Monday, April 29, 2013

Cry It Out

clouds at sunset

I never expected we'd be crying it out at bedtime this far into things. Six and a half years into it with kid #2, the screeching coming from upstairs would indicate otherwise.

I remember letting my firstborn cry. It nearly ripped my heart out. His desperate sadness was too much to bear. My husband cranked the volume on the TV and urged me to go outside. I insisted on listening and tried not to cry with the baby.

I let the second one cry too. She didn't make me cry, because she wasn't sad. She was pissed. Even as an infant, her first reaction was anger. You could hear the difference in my children's cries. The first was brokenhearted that I didn't come, but the second was aggrieved.

She is still aggrieved.

The best tactic to take with her is to ignore her. Once she reaches fever pitch, you then need to go in to calm her, or she will carry on interminably. Tonight I refused to do the latter. Tonight, I refused to engage. I gave myself a preemptive time out and told her I was done with the bedtime ailments, the getting out of bed, the sassiness, and the anger. I let her cry it out just as I did six years ago, except now she can shout my name and a woeful "Nobody cares about me."

An hour after bedtime, and she has worn herself out. She's also worn me out. The more they grow, the more things stay the same.

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27 comments:

  1. What Kind of mother are you?! It is yor job to meet their needs, comfort them, reassure them, not tear them down emotionally and ignore them. Your job is to put your needs last, selfish indeed. My heart hurts for your kids.

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  2. My heart hurts too! This and your "does windows" article left me feeling really sad for your daughter. How is it a "win" to take away something treasured by your daughter and then make her work to get it back. I'm not sure what has motivated your parenting style, but there are other ways to encourage love and respect between you and your children. It doesn't have to be a power struggle. It actually isn't a power struggle. It's about us, as parents, teaching, nurturing, guiding. Please reconsider your tact with your kids. This will only end badly :(

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  3. She is meeting their needs Anon. She is teaching her child that bed time is time for sleeping and rest, not goofing off and delaying things as much as possible. Kids need sleep to have proper brain development and she is helping her child get that. You are kind of a coward to not even sign your name to your comment.

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    1. Thanks for a supportive comment from someone who doesn't know me personally. I begin to think that I'm explaining things all wrong when the only understanding comments come from lifelong friends and all the others think I'm a horrible parent.

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  4. Are you for real?

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  5. encouraging the anger in the child, no matter what the child's temperament is not the healthiest of "tactics". it sounds like there's a lot of resentment you have for your daughter (vs your son), and I would look into why that is. also, why is it that babies are being forced into crying it out? did they do something wrong by wanting comfort, love and attention from their parents? your first instincts with your first child were correct, and you should always listen to your heart vs societal norms. please repair the disconnect you have with your daughter before it's too late. she shouldn't feel like her mom doesn't love her.

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  6. How awful to cry alone in your bed as a newborn, or at 6 years old... Like stated about, it is your job to mother them and nurture them... I feel awfully sorry for you LO's.

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  7. There are many ways to parent. To the anonymous commenters, if you are so confident in your positions, then you should own up to them and include your name and how many kids you have, and how many kids you've had to put to bed at night screaming for no reason other than to have you come back upstairs only to prolong bedtime and teach the children not to sleep. You should also include your credentials that make you such a parenting expert that you feel the need to come onto someone else's site and tell them they are a rotten parent. I hope that you are kinder to your children than you are to the author of this post. Are you teaching your children acceptance of other views? Are you teaching your children that, if you cannot say anything nice, don't say anything at all? Are you teaching judgment or acceptance? There is more than one way to be a parent, and this parent writing this blog and sharing her feelings with the world is an amazing mother and person. Maybe you should consider that before firing off missives about how great a parent you are and how rotten she is.

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  8. My first thought is obviously "that poor little girl." My second thought is that you sound very overwhelmed and should encourage help from husband/family. Children weren't meant to be raised alone. Perhaps with some help you can come to a more gentle bedtime solution for both you and your child. I wish I could come grab her and reassure her for you. Remember, no one ever regretted cuddling their children too much. Especially in light of all the recent tragedies.

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  9. Those "Nobody cares about me" cries as she does now are what she so desperately wanted you to know as a newborn. Care for her, love her. "This too shall pass". Bond with her. Let her know she can trust you.

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  10. I would like to go on record to say that I have known this mother my whole life, never once have I questioned her love for both of her children. I find it appalling to question her devotion as mother from a couple of blog posts and her tactics in raising her children. Let's take a step back here and reflect... walk a mile, if you will. The world needs fewer judges.

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  11. No, a child does not need to have their every want satisfied -- that leads to a spoiled child that can't operate in society. I should know because I am related to a child who's parent comes running each and everytime he cries, or whines, or talks and consequently this child is a horror to be with a lot of the time. He thinks the world revolves around him. There is a difference between being a loving parent who comforts a child when he or she is in pain or in need and a parent who coddles their child. Children also need "tough" love. This is just my two cents, but I also know this author and she has terrific kids that are in NO WAY neglected or wounded -- they are being parented and taught to be decent, loving, responsible adults.

