August 11, 2009

To sleep, per chance to dream.

Megan of Velveteen Mind recently wrote a beautiful post about her son going off to kindergarten and that bittersweet act of letting our children go. Sound familiar? Of course, since I had recently written about this just yesterday, I immediately related to the Megan's writing and thought it was eloquently put.

There was, however, one paragraph that I could not wrap my head around:
The easiest way to make life hard on your children is to make it soft for them. This applies far beyond school. It starts much earlier than school, as well. Remember this when you are sleep-training them. (Assuming your goal is not to co-sleep.) Yes, it is easier to just let them sleep with you, but those easy fixes may be doing long-term damage. Sure, you’ll all lose sleep for the few days it takes to establish sleeping in your own beds, but sooner than you’d expect you’ll all be sleeping better.

I have read Megan long enough to know that she was not trying to judgmental. While she had added the caveat "assuming your goal is not co-sleep" it was still frustrating to have co-sleeping compared to making life soft for my children, or taking the easy road in parenting. Caveats or not. I still, to this day, get comments to the effect that I am spoiling my children by co-sleeping with them (similar to the comments I received when I breastfed both of my babies past that Magical Milestone called "12 Months". ) So, yes - this is a topic close to my heart and I did write a guarded comment:
I agree with this post about how making things easier on your kids in the long run is not good for them. Yes! Absolutely! However, co-sleeping is not about making things easier on your kids! Please don't lump co-sleeping into this! Please. It is just a different approach to parenting babies. No, no....I will not hijack your comments on this topic, but I will say this - my husband, born in India, co-slept with his parents, yet managed to leave his home at the age of 18 with just a few rupees in his pockets, never looked back and made a life for him in this country. His mother pushed him his entire childhood towards this goal - all while co-sleeping.

However, my post is not about co-sleeping - longtime readers here know why precisely why I am such an advocate for co-sleeping. I am not rehashing that.

Rather, I wanted to write this particular piece because Megan's post was special in another way - her site is one of the few sites where I feel comfortable leaving a comment that may disagree (however slightly) with something the author has put out there.

In our blogging world, we have a fair amount of groupthink, way too many trolls and vast legions of fans all too willing to take up their torches in defense of their favorite bloggers. As such, I do not often leave comments that could be perceived as contrary - it is risky in this environment. I like my site the way it is - small and comfortable. The last thing I want to do is anger a bigger blogger and her fans. We have seen how that can go down and it is not pretty. I rarely say what I really want to say in the comment sections of posts with which I disagree.

However, Megan has built a site where the commenters are thoughtful and respectful. And they listen, even if they do not always agree. Because of the atmosphere Megan has fostered over there, it is one of the few sites where I even bother to read what others had to say.

If we could only all have that sort of place where discussion was encouraged and not punished.

Am I the only one having trouble finding places where I can actually open my big trap without fear of recourse?


Josh said...

Thanks for your comment on the Problogger post today. I am nominating you for best blog title of all time. You're obviously doing something that you get a kick out of. All the respect in the world. good luck to us both!

Take care, friend

Josh Hanagarne

Megan {Velveteen Mind} said...

I hope you never hesitate to at least try to speak your mind, wherever your blog road may lead you. If it doesn't go over well or just flat out blows up in your face, well, you'll save time by not going back to that blog, huh?

For the record, since readers don't always click links, that co-sleeping example was about sticking to your choices, not about the actual choices themselves. As someone who has chosen not to co-sleep with toddlers (for my own reasons), not sticking to that choice and waffling here and there can really bite you in the butt.

As waffling on any decision will do, which was the point.

And as I told another reader, this has reminded me that people that make even remotely "crunchy" choices are so used to dealing with so much crap that they sometimes see crap where there is nothing but marshmallowy "it's all about me" fluff.

Hell, sometimes I think just making the choice to be a parent is too much "crunch" for some people. ;)

It's a good reminder.

Unknown said...

I thought it was just my partner's family who made comments about how I'm going to need to stop nursing him soon since he's almost a year. I didn't realize that it was a problem for a mom to nurse after 12 months. What's so special about 12 months? Can a baby magically go from nursing 8 to 10 times a day at 11 months to not nursing at all by 12? I just want him to wean himself when he's ready, although I hope that he's ready before 2 years. I didn't realize that the general population expects you to stop at a year.

Melanie said...

I think its incredibly hard to accept different opinions on child-rearing mostly because we all want very badly to SUCEED at it. MOST of the time we are all just trying to do our best, but I think there are many like me who have little doubts "what if my kid turns out like a little smart-mouthed shit", etc etc and I think its those small "doubts" that make us defensive of our choices.

I feel like I have a chip on my shoulder about breastfeeding, because I chose not to breastfeed and apparently THAT choice is akin to child abuse..... I even read a blog where the blogger wishes formula would only be available by prescription when I read that I felt like I was being kicked in the teeth....people believe my choice is so ludicrous that I should have to get a doctors permission to do so!! Between that and seeing the negative reactions to my daughters hemangioma (cause DUH I MUST BE BEATING HER) I feel like I was extremely sensitive the whole first year of my daughters life. I tried really hard to not read more into things than were there.... I even lost friends last year, and while I am certain there were times I was over the top, I wish people had given me the benefit of the doubt, that maybe just maybe I was doing the best I could.

