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The unusual ways Western parents raise children (bbc.com)
336 points by elijahparker 47 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 645 comments



One of the hardest thing about being a parent today is the constant shame and confusion about the “right” way to do it. We don’t live in a hunter gatherer society anymore, we just don’t. There’s lots of wisdom in that way of life, and sure we could learn from it — but there’s enough anxiety as it is, parents don’t need more of it.

We have three kids and we sleep trained them. (Not a pediatrician, standard disclaimer.) This article calls it an ‘extreme’ practice. For us, ‘extreme’ was the sleep deprivation we experienced with baby number one as we tried every ‘no cry’ method in the book. The baby cried and cried and cried. Once we started sleep training, there was a bit of crying and then - a sleeping baby! Through the night! Total amount of crying went from hours to zero. The kid became happier — they weren’t sleep-deprived anymore. And neither were we. I no longer felt like I was going to drop the ball due to extreme exhaustion.

Babies two and three had the benefit of our experience, and they barely cried at all. The third one would lay down eyes-open and fall asleep. “So it actually does happen! — I thought the books must be lying.”

By all objective measures our kids are happy, healthy, and well-adjusted. But that doesn’t mean we still don’t get the stink eye from people who think it’s a cruel practice.

Just raise your kids with love. Be compassionate, and patient. Find a doctor you trust. Don’t let people add to an already stressful endeavor.


I agree, my advice to any new parent would be to listen carefully to advice about how not to drown your child while bathing them, and how to make sure they're not suffocated by their bedding. Both real issues where some simple practices avoid the small risk of an absolutely catastrophic outcome.

Then take all other advice with a pinch of salt. Just follow your best instincts and do what seems right. Your child will be fine, plus you'll be more relaxed, you'll appreciate the time with them more. You'll have more time and emotional energy to understand and respond to how they are doing as well as how you and your partner are feeling, and your instincts will get better and better.


Father here. I agree.

So much of the parenting advice I see dips into micromanaging and min/maxing to an almost paranoid degree. Just learn about what could kill them in the first year and avoid that. Really, six months and under is the true window for SIDS with freak occurrences. Definitely be on the lookout for any poisonous cleaning products While you’re at it and put them high off the ground.

The pro parents who did it all before you are super annoying. I’ve had to politely listen to questionable advice many times. I much prefer people like you who get it. You got to trust your instincts about your own kids. There is broad advice which applies to everyone but everyone’s kid is a little different from the norm as well and as a parent we know our kids better than anyone else.


Trusting your instincts is how intergenerational cycles of abuse and neglect happen. If you were raised well, then yes, otherwise you have to work consciously to reject your harmful instincts.


Well, sure but I’m advocating to trust your instincts in terms of their general health and well-being. Abuse or gross neglect are entirely different matters. Abusive parents are probably not going to be online doing heavy research on what is the optimum thing to do as a parent. They probably just feel tired and bitter about their children, or worse.

A lot of modern, new wave parenting to me feels an awful lot like meddling in natural child development. Like too much of a good thing, helicopter parenting.


I'm talking about hardly visible emotional abuse and neglect, not some extreme criminal activity that only really bad people do. For example, not loving your child and going through the motions of looking after it without really caring. Or inconsistently responding to it with dismissal sometimes and kindness other times so it can't really trust you and feel secure. That can lead to harmful attachment styles as an adult.


This is a broader issue, one where it is so extremely unlikely that you will make progress you have to take a step back and think about what the realistic goals for you actually are.

That came out way more depressing than I expected and I'm not sure what conclusion I was going to arrive at.


Yes. I am a victim of intergenerational abuse. My grandmother consistently beat my father to force obedience. Then he and my mother consistently beat me and my siblings to force obedience. I even believed that it was the best way to raise children. Many years later, I realized it is abuse and a source of emotional problems.


Sorry to hear that. There were a lot of best practices just a couple of generations ago that we see as harmful today and I sometimes wonder how humans could have existed for 100,000 years and only in our lifetimes finally realized how to not abuse kids.

Perhaps they really were the best ways to get some kind of outcome like an aggressive man for fighting wars or protecting himself from violence or a hard worker able to tolerate tedium and not be too aspirational despite the personal emotional cost. Or perhaps even the emotional problems wouldn't exist if the rest of society was compatible with those ways?


I think most of our ancestors were miserable. That didn't stop them from having children.


Hey, wait, what is the advice to avoid drowning, other than not leaving them alone? Is there some subtle hazard I’m unaware of?


Not leaving them alone is enough, but to make people actually follow the rule, it is useful to tell them that kids are easily able to drown even in unbelievably small amounts of water, and also in situations where drowning seems almost impossible.


Also, when kids (and especially babies) are drowning, it's usually not obvious. In adults when carbon dioxide levels increase past a threshold a lot of physically obvious manifestations begin, such as thrashing, driven by the autonomic system. And before then there'll often be coughing and other signs of distress, autonomic or otherwise. In small children this doesn't happen. Countless parents have literally watched their child drown before their very own eyes. A coworker almost lost a kid this way--the instant the kid accidentally inhaled water while playing in a hot tub, they immediately went lights out. Fortunately their other, older child was also playing in the hot tub and attentive. The parents had both briefly gone inside, proving the warning that it only takes seconds for tragedy to unfold.

