Why Does Society Turn a Blind Eye to Some Forms of Child Abuse?

I woke to THIS ARTICLE this morning, naturally it was published by the Daily Mail. I later watched a feature on ‘This Morning’ interviewing the father. It later transpires the Martin Daubney, the author (and father) in this piece has also written several other nasty articles for the Daily Mail such as THIS ONE. What a lovely man he is, he clearly likes to shock with his (most likely over-exaggerated, one can only hope they are fabricated in order to get more reads and media attention!) tales of his life as a parent, his wife must be a saint.

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Times like this really hit home how much work there is to do to awaken the world, to help those that matter to realise that the way we treat our children has to change if we ever want a better world.

We need to wake up and realise that children aren’t an inconvenience, they are innocent beings who need us, rely on us to nurture them in the short period of time that we borrow them (for we never own them), we are raising the next generation of humanity, only so many don’t realise how important their job is, how much each action they take will have tiny ripples of effect – the butterfly effect of parenting.

The story in today’s Daily Mail really is nothing short of child abuse (and sadly not uncommon), yet read the comments – it is congratulated by so many, the crass ‘they’ve got to learn’, ‘you’ve got to be cruel to be kind’, ‘they need to know who’s boss’ comments – make this sort of behaviour perfectly acceptable in society. Imagine it in a slightly different scenario though. Imagine the same happened in an Old Folk’s home. Imagine a particularly “difficult” 90 year old gentleman who found it difficult to sleep at night, needing the reassurance of his nurses as he struggles to make sense of the world and his fears build, imagine the nurses becoming ‘fed up’ of him and making the decision to lock him into his room with a blanket, a pillow, a flask of tea and a commode. Would we find that acceptable? Would the Daily Mail publish a story on it? You bet they would, I would wager the title would read something like “Shocking Care Home Abuse”……….why so different for children?

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For those out there who really do still believe that young children should be treated and trained like animals, to protect the sleep and sex life of the parents (one has to question why the couple in question ever decided to have children in the first place?) let me explain briefly why I am so saddened by this treatment and the advice of many of our well known and well loved toddler ‘experts’ (yes Gina Ford, Supernanny, Tizzie Hall and Christopher Green I’m talking about you).

A young child’s brain is incredibly different to that of an adult, they are not ‘mini adults’, they do not think like us or feel like us. Take for instance a 3 year old, their brain structure is hugely different to that of a grown man or woman. Their neocortex – the thinking, analytical, rational, frontal part of the brain is grossly under-developed.

Let me explain in metaphor. Imagine a toddler’s brain is like a single storey bungalow, it has a kitchen, a bathroom and a sofa bed – everything needed for basic survival, but it is lacking the first floor of a two storey house, like that of an adult. The two storey adult brain has all the toddler’s brain has (the basic needs for survival) but the added first floor provides a whole lot more, it provides a study – a place for contemplation and a bedroom – a place for calmness and relaxation and a large mirror – for self reflection and the development of empathy. Now in the bungalow when a toddler is scared their emotions swirl around the rooms, but sometimes, lots of times, they become overwhelming and without a first storey to diffuse them in the contemplation room, they ‘flip out’ and escape easily just like smoke coming out of a chimney. In an adult though, any big feelings originating downstairs in the primal part of their ‘home’ can move upstairs where they can be diffused and rational decisions made. Toddler’s do not have this second storey, they do not have extra ‘rooms’ to diffuse their feelings, they do not have ‘rooms’ of contemplation and rational thought, they do not have a mirror to reflect on the feelings of others – they are not selfish they just cannot comprehend that other people may have different feelings to them, making them highly egocentric.

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Toddlers and preschoolers have raw emotion and no other way of dealing with it other than letting go or ‘flipping out’…..a ‘good enough’ parent understands this and understands that young children need our help to handle their feelings (clearl locking a child in their bedroom does nothing to help).

Now just as it takes builders a while to add a second storey to a house, so too it takes the architects and builders of a young child’s brain time to form the connections, join the bricks you might say, for the  next ‘layer’ of their brain. Under the age of 5 they definitely live in bungalows, in fact it can take right up to secondary school age for their extension to be fully completed and habitable.

That’s not all though……during childhood the way we treat our children can have a lasting effect on the structure of their brain, the way we treat them almost forms the architectural plans for their second storey. If we treat them with empathy and compassion, listen to them, honour their feelings and help them to feel validated, accepted and unconditionally loved, then the second storey will almost always go well. The plans will lead to well built walls and well connected water and electricity that will see them through for the rest of their lives. In short their ‘home’ will be a good place for them to live for many years to come – equipping them with all that they need.

