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Child Sleep and Parental Guilt: Part 1

Do you feel bad about how you are doing child sleep?

Does it feel wrong to want more sleep than you are getting?

At some point on every call I hear parents berating themselves for the way they are handling their child’s sleep. Sometimes it feels like I am sitting in the phone booth confessional. Can you tell I was brought up Catholic?  As I listen to mothers and fathers speak, what I want most is to absolve them of guilt.

Read Guilt Part 2 – I could blog on guilt every day!

Since my favorite sleep book in the last few years was Go the F**k to Sleep, by Adam Mansbach, I mostly want to encourage parents to be open to the following concepts.

  1. Lighten the F**k  up…Myself included. When I started Compassionate Sleep Solutions I was WAY more hard core than I am today. I have learned far more from working with real live families than I have learned in the loads of books and research I have read.
  2. No child has ever been harmed by too much closeness, too much touch, too much love – The biggest mistake parents feel like they have made is holding, rocking, nursing, and sleeping with their child for too long. I assure you that THEY, the children, are fine. However, if it is affecting your sleep, your sanity, your marriage – you can change what you are doing.
  3. Parenting is a practice, we do the best we can, a day at a time.
  4. We mess it up because life is messy and being human is one of the messiest parts of life – In the confessional I often hear this come out of a choked up and tearful voice, “Last night I yelled at my toddler.” Hell yeah. You are frustrated and irritated with being woken up five times in the night. Your frustration and irritation is a signal. Listen to it and do the next right action for you and your family.
  5. We make mistakes because we are human NOT because we are bad and wrong. – Of course we do not want to yell at our children and walk around in frustration and irritation. They want and deserve the best version of us. My best version is definitely a well rested version. Ask my children about sleep deprived mom. Yikes!

Do you feel guilty when your child cries and you don’t give him what he wants?

Do you feel guilty when you give your child what she wants to stop the crying?

Because believe it or not I hear both each day and often in the same conversation.

  • I feel guilty that it is so hard for my baby to fall asleep without me.
  • I feel so bad, am I ruining her chances of becoming a good sleeper if I nurse her to sleep every night?
  • I know I am doing everything wrong. I feel guilty that I am not allowing my child to learn how to self soothe.
  • I feel guilty that I let her cry for 15 minutes.
  • I feel guilty that I can’t let her cry for more than 5 minutes.

 

My idea of the perfect sleep scenario is not everyone’s idea.

My goal is to give you the tools to get where YOU want to get in regards to sleep. 

My job is NOT to judge what you have done or are currently doing.

My job is to assess what you want in regards to sleep and give you the adjustments you need to make in order to achieve your goals.

Guilt gets in our way and yet it can be a clear signal that what we are doing needs adjusting or changing.

My guilt in parenting tells me I need to do one of two things.

  1. Change what I am doing
  2. Accept what I am doing

Either way dropping the guilt is part of the solution.

I am the great absolver of guilt. If I had a magic wand that could remove one emotion from the parent’s already overflowing emotional plate it would be guilt. My parents most often hear me say this, “Oh sweetie save your guilt for worse things you will say and do to your children.” Seriously, if we are raising the emotionally intelligent children we are striving to raise, then they will not let us get away with it. They will call us on our shit. At least my children do.

More than once my 12-year old has said, “I wish your clients could see you now“. We laugh. I assure him that I am my clients. It is full disclosure in this practice of compassion. Full disclosure and compassion to and for myself and to and for the families I work with.

In my experience (over 10 years) of working with parents I have learned this.

  1. We all make the same mistakes.
  2. Often the mistakes we make affect the people we love the most.
  3. We all have the bad feelings associated with these mistakes.
  4. We all have the ability to learn and grow from every mistake we make.

Relax – Let go – Let Sleep 

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