I'm synthesizing here, but AFAICT a catatonic-like state is typical of small children in severe distress. (Anybody remember the Moth Radio Hour story about the man whose kid immediately went catatonic when they were surprised by burglars? IIRC, he was told this response was common of young children.) So if a baby suddenly inhales a large amount of water, they may immediately go from normal to non-responsive (possibly retaining muscle tone?), even though they're not yet physiologically drowning, and even though with lesser amounts of water they would normally cough and cry. This [lack of] behavior may be related, if indirectly, to the phenomenon of SIDS. An infant's physiology hasn't developed the various mechanisms to jump start respiration when something goes awry. (One unproven hypothesis behind SIDS is that an infant's breathing is partly moderated and even induced by their caretaker's breathing, such that if they can't hear, feel, or otherwise sense--some theories implicate carbon dioxide levels--another's breathing their own rhythm may be disrupted, or if disrupted less likely to resume. Thus co-sleeping may be better for infants, reducing SIDS risk, ceteris paribus--i.e. absent counter-indications, such as a parent who smokes or drinks.)

So with babies not only do you have to watch them to make sure they aren't presently, visibly drowning, you have to make sure (to some reasonable, mentally healthy degree) they couldn't possibly be drowning--i.e. they didn't or couldn't have inhaled water; that they're active, attentive, etc.


I learned something today, and ours is about to turn 4 months. None of this was communicated to us, probably because it's expected that you pick up most of this tribal knowledge via, pre-covid, other parents in your socio-age group.

We attended an infant cpr class via zoom, learned nothing. We at least got the message about SIDS, but the lack of tribal knowledge in the first six weeks was pretty brutal as first-time parents.


My first two kids (and especially the first one) we left hospital with a feeling of "why on Earth would they just let us walk out with a baby? That seems crazy, we have no training at all in this!" The feeling was incredibly surreal with my first one.

For my third, they made us watch a series of videos on a range of topics over about 2 hours, which made me think "Yes, of course, this should be the absolute minimum required for a new parent".


The process for getting authorized to care for helpless adults (nursing assistant) requires months of study and a thorough exam. I think children will have better quality of life when all parental guardians pass a thorough parenting skills exam before they are allowed to care for children.


There should be some... parenting Wikipedia... or something like that. But then I imagine how various people would write there all that contradictory advice. :(

We had great parenting lessons, and more importantly, got a phone number "if you have any question or problem, call us".

My wife had a problem breastfeeding: it hurt her, a lot. She asked the nurse what to do, and the nurse was like "dunno, happens to many mothers, use a formula if the problem persists". We used that phone number instead, a lady came to us "show me how you feed the baby... ah, I see, the baby is under a wrong angle, here is how you should do it instead". Problem solved. Lucky us, but less lucky all the mothers who asked the same nurse, received the same answer, and didn't have a friend on the phone. (It also makes me wonder about the utter lack of curiosity with some people. Like, the nurse probably keeps getting the same question regularly for years, and she can't even, dunno, use google, or ask a colleague?)

I recommend trying a child carrier with a little baby. Not the giant type where you wear a huge metallic construction with the seat for the baby, but the ones made from cloth, where your child is on your body, vertically, facing you. -- You can walk around your house, carrying your child with you, and both of your hands are free. You can walk outside in winter, and don't have to worry whether your child is sufficiently dressed. You feel your child's heatbeat and breath, so you don't worry about SIDS. When the child doesn't want to sleep, you can take a walk outside, and maybe read a book. (Then the tricky part is removing the child from the carrier without waking it up. I learned to lay down on my back, unfasten and open the carrier, roll over and leave the child on the bed; still only about 50% success rate.)


Never ever leave them on the bed alone even if they are sleeping and you have cushions around them. They will still find a way to roll and fall off the bed (happened to us). 9 times out of 10 it will be fine but I've read horror stories online so be careful.


Never leave them for even a second in the bath (drowning) and never leave them alone with food (choking).


It sounds so obvious, until your dog gets his head stuck in the ficus tree planter and you can hear him running around, destroying your entire living room. You have to resist that initial urge to go help him until you've cleaned up the 16 blueberry puffs you've been coaxing your child to eat.


This is like saying "don't speed if you don't want a speeding ticket".

Yes, you can use absolute qualifiers like "never" and "always" to stupid proof general advice to a greater extent than you can with phrases like "common sense" and "where reasonable" but that doesn't automatically make the advice any more useful..

I'm perfectly fine with the size of the drowning risk that comes with spending ~1min removing something from the oven when the timer goes off and other reasonable allowances like that. Of course I'm not gonna stop and watch TV with an infant in the sink. And if traffic's going 85 I'm going 85 but I won't be the first person going 85.


It's not like that. Everyone knows the risk of a speeding ticket comes with speeding.

Not everyone knows that it takes 20 seconds for a baby to drown in a bathtub.