What happens if we do not treat our offspring with compassion? What if we punish them, yell at them over and over, shut them in their own rooms, leave them in time out or on the naughty step, teach them that our love is conditional, that they aren’t ‘good enough’, that they must cope with their fears and big emotions alone (especially at night) because their feelings are unacceptable to us. What happens if we lock them in their bedroom in order that we get a good night’s sleep ourselves?

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What happens is that we alter the architect’s plans, our brickwork isn’t quite as optimal, our services connections not quite as plentiful and not just in the short term – forever more. In real terms we deprive the future adult of some of the connections (scientists call this ‘neural pruning’ – taking away some of the brain connections that are not reinforced) and we scrimp on some of the raw materials which can have a knock on effect on the integrity of our building (in real life terms a child who is not raised with compassion is likely to have a hippocampus – a part of the brain – that is much smaller than that of a child is treated with compassion, what effect does this have? The hippocampus plays a big role in many emotional facets of behaviour including the mediation of emotional responses).

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These ideas are discussed in this wonderful TED film:

So I guess the question we must ask ourselves as parents is “what matters more?”

What matters more? A full night’s sleep or responding to our child’s needs?

What matters more? Putting our needs first or those of our child?

What matters more? Living only for today or thinking of tomorrow?

What do you think matters more?

Sarah

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About SarahOckwell-Smith

Sarah Ockwell-Smith, Parenting author and mother to four.
This entry was posted in Preschoolers, Toddlers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to Why Does Society Turn a Blind Eye to Some Forms of Child Abuse?

  1. julienne says:

    It’s really sad to hear. I would have gone in and at least put him to bed. We have an anxious 3 year old who hates being alone. Day or night. We have had so little sleep however would not go to that extreme. We want to raise our kids to be nurtured, loved and cuddled at every moment. Both of us never wanted to have children in our bed.. and i hate sleeping with feet in ribs, hair in face at the best of times. We have a camping blow up mattress under our bed and it gets pulled out every night as she wakes any where from 9pm onwards and sleeps there. She’ll go back to her own bed surely at somestage…

  2. Rob says:

    A wonderful article thank you

  3. Pip says:

    A great response to the abusiveness of the daily mail article and all those who think it is ok.

  4. Well said Sarah. So well put. It seems that only a child can be treated with such neglect and I am shocked that so many think it is acceptable.
    I’m going to give my 2 an extra goodnight cuddle tonight.

  5. Angela says:

    My 2 aren’t great sleepers and the eldest is 4 now, regardless of how tired or frustrated I am I can never understand this. Protect and love your children, make sacrifices and adjustments to give them the best of you. Don’t sacrifice their needs for your own.

  6. Rona Moss says:

    Perfectly put. Thank you so much for this.

  7. Bridget says:

    I have worked with children who have gone through similar situations such as being locked in their rooms for hours when they did something that their parents didn’t like. Those children were so hurt. Just because you aren’t physically hurting your child does not mean that you aren’t abusing them.

  8. Lulupeg says:

    Wow the article is horrid and made my blood run cold… I vaguely know this family, the mother is a friend of a friend. I can’t believe so many people think this is OK (not here, on DM site etc). It breaks my heart and never once would I have let my child scream for even a second in the night – and he didn’t sleep through til he was 2 years old so I hardly think 6 months bad sleep (that could probably have been solved by cosleeping) merits such selfish actions.

  9. Caroline says:

    Whilst I agree in principle with all of the above, I’m also the mother of a little girl that did not sleep *ever* unless she was being walked around in my arms… And we tried everything from cosleeping to vibrating cots, I read every attachment parenting and no-cry sleep solution book, we even hired an “expert”. What I think is missed in the article here, and from the comments above, is any understanding of what it is like to attempt to parent under these sorts of circumstances. The couple in the Daily Mail article didn’t do what they did for fun, or to have “a better sex life”, they were desperate, really truly desperate. We never had to resort to extreme measures such as leaving her to cry alone or locking her in a room, but we did do a form of sleep training and it did involve some crying (both of us). Most people that use these methods are just as desperate, we certainly were, and they need support themselves rather than facing the judgement of other parents who’ve never had to exist on less than 2 hours of sleep every single day for months on end (5 in our case). She mostly sleeps through now, and hand on heart, I believe she has a better life and is happier having had a good night’s sleep herself and a reasonably well rested mum and dad. None of the people who are quick to stand up and accuse people like me of child abuse were willing to come and live in our house and help us…. and like all things in life, sometimes it’s necessary to compromise in order to survive (and yes, that’s what we’re talking about here – sleep deprivation is used as a torture method in some countries), and it would be nice if articles like this acknowledged that sometimes it’s not possible to be perfect….

