As soon as my first baby was strong enough to turn her head, she was ready to see the world. She wanted to look OUT. Well, that was a virtual impossibility while nursing since I didn't have detachable breasts. My milk production suffered due to her disinterest, and feedings ultimately turned into two-hour-long nightmares. So, I switched to formula. She was happier. I was happier.
My second child nursed like a champ. If there were milking competitions for lactating mothers, I would have taken the blue ribbon - hands down. Feedings were a piece of cake. I could have nursed him with my eyes closed (as a matter of fact, sometimes I did). He was done in 15 minutes flat and his squeezable cheeks and meaty thighs confirmed he was well-nourished.
One mother. Two babies. Two parenting methods.
This is not a debate over breast-feeding. The point I'm trying to make is that you do what works. I have two children with two very different personalities, and I utilize whichever parenting methods get me through the day [mostly] sane. Sometimes they are different for each kid.
A few days ago Ilana Wiles of Mommy Shorts, a very popular mom-blogger, began sleep-training her children. She advertised this was happening on her Facebook page, along with a start time, so other parents who were doing the same could join the discussion in support of each other. I don't have infants or toddlers, so the topic didn't apply to me, but I sporadically followed the post throughout the night anyway.
I personally am not very familiar with sleep-training, seeing as I don't think I've "trained" my kids to do jack shit outside of recognize the change of inflection in my voice from, "I'm not terribly upset about this just yet," to "I'M ONE SECOND AWAY FROM LOSING MY SHIT!" Which, in my defense, is helpful in its own right. But, I digress.
My understanding is that sleep-training is an extensively researched, very popular technique that basically reinforces self-soothing at bedtime. You put the baby to bed and, if they cry (which they will), you check on them in 10 minute intervals. Sometimes the crying stops after a few check-ins, sometimes it goes on for hours. It's generally a couple of really challenging nights, but the desired (and usually successful) outcome is that the baby gets on a regular sleep schedule without waking during the night. Hooray! Right?
Well don't get too excited just yet. In her post (because she is a smart and insightful woman) she "respectfully requested" that anyone who didn't agree with sleep-training please refrain from commenting negatively on the thread. Was there really a need to make that plea? Do you think everyone honored her request? Of course there was and hell no they didn't! After all, isn't it our job as mothers to tell other mothers when they are doing something we don't happen to agree with?
No. It's not.
Why is it so hard for moms to just support each other? To give advice when it is solicited and to cheer each other on when we're struggling? I don't get it.
Throughout the comments thread, some women actually had the audacity to respond, "Shame on you."
Shame on you?
For letting a baby cry in 10 minute intervals until she fell asleep? All the while being monitored from another room? All in hopes of a happier, better-rested baby, pre-schooler, Mom, and Dad?
That deserves a "Shame on you"?
How about we reserve the "Shame on you's" for the parents whose children are legitimately neglected. The ones that turn a blind eye when their babies are being beaten and abused by family members. The ones that tell their children that they are worthless. The ones that don't show an ounce of love or compassion to their son or daughter, leaving that poor little soul wandering through life feeling like they don't matter.
That's when a parent deserves a "Shame on you".
Not when they employ a parenting technique that's just not your cup of tea.
I am not writing this in a rally of defense to Mommy Shorts. She's got a huge following and as a result I'm sure she's learned to grow a thick skin. So, I don't doubt that she let all the negative comments roll off her back.
Neither am I writing this in support of sleep-training. I get my 8 hours, so whatever you and your kids do after dark is your business.
I'm writing this because I'm so incredibly sick of the mommy wars. Parenting is hard enough without constantly having to be on the defensive about the choices we make. The majority of us are just trying to do what we think is right for our family. That doesn't mean it's right for yours.
And that's okay.
If you don't agree with the way someone parents, DON'T DO IT THAT WAY! But, unless they are doing something undoubtedly harmful to their child, shut the fuck up.