The idea of a full night's rest is every parent's dream, but obtaining that rest can be difficult, to say the least. Many parents find success with the "cry it out" method, but not everyone is on board with the idea of allowing a baby to self soothe. While it's completely understandable that we would all have differing opinions, we also need to support one another because, well, parenthood is hard all the way around. There are things you can do to help a parent practicing "crying it out," whether it's your particular method of sleep training, or not.
Countless studies have confirmed that the "cry it out" method isn't harmful to children, when practiced correctly. Of course, every parent has a right to their opinion, and not everyone feels comfortable with this particular method, which is fine. What works for one family might not work at all for another. That pertains to parenting in general, but in my family's own experience, the "cry it out" method worked wonders. That's not to say that we didn't occasionally struggle with letting our son cry it out, because we definitely did, but we committed to the method and, as a result, we have two amazing sleepers who let us get some amazing sleep so, for us, the "cry it out" method is amazing.
I have a lot of friends who are also parents, and we don't all share the same methodology when it comes to getting our babies to sleep, but we definitely all have the same goals in mind. Though my family's methods have been ridiculed from time-to-time, I'm thankful to have a group of friends who support me, even when they don't necessarily agree with me. With them in mind, I've compiled a list of some things you can do to help a mom who is practicing "crying it out," because don't we all need more sleep?
Don't Question Her Decision
I had some friends who also practiced the "cry it out" method, and found success with it, but I had others who gave it a shot and felt like it just wasn't for them. While some parents I've met have made sour faces about us letting our sons self soothe, most of my friends never questioned our decision. If you've got a friend trying it out, don't question her. Let her figure out what does and doesn't work for her and her children, on her own.
Don't Make Rude Comments
This rule could be applied to every aspect of parenting, or, you know, just life in general. Disagreeing with someone's parental decisions doesn't mean that they're wrong, or that you're right. It just means that you have different opinions, and that's fine. Rude comments, however, aren't fine.
Let Her Vent
The process of getting a baby to sleep through the night can be frustrating for anyone, no matter the method they choose. For us, our first son was a breeze. We had a few frustrating nights in the beginning, but he was putting himself to sleep peacefully within a week of us sleep training.
Our second, however, was an entirely different story. It took weeks of constant attention and caution while attempting to sleep train him. There was even a point when I wanted to quit. I remember sitting at the top of our stairs, outside our youngest son's door, wanting to beat my head against the wall as I listened to him cry, because it felt like no matter how hard we tried, he wouldn't fall asleep. He just got angrier and angrier with each attempt. I would text my friends and family, swearing to never have kids again. I'd say things like, "This one is going to be the end of my sanity" and, "I'm going to develop a drinking problem if he doesn't sleep," all because the process was so frustrating.
If your friend is struggling with getting her child to self soothe, just let her vent, because more often than not, it's not an easy process. My second son got the hang of it after about a month, but it seemed a lot longer than that.
Don't Push Your Own Ideas About Sleep Training Onto Her
If you've got different ideas about how a child should sleep, that's perfectly fine. We don't all have to raise our children the same way, even when we want the same things. If you feel like your friend is doing it all wrong, don't push your own methods on her in a condescending manner. Advice is fine, but finger pointing is not.
Definitely Don't Tell Her She's Torturing Her Baby
Telling a mom practicing the "cry it out" method that she's "torturing" her baby is literally the worst thing you could ever say to her. No mother in her right mind is willfully "torturing" her baby. Babies cry all the time, so why does allowing one to cry at bed time suddenly become torture?
Don't Make Her Feel Guilty
Trust me, no one enjoys listening to their baby cry. Sometimes momentary sadness is necessary though, for the greater good of the entire family's sleeping habits. If hearing a crying or whining baby makes you sad, cover your ears while your friend is letting her child self soothe, but definitely don't make her feel like she's somehow neglecting her child.
Don't Judge Her
Really, just don't judge any parent who has differing opinions than that of your own. We all want what's best for our kids, but we all take different roads to get there. Judging one another causes tension and feuds and guilt that are all completely unnecessary in every parent's life.
Ask If And How You Can Help
Offering any mother your support does more good than you could possibly imagine. Getting kids to sleep on their own is frustrating no matter how you go about it, but knowing that you've got friends who are willing to help, even in the simplest way, is a major deal.
When my second son would never sleep, I remember texting a friend one long rant on procreation, and she responded with, "Is there anything I can do to help?" Just reading those words made me feel better. Someone just offering to help almost always gives the person in need of said help, a sense of relief. You might not agree with or understand your friend's parenting methods, but asking if there's anything you can do to help her makes her feel like you've got her back despite your differences, and that makes a world of difference in an exhausted mother's life.
When all else fails, just bring wine. It's the international symbol of solidarity, and it's safe to say that every mom on the planet could benefit from a glass (or two) every now and then.