    • Anon says:

      The thing that gets me is that it did not seem as if they tried everything, why could they not try putting the kid in bed with them ? Or did they do that and I missed it ?

      • Caroline says:

        He says they tried everything (doctor, books, advice from friends etc) but doesn’t go into much detail. I can confirm from our experience that cosleeping does not work for all babies. We started cosleeping with ours right from birth which was fine initially and we all loved it – but over time it stopped having any benefit, she had to be on the move to sleep – which required me walking up and down our hallway all night – her dad took her occasionally but she wouldn’t always settle with him.

    • Kat says:

      Must say, I would have gladly given a hand to help you guys manage this in a supported loving way it not about being purfect but it’s also about much more than just survival.. No child should just survive childhood

      • Caroline says:

        Kat, we wish we had known you then! I think anyone who met our little girl would say she’s doing a lot better than “surviving”, she’s the happiest soul I’ve ever known – and what I perhaps could have been clearer about what how much happier she was once we had helped her get a good night’s sleep….

    • noodle mummy says:

      A baby that onky sleeos for 3 hours for 5 months? diddums. My daughter didn’t sleep for more than 45 minutes at a time for a year and I was alone while my husband was posted with the air force. I got up every ,time despite also working full time. Why? Because I am her mummy. No amount of desperation could lead me top condone this kind of child abuse.

      • Caroline says:

        I don’t think being offensive with name calling such as “diddums” really helps you make your point. It’s unnecessary and detracts from any point you might be trying to make. I am sorry that you had a hard time bringing up your child, just as I am sorry for anyone who has a hard time parenting but I don’t think being petty and rude is respectful to anyone contributing here.

    • Candice says:

      So, you’re saying when true desperation hits… parents will almost anything, and the desperation will make it okay. I fully understand how dangerous sleep deprivation can be, but I firmly believe there is nothing, NOTHING more important than your child. I fell for the idea that, “you need to train your child and it will be best for both of you” ideal as a new mother and I deeply regretted it. My son was born with severe allergies, esophageal reflux, and was super colicky. Sleeping more than an hour was a dream. By the time he was 7 months… I had reached my limit. I was tired of sleeping on the floor of his nursery next to his bouncer. I was tired of spending hours rocking him to sleep in my arms and just waiting, completely wiped but knowing I couldn’t move so he’d stay asleep. I couldn’t stand the sound of him screaming… I’d even hold off using the bathroom just so he would keep calm which lead to a very painful UTI. Finally, I caved. After having so many people encourage me to use the “Ferber” method (crying it out), I gave in. He was only 7 months. Was it really going to scar him for life? So many other people had success, I’m sure I would too… right? So, I tried it. The first night it took 6 HOURS to get him to go down. The second night it took 5 hours. The third night… he threw up after an hour. Thank God I stayed right by his door despite everyone telling me not to. I could hear him choking on his vomit. When I raced into the room, I found him struggling to get up, laying in his vomit, eyes puffy from crying. I picked him up, sobbing, feeling like the worst mother in the world. I honestly felt like I should have been thrown in jail for what I did to him. How could I have done this to my sweet little baby boy? How could I have fell victim to this belief that it was okay to torture my child by making him think it was okay for him to cry it out? How could I be so selfish and put my need for sleep over his need for comfort… and honestly believed it was for the best of both of us? Had I not been intently listening, he could have and probably would have died. I will never forgive myself for basically almost killing my child out of desperation.
      I was under true desperation… but that did not make it okay for what I did to my son. Since then, I have never allowed him to cry it out. I told my husband we were co-sleeping and that was the end of it. If he couldn’t handle being a parent and putting our son first, he could get the hell out. He never fought me on it. Sure, it was rough, but we managed. Our marriage was stronger than sleepless nights and a low rate of love-making. Shortly after he turned one, we bought our son a full size bed. He loves it. He is two now, and still needs my husband or myself to sleep with him about 5 nights out of the week. Yes, it is difficult. Yes, I would love to sleep in my own bed permanently. But, we get ONE shot at being his parents. We get ONE chance to have a toddler boy. We get ONE try at enduring nights broken up by our son crying out, “Mamma, Daddy!” and needing us close. I don’t want to look back and feel like I was ever a monster to my child. More importantly, I don’t want my son to look back and feel like I was a monster to him. Whatever he needs to get a good night sleep is always, ALWAYS more important than my need or my husband’s need for a full night of rest. End of story.

