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Why Generalizations Suck

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

If you home school your kid, they will be extremely intelligent, but socially inept.

If your kids go to public school, they'll barely be able to read and will do drugs at age 8.

If you breastfeed, you'll NEVER be able to be separated from your child.

If you formula feed, your child will have non-stop ear aches and colds until they are four.

If you home birth, you must dance naked in the yard under a full moon and then eat the placenta.

If you use an OB you'll be sliced stem to stern.

If you co-sleep, your child will stay in your bed until they go to college and you'll NEVER have sex AGAIN!


When will we move past the point of taking one potentially bad outcome of a situation and applying it to anyone and everyone that chooses that route in life?

The Columbus Dispatch ran an article this past week about co-sleeping. It was one of the most ridiculous pieces of so-called journalism that I've ever read. (Of course, I have to remind myself that journalism classes no longer include that part about telling both sides of a story...)

Now remember, I'm not really a co-sleeper, but I do support the ideas behind it.

You guys will just looooooooooove this...

On the second floor, Harrison, 5, is splayed, sideways and snoring, across his parents' king-size bed — having muscled his mother out and pushed his father, 35-year-old photographer Paul, to the edge.

Any of you co-sleepers out there actually let your children push you out of bed? Cause last time I checked, co-sleeping doesn't mean giving up your authority as a parent. Oh wait...sorry, we're talking about sensationalist press here...CLEARLY if you let your children sleep with you, you must give up ALL control.

Let's continue...

The couple aren't alone in not being alone in their bed.

They also aren't happy about the "family bed," which has inched its way into the mainstream among indulgent parents who fail to set limits for their children.

"It is everybody's Achilles' heel, I think — this rotating and not sleeping," she said. "Yet it is so gross to think you've ended up with a family bed."

Um....yeah. If you aren't happy about the "family bed" why don't you stop having a family bed? Once again...any of you co-sleepers out there that would allow your children to continue to sleep with you if it was no longer working for your family and you weren't getting any sleep?

Because yeah...sounds to me like these aren't "co-sleepers," they are indulgent parents who fail to set limits that just happen to co-sleep. So rather than lumping all co-sleepers into the "indulgent parents who fail to set limits" club, let's call a spade and spade instead of dubbing every single garden tool a spade.

More than a decade after infant-sleep expert Dr. Richard Ferber warned parents against co-sleeping and advocating a "cry-it-out" approach...

Oops...sorry. Just had to throw that line in there so that you could all laugh at Ferber STILL being referred to as an "infant-sleep expert."

Back to the train wreck...

"Everyone I know has been to some sort of sleep center," said Liz Lange, the maternity-wear designer, who "went the sleep consultant route" for help with the peripatetic nighttime ways of her son, Gus.

Umm...ok. Now see, I understand that there are kids that have sleep problems. I GET that there are children that just will NOT stay in bed at night. And yes, these kids (and their parents) probably need some help getting things figured out. That may mean a family bed (if the FAMILY is happy with that solution) or it may mean getting help in coming up with a plan to get the child to sleep in their own bed...


Does anyone else see a pattern here? Very rich, very famous parents that, as Lange puts it, "work long, hard days and come home exhausted" and then have trouble having the energy to actually enforce ANY discipline on their kids?

(...and don't ya love how the author threw "peripatetic" in there to look smart? It means "walking about".)

Listen to what Lange says...

"By the time I get into bed at night," she said, "I've really had it. I can't spend from 1 to 3 in the morning running back and forth, moving them back to their beds. I will tell you that my daughter does kick and spin. My husband will swear she pulls the chest hairs out of his chest. But if I don't make an issue out of this, I do — we do — get a decent amount of sleep, at least six hours. The only thing that gives me a little bit of hope and comfort is the thought that I'm sure I won't have teenagers sleeping in my bed."

In other words...it's hard work being a parent. I think I'll just let my kids run amok and hope that some day I get more sleep.