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  12. As a dad of 3.5 (3 boys: 5, 3 and 6 mos. that live with me), and the elusive male parenting-blog-post-replier, I have to agree with Cry It Out. Its not a power struggle, its a negotiation. It's the child testing limits. I'm guessing the child was not locked in her room and could have escaped the supposed tyranny by leaving her room and coming downstairs.

    So, why didn't she---that's the test by which to judge Cynthia. She didn't come down because what she wanted was to get a reaction. That's it. She elevated the negotiation by yelling and screaming. By not giving in, Cynthia established that those tactics will not work. There are rules and kids need to learn to abide.

    We're parents. And as much as we want to be friends with our kids, we're not. They love us and we love them, and they need to know that. We're also their protectors, limit setters, and position them for success in life. A part of that is teaching them that life isn't all lolipops and rainbows. Sometimes they won't get their way. Being able to react to that rounds out a child's development. Kids that are constantly coddled and cannot deal with adversity are maladjusted to the real world.

    I work for a Fortune 50 company and see this behavior in the generations coming into the workplace now. Like 6 year olds in soccer, they want a trophy for just showing up. It doesn't work that way. They don't get promotions and pay raises just because they're here on time and do a sufficient job.

    Life is not fair. We don't always get our way. That is a lesson we can teach our kids. And we can do it in the safety of our homes when the stakes are relatively low.


    Side note: As the step-dad of a daughter who's about to turn 13 (the aforementioned '.5' bc she lives with her dad), I also know that its not the last time Cynthia is going to make her daughter cry. And vice versa.

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    1. Thanks, Shital, for taking the time to write a thoughtful, articulate, well-reasoned response (and for being a dad commenter--dads are parents too!). I'm not going to present myself as the strictest parent out there--I'm pretty sure my parents think I'm too lax--but I agree in concept with everything you've said and am doing the best I can to make it happen.

      As for the teenage years--my husband and son already (half-)joke that they are moving out when my daughter turns 14.

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  13. Firs rule of blogging: sometimes you have to let the commenters, especially the anonymous ones, cry it out.

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  14. Wow, I can't believe how much judgment is out there. Those willing to bash the author must not have read any of her previous posts in which she clearly adores and nurtures her children and approaches parenting very thoughtfully. Read, and you will see that her children are happy and healthy. Let's take that concern off the table right now.

    As for the choice to let her daughter "cry it out", sometimes as a parent you have to do the hard work. It stinks to hear your child cry like that. It takes a lot of fortitude to refuse to engage. However, there are times in parenting when both parent and child have to do the hard work in order to get to a desirable outcome. In this case, that outcome is for her daughter to learn about the rules surrounding bedtimes. At six years old she can grasp these concepts. And let's be honest here -- when an otherwise happy, healthy six-year-old screams, "no one cares about me" or "everyone hates me" or the like in the middle of a tantrum, it's just another method of manipulation to get a parent to engage. It's no different than screaming, throwing things, banging on walls.

    Yes, as parents we should attend to our children's physical and emotional needs. I would argue that by refusing to engage, by not indulging her daughter in this outburst, the author *did* attend to her daughter's long-term emotional needs by teaching her that this kind of behavior is not acceptable. This is a lesson that will serve her well at home, at school, and beyond.

    Cynthia, I applaud your willingness to share your experiences with some of the hardest parenting moments. Don't let the haters get you down.

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  15. I have to say that I didn't see any of this coming. Already this post is my most viewed and most commented upon and, as you can see, not always in a "you're doing a great job!" kind of way. I wasn't trying to make a point; just expressing everyday fatigue in one of life's many challenging parenting moments.

    Expect to see at least one blog post about issues these comments have made me consider. I need to let it percolate a bit to avoid a knee-jerk response.

    In the meantime, you can see some of my initial thoughts on the Flotsam of the Mind Facebook page. Check in if you are not already following along over there.

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  16. I missed the part where the blog writer asked for advice... We may all have our own parenting philosophies, but no matter how strongly we feel about them, unsolicited advice is almost always unwelcome.

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  17. I think you're heading in the right direction & I don't criticize you one bit. Your daughter is "testing" boundaries and you are not responding. Well done ~ I would however like to see you go a few steps further with helping her to understand the boundary and what happens when it's obeyed / rewarded and then the consequence / discipline if it's disobeyed. I find that children love boundaries & are more than willing in most cases to please their parents if instructed and trained. I think you would receive a great reward for implementing this - less chaos and a peaceful environment for everyone. (Maybe it's just me but I don't respond well to screaming, yelling or crying when it's not an emergency.) Best for you and your family.