      • Caroline says:

        I am really sorry that you felt the need to resort to Ferber, I could never have done that myself, I can understand how hard it must have been for you all. I don’t think that desperation excuses anything at all, all I was saying is that articles should be balanced. Most parents that feel they have to resort to extreme methods are doing it because they feel they have no option, not because they don’t love their kids and therefore they deserve our support and compassion, not our vilification and judgement.

      • Lauren says:

        Candice, I love your story. I’m sure that many parents can relate. My third son is 11th months, and is a light sleeper. My older children would fuss for about 10 minutes and then fall asleep. Not Jude. He’d scream. I decided maybe he just needed to give it some time and he’d fall asleep. I waited….20 minutes…25 minutes…couldn’t do it anymore. I walked in the room and saw his red, swollen eyes, and the desperation to be cuddled. I know exactly how you felt. It’s heart-wrenching. Never again-I’d never do it again. Thanks for your story, and good for you for following your gut!

    • Monique says:

      Caroline, whilst I wholeheartedly agree with this article and am anti the “cry it out crowd”, in situations such as yours, it is understandable and fair to expect you or anyone to turn to such methods as your last resort and I can tell you Ive had nights where Ive wanted to jump ship and join the “cry it out crew”. luckily for me my bubba just has the occasional bad night so I haven’t had to. But in a situation like you describe I can almost 100% say I would probably do the same. I think most parents probably would, even if they don’t think they would before it happened . There are, however , many people who choose to follow these strict and upsetting routines etc pretty much from day one, and they dont believe or understand the needs of scared little baby who doesn’t understand Whats going on and just wants mumma or dadda to reassure them, or even think that a baby may feel that way and treat he situation the way they would an older child. That is what I disagree with. That being said, if they are genuinely loving caring parents and nurture their children in lots of other good ways, then whilst I think they may be incorrect in their thinking, I also believe in being accepting of others rights to their beliefs. I just don’t like those who are just plain stupid and try to teach and discipline babies and toddlers as if they are older or even as u do an adult . And plenty do think like that.
      I’m glad things are going better for you and your little ones now. xxoo

      • Em says:

        I think that’s what bothers me about this article. These parents spent 6 months trying to nurture their son through this, and it didn’t work. They stopped being able to function from the sleep deprivation. Choosing to try something else is not comparable to extreme neglect and it isn’t child abuse. I say this as someone who co-slept and continues to co-sleep as necessary. I think the bottom line is this: If I choose to adhere to some philosophy of parenting that ignores the actual needs of my kid, I’m not being a good parent. Letting your child wander up and down 3 flights of stairs in the dark is not more admirable than putting a lock on his door.

      • Lauren says:

        Yeah but 6 months for a child? I mean, it takes a baby an average of what, 6-12 months to sleep through the night. So is 6 months really that long amount of time? We’re talking about basic functions that take quite a while to master…it’s like these people are complaining that it took their child 9 months to learn to walk…”oh geez, because my kid just didn’t want to obey us…”. They’re tired? Tough crap. Welcome to parenting. Welcome to the next 18 plus years…. It’s one of the many sacrifices that we make. They don’t get time to relax at night? Oh, let’s have a pity party. They are the ones who need to toughen up, not their baby.

  10. Jane says:

    Struggling with an extremely challenging 3 year old and a six month old who only sleeps in 3 hours bursts, I have recently become a parent who yells. I always wanted to be a parent who listens, explains and guides but somedays I just can’t do it. This article has made me realise I need to try hard as these little people are relying on me to be the best I can be not the other way round. Thank you for such a thought provoking article.

  11. Clare says:

    Do you have any evidence for anything you say? You really should reference claims such as:

    ‘Their neocortex – the thinking, analytical, rational, frontal part of the brain is grossly under-developed’

    ‘in real life terms a child who is not raised with compassion is likely to have a hypothalamus – a part of the brain – that is much smaller than that of a child is treated with compassion’

    Perhaps you might also get away from presenting opinion as fact.