Uh huh...

Anyone else read this article and think "this has nothing to do with co-sleeping, this has to do with lazy parenting?"

Quite honestly, I've yet to meet a co-sleeping family that has these types of issues.

It's kinda like the mom on SuperNanny that everyone wanted to dub as being "AP" simply because she was breastfeeding a 14 month old and carried her around a lot. (We'll ignore the fact that she hit, slapped and spanked her kids non-stop.)

Co-sleeping isn't the problem here folks, lack of parenting is.

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  1. Blogger Cairo Mama | 1:26 AM |  

    There are many families happy with "the family bed". If using terms like "family bed", "co-sleep" and "sleep sharing" that co-sleeping advocates use, the reporter should have interviewed co-sleeping advocates.Co-sleeping works for my family. I didn't plan to do it, it just felt natural.

    Columbus co-sleepers need to get to know some reporters to get some positive stories in the papers.

    The Erie Times-News (Erie,PA) is putting out an article on doulas next month and while I was living there last year, did an article about breastfeeding triplets and a woman banking milk after her baby died. And that is little, Erie, PA.

    Start calling the reporters in the health and lifestyle section and pitching article ideas. Is that the only paper in town? Go to the other paper, if there is one.

    You should think about a press release for the Lactivist BBQ. Bombard them with press relleases and eventually they will get tired of writing about the same thing from the same perspective.

  2. Blogger analisa_roche | 9:47 AM |  

    I *think* this article was in the NYT. My friend sent me a link to it a couple of weeks ago.

  3. Blogger Eilat | 10:21 AM |  

    I didn't read the article, but the excerpts you provided sound a whole lot like a New York Times article that I read a week or two ago. Extremely similar. They either plagiarized the article or re-printed it.
    This article is not about sleep. Its really about discipline (or lack thereof). An of course by discipline, I don't mean "punishing" or "spanking", but boundaries, limits and respect.
    The lack of discipline can manifest itself at night with sleep issues. This article could just as easily have been about parents who cant stop their kids from eating junk food or any other family issue.

  4. Blogger Judy | 10:53 AM |  

    Am I allowed to talk to your other commentors?

    Cairo Mama, the Dispatch sucks. There actually is a paper in Columbus called The Other Paper, but I don't think it would cover co-sleeping. The Dispatch has had an agenda for years and their editorials are generally absurd.

    Loosely related sidenote:

    A first grader last year related a story to me about his non co-sleeping family. They put a gate up so he could not get into their room at night. He said he broke down the gate to get into his parents' room anyway. Trying not to laugh, I said, "You don't do that anymore do you?" He said like he was a big boy, "Nope, not since I turned six."

    Gotta love kids.

  5. Blogger Shay | 12:53 PM |  

    We didn't plan to co-sleep. At first I was completely against the idea because of what I'd heard , the whole you'll roll over and smother the baby, You'll never have sex again etc. I found we sleep better and I never once even went close to rolling over on my baby, even asleep, how do you miss an eight pound child?

    I agree, that co-sleeping isn't working for this family not because it's a bad idea but because they do not set limits. Similar to people who say "Once the kid can lift up your shirt, it's time to wean." Well you can nip that in the bud if you are consistent with your boundaries.

    Journalists very rarely tell both sides of the story because this kind of story gets more readers. Maybe if enough of the readers demanded better, we'd see better.

  6. Anonymous amygeekgrl | 1:13 PM |  

    holy smokes - that's ridiculous! this line especially pissed me off - "...the "family bed," which has inched its way into the mainstream among indulgent parents who fail to set limits for their children."
    we do choose to co-sleep and it works for us, but it's not because we are indulgent parents who fail to set limits for our children. there's no way we'd keep it up if we were unhappy with it.
    i'm with you that it sounds like lazy parenting involved here - not attachment parenting. it sucks that it gives ppl who consciously AP a bad name though.
    ugh. this kind of "journalism" infuriates me.

