Thursday, March 11, 2010

Do Parenting Blogs Need to be Divisive?

Just last week, we spotted a blog that had been highlighted on one of the major news websites. The blog had been written in defense of using baby videos. The author was upset about the backlash against the “Baby Einstein” videos after research indicated they offered no educational benefits for babies. She described her use of YouTube videos to distract her baby when she needed an occasional moment to herself and defended the use of baby videos as beneficial for parents. I was interested in this perspective because I had written a post about the potential for videos to be barriers to interactions between babies and their parents. But the post itself was not what I found to be so remarkable, it was the comments that really opened my eyes to the polarization of parenting that seems to be so extreme these days. After our own posts about sleep training elicited so many passionate comments (a few were unprintable), I felt the need to re-emphasize our purpose and approach for Secrets of Baby Behavior.

I am what you would call a late “baby boomer.” I entered the working world in the late 1970s and had my children in the 1980s. In those days, the biggest parenting controversies were focused on the increasing numbers of working mothers and the benefits and/or adverse effects of placing children in child-care. Working and stay-at-home moms were pitted against each other, both groups certain of their moral ground. How simple that all seems now! Parents today are battling about birthing practices, infant feeding, sleep duration and sleep arrangements, reading duration, media exposure, safety of toys, crying, waking, early education AND working and childcare. No wonder you are all so fed up! It seems with so many people are fighting about parenting issues, our “villages” (reportedly needed to raise children) are at war.

When we wrote the posts about sleep training, we intended to warn parents searching for a panacea for their sleep-deprivation that they might be disappointed. We understand that some families find the “cry it out” methods logical and appealing. For some babies, the process will work but for many others, it won’t or at least, it won’t work for very long. If well-intentioned parents have gone through the stress of the “cry it out” nights without the desired results, what are they supposed to do? Many tired parents end up rocking their babies to sleep every night, or wearily waiting in baby's room with one hand hanging over the side of the crib, or relying on a family bed. Both the “cry it out” parents and the “rock to sleep” parents feel strongly that they have made the very best choice.

The realities of parenting include babies and parents with different needs and personalities. Parents naturally will defend whatever actions work for them; some might dismiss opposing ideas as criticism of their parenting skills. We have no need or desire to judge other parents. Our research has taught us that some parents need additional resources to make informed decisions. We realize that we are not able to solve parents’ sleep problems or provide tips that work for everyone. We appreciate all of the helpful comments and ideas that many of you have shared with us and we worry about those of you with so much frustration and anger.

One last thing…we think you have enough to worry about as parents. We have no wish to add to your stress. We are here to inform and engage you, not to judge you. We have no interest in participating in the blog battles, so we won’t.

Next time: Back to our readers’ questions!


  1. Keep up the good work with the blog! As first time parents with a 6 month old, we are finding it a valuable resource. One thing I've learned as a parent is that everyone has advice, its all based on their own limited experience of one or two kids and it all varies (often contradicts!). So I take that into account with all I read or hear. But your blog contains some of the advice which has proved very useful. Thanks!

  2. Thanks Dave! Our best wishes to you and your family.