    • Hi Clare, yes it is basic neuroscience, definitely fact and not my opinion. I suggest you read ‘What every parent needs to know’ by Margot Sunderland which sums all of the evidence up in an easy to read way, or if you are scientifically minded I would be happy to provide you with the journal citations and references for some good neuroscience text books. Best. Sarah

      • Tracy says:

        http://www.whylovematters.com is also absolutely essential reading (and evidence based). This is not hippy nonsense. I come from a science background (albeit Physics) so when I had my children and noticed my instincts were out of sync with the mainstream parenting ideas I investigated further. Turns out science backed up my instincts!

    • Monique says:

      That is fact. Other studies and books that discuss the effects of neocortex, amygdala, etc are Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Coleman. When I remember some other sources ill post them here. Also, the whole sleep training theory and babies needing to learn or be taught how to behave etc etc is not based on fact or scientific study. It was born purely from opinions of people who decided that it made sense that babies could manipulate and understand how to get their own way from adults . The only “studies” on sleep training etc are that various people have followed the steps and it worked for them. But there are equally as many people who try the same steps and it doesn’t work. Not really a reliable tested theory .

    • Lauren says:

      I’ve recently read several articles on the effects of PTSD. And yes, there are several changes neurologically that occur which look just about the same as what the author referred.

  12. MrE says:

    I’ve just read this and have to agree with a previous comment made by Caroline. I empathise totally with her predicament.

    Whilst I do not condone “extreme neglect” that is mentioned in the neural pruning example, I think the example is not in context with the DM article. I think that 5 months is a long time to regiment that “solution” but again, they were at breaking point.

    All well and good for the author to state underlying mechanisms of neural development but my question would be this: how *do* you deal a situation like this? 37 wakes in a single night is excessive. How would you help them?

    • Hello MrE,

      Let me begin by saying I have 4 children. I know what it feels like to be in the pit of sleep deprived desperation.

      Firstly it’s not as simple as “how do you deal with it”, the first thing we need to look at is our incorrect expectations of an infant’s sleep, just because we like to ‘sleep through’ the night it does not mean that it is a problem that our child does not, or perhaps I should rephrase that, it may be a problem for US, but they child does not have a problem. How could you deal with it? re-evaluate your expectations, re-adjust your life a little (perhaps going to bed very early in the evening so that you get some sleep in before the child wakes), many would consider sharing a bed with the child, this may eliminate all ‘problems’, or rooming in. Personally though I would be looking at the rest of the child’s life for clues as to why he was acting like this at night, he obviously lacked security and probably a means to discharge the pent up cortisol/adrenaline of a day in full time childcare. Resolving sleep problems with training or harsher methods such as in this case is like sticking a plaster on a festering wound. It does not treat the root cause of the problem, whether that be an attachment issue, incorrect parental expectations, something medical, the effects of childcare and lack of time to unwind, perhaps other issues such as too much screen time, poor diet…..I could go on. These all need unravelling first, then a plan – which should be individual to the parents, child and the situation – could be formulated. Maybe it may only need a few gentle tweaks or maybe a complete lifestyle change (many parents are unwilling to do this though). I am also a firm believer of ‘do the least harm’ and despite my total hatred of behavioural sleep training methods, here (in carefully measured doses) they would be preferable to the neglect of locking a child in his room.

      I would also place a lock on the kitchen door to protect the child from harm.

      Sarah.

      • MrE says:

        Thanks for your reply Sarah.

        Yes, being a parent is about changing your expectations, usually from the polar opposite of what they once may have been! However, 37 times in a single night is still excessive, maybe if he awoke a couple of times then there would be more weight to that point – but at that many, they needed to take action. No doubt this wouldn’t have started at 30-odd times a night and it appears that their support network (friends, relatives, literature and health professionals) had failed – hence the desperation.

        I like your idea about attachment issues – do you think he could have developed patterns requiring physical attachment to successfully fall asleep? Could it be the same neural conditioning you mention in your article and the reinforcement of the “whatever works” method that could have potentiated the situation and caused a vicious cycle?

        Not only would the kitchen be locked, but the bathrooms too – there are way too many risks in both – heck if he could get down two flights of stairs, I’m sure there’d have been a bathroom en route!!

