Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Torture? Really?

For days now my Twitter feed has been full of people asserting that I've tortured all of my kids. This cartoon was being retweeted all over, praising Leunig for identifying what controlled crying is all about. Since then I've seen a whole lot of commentary about how controlled crying is cruel and torturous, and about how it's used only by the ignorant or the poor victims of society. I'm sorry, but I call bullshit.

I understand that there are many ways to parent. I get that controlled crying, in any form, isn't going to work for some people. Attachment Parenting advocates, for example, are not going to find this helpful. However, we are not all AP people. AP would NEVER work for me, but it works for lots of people and produces happy, balanced kids. I've also seen AP fail badly - but that doesn't mean AP is a failure - it just means it didn't work for those people in their circumstances. It's not reasonable to condemn an approach because sometimes it doesn't work.

So WTF gives with equating controlled crying with torture, with our government's abominable treatment of asylum seekers, and with inevitable despair and hopelessness? Do any of these people seriously think those of us who used some variation of controlled crying did so by locking our kids in their rooms without support, without love, without a whole swag of strategies to teach our kids how to settle themselves and sleep? CC is one small part of how I'm living with, teaching and loving my kids. The way I used it varied considerably between each child, and at different ages for each child. I'm fairly confident none of my children are despairing, detached and hopeless.

My eldest child possibly owes his life to CC. A friend of mine told me she dealt with the endless screaming with earplugs. That's cool, but it wouldn't have worked for me. The details of his path to sleep and happiness are too tedious to go into, but I came close to losing my shit once, and I'm glad I had CC in my repertoire (along with lots of other stuff) to get through that stage. The other two were each very different kids, and I used different versions of CC with each of them. There was very little crying at all with second born, as it happens. We're now well past all that, although we're still working through teaching the youngest to deal with her nightmares on her own. I imagine we'll still be doing that for a year or two more.

I could go through all the complexities of the way sleep was managed in our family, what the benefits were for us, why those benefits matter a great deal to us, but may not matter so much for other people and so on, but ultimately, it doesn't matter. The point is, if you're condemning me for torturing my child, you are presumably not one of the people for whom CC can be a helpful tool. You are probably approaching much of your parenting from a very different angle. I salute you. I would not inflict my style of parenting on you any more than I would fuck up my family by attempting a parenting style that I would be doomed to fail with. However, if you want to pass judgement on the way other people do things, may I respectfully suggest you make sure you're not somewhere in the vicinity of the first bump in this graph? Please?

Image credit: Meanwhile In Canada

(I should point out I recognise Mount Stupid, I've climbed right to the top too many times to count, so I'm only asking people to slide on down the other side, no hard feelings.)


  1. Late to this - I've only just caught up!
    I believe many people who criticise CC have not bothered to read a book and assume that they know what it is. CC is returning to settle your child again and again (but just waiting slightly longer every time.) They assume it's just putting the kid down and walking away, full stop.

  2. I think you're right. Even though I did end up just putting my eldest down and walking away, that was certainly not "full stop". There was a lot of settling and other things that went on before I found that leaving him actually resulted in less crying than any other option (including baby wearing). It isn't just a formula applied regardless of the nature of the child.