When your Mother in Law Disapproves of Sleep Training
Sleep training takes a lot of emotional energy. The rewards are beyond belief, but the work you have to put in is not for the faint of heart.
To really succeed at sleep training, you have to be ready to pour your entire heart and soul into the process and give it a 100 percent commitment.
But what are you supposed to do when you receive negative feedback about sleep training, from relatives, friends or your neighbors?
How are you supposed to react when people say things like
“I would NEVER sleep train my baby! I want her to know that I’m always here for her, not just when it’s easy for me.”
“What, you think parenting is only for the daytime hours? You’re a mom at night too!”
“Don’t you want him to be securely attached to you?”
“I heard that crying can raise cortisol levels and negatively affect your baby’s brain if you leave her to cry.”
How to Handle Sleep Training Criticism
- Think it through before you begin. Is this the right choice for your parenting style? Is this something that will benefit your family in a positive way? Come up with a “WHY” statement, a mantra, to remind yourself of why you are undertaking this so that you can fall back on this when the going gets tough. I am helping my entire family sleep better so that we can function well during the day and take joy in each other.
- Work through your concerns. Are you afraid of hurting your baby’s attachment? Does the cortisol thing make you uneasy? Do you feel guilty about not being up at night with your baby? Work these through. Talk to sleep consultants who have learned the science behind these topics. There have been numerous long term studies on the effects of sleep training and we are armed with the facts. There’s no need to let worry consume you- do some research (not reading mommy blogs or listening to an anti-sleep training influencer rant on social media.) Look up the studies for yourself! They’re not hard to understand, I promise! Don’t be intimidated: read them here, here and here!
- Evaluate the source of criticism. Who is this person that’s questioning your judgment? Is it someone who’s opinion you value and trust specifically when it comes to parenting? Or is it someone who likes to share her thoughts on whoever is nearby? Opinions from your pediatrician should be given more weight than from your great-aunt who never had children. On the other hand, if the person who’s speaking is someone whom you greatly respect, it’s worth thinking about. It’s all about context.
- Build a shield of light around you. As you undergo your sleep training journey, you will have conversations with many people about it. Family members will ask questions, plans may need to be rain checked, and a neighbor might hear some crying when she comes over to borrow an egg. Before you open your mouth to say anything about sleep training, imagine yourself surrounded by a force-field of light that protects you from any hurtful or negative comments. Anything unpleasant that is said to you can’t enter the bubble of light, instead, imagine that the negative words bounce off the light and rebound back onto the person who spoke them. After all, that’s what really will happen! Refuse to take anyone’s negativity in – you’ve thought this through and made your own decision about this parenting process.
- Don’t get defensive. There’s no point. It won’t bring any good to the interaction, and will just add to your stress by prolonging the discussion. The best way to shut down any unpleasant conversation is by saying “Thanks for your thoughts. I’ll consider them.” That’s it. Then the conversation is over, you’ve clearly shown that you don’t want to hear more, but you’ve made the speaker feel like they’ve shared something of value (which is of course, why they shared!)
Listen, Mama. It’s tough when people judge us about our parenting. It’s hard when people just us about anything! But you don’t want to live your life based on the opinions of others. This is YOUR life, YOUR baby, and YOUR choice. You gotta do what works for you and your baby, for your family’s sake.