Thursday, 27 March 2008

The Endless Sleep Issue

Every now and then, I receive vitriolic replies to something I've said or written, and wow... it really makes a mark! I peruse it carefully, read it over and over and re-read my original comments as context, often several times.

This stuff is just fascinating! The topics that people whip off these epistles over is hugely varied. I want to write more, just so I can get more of them. 
I don't think there is a faster way to find out what someone's afraid of than to see what provokes them to write hate mail.
The latest one was over some feedback I gave on a mom's networking website about sleep.

Man, do people get het up about sleeping issues!

I suggested: is odd, no? that our culture has this obsession with getting kids to sleep, making them stay asleep and a huge resistance to dealing with them in any way when they are supposed to be asleep...
Baby sleeping by Toshiyuki AMAI
The original question came from the mother of a 16mo girl who was, probably as a result of some recent travel and routine changes, having a hard time falling asleep alone. She had previously had no difficulty getting to sleep, ever since she was 2 months old. I suggested that it was ordinary, not any evidence of a brat or bad parenting, and that if the worst-case scenario was that mom would need to lie down with the child for 45 minutes a night for 18 days, where's the bad part?

I mean, really. What exactly is supposed to be wrong with meeting a child's changing needs? 

Even if they happen to change after 3 months or 14 years of stability, needs change. So, meet them. Even if the needs happen after 11pm? Needs change. So meet them.

What has this tiny, innocent child's current fears got to do with how well she slept as a 2 month old? Who cares? That's like saying, 'he never used to be that hungry at dinner, so he can't eat that much now.' What a completely bizarre criteria upon which to judge today's needs.

'Being weak' and 'giving in' are major themes in the hate mail, and I think 'where is the strength in talking a child out of expressing her fears?' 

Where is the 'win' in intentionally not meeting a child's current needs, because of how it was last week? 

How does giving a child what she needs now become 'giving in'? What possible benefit to anyone can there be to holding out? 

To me, it is all negatives: it causes parents a lot of stress and it teaches children that their feelings don't matter, and it damages the trust in the relationship overall...

I am often at a loss for words at the pervasive child-hate I see in the world. There is such strong resistance to any generosity toward children, against seeing children as innocent. 

Is it possible that people are not able to comprehend what 'innocent' means in terms of a child's motives?

Why is there such a fight against taking children's emotional reality seriously, particularly if that reality shifts or changes over time? 

While insisting on being a free individual, unique and special in every way, so many adults look at children as if they are only allowed to be one thing, fit into one box, express themselves in one way for all time. It is presumed that nothing a child experiences is different from the way an adult experiences it, therefore, it is assumed to be true that:
  • Children cannot be hungry in the night, because I'm not.

  • Children cannot be genuinely frightened of anything, because I can't guess what that might be.

  • Children cannot be lonely or insecure or in pain in the dark night, because I am completely numb at night.
    Swallows poop by David Leip

  • Children are constantly trying to get their own way, as are all people, I know that because I am.

What a pile of guano.

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