  7. Blogger Jennifer | 1:57 PM |  

    Judy, you can talk to anyone you want. Sometimes, they even talk back. ;)

    And yes, the Dispatch generally sucks, though they did write very nice articles about our Delta nurse-in and the City Kids Day Care incident.

    The article DID appear in the NY Times, it was reprinted in the Dispatch.

  8. Blogger The Fluffy Ewe | 3:32 PM |  

    Ugh! Makes my head spin. My friend in GA homeschools and she gets the same stereotyping about her kids.

    I swore I'd never have my kids in the bed with me. That was, of course, before I had kids and not getting a good night's sleep wasn't an issue. Son the Oldest slept on my chest for several weeks as a babe since this was the only way he'd sleep at night. You gotta do what works for you and if the staus quo isn't working then time to change gears. For me that was putting the baby in bed with us. I am blessed to have a husband who doesn't mind the baby in the bed with us. Heck, Son the oldest was back in our bed shortly after he turned two until he was about 2.5. The baby has yet to sleep in his crib since he is either between us or in the pack n play next to me.

    It's the people who begrudgingly put their kids in bed with them that give co-sleeping a bad name. They don't like it but are out of options and are tired. Sounds like laziness to me too. I have been in that situ and cosleeping was my happy choice. Now we lay in his bed until he is drowsy/asleep and then leave his room.

    I do remember a lady giving me the riot act for having the baby in the bed with me. She actually looked miffed when I retorted with factual bennies of co-sleeping! Lol

  9. Blogger cooler*doula | 5:46 AM |  

    Yup - it's a reprint of the NYT article. And I agree - what they're describing is not a co-sleeping issue, but a lack of parental discipline.

    We co-slept with Josh until he was about 1. Not, at nearly two, he sleeps happily in his own bed. Not a crib, a bed, that he could choose to get out of, but doesn't.

    That article drove me nuts the first time I read it. Grrr.

  10. Blogger vasilisa | 2:59 PM |  

    Just found your blog, and really liked this post.

    We co-sleep with our son. Wasn't really by choice, just evolved that way. But -- he sleeps on average 10 - 12 straight hours, and doesn't kick anyone out of the bed. As a result we are all rested and it just works.

    And he's a very happy, bright and well mannered (for a toddler) kid.

    Generalizations really do suck...

  11. Anonymous aruni | 7:16 PM |  

    I agree that generalizations cause more problems than they 'attempt' to address. Our son was a pretty bad sleeper from birth. We used to joke that we could not watch a 2 hour movie without him waking up. He's now 4 1/2 and I'd say he sleeps without a peep maybe 4 to 5 days out of the week. Other days he wakes up and cries or comes to our room (which is OK with us as long as he doesn't yell for us). He was in a co-sleeper next to our bed for the first 8 months of his life {I would have gotten no sleep if he was in the bed) we then moved him to his crib and his own room. Needless to say we ended up getting up several times a night but the wake-ups he had would have happened even if he was right next to us! We tried letting him cry it out a few times but we just didn't feel it was right and eventually we decided it was his personality and we would work with him to deal with it. He is an absolute great kid during the day..very happy, gets along with everyone, normal, very high enery, toddler/kid stuff...so he was getting enough sleep.

    Now our daughter who is almost 2 was a good sleeper from birth. She also slept in a co-sleeper next to our bed for about 6 months. We put her down in her crib at night and unless she is sick we don't hear from her until the morning (sometimes she wakes up a bit too early for our taste -- but at least we can watch a TV show or a movie without having heart attacks)!

    So in my opinion, it all depends on the child, the parent, and the home environment, etc. We have friends who still sleep with their 4 year olds and friends who are staunch 'don't come near our bed' folks...so as long as the kid seems OK and the rest of the family isn't miserable then....

  12. Blogger marybeth | 11:33 PM |  

    just found your blog...and i totally agree with you. great post.


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