> I'm perfectly fine with the size of the drowning risk that comes with spending ~1min removing something from the oven when the timer goes off

Completely making up numbers here, say you do this for every 20-minute bath, your child bathes 1x/day, and they fall over in such a way that they might drown were you not there once every 10000 baths. Doing the math... 5% chance of being absent at the critical moment * 1/10000 baths * 365 baths/year = 0.18% chance of death in first year of life.

You may be willing to take that risk, but given the 4 million infants born each year in the US, that would be 7,300 infant deaths from drowning in the bathtub annually -- so as a societal rule, saving 7,300 infants a year seems worth the use of the word "never".

The actual number of deaths attributed to bathtub drowning each year is much lower; I'm glad the vast majority of parents appear to take "never" to heart.


You forgot to multiply by the likelihood that the timer (or some other "too small to take the baby out" distraction) goes off mid bath.

When you say "the vast majority of parents appear to take 'never' to heart" I can't help but suspect that missing factor is doing a lot of the heavy lifting.


I assumed that it happened once per bath, but this is very context- and parent-dependent too.

If you don't perceive of a 1-minute absence as a problem, presumably you are much more likely to step out of the bathroom.


Not really, it's just the simple advice not to let go of them or leave them is correct, common sense and important in that case.


If you don't know just how little water it takes to drown in, then the risk isn't obvious. A newborn that can't easily move and roll over can drown face down in an inch of water if they manage to get into that position, which even gentle sliding around in a baby tub can facilitate.


Have some advice from this experienced dad with 12 kids: the baby tub is a poor way to clean a baby. The water instantly gets disgusting from poo or whatever it is you are trying to remove, and then that gets all over the baby. Plus the baby tub costs money and takes up space. It's more clutter to trip over in the dark.

Babies can be washed in sinks, with the drain open and the water running. (don't let them kick the water temperature control though) Babies can be washed in a normal shower, held in the arms of a parent.


We did the sink when they were really little, then switched to the big tubs that sit on top of the sink because the kids loved it, the warm water, splashing, or just vegging out as we poured warm water through their hair. But yeah, plenty of times it was a double bath: The 1st one, and then the second one where we got them clean after draining pee water.


Generally agree, except I’m not sure there is a bright line between the obviously-worthwhile precautions you mention and the paranoid overprecautions that might themselves carry harm.

Seatbelts... yes. Choking first aid... yes.

Healthy eating, talking to them frequently... probably?

Lots of sunlight and fresh air... maybe?


About to be a parent and the main conclusion I've come to is that being consistently reliable, caring and responsive to any distress the baby has in the first 6-9 months is number one more important thing to keep in mind. Those physical health things are either obvious or hardly matter but making a kid who grows up to experience a lifetime of emotional suffering due to poor attachment styles or mental health problems is extremely common and bad. The world is filled with these walking wounded who can't function well, can't form stable relationships, commit suicide, become drug abusers, etc. Far more common than SIDS or choking to death.


I'm curious, does your conclusion preclude sleep training, which frequently involves some amount of "crying it out"?


Yes, it precludes it in that early age range. I was taught this in parenting class and read it in a library book. I've never heard anyone advocating for leaving your baby alone to cry when it's that young except as a "least bad" choice if the parent is losing control of themselves and might shake the baby in frustration/anger. It's probably different when they're older but I'm not up to that yet.


To be honest, the baby’s most important resource is the parents themselves. Sunlight and fresh air is good for that at least. Similarly, let somebody else take care of your baby every now and then so you can connect with your partner!


There’s also a right and a wrong way to install a car seat. Some local fire departments will check your installation for you.


For myself, the risk SIDS didn't even enter my calculus. (I confess I am a little skeptical that it exists at all.)

Regardless, I perceived the emotional bonding with the mother & father to far outweigh anything else and so we shared our bed with our children until they were perhaps 1 year old or so. And even after, they moved into their own small bed just a foot from ours in the same bedroom for another year or so.

I guess that was my "instinct". Although we received a crib as a gift, it just sat in another room, empty.


I very much believe SIDS is a real thing. I also think that many cases of SIDS are babies being smothered by soft cloth that bunches up and constricts their breathing and by accidentally smothered by their parents while they're deeply asleep. When kids are small I think co-sleeping is a great thing (where you have a small basinet or something similar next to your bed where you can reach out and touch your baby but they're safe from accidental crushing/smothering.


I knew someone - a co-workers sibling - who lost a baby that got stuck between couch cushions while sleeping. And they told everyone it was SIDS. I don't know if the cause of death was actually recorded as SIDS, though.


I remember listening to an NPR show where a doctor talked a lot about this, and how all of the shaming of co-sleeping might contribute. She claimed a non-obese, non intoxicated parent sleeping with the child on a bed isn't all that dangerous. That same situation on a couch is deadly. But the messaging is more abstinence than harm reduction, so all many people hear is "co-sleeping is dangerous"

Consequently, exhausted parents accidentally fall asleep on the couch holding their babies when they would have been better off just lying down and napping.


If you know the cause it is not SIDS, by definition, right?


