Tuesday, December 26, 2006

How can instinct be incorrect?

Every instinct I have tells me that I should pick up my son and comfort him when he cries. Every instinct I have tells me that if he wants me, I should go to him. I want J to know that I am there for him, and that I will always be there when he needs me. I want him to feel safe and secure and loved.

I love my son. I love holding him, rocking him, singing to him, kissing him. I love snuggling him to sleep at night and reassuring him. He has said that he needs this, and I have been happy to meet his needs.

But now, he has started to awaken through the night, to refuse to be put down to sleep at all, and to demand constant cuddles. H and I can't get any sleep, and we can't help but feel that our son should not sleep in the bed with us, even though he really wants to and we don't particularly mind cuddling him all night long.

Tonight, I read J some books before bed. Then I cuddled him and his teddy bears until he was nice and calm. And then I picked him up and moved him to his crib, despite his protests. I laid him down, kissed his head, said goodnight, and left the room. And J screamed.

I went downstairs and cried.

J is still in his crib, quiet but awake. He has been quiet but awake for quite some time now. My child does not know how to fall asleep on his own, because I have failed to teach him. And I feel emotionally drained and like a bad parent, because I have failed him in this.

Tonight, I will not pick up J when he awakens. I will hold my ground. I will not be manipulated by my child.

And it will hurt. And I will cry. But at the end of the night, God willing, I will emerge victorious. I will be the parent in this scenario.

But all I will want to do is hold my son and comfort him ... it's going to be a long night ...


Liz said...

Ya know, I am aware that you have no intention of being critical of anyone else's parenting choices, but please refrain from referring to yourself as a bad parent for certain parenting choices that you have made.

Personally, I have made the choice to cuddle my children to sleep and to let them come and sleep in our bed if they wake up in the night.

This choice is supported by many parenting "experts" such as Dr Sears.

There are other bedtime parenting choices that can be made and are supported by many other parenting "experts".

Following one parenting ideology as opposed to another doesn't make anyone a bad parent.

I find that I identify with the "Attachment Parenting" philosophy more than any other. It makes the most sense to me as a parent, although I don't follow it slavishly, I use the parts of it that are useful and make sense for me.

Other people choose to follow different parenting philosophies. I respect their choices because everyone is trying to do the best that they can for their children.

I don't think that your child doing his best to let you know what he wants/needs is manipulation. It is communication and should be encouraged. Calling it manipulation is an adult projection. He is not old enough to have the mental capacity for manipulation.

If you want to try the "teach them to go to sleep on their own" methods, I know some good books I can refer you to. I have made different choices about putting my children to bed, but that does not make either of us "bad parents". What works for some parents doesn't work for all.

Trish said...

I am not being critical of anyone else's parenting choices. I am being critical of myself. I tend to do that.

I love cuddling my boy to sleep at night. That makes me happy. H and I are disputing what way is correct and what we want to do. That makes me miserable. This is just me, in a mood, feeling badly about myself. And I'm expressing that in my blog, which I think I have every right to do.

So no, I don't think that every parent who snuggles their child to sleep at night is a bad parent. I just feel insecure about myself and my abilities. That is all.

Trish said...

Also: I said that I feel like a bad parent. Not that I, nor anyone else, is a bad parent. I am entitled to feel any fool way I like, whether it is ridiculous or not! ;)

Trish said...

And one last little thing: You and pblog are two of the best parents I know. Please never ever think that I would be so bold as to criticize your parenting choices. That would be stupid of me.

Liz said...

Of course you have the right to express how you feel. If I were offended or insulted by anything that you wrote I would take it up with you in person and I trust you to do the same.

It upsets me when you say you feel like a bad parent because it is so very far from the truth.

If I am a good parent and still rock my child to sleep, isn't it silly to call yourself a bad parent for wanting to do so?

It is only a question of timing. When is the right time for a child to be able to go to sleep on its own? The answer is different for different children and different parents.

I certainly don't feel that I have failed my children in any way by rocking them to sleep. When the time is right for both me and them, they will start going to sleep on their own.

If you have decided that the time is right for you now, that certainly doesn't imply any failure for not doing it earlier. If the time is right now, then, by extention, the time would have been wrong earlier.

Of course, I am not inside your or J's head so I can't know if now is the right time for you or not. You have to trust your gut.

Trish said...

Thanks for that. It's hard to know when the time is right. The feelings of guilt the other night were caused by a dispute with someone who has this wonderful ability to make me feel just terrible about myself and all of my decisions. (Don't you just hate it when that happens?)

I'm glad I have friends like you in my corner. I'll try to not feel bad about myself and my parenting skills. But it's bound to come out from time to time.

And yes: I too would take up any offence with you in person. 'Cause I'm a grown-up, and that is what we do. No offence; no insult. Just happy you're here, in my corner!

Ciao, babe.

Liz said...

The Baby Sleep Book by Dr Sears is very good and available from the public library.

Trish said...

Thanks! :)

J is doing very well with the sleep thing now, actually. It only took the one night for him to get better at it. Now, we put him in his crib, and he cries as we leave the room and then goes right to sleep. He sleeps through the night this way, too.