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    1. I absolutely agree with you. What perhaps is not apparent in this post--either because it captures only a moment in time or because of poor communication on my part--is that this was only that--a moment in time, not a pattern of neglect. I have found that, with my more passionate child, her impressive reasoning skills deteriorate both with fatigue and anger. The boundaries and consequences are very clear, and I had repeated them calmly and without raising my voice. She either did not care to or was physically unable to do what was being asked of her. Discussing it further at that moment after several days of the same behavior wasn't going to resolve the problem. So this is where we were. Not an ideal solution for any of us.

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    2. Dear Cynthia, (12:52pm poster) Only you can reason, understand and deal with your children. None of us (out here in cyber world) are there to witness your challenges in parenting. I know from personal experience that it's hard to communicate anything worthy of understanding on a page, let alone a face to face conversation. Details matter. Everyone in todays culture has an opinion about everything and you will never be good enough or know enough to convince the haters, and there's a LOT of them. My husband has a saying, "Don't take advice from people who don't have the specific results you are looking for yourself". I pray, that at the end of the day, you evaluate your methods, intentions and results and if it's not working for you, seek counsel to change them. If you're the mother I think you are, a very good one, desiring the best for your husband, family and children, you will know if you need anything further than you're already giving/doing. And that, my dear, is a foundation of love that no hater can EVER take from you. As always, Best for you and your family.

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  18. A blog with an open comment box is asking for unsolicited advice, whether intentionally or not.

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  19. I have to post as an Anon, but my name is Jill H. I just want to say, as a parent and as a teacher, that I work with / spend time with young kids every day. The parents who do NOT set limits and who are always trying to make it there job to "fix" everything for their children are creating students who act completely helpless. These kids have no idea how to solve a problem or behave responsibly. They also have difficulty respecting authority, following rules/limits and creating/maintaining friendships due to the lack of problem solving skills. I think Cynthia was completely correct in the way she handled the situation. I would have done the same.

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  20. Hi Cynthia. I am somewhere between "This is not how I would do things" and "I totally understand though". It's tough for me to say what I would do in your shoes because I don't have an older child - my son is pre-verbal. We do not cry it out for sleep.

    When I was a child, from the time my memory starts, I remember crying it out. There was never any doubt that my parents loved me very much. I very quickly got the message that there were boundaries, undesirable behaviour, etc. I was rarely in trouble, an exemplary teenager, and an overachiever afraid of anything short of perfection in my adulthood. However, I'm not emotionally healthy. And one major thing came as a result of crying it out - I don't feel like my parents are there for me when I'm upset. Even as an adult with logic and reason on my side, sometimes I want my mommy. Unfortunately, I just don't feel comfortable talking to her. Sometimes, as happens in adult relationships, she upsets me. I don't feel comfortable talking to her about it. Sometimes I have things to say to her that would upset her. I won't talk to her about it.

    The trouble lies in that I am still going to have all the negative emotions and crap to deal with, whether or not she knows about it. So as a child, and now again as an adult, I live inside my head trying to figure out how I am "allowed" to feel. And that's pretty crappy. Most of the times I 'act out', even as an adult, there is something bugging me underneath it all that I just really need an appropriate outlet for.

    So later, when you and your daughter are discussing what happened, make sure you tell her that you heard what she said about nobody caring about her. Make sure she knows that it isn't true in any way. Make sure she knows that it's okay to be upset, and that you will be there for her to talk through her feelings. Get to the bottom of it.

    Good luck. I hope that all the comments spark some soul searching. Parenting isn't easy and we should never judge one another. I might not do as you have done, but I certainly understand where it came from.

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  21. Not sure what happened to my last post, but while I don't share your approach, I also cannot stand all the mommy wars on here. Why must we all judge one another? Why can't we just understand that we all do what we feel is best for our families? I don't share your approach (having been the six year old many times in my life), but I don't judge you. I understand that you love your daughter, and I'm willing to bet she understands that, too. Just do me one favour (from the once-six-year-old who cried in her room, too): Talk to her about what you heard her say, assure her you love her, and then ask her if there is anything she wants to calmly discuss after the fact.

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    1. Comments don't appear immediately because I moderate them for spam. As you can see, I have not been moderating them for negative commentary.

      Thank you for respecting my decision and agreeing to disagree. We all bring our own experiences to our parenting decisions, and I can see why you would differ based on your experience. Trust me that this is not a pattern of ignoring my child's needs, just an example of failing to give in to her pushing her boundaries (and my buttons). I appreciate more than anything a respectful, disagreeing voice.

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  22. I think it is interesting that 6 years you used the same tactic. Clearly she learned to be desperate for your attention.. Maybe if you had not forced her to go through it as a baby she'd be less demanding these days..
    And people you blog on the web you'll get opinions. Otherwise close it all off and write a diary.
    Susan

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