> accidentally smothered by their parents while they're deeply asleep

This seems unlikely. 10% of babies share a sleep surface with parents, up from 6.5% in 1993, yet SIDS deaths are down over the same period:

https://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20180212/baby-suffocation-de...

https://www.cdc.gov/sids/data.htm


Suffocation from co-sleeping is NOT SIDS.

https://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20180212/baby-suffocation-de....


Perhaps the parent comment is referring to a theory that parents reporting the situation around baby deaths as unexplained in order to deny blame or guilt for having placed the baby in the situation. There can't be much worse so it wouldn't surprise me if in the traumatic following days the recall isn't factual and unbiased.


Since the nineties they started advise parents that all infants should sleep on the back, which reduced SIDS a lot [0]. But it means that it is is very hard to draw any conclusions at all about other factors.

[0] https://safetosleep.nichd.nih.gov/research/science/backsleep...


Not in all countries. In my country we lay them on their side supported by a rolled towel. We make sure they equally lay on both sides. Sleeping on the back will give them a flat head.


> Sleeping on the back will give them a flat head.

I'm fairly certain this isn't true. I would expect there to be a lot more flat-headed babies and people around. I don't think I've ever seen one. Not telling you what to do, just pointing out I don't think that part is factual.


It’s certainly true. Our oldest kid had a quite flat head when he was an infant, so we had to get him a special pillow and was advised to try to let him sleep on the side. But it’s nothing that you think about except when you put your hand on the back of his head, and most of it will allegedly disappear when the scull grows.

And if you think my anecdote is enough, Google will provide you with plenty, e.g., [0].

[0] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/plagiocephaly-brachycephaly/


If you look around you will start noticing it. A babies skull isn't even fused and has soft spots (fontanelle) so it makes perfect sense that it can be shaped and molded as it develops and grows.


Smothering is a much bigger problem if the parents in question drink alcohol before cosleeping.


This! My wife did a lot of reading in this when our kids were babies and her takeaway was that alcohol/drugs are responsible for most smothering events and that SIDS is actually reduced by co-sleeping - something about the mother’s breathing training the baby to breathe rhythmically. I believe she found a study on this point - I’ll try to dig it up and if I find it I’ll edit this comment with a source.


Please do, I’d enjoy reading that.


Ball & Russell (2014), SIDS and infant sleep ecology. Evolution, Medicine and Public Health 146. [0]

Not a study, but I believe this was the article that got her started down the rabbit hole of looking more deeply into this research. We were both surprised to learn that SIDS is significantly more prevalent in western societies that do not have cultures of co-sleeping, and that SIDS primarily occurs when babies are alone. I am struggling to find the article that discusses the breathing component directly, but this touches on it with reference to poor neurological development of human babies and associated weak physiological regulation.

This was the a ha! moment:

“SIDS-deaths are a phenomenon of infant sleep in Western post-industrialized cultures, normally occurring while infants are alone. … Immigrant groups who maintain their ‘traditional’ sleep ecology in ‘Western’ environments typically exhibit substantially lower SIDS rates than the host community.”

This UNICEF page compiled good research on co-sleeping too. [1]

[0] https://academic.oup.com/emph/article/2014/1/146/1846850

[1] https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/news-and-research/bab...


I completely agree. SIDS is just another safety thing like not letting it get strangled or stick a fork in the power point. But keeping them close and feeling secure is super important for them to develop independence and self-confidence later. Unfortunately, there's this perverse idea that rejecting your child will make them independent when it typically has the opposite effect.


I think SIDS is a real thing and there is clear evidence that not using pillows or excessive blankets in cribs has reduced deaths.

I think sleeping with or not with your kid, is a much more complicated question and probably one where your instinct is right. After all, with a baby in the bed you can't help but be aware of its comfort, needs and amount of movement.


In the UK the NHS have posters and leaflets about how parents should NOT sleep with their baby as deaths have occurred from parents "lying on and suffocating their new born". Of course this from drugged-up and/or drunk parents.

If you don't fall into the "bad parent" category you'll be fine.


I've woken up to nearly suffocating myself in blankets, completely sober. I wouldn't take that chance with myself in the bed.


Or if you take ambien or something like that it might not be a good idea.


The post you are responding to mentioned drugged-up right there in the conclusion.


We used sleep suits the first year to avoid the whole loose cloth issue


3 children, we only slept them in their rooms, starting day 10. Naps, day sleep, everything, they slept in their room and in their crib. The room was light controlled, meaning there was no light at all. They quickly associated any sleep with their room and their crib.

We used a baby motion sleep mat for peace of mind for SIDS, the thing was so sensitive it could detect the breathing, but if the baby moved off the mat even a little bit it sounded an alarm.

Unless a baby has colic, and we used baby dophilus for all our children to avoid any stomach or intestine issues, new babies aren't very fussy sleepers. The fussy sleeping usually happens when they get older, but by then they were accustomed to sleeping in their crib.

We never once had a crying fit, we also never forced them to sleep, sometimes, just like adults they aren't ready for sleep, those moments were few and far between and we just surfed through those times.