And to actually answer the question in your post (and stop the babbling I am so keen on doing) yes its hard to find a place on the internets where you feel like its ok to speak your mind.

Megan : Velveteen Mind said...

Ooh, it just occurred to me that I forgot to respond to the breastfeeding thing, so I had to come back.

I consider 12 months to be the absolute minimum for me to breastfeed. I've made it to at least 15 months with both boys.

I say screw the stink eyes. Or maybe "Get back to me after your kid's third cold in as many months." ;) Um, that's probably going too far, though, and a little too snarky. I don't even want to start that.

Christine said...

If you ever disagree with me I will hunt you down.

In the nicest way possible, of course.

There are some popular blogs where I ignore the posts but read the comments because I find the need people have to attack one another over personal matters to be fascinating. I consider it a study in human behavior and communication.

I also only like to watch the last 15 minutes of a reality show (at least one where people get voted off) for the same reason.

oddpolytropos said...

I almost never leave comments on sites, yours included, even though I was reading before Arun was born. Is that creepy, lurking for so long?

I've managed to wedge my foot firmly in mouth every time I post a comment to a blog or discussion board. I've never found the Internet as liberating as I think I should, that all women are created equal when it's just your words and thoughts. Social awkwardness does not care about the medium.

Mamma Sarah said...

Wow. You know I have to say that you HAVE gotten some very insightful responses over the years I've been "visiting" you and the kids here. I appreciate the banter and the flat out "if you don't like it... tough" attitude. You know, someone said it previous... we all want to be successful parents and it's hard to accept another's way of doing things. BUT I admit that you and others HAVE opened my eyes to another way of doing things, so I don't stay in a parent "box".

On BF... I only wished I could have lasted to 12 months with both kids, but then again... when you discover food allergies... well... you'll just have to read my blog about that now won't you. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I think this is a great discussion, and people are being very thoughtful, the truth is we all do things differently, some of us vaccinate, some of us don't. There is now ruler for how to raise our children and yet we as parents I think our constantly held to a standard made by other people, outside our home or families.

I am very tentative about putting my opinions in the comments for lots of reasons, not the least of which is that much like oddpolytropos said, there is still a level of social awkwardness.

Especially somewhere you feel safe. I feel safe in your comment section that if I make a joke you'll get it, but I'm afraid someone else won't and they will in turn head over to my site with negativity base on a misnomer or whatnot. I think online we tend to react quicker and more ferociously then we would in person.

As someone who teaches online I see a huge difference in how people interact with me online (short terse emails often lacking information-easily misinterpret "I NEED AN A IN THIS CLASS!!! or what?) than they to in a face to face class.

You had some great points here, some of it is just based on fear, fear that if I leave a comment someone doesn't like they will come to my blog and be ugly..and who wants their blog tp'd? It is my beautiful space..I don't want someone who doesn't know me to spray paint their opinions (which may actually be similar to mine, but maybe misunderstood) all over my blog.

It is an interesting discussion..but one fraught with hidden pitfalls.

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

Oooh, I'll top you X's co-sleeping past. My parents HAND FED my sister till she was 5. FIVE.


HAND FED. And she had to be strongly pressured into eating by herself even at that age. Oh, and can I go on a little bit more? They hand fed her on and off till she was about 8, especially if she was dawdling and they just wanted to get dinner over with. HILARIOUS. She refuses to acknowledge this now, by the way but the rest of us like reminding her.

Bethany said...

There are very few blogs I comment on any more for fear of being beat down. This is part of the reason I haven't blogged much. There is so much going on (personal, political, world, etc) that I would love to post on but don't because I don't want any nasty comments. Polite, reasoned disagreements are good. Nasty name calling, not so much.

I am so tired of people (quite often, mothers) who feel the need to make other people feel bad or question the choices they make in their own lives regarding their own children. You know my breast feeding story (I think you do) and I detest that some people criticized me for not breastfeeding.

Bah, didn't mean to go on and on. I'm glad there are some places on the web where a rational discussion can take place.

Olivia said...

I have certainly not commented on some blogs/posts because I didn't want to be the only dissenting opinion. Most of the time I figure it's worth upsetting anybody.

By the by, I have friends who co-slept (mattresses in the same room) with their kids till age 7 or so. Their 13 yr old daughter took it upon herself to apply to boarding schools far, far away. She got in, and will be moving away from her parents at age 14, while I was too scared to live far from mom until I was in my early 20s.

becky said...

Funny that I just see this post, as a friend and I were just talking the other day about comments and dissent. It is SCARY how commenters on some bigger sites will dog pile on someone who dares to disagree with the author. So yeah, I tend to avoid saying anything at all, because why would I want to invite that crap to follow me back to my little (and uncontroversial) blog?