awhile ago. We went through the same thing w/ cunksi.. and while what I do is called “attachment parenting” for me, it is and always has been, cultural. Lakota people (traditionally) raise, grow, nurture their children in all of (and more) the ways that would fall under today’s hot phrase “AP” parenting.
    Anyway, so when we were faced with the not sleeping issue, I was all gung ho to keep her in bed, (we cosleep) because even if she cried a little, we would be with her, and we could talk her through it. So we did, she cried, and cried. and cried. And then her crying changed into a true, “I need help” cry, and we stopped that. The greatest thing about parenting consciously, is that you KNOW your child.. you know how to interpret the emotions that are being expressed. So, we didn’t do that again.. but i was at a loss as to what to do. I searched adn searched for answers, and didn’t agree with the ones I got.. and finally realized I can’t find THE answer out there.. It has to come from my gut. I can get answers, and roll them around and see how they feel, but ulitmately I know best. So, I sat with her, and we talked,(she’s two with a vocab of a 3 y.o) and I realized that she was not wanting to sleep becuause she was not getting enough time with her At’e (dad) during the day. (he works about 12 hours a day and is gone when she wakes in the AM, and only has two hours w/ him at night before bed.) She was entering the stage of abandonment fears and she didn’t have enough time with him. So, we made the evening routine Cunksi and At’e time. Now, we dont have any problems. But, let me also add that I’m a stay at home mom. I work from my home, so I’m with her all day. And, when i took a short teaching job outside the home.. i saw that having a routine waking time was much easier on her.. much more structured. (she went with me to work.)
    So, after i stopped teaching, I still kept her day structured, and if she didn’t go down for a nap by 3, she didn’t nap that day, but she goes to bed earlier. (she asks to to go on those days.)

    ok, so, I hope this helps. please feel free to contact me, email or via my website.. and dont feel judged by others. If they are judging you, it (might be) because it’s triggering something in themselves.
    From what I know of you, you are a wonderful Mom. And remember.. what is right for you,(and your child) may not always be popular.


  2. I haven’t let my kids cry, I’ll admit it. But I HAVE done all sorts of things I swore I’d never do. Things that I’m not particularly proud of. Parenting does a number on you.

    We don’t have to all make the same parenting choices, as long as we can be respectful and understanding. Judgment does no one any good. If we are all doing our best at any moment, that will be good enough, I absolutely believe it.

    I’m glad you’re back – I was wondering where you’d gone.


  3. I’ll say that I “don’t believe in CIO,” but YOU are the mom who knows your kid best, and if that’s what you think the situation needs- I do not judge. You sound like you’ve tried everything. I do think sanity of the parent trumps no tears from baby, so…
    In any case, hang in there. This phase will pass and she will be fine. Good luck!
    And keep blogging!


  4. When we moved into the new house we knew that we had to change Peanut’s sleeping habits. After trying everything else we did CIO and it has been working for us. She cried for 20 minutes the first night and it’s been getting shorter every night. The way I look at it is that you are the best parent for Penny. No one should ever make you feel bad about your choices. It’s one thing to look up to these women but it’s important to remember that every family is different. While I like the idea of attachment parenting the definition seems silly. Don’t all parents focus on their children’s well being?


  5. What a great blog you have here. Thank you for sharing your information.

    http://couponmommyof2.blogspot.com

    luvinmyfamily@verizon.net


  6. AP-style parent here who let kid 1 CIO… just so you know you’re not alone… :)


  7. You posted! Yay. I was wondering if you were going to post again. Sorry to see I’m a little late to comment.

    I believe that there are different methods to CIO and not all methods are bad. I think CIO can be done in a way that doesn’t totally abandon the child and yet teaches the child how to fall asleep on her own.

    I mentioned this to you on an earlier post but I’ll repeat myself anyway. My son was a terrible sleeper and nothing worked for him. After months of me carrying him and holding him and sitting in his room with him he just was not sleeping. I felt crazy. I really felt like I was losing my mind because he would never sleep. It was a terrible time. I got to the point that I had to try CIO. I had to. It was horribly difficult and filled me with buckets of mom-guilt. But it worked. It was gradual. I visited him every 5 min the first few nights (it took over an hour for him to sleep). Then I visited every 10 min the next few nights. We got to the point that he would fall asleep within 30 min of being put in his bed and he stopped crying – although he often made a moaning noise. I would visit him quickly (without picking him up) every 5-10 min until he went to sleep every night. He got to the point that he slept through the night and could put himself back to sleep if he woke up in the night. I still do this and he’s 3 now. He tells me he loves me and gives my hugs and kisses willingly so I don’t think I did anything to damage his faith that I love him.

    I know the guilt can be crushing. Try not to let it get you down.


  8. I’ve so missed you on twitter. I am trying to catch up on my reader. Now I have some understanding of what was going on and why I haven’t seen Penny’s cuteness pop up in my stream. I am glad that you are finally getting help with what I remember as agonizing thoughts. I hate guilt. For me, it eats away on my insides, both physically and mentally. I hope it subsides or you can convert it. I wondered if things would be different in your new house and/or when you went back to work. I can’t say no one is judging you, but I am not. We all have our things. You are a wonderful mom.
    Has Penny had her birthday yet, seems like it’s soon?
    sorry this is so fragmented. i am very, very tired. hope to see more of you soon.


  9. Each and every family has to decide what works for them, and far be it for me to judge ANYONE on what works for them! I do the AP style parenting as well but doesn’t necessarily agree with everything. My son and I went through a really rough time when he would not go to sleep and he’d in fact almost throw a fit when he was tired. Mind you he was like 3 mo old. I just had to evaluate what I was doing to get him to sleep and change my methods to induce sleep in my little boy. Every child is different, so every parent’s methods are going to be different. I know we JUST met-but please know that you won’t receive judgement from me for what your family has decided is best! Take heart, you’re a wonderful Mother!



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