By 6 months all 3 children were sleeping through the nigh.

Every soon to be new parent we coached on this method had the same success, probably 40+ babies.


That begs the question: How did you feed the little ones? Having a baby in its own room from day 10 implies a very high effort feeding schedule, no?


If you don't mind, which motion-detecting sleep mat did you wind up going with?


Not OP, but we used a competing product, which is

https://owletcare.com/

It is a foot attachment that basically watches heart rate and oxygen level all night, and freaks out if something is wrong.

Only a very few accidental freakouts (like kicked off foot), but gave a lot of peace of mind. Not cheap but seems pretty solid engineering wise.


Did you make up you own process or did you follow a certain technique? Could you share a few details?


Most of the hunter-gatherer parenting practices that get pushed on certain parenting blogs are pseudo-scientific and shouldn't be adopted. And some of claims that a baby crying is dumping enough cortisol into their bodies it will permanently damage their brains is NOT supported by science.

What does have a strong scientific basis: the importance of sleep hygiene.

Children don't need perfection or goofy hunter-gatherer hacks from their parents. They need love, support, and a measure of reasonable consistency[1] from them.

[1] This is why having alcoholic parents can be so disruptive... children get a different experience sober vs intoxicated.


It's not exactly rocket science to figure out that people crying are unhappy about something and need comforting. Later, babies learn to fake crying, but when they're really small it is a really good idea to check on them.


Some babies learn to fake choking. They know what gets attention fast.


"And some of claims that a baby crying is dumping enough cortisol into their bodies it will permanently damage their brains is NOT supported by science."

This is misleading. You're correct that there is not conclusive scientific evidence either way, but there are decent studies that support the cortisol theory. Not necessarily that it will "damage their brains", but that cortisol levels spike during sleep training and remain elevated even after the baby learns to stop crying at night. We know that, in general, elevated cortisol levels are bad for humans.

The studies that claim to support sleep training are all terrible, unless there are new ones I haven't seen. The most-cited ones use self-reports from the parents themselves to measure "wellbeing" of the infant, which is plainly ridiculous.


I get the impression you're equating sleep training with the old fashioned "cry it out" method. We loosely followed the Karp method and had very little crying and a very happy baby.


In my experience, "sleep training" is just a more palatable euphemism for "cry it out". My view is that however you slice it, you are conditioning the baby that no one will respond to its distress.

I'm glad you feel it worked out well for you. I honestly hope it doesn't cause problems, because it's very widespread. Based on our reading of the available evidence, we weren't willing to take the risk. Our lives certainly would be easier if we reached the opposite conclusion.


> In my experience, "sleep training" is just a more palatable euphemism for "cry it out". My view is that however you slice it, you are conditioning the baby that no one will respond to its distress.

You claim to be doing a lot of "research" in other posts but also drawing on your "experience" -- "sleep training" is not "cry it out", and in fact modern sleep training is explicitly about telling your child that you ARE going to respond to distress (and in fact, you do, at time intervals) but that being alone in a room at night time when it's time to sleep need not be cause for distress.

Whether it works that way is a separate question, but it is not a "euphemism".

Even assuming it is the case that cortisol spikes are long-term harmful (though it's unclear that sleep training causes a disproportionate amount of this), the balance of harm from sleep deprived parents to cortisol spikes from sleep training is also not obviously in favor of one over the other.

If we structured our society so that parents had more support when their kids are very young, we would not have to make these tradeoffs in quite the same way, which is the ultimate point of this piece.

> [Quoting another of your posts] > Like anything else in life, you can do a good job or a bad job at being a parent. If you're prioritizing your own convenience or ego or career over the wellbeing of your child, then you're a bad parent.

Sure, some people are like this, but few, and fewer still make a conscious choice here. Your consistent shaming in this thread of straw man parents who are prioritizing work over some critical aspect of their children's wellbeing, without recognizing the hardcore tradeoffs involved in "Western" society child raising, is unlikely to change anyone's mind.

Parenting in American society is damn hard. It's damn hard even without zealots who are so sure that they know the right way to do certain things -- that's why you're being downvoted, not because people disagree that you should "step up" and do what you can for your kids, but because they agree, and you're shaming them for it.


A 'euphemism', according to Merriam-Webster, is "the substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant."

"Sleep training", in all its forms, means ignoring your crying infant for significant periods of time until they get used to the idea that no one is coming and stop crying. Whether it's done in one night or dragged out over a longer period of time, the result is the same, and the method is more-or-less the same. But we don't call it "ignoring a crying baby training" do we? No, we made a nice and harmless-sounding name for it. There are even consultants you can pay who will tell you it's perfectly fine so you don't have to feel an ounce of guilt.

Fyi, I got plenty of upvotes too.


I know what a euphemism is, I am telling you that the two are not equivalent -- "sleep training" in the form of, e.g., Karp, is not the same as "cry it out", does not involve what you say, and this is not a euphemism.

That said, given that you merely restated what you previously claimed without addressing anything I said except for the word "euphemism" -- and to be clear, I address the "ignoring" part in my post, which you ignore -- I really don't understand what you think you are contributing to this conversation.

