Parenting Pt 7 - "Are you getting any sleep?"


My apologies for the blog being down most of the afternoon yesterday. The server was down. If you missed yesterday's blog, give it a read. Today's blog may be a bit interesting. This is because I will be hitting us in the middle of our personality types. Those familiar with the Myers-Briggs Personality Test will recall the difference between thinkers and feelers. Thinkers are almost ignorant of a persons feelings, especially when it comes to finding solutions. A thinker will forgo feelings for the sake of accomplishing a task. On the other hand, a feeler could not imagine doing such a thing. How a person feels or how something might effect a person is of the upmost importance. Without the help of one another these two personality types individually would be a disaster. I cannot imagine many dictators being feelers. And could you imagine being handcuffed to an iron bar at the bottom of a sinking boat with out a key? Yes, a bit dramatic...but what if the only way to escape was to cut off your hand and the only person with you was a feeler?

All this to say, thinkers and feelers often take very different approaches to parenting. This might be a bad idea? Before mentioning why I would (with some inexperience) suggest that thinkers and feelers are best suited for different stages of a child's development. This is not to say that each should not effect the other at all times but that they should (if the parents differ in personality types) submit to one another at different times. A thinker may be a more efficient parent during infancy and a feeler may be a more efficient parent during teenage years. I have no experience parenting teenagers but I have pastored them. Anyhow I must confess this is just theory. I also confess that I am a thinker and my wife is feeler. However, I am not a strong thinker and she is not a strong feeler.

"Are you getting any sleep?" We all know this question after a baby is born, right? This question presupposes that our baby spends most of the night crying while we spend most of the night trying to get them to sleep. This is the great challenge of parenting an infant. How can we get them to sleep and how can we get them to not cry. This is also one of the more difficult subjects to write on because we are the "lucky" parents. Parents who are not so "lucky" want to take a stick and beat the "lucky" parents. And rightfully so. The stress and lack of sleep caused by a crying baby makes a person crazy. The question many of these parents are on a quest to answer is how to make this baby stop crying and start sleeping. The answer Robin and I came to is easier for thinkers than it is feelers.

Most of us are familiar with Pavlov's dog and conditioning theory. Pavlov would ring a bell and show a dog some meat and the dog would salivate. Eventually just the ringing of the bell would cause the dog to salivate. He also discovered the dog would salivate anytime a person wearing a lab coat was around because the dogs were always fed by people with lab coats. I am not sure how far or accurately I can take this theory, but I absolutely believe many parents condition their children to expect that they will come running the moment their infant begins crying. If this goes on long enough and the parent decides not to come running, the child freaks out all the more and then the parents come running. This not only reinforces their conditioned expectation but tells them all they need to do is increase their volume to get their parents attention.

Do babies come with volume control? The other night some friends and I were talking about babies and getting them to sleep through the night. One friend and his wife alternate nights taking care of their little guy. He was telling us that when it is his turn to take care of the baby, he just turns down the volume. I was laughing (because he is a funny dude), but I was like what the heck are you talking about? He went on to explain that he just turns down the volume to the baby monitor so he can get some sleep. This may sound pretty mean to a feeler but for a thinker this is not a bad idea. In reality there are two things a baby needs, a clean diaper and a full belly. If they have these two things there is not much else you can do for them other then condition them to think they will get your attention whenever they cry.

10 minute rule Robin and I have not been this "mean" but we do something similar.  We have what we call the 10 minute rule. This rule presupposes that your baby has been fed and changed. When our kids (especially Sojo) would wake up crying at night we would wait 10 minutes to see if they would stop crying on their own. If not, then we would go attend to them. We would check to see if they were clean and then try to rock them to sleep. If they did not stop crying after 10 minutes, we would return them to their bed to cry it out. We would actually take them downstairs away from us so we could get some sleep. Robin did not always like this idea, but I won out most of the time and eventually they would start sleeping through the night.

Conclusion The feelers reading this blog are thinking we are mean. How could we do this to our little babies? Don't they feel abandoned and alone? You are afraid of doing something similar because your baby may grow to not like you, or may lack confidence when they get older. Please trust me. Our kids LOVE us. They are well-adjusted kids who have lots of friends and lots of confidence, and best of all they are kids that have slept through the night at no later than the five month. And Robin and I rarely lacked sleep because of our babies. I am not suggesting this is easy, especially for feelers, but it has worked for us. We get labeled the "lucky" parents more often when it comes to our kids sleeping through the night and how they behave as infants in public, than any other time. More on the public part tomorrow. But those calling us lucky were not here with us when we intentionally and purposefully let them cry it out allowing them to learn to satisfy themselves. Give it a try. Whether you turn down the volume or try out the 10 minute rule, let your baby cry it out. You are not mean for doing so.

Or else you may become the dog in the Pavlov's experiment :).