Mainstream Parenting Ideas May Be Hurting Our Children



Sleep training. Crying it out. Not my thing. But it is for many parents. Does this sound familiar? At bedtime, you must be firm. You must make it clear that bedtime is not optional, that once the routine is over and they've had that "last hug" or last "drink of water," that they just need to go to sleep.

This battle of wills even starts when babies are newborns with us being told, "You must start putting them down when they're awake so they learn to self-soothe," and eventually leads to the idea that a baby needs to be put in their crib and left to cry, so they "understand" that it's bedtime and they must sleep.

We are convinced if we fail to do these things, our child will lack good sleep, the family will be exhausted, you will have no routine, everyone will be completely miserable, and your infant will "know" that they can "manipulate" you.

Did you ever wonder where these ideas come from, and why many other countries look at these practices as cruel and strange?

Psychology Today calls the practice an "Evolutionary Mismatch." People thought that extreme stern parenting is the only way to form your child into a righteous and productive member of society. Sounds fun! There are even some relatively recent parenting models that suggest that anything other than this type of parenting is un-Christian or ungodly. Oookay.

What it boils down to is that sometime during the end of the 1800s, there was also a large movement away from spirituality and a heavier interest in science for all the answers. Which produced John Broadus Watson's extreme book Psychological Care of Infant and Child that told parents not to cuddle, hug, and kiss their children that much because it "robbed the child" of time he could be learning about his universe. He even went so far as to say that he questioned if parents should even be able to raise children themselves, since science obviously could do a better job, and wasn't emotional about it. He was very firm in his insistence that well-parented children should be like robots.

Many still believe in this form of parenting. However, as Psychology Today points out, children just aren't made like that. Back in "the day," an infant or toddler who was alone in the dark was afraid they were going to be eaten. Parents now think, "There's no tiger," and therefore dismiss the baby's biologically designed needs ... however, that doesn't mean the baby doesn't still feel fearful and lonely. And they certainly aren't trying to manipulate or test you. In many other countries, it's really rather simple -- they believe a secure child is a happy child. And it's up to us as parents to make the child feel secure, even if that means you're protecting them from the tiger in the dark that you know isn't there. 

Do you think mainstream parenting ignores biologically designed needs?


Image via John Ovington/Flickr

baby development, bedtime, natural parenting, toddler sleep


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

hutch... hutchfam2007

I dont know many parents that leave newborns or infants alone to teach them to sleep.... older children, yes, not infants.

nonmember avatar hs

Yes yes yes! I never let my son CIO. He's now 3 and has no trouble with a sleep routine. He can also lay down in bed and go to sleep on his own or "self-sooth" as "they" say. I also smother him with hugs, kisses, and I love yous. The greatest joy in my life is when he lays down @ night or in the morning or @ any point during the day, he'll pause from his rough and tumble ways and say "I love you, mommy". I go purely off instinct as well as paying attention to my child's needs and as such, I'm raising an affectionate, caring child who has no trouble sleeping on his own.

cecil... cecillesmommy

I think that a lot of ppl are scared of "spoiling" their children.

skitt... skittlesfirehaw

Children should never be made to cry it out.Its a horrible outdated practice.Cosleeping is a much better alternative.

jpfsmom jpfsmom

Why is it in my moms group the three people that do the whole attachment parenting deal are always complaining from lack of sleep, complaining about their marriage and their children scream in horror if mom is out of sight for more than a second (they haven't peed alone since giving birth and rarely leave their mom's laps and were behind in milestones, meanwhile those of us that put our children in cribs early have tots sleep through the night, can leave our children with the grandparents or sitter without a tear shed and play independently at the playground.....hmmmmmm...coincidence perhaps. My observation is that most of the babies that cling to their mom like glue are insecure with their world. Just my observation. Seeing that my little brother slept with my stepmother until he was almost in middle school, I find co-sleeping a potential nightmare but that's just my opinion. Some moms need to create that co-dependency with their child to feel like they are a competant parent perhaps.

jpfsmom jpfsmom

Not a troll Sophie, just giving my observation. Besides the AP Mafia are notorious for spouting out "Cribs are cages" or CIO is child abuse!" Besides this what Christie lives for :).

Bridget Sampson Hudeck

This article is ridiculous- I have NEVER read a single sleep training book or article (and believe me I have read TONS) that say to leave your child alone in the dark and ignore them.   The whole CIO method has been given a bad name because people who are ignorant on the topic assume it means to put your child in bed and let them cry and cry until they pass out, with no interaction. Thats not the point of "cry it out" at all.  My oldest was a terrible sleeper, and I was able to ignore my own exhaustion, but when I looked at my sweet little girl going through each day grumpy and tired I knew I had to do something.

I also dont know people who ignore their babies cries, or who hope to raise robots.  There are always extremes, and on the flip side there are people who respond immediately to everything their child needs, wants etc.  If you have a baby/kid who is whining and crying all the time and you are giving them what they want then arent you doing them a disservice by not allowing them to learn and grow on their own?

nonmember avatar Emily

Dont' really care what the article says. I think this type of thing is really just another way of pitting moms against each other. We all do things in our own way. And we're allowed to do what works best for us. And - isn't there enough mom guilt going around these days? Why add to it? I say if you're going to try to tell a mom what is best for her and her kid walk in her shoes for at a while and then give your advice. I hate shit like this.

ms_mo... ms_morgan

I'm pregnant with my first child, and I have heard a LOT of conflicting advice on everything, from breastfeeding to sleeping to circumcision.  But the ONLY thing that has made sense to me was "do what works for you and your child".  CIO might be great for some kids, and might be detrimental for others.  I've known angels and brats from both sides.  I just feel that it depends on the child, and that is the ONLY advice that I am going to take to heart :)

1-10 of 171 comments 12345 Last