Your opinion on sleep training is clear. Many people agree with you. And...what? Therefore, sleep training is bad and people who try it should be ashamed? Frankly that just doesn't follow.


> I am telling you that the two are not equivalent

Well, that's where I disagree. I think they are functionally equivalent.

> I address the "ignoring" part in my post

You address it by claiming that sleep training doesn't mean ignoring a crying baby. If there are sleep training methods that don't involve this, I doubt they would work with most kids. Realistically, if you are committed to sleep training, you're going to have to ignore some crying unless you have a really mellow baby.

> sleep training is bad and people who try it should be ashamed

Well, yeah. I get why people do it, but I think it's very likely to be damaging to our kids and our society. So I'd rather that people stop doing it. I know that plenty of folks have already drunk the kool-aid and are unlikely to be convinced (doing so would likely mean confronting some uncomfortable feelings). But there are sure to be brand new parents or soon-to-be parents reading this thread, and I'm hoping to convince some of them that there's a better way.


> You address it by claiming that sleep training doesn't mean ignoring a crying baby, which is clearly false and not worth responding to.

Crying is pretty much the only consistent part of infancy, and if "crying for hours until they fall asleep" and "crying for 10 minutes at a time with parental reassurance" are both equivalent in the "ignoring a crying baby" category, then I'm not sure how one would ever handle a tantrum or meltdown.

When a toddler wants a cookie and is crying for it, what to do? The only way to stop the crying is a cookie, but clearly giving the toddler all the cookies is not what's best for them.

A child might cry and not get what they want, but still be having the better long-term outcome.

> But there are sure to be brand new parents or soon-to-be parents reading this thread, and I'm hoping to convince some of them that there's a better way.

Yes, I absolutely hope there are new or soon-to-be parents reading this, but in my experience offering shame without offering an alternative, compassion, or evidence supporting the belief doesn't cause behavioral change, but does cause stress.

May I suggest that you lead with compassion, sources for research, and alternatives, if what you desire is behavioral change? In my experience, parent shaming often comes from people who believe that they have a duty to convince others of their personal beliefs but don't offer evidence to support its broad application beyond "common sense" (not you, others in this thread) or unsourced claims to "research" -- and who try to convince others instead by implying that parents who do anything differently have bad motives, or don't care about their kids, or haven't done enough research, are uninformed, or have some other character flaw that is the reason they're doing it "wrong".

To parents reading this thread: please recognize that there may be shockingly many people in your lives -- including some total strangers! -- who will try to shame you into parenting a particular way, and, as hard as it is to do this because you're already exhausted and doubting yourself, PLEASE ignore these people. Their crusade sheds more light on their personalities than on your parenting. Listen instead to the people you trust, who are willing to listen to you and engage in dialog, and who have your own interest at heart.


You seem to think only the process of sleep training is bad, but the result is good, so you are focused on one process compared to another. But as bad as the process is, I think the result is much worse--the resignation and acceptance and yes, increased cortisol levels, that will now probably have an impact on that child for the rest of their life. And the result of every method is the same. I mean, it's the whole point. So that's why I see them as all being the same.

Tantrums, meltdowns, or a kid crying because they want something are completely different, or they should be. The best response, based on the reading I've done and my own experience, is neither to ignore them nor to give in, but to empathize with them and comfort them, then (if they can understand you yet) calmly explain what the rules are, why they can't have a cookie now, etc.

The issue isn't the crying itself. They might cry for 10 minutes about the cookie, but you'll be holding them and engaging with them, not ignoring them or leaving them alone.

My purpose isn't to shame anyone. I just gave my opinion on some practices and attitudes I believe are harmful. I think you and others are reading that in because if I'm right, then maybe you'd feel some shame for doing things the way you did. It's a touchy subject that can provoke strong emotions. I don't personally hold it against anyone or think less of them though. It's not easy and everyone makes mistakes. I've made tons.

The research is easy to google. There's really not that much of it. Anyone can be up to speed on it in a few hours, probably. You're taking issue with my characterization of it, but you don't cite anything yourself, so /shrug. I've made some fairly specific claims, so feel free to prove me wrong if you can.

I more or less agree with your last paragraph. If you don't do sleep training, lots of people, likely including your pediatrician if you live in the US, will try to push you into doing so, so that cuts both ways. But I would argue that you shouldn't uncritically listen to any other people, even people you trust. People can be lovely and trustworthy but have terribly misinformed ideas about parenting. Instead, take the time to educate yourself. Keep an open mind and form your own conclusions. It's worth spending some time on.


You have kids. You step up. Yes it's hard, but it's your absolute unshakeable duty to do your best by them. Putting them down to sleep away from you and then expecting them to suck it up and deal with it when they get distressed is one of the most idiotic things that I hear otherwise intelligent people say. To a child, separation from their parents is the most stressful experience possible because in the wild separation means death. What is the most dangerous time of day? The night time. So you compounding the most stressful thing you can do to your child by doing it at the most dangerous time. The idiocy of people beggars belief.