      • Having researched Mr. Martin Daubney a little more I actually wonder if anything in this article is true, he is a professional writer of stories aimed to provoke reactions – this is another of his creations: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2225936/A-husband-confesses-Seeing-wife-birth-sex-YEAR.html

  13. we stood at our childs open door for months on end until she was ready to stay in bed at night. at first we was there for hrs but over time it got less. i never wanted to turn her bedroom into a punishment zone either. mmmm all these parents advocating this do so because they do not want to be classed as different by other members of their society. sooo not cool. so much for child-focused

  14. if ypu read the The Science of Parenting: Practical Guidance on Sleep, Crying, Play and Building Emotional Wellbeing for Life by Margot sutherland it is clearly and helpfully explained with diagrams

  15. Leah says:

    Neural pruning happens every day,to all children, whenever they encounter anything new. it’s not the process by which we deprive adults of future connections. Also, in such a blase, flippant way, the author of this article has glossed happily over the parents ‘protecting their sleep and sex’..not sleeping for months and months, years on end, that is not something to gloss over and not address! Infact, i’m off right now to seek some neuroscience-for-dummies statistics I can turn to my advantage in a future article about the effect of sleep deprivation on adults and their children, just like this clever author has….

    • Yes you’re quite right, do you know how the brain ‘chooses’ which connections to prune? Indeed many parents require help with their (expectations of) their child’s sleep, nobody is disputing this. More the abusive way in which the problem was dealt with.

    • Lauren says:

      The adults have chosen to have a child. They chose to make themselves secondary to another human being. When it comes to weighing the difference of the effects of adults and children, the adults have a much better hand, loaded with tons of skills, experiences, knowledge and brain functions that a 3 year old does not.

      I have slept a full nights sleep in over a year. I’m also a totally competent adult who made the decision to have children.

      I can’t stand people who cry a sob story when life gets tough. It’s a heck of a lot tougher for the kid.

  16. viv says:

    locking me in my room was a regular punishment my parents used growing up, they also used to lock me in the shed out side church for the simple reason that i’d turned around to see who was sitting behind us…there are so many adults who because of their own needs or issues can’t meet the needs of the children in their care, whether they are parents or caregivers in a nursery, school or other such like place. We have almost completely lost the purpose and importance of loving, simply being loving with one another, and present to each others needs in the moment, our children and others. Women put their newborns into day care and think its perfectly okay. Why aren’t women demanding to be allowed to take their babies into work? Why are children so unacceptable in a work environment? So much better for society to be inclusive: mums wouldn’t feel so isolated, and have the benefit of many people around them in a higher adult to child ratio environment, this would also give children the advantage of diversity…flexible working needs to get totally flexible so we don’t have all this separation going on in our society. Easier said then done in a country where children are still kept out of the way..about time we took steps to change this structure that isn’t serving us. Just look at how many children have special needs now, too many pushed far too early away from the loving care of their families so the family finances aren’t strained, and others getting no love at home in the first place, or suffering because their parents are struggling to cope.

  17. danielle says:

    I found the daily mail article disturbing. Dad seemed ready to leave and abandon mom when things got tough. My 2.5 yo still wakes up many times at night. She comes out and calls for me. I have a 9 week old
    As well. Nothing excuses this behavior, ever.

  18. lisa says:

    with our second we co slept. mostly out of ease for me as I was nursing and my husband was deployed. It just became so easy. I didnt have that I havnt sept look becasue I never had to get out of bed to feed or care for hte baby. But I also know that th family bed is not a safe or happy option for every family. Each family is different. I do have friends who shut their childres door and make threats if they are getting up for no reason these are very loving wonderful people but this is how they choose to raise their children. I have loved every moment of co sleeping with my child. she turned four about a week ago and has always had her own bed. Although she rarely sleeps there. A week ago she told me that she wanted to be a big girl and sleep in her own bed. No crying out no tears from me, she simple let me read to her, lay and snuggle her for a moment and then slept there all night. It was sooo different from my experience with our first who was never allowed to sleep in our bed. I wish that I woul dhave been more confident with our first to have allowed him this luxury as well

  19. Jessica says:

    I found the DM article disturbing but they love to be sensationalist. What I found more shocking was the thousands of people agreeing with commentators who thought the dad did the right thing by locking the room. I have a nine month old baby who has never cried once at night because I parent her at night and am responsive to her needs. For the first three months I slept with her in my arms as she didn’t want to be put down. We still co-sleep and she wakes regularly to be nursed (I work full time so she does most of her nursing through the night). When she wakes up I wake up immediately as well. I nurse her while dosing and she goes back to sleep either straight away or after a few minutes. Sometimes she wants to feed and sometimes she just wants comfort. Sometimes I can lay her back down next to me and other times she just wants to sleep in my arms. I’m not tired because I go to bed at the same time she does. If I feel tired then I’ll fall asleep, if not then I catch up on emails, read etc. Whenever she wakes up, I’m right next to her. She is slowly learning the process of sleeping and I can see little developments all the time. I’ll be there to transition her through that process as smoothly as possible. I treat her the way I would want to be treated if I were a baby. This period of her life will go so fast and she will want her own space as all children eventually do and so it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice to me. I’m investing my time now for her future. The result so far is that she is such a happy baby who is meeting all her milestones at least a couple of months ahead of schedule. She loves people and I have a strong sense that she trusts the world around her.

