Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Irresponsibility on Television: Sleep Training

There are only a few shows that I watch on a somewhat regular basis - mostly because I don't have time anymore.  If I do get the opportunity and the urge to start bedtime is not an overwhelming draw I will sit and watch something.  I had such an opportunity tonight and now I wish I hadn't.  Fox has some hits and misses.
I love Glee and had grown fond of Raising Hope the show about a single dad raising his daughter while living with his young parents and crazy grandmother.  Most of the time the show presents parenting situations in a funny and amusing way.  This episode was not one of them.  It was about their attempts to 'sleep train' Hope.  The parents are friends with an affluent couple who appears to have it all together.  They get into a conversation and suggest that the family sleep-train Hope so they can make her more independent and a self-soother.  Typically that particular family is held as a comparison to the main family as they look like they have it all together but they have managed to create a jerk of a son and are materialistic. While the main family might struggle with finances but their son is being responsible for his child and is a genuinely nice person.

However, in this episode the writers chose to suggest that the main family was irresponsible and created a needy and wimpy child by allowing him to sleep in their bed when he was young.  In the episode, Jimmy is still tormented by childhood nightmares in this episode and this story line is being used as a 'this could happen to Hope" if we don't train her to sleep on her own.  They were touting Cry It Out methods as being what responsible parents should do for the good of their children.  That allowing their child to cry until they fell asleep on their own was the only way to make independent adults.
I do not understand why this should ever have been a story line for a comedy.  It is irresponsible for the writers to put this out there when there is so much research on how Cry It Out methods are harmful to infants.  Crying for extended periods of time triggers stress hormones and disrupts the brain chemistry - forever changing your child. The uninformed viewer who may have a child later on down the road or currently be in the midst of a high needs infant situation may think to themselves, "It wasn't so bad when they did it on that show I watched, the baby was fine the next morning."  Come on people - do your research!

The Dangers of Letting Your Baby "Cry it Out"

Cry It Out: The Potential Dangers of Leaving Your Baby to Cry

Cry it out (CIO): 10 reasons it is not for us - PhD in Parenting

If you are a parent struggling with finding balance between sleep and caring for your child here are some resources that offer alternatives to the sleep training methods.

Natural Parents Network resource page: Ensure Safe Sleep

UCB Parents Advice about Sleep: Alternatives to Ferber?

10 Alternatives to CIO - Connected Mom

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  1. Hi!
    Thanks for sharing. Its nice to know that I am not alone in my distaste for parenting and birth on television and in movies. My sister and husband(the people I watch TV with the most) just roll their eyes at me when I start to complain about this sort of thing and ask why I can't just enjoy the show. . . .

  2. I'm usually the one telling my dad to just enjoy the show when he is complaining that the writers made something up or got it wrong. I guess now I know how he feels. It is unfortunate though because I did enjoy that show and sometimes they do get it right - just not this episode.

  3. It's unfortunate to see the mass media making CIO seem ok. How do people not realize that the child is not soothing him or herself to sleep, he or she has GIVEN UP? Unattached babies may seem less needy and more independent, but it might just be that they stopped asking for help.


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