> Putting them down to sleep away from you and then expecting them to suck it up and deal with it when they get distressed is one of the most idiotic things that I hear otherwise intelligent people say

This is exactly the kind of "common sense reasoning" put-down that makes parenting so challenging.

Do you actually know -- I mean, have actual evidence of harm? Obviously it "sounds idiotic". But bloodletting to reduce headaches also makes "common sense" -- or at least did pre-modern medicine.

The critical part here is that sleep training does not happen in the absence of other effects. If the alternative is heavily sleep-deprived parents, is a few nights of distressed sleeping worse than 3 extra months of extremely exhausted parents? To me this is much less obvious.


Fine, don't use common sense. My parents and my parents in law were against breast feeding. I mean literally against breast feeding. Why? Because psychologically it was impossible for them to even think that they might not have done the very best for their kids. You are probably caught in the same trap. And as the evidence comes in for sleep training or separating from your child at night, as it did for artificial milk, you will probably adopt the same psychological defence. But at the end of the day, these things are not going to hurt the average child. But we should have guidelines that improve the average outcome for the average child. And anything that deviates from what we have adapted to over millions of years is likely to be a bad idea.


> And anything that deviates from what we have adapted to over millions of years is likely to be a bad idea

That would include agriculture, urbanism, clothing, and living outside of Africa. Are you fighting those too?

Times change, the world changes, our physiological processes are not in sync with our current lives. We have tons of hangovers from our biological past that we suppress for modern society to function. Whether that's good or not is an open question, but unless you plan to raise your kids in a small-group tribal culture on the savannah, you will be deviating from what we have adapted to.

Oh, and: > And as the evidence comes in for sleep training or separating from your child at night, as it did for artificial milk, you will probably adopt the same psychological defence

The evidence for artificial milk is quite mixed, actually, but the harm of making mothers who can't breastfeed feel absolutely ashamed and guilty is very real.

It's not about "common sense" -- it's about making tradeoffs, and everybody has to. For some, that's sleep training, for others, formula, for others, giving up a career to care for children, etc.

It's one thing to believe people are making a mistake in how they raise their children. It's another thing entirely to shame them, or assume ill-intent, incompetence, or cognitive dissonance as the reason they make different choices than you.

There's way too much lack of empathy in this thread, from people who are sure they know better -- and the harm from that is very, very real.


> I mean, have actual evidence

If you go to a psychologist with a pretty broad spectrum of issues it turns out a lot of the problems are created when you are very little. An unsafe bond is hard to quantify and by stubbornly demanding that it is quantified I think it is more clear that you don't want to entertain the idea than that you are actually skeptical.

You already know you value the parents more than the child, and you more or less know what cannot be provided by the other party. So that's what you demand, and then when things turn out as you know they will you point at it and say "See? You're being unreasonable". That's bad-faith arguing.


I am happy to entertain evidence on all sides of the sleep training debate, and I would love to know whether it is long-term harmful or beneficial. And to be clear, I’m actually not making a claim either way about harms around sleep training, only pointing out that there are tradeoffs in every decision, that it’s hard to really know whether sleep training is harmful in any particular circumstance, and that strangers shaming parents for choosing something they think is harmful without considering context is one of the most obnoxious parts of parenting.

That said, I’m aware of work showing that a poor attachment is harmful, you are making the leap from sleep training to poor attachment, and then claiming that, because I’m requesting evidence that is hard to provide, that I’m arguing in bad faith and not interested in the truth.

Your attitude in this post, as has been repeated ad nauseam elsewhere by many others in this thread, implies that if one doesn’t accept “common sense” explanations of harm and question what others consider obvious, that one must have already made up my mind. I have not, and I don’t consider common sense arguments very strong.

In your post, you are making assumptions about my beliefs, questioning my motives, implying that I’m requesting evidence merely as a dissembling technique, and putting words in my mouth. That is bad-faith arguing.


You can't be serious.

People use your exact, extreme language to justify every other superstition they have about raising their kids.


This sort of implies that all crying is the same. The data you can get as a parent is a lot richer than that. There is a difference between “stirring”, “moaning”, “calling”, and “crying”. There is also a question of whether you know in advance that your child has a high temperature, runny nose, ear pulling, diaper rash, etc.

Combining those factors allows for a much more nuanced approach than a simple, “crying == trauma” boolean.


Everything is trade-offs. Less consistent sleep (for both the baby and the parents) is also clearly problematic.


In my experience, babies will get enough sleep one way or another, with or without "sleep training", though it may not be on a consistent or convenient schedule.

Parents can easily get enough sleep as well. It's called "sleeping when the baby sleeps". Infants sleep like 15 hours per day, so it isn't hard. You just can't conform to any kind of a schedule--that's the tradeoff, not getting enough sleep.


I think you're wrong about the first part. It's probably right for newborns but not even older infants and it is definitely possible (even extremely common) for toddlers to get too little sleep if left to their own devices.

"Sleep when the baby sleeps" sounds good but is not really how sleep works; sleep quality is very sensitive to cycles and time of day (it's also a very personal thing, with big differences between individuals). It also doesn't work at all for working parents. And even in households where one parent doesn't work, the other one does, and it is important for both parents to be rested.

