If I said to you, "your baby is going to grow up emotionally unattached, because you let him sleep in his own crib", you would yell "Poppycock!" (or use some other form of strong language).
You would be right to do so. Making such a broad prediction about a child based on a family's sleeping style is not only taking a rather limited view of child-rearing, it's insulting.
So why is it considered ok by some to say that co-sleeping families are sure to raise indulgent, dependent children? I've been hearing this opinion about our own family's decision to co-sleep, since before Claire was born.
I read it again recently in the comment section of an article entitled "Have American Parents Got It All Wrong" in The Huffington Post. The gist of the article is that parents in other countries do a better job bringing up independent and self-reliant children. The reader commenting shared her opinion that co-sleeping is adding to the problem of needy kids in America.
The ironic part is that some of the countries touted in the article as raising more independent children have high rates of co-sleeping. The National Institute of Health compiled data that showed that 88.2% of Korean families co-slept with their children aged 12-82 months. Data from another study showed that 65% of Swedish families co-slept at three months.
Honestly, I'm not even trying to make a case for co-sleeping here. Other countries that were mentioned in the article have much lower rates of co-sleeping. The same study found that 23% of German families co-sleep at age three months.
I do have a challenge for the woman who wrote the comment critical of co-sleeping, though. I dare her to stand in a room with 10 kids and tell me which children slept in a crib as a baby and which did not. I bet she couldn't.
Parenting is not so simple. It's not an all or nothing game. The idea that a baby's level of independence while sleeping results in greater autonomy later in life is as narrow-minded as the idea that a baby's dependence equals more connectedness. Individual personalities and characteristics of children that have nothing to do with parenting styles surely come into play. Then, there are the millions of interactions between parent and child that take place during daylight hours. I'm sure there are plenty of bed sleeping children who are cautious, just as there are co-sleeping children who are risk-takers.
And, lady, just plain stop the judging. My gut feeling about parenting styles in general is that children intuitively know when you believe in the way you are raising them. If you are confident in your decisions, they will be too, which will go a long way in growing secure and capable beings.
Paradoxically, too, our children are going to struggle in life, because of and despite of some of our parenting choices. We must be humble enough to admit that there is much about parenting that is out of our control. Wouldn't it be great if we could just all be there for one another when our children falter, instead of finding fault or blame?
And, speaking of judging. I don't know why anyone cares when, how, where and how often my husband and I have sex, which is yet another preoccupation of the HuffPo commenter and many others who are critical of co-sleeping.
Worry about your own marital bed, lady, not my family bed.
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