  20. Monique says:

    Amen to that Sarah 🙂

  21. Caitlin says:

    I agreed with the majority of this until I got to the end. Parents definitely shouldn’t be locking kids away in their bedroom for hours because they don’t know how to discipline them properly. But then it said how naughty corners are bad even. I child needs to have some sort of discipline in order to realise when they’re behaving inappropriately, so they can grow into healthy and happy adults who know how to successfully function in the world. Not having a healthy form of discipline is how we get abusers and criminals, because when they acted out they had no consequence for their behaviour. This article is over the top.

    • Kate says:

      Consequences and punishment are two different things. Punishments don’t teach people to behave, if your not afraid of the punishment you will carry on behaving how you please. I’d rather teach my child about the natural consequences of their actions and to love and respect other people, it doesn’t mean my children run wild without boundary though.

  22. Beata says:

    Wish you could post this for all the people who commented on the original article and agreed with this man. it seems people need to be educated about child development to understand and meet their child’s needs. They don’t know that there are other ways to get your baby go to sleep peacefully and calmly.

  23. Paul says:

    Writing an article like this just before Christmas is a spectacular way of hijacking a family occasion, and putting oneself centre-stage.

    This is yet another power play between the chap and his son, and reminds the child that he is a token in his father’s life, and not a legitimate person. The child’s name reinforces this idea – it is an anonymized job-title (Sunny= Sonny), not a child’s name.

    His recent articles in the Daily Mail include a three year catalogue of babyphotos, and a commentary on his career in the flesh-mags (complete with ueber-creepy musings about how the subjects must have once had their nappies changed by their parents).

    It all smells, and it’s an oddly repellant cocktail of selfishness, emotional neediness, and bullying. He’s spent a phenomenal amount of his life punishing his mother for leaving, and his sister for leaving. He demonstrates no real insight into why he does what he does, and seems to enjoy the neurotic suffering in public instead of just fixing his life and his marriage and the relationship with his child while these things are still possible.

    He is possibly the most self-obsessed person I have come across for quite some time, and it really wouldn’t matter what parenting advice anyone gave him, because that’s not what this is about.

    It’s about him, and whoever he can find to find the nameless voids in his emotional life.
    And, for now, these are hollows which can only be filled by the suffering of others.

  24. peavey says:

    Obviously whoever wrote this has no understanding of what constitutes the “extreme neglect” in the mri. I guarantee you they aren’t talking about parents who stayed up all night with their child and only after many tears and a fear for the child’s safety locked him in at night to keep him safe and teach him to comfort himself. Kids need to learn that and parents must have healthy boundaries with their children.

  25. Eddie says:

    This has got to be one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read. If you think this is “child abuse” I’d advise you to go work for CPS for a week & see what child abuse REALLY looks like. This man lays bare his most intimate inadequacies as a parent & all you do is sit on high & judge him as an abuser of children. Seriously? You don’t even advocate “time out”? Are you kidding me? Your essay literally advocates NO consequences for bad behavior! Nothing. Zilch. Earth to author: if they don’t have the sense to control their anger, what makes you think they’ll have the sense to understand you when you talk to them calmly & explain why they shouldn’t do that? They’re not “mini-adults” remember. You’re breeding a generation of lost souls who will not understand bounderies or respect of others. You’re literally what’s wrong with this country.

  26. Tracey says:

    To answer your question ‘What matters more? A full night’s sleep or responding to our child’s needs?’ Sleep. Sleep matters more. Without sleep we just can’t function. And that isn’t just about the parents. It’s about the child too. Children need more sleep than adults do. Surely a child who is getting out of bed every few minutes at all hours of the night is not getting the sleep he needs.

    For me personally, I have three great sleepers. But on the odd night where they do wake up (especially the nights where it’s more than once) then I find it so much harder to be a listening, caring, attentive parent the next day.

    I’m sure some question why they don’t just let the child sleep in their bed, well that’s their business. Not yours. I love my children more than anything, but I can’t stand having them in my bed to sleep. My whole house is filled with the kids and their things. My bed is my space. Even the cats aren’t allowed to sleep with us anymore. That does not make me an awful parent.

    I hardly think this even comes close to child abuse. To call it that is an insult to those children who actually do suffer from neglect.

    And to say ‘one has to question why the couple in question ever decided to have children in the first place?’. Well what a horrible thing to say! You ask this just because they want sleep after six months of almost none? Oh, and a *gasp* sex life? You know, something that brings them closer together allowing them to be a happier couple and therefore raise their son in a happy home? Well how dare they!

  27. Angie Griffiss-Williams says:

    I read both the articles you linked to by this gentleman. He doesn’t sound “nasty” to me – he sounds desperate (in both cases) and tramatised by parenthood and the expectations Western society place upon parents. He recieved and acted on poor advice because he wasn’t offered anything better and now (obviously) he feels the need to justify his actions. I actually agree with all your techniques and suggestions – I co-sleep (always) with my two year old and (often with) my five year old. My children self-wean, I babywear from birth to independant walking and I practise gentle discipline. I think you would be hard pushed to find an aspect of AP that we disagreed on – but please, please, don’t judge desperate parents! Parents are (with very rare exceptions) trying to to the best for their children because they love them. If you want to judge someone, try health care professionals who push formula supplementation, early weaning or sleep training at the merest hint of a problem, often before “recommended” guidelines, or self-professed babycare “experts” who perpetuate the myth that sleeping through is normal and whimper-free seperation from a primary caregiver for extended periods is desirable – but not exhausted, desperate, worried parents, please!

  28. Kim says:

    When we transitioned our then 2 year old son from co-sleeping (I was pregnant and NEEDED to sleep) he did this. He wouldn’t stay in bed. And he would wake up in the middle of the night as well. He wanted ME. But I was exhausted. So my husband would lay down with him. And every time my son would get up he would put him back in bed. And he would cry for me. And it was sad. And it was about as terrible as I could take. But we had tried everything. After about two weeks of this (and he was with his daddy the whole time) he just started to sleep. And sleep through the night too. And after 6 months my husband came back to bed. My son will even go to sleep on his own now, though he prefers company. He also slept 12 hours through (for the first time) at 2.

    I just couldn’t take night nursing anymore. Not when pregant. And it was sad. Because he cried for me. And I would have tried something else. But what? Anyway, he was never alone and never unloved. And while I would never have resorted to locking him in his room, I do understand it. People DO get desperate. But there are gentler methods for toddlers who won’t sleep.

    But I get it. People don’t do these things because they think they’re good. They’re just desperate. I certainly judge this sort of thing as a first resort. But as a last? I get it. I wouldn’t do it. But I also have the emotional resources (co-sleeping night nursing for years) (& then yes my husband’s emotional resources! Love and patience!) to do something different. Some people don’t have the emotional or physically resources to parent differently. I think we need to understand that. For some people, so I have been told by them, it really is the choice between shaking their baby and letting him CIO. Sadly I’m pretty sure this sort of parenting can oft times lead to children who are only capable of this sort of parenting.

    All that said, I think it’s more important to have compassion on one another as parents and help one another. And of course, recommend and encourage better more loving ways to treat our children. Guilt doesn’t help any parent love his/her child better. And of course, not does terrible advice.

  29. Kim says:

    *NOR does terrible advice.

    Sigh. Autocorrect.

  30. esteffiestar says:

    Thanks Sarah, I want to share this on my FB page!!! And I wish my mother in law could read this as she has locked up my husband as a child continually and with almost 40 he still really suffers from that. He shuts him self of after 22.00, as he had to give up the fights agains the locked door and shut him self of from the world, because mom and step dad had to have quality time 😦 she tried something like this the one time she looked after my baby, after me specifically saying to her that we don’t let our son cry alone by himself, she was proud to tell me that her initiative of letting him cry 1.5 hour resulted in him falling sound asleep I think I almost trowel up, she never got the change again we moved to Spain she lives in Holland so my child was safe for her abuse. But I feel for my husband ! No that his grandma past away, he is finally starting remembering traumatic events from his childhood, she would leaf her 8 year old and 6 year old home alone during the when she thought they were sleeping and just left them alone to go to bars, because she was alone she had divorced her husband. I get goosebumps thinking about those young boys waking up, finding no mother, car gone, no note, no babysitter , no nothing brrrrrrrrrr
    Sorry for the personal story it’s like you said so sad how people don’t treasure their children and drill them instead of guiding them to become strong secure individuals .

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