Of course you can pull this off, I'm not saying anybody is going to die or anything, I'm saying there are very real advantages to more predictable and consistent sleep. For us, we were very hesitant (or maybe just lazy) about sleep training, but our ~15 month old was noticeably happier after being able to sleep through the night.


> Parents can easily get enough sleep as well. It's called "sleeping when the baby sleeps".

I did this with a puppy (when they're little they'll wake you every 90m at night) instead of putting her into a cage and once you figure it out it's really not that much worse than sleeping through the night. Perhaps doing that for a few months is measurably different from doing it for a year or so, but I seriously doubt it as chronic sleep deprivation (which I would have had if I had not adapted to the schedule) starts being very harmful very obviously quite a bit before "a few months".


I'll probably get downvoted, but I strongly disagree with this mindset. Raising kids is not a fun hobby or a side project that will fit into a neat little drawer in your life. You have an obligation to do the best that you can. Yeah, it's hard. Yeah, it's stressful. Like it or not, that's what you signed up for. So step up.

Like anything else in life, you can do a good job or a bad job at being a parent. If you're prioritizing your own convenience or ego or career over the wellbeing of your child, then you're a bad parent. Don't rationalize it with clichés like "love is all that matters" or search for online echo chambers of fellow shitty parents who will soothe your cognitive dissonance while your kid suffers. Make whatever sacrifices you need to, put the time in, and do better.


> You have an obligation to do the best that you can. Yeah, it's hard. Yeah, it's stressful. Like it or not, that's what you signed up for. So step up.

I'm not downvoting you but I strongly disagree. You have an obligation to do an adequate job of this. I think it's also important not to become a slave to the idea that you must always do more because it's "supposed to be hard." Doing a great job of raising kids doesn't have to be a grueling slog, and I suspect that people who think it does aren't doing as good a job as they think they are.


Who said it has to be a grueling slog? I said do your best, not wear a crown of thorns.

I don't think it necessarily has to be hard, but people often make it harder than it needs to be because they're unwilling to make personal sacrifices.

I just don't think we should give people participation trophies. If you're not doing a good job and you know it, you should face reality and fix it, not be told "there's no right or wrong way".


I inferred that you thought that gdubs was not doing their best. You used the phrase "strongly disagree". I'm not sure which part you strongly disagree with. Nor can I tell why you think gdubs is not doing their best.

For what it's worth, I definitely agree with gdubs point of view. I'm less clear on what you're saying though. When you say "unwilling to make personal sacrifices", does that mean unwilling to ever make any sacrifice? Or does it mean unwilling to make some under certain circumstances?

In my experience, my kids' sleep seemed to actually improve when engaging in the "extreme" practice of sleep training. That seems consistent with gdubs. How then, am I not "doing my best"?


I didn't mean to shame the OP, though I can see how it might have come across that way. What I take issue with is the implication of relativism. That as long as you love your kids, it's fine if you just do whatever is convenient or easy or comes naturally to you, and there are no better or worse ways to parent. I think that's a copout and that our kids deserve better.

I understand why people do sleep training. We were on the verge of it ourselves until we learned more and were confronted by how hideously wrong it felt on an emotional level. Everyone in the US pushes you toward it, particularly pediatricians. But I think that most parents know deep down that it's wrong, and that they are doing it for themselves, not the baby.

I don't think we should pretend it's all the same. These things matter.


> But I think that most parents know deep down that it's wrong, and that they are doing it for themselves, not the baby.

I'm definitely not in that group. I have no such deep knowledge of it being wrong. I really believe it's actually better for some kids. Like mine for instance. It's not a compromise for me.

I believe OP is saying not to worry about what other people are telling you about how to parent. I didn't infer any relativism from the post.

What I'm reading from you is that sleep training is bad for kids. And that its practitioners just aren't trying hard enough. But I really believe that for some (like my family) it's actually better.

So by the same token, just because you're suffering more doesn't mean you're doing a better job.


I certainly have more respect for someone who does sleep training because they think it's best for the child, rather than for themselves. Of course, everyone will say that's why they're doing it, but you seem sincere.

I still think you have to be misinformed or deliberately ignorant of the evidence that's out there to hold this position though. I also think the reason people don't dig deeper is that they, perhaps unconsciously, would rather not discover something that is uncomfortable and inconvenient for them.


Maybe. It would have to be subconscious on my part. I did read a book about it.


> Who said it has to be a grueling slog? I said do your best, not wear a crown of thorns.

> I don't think it necessarily has to be hard

That's not necessarily coming through in your message, for what it's worth.


I just think that if it is hard, it's up to the parents to deal with, one way or another. They should either suck it up and slog through or change something in their lives so they can handle things better and it's not so hard anymore. I just hope they won't do something that they know is worse for the kid because it's easier for them.

In my opinion, sleep training generally falls in this category. People do it because they're exasperated and neither parent is willing to do something hard--like live with sleep deprivation or put a career on hold. They generally don't do it because they genuinely believe it's best for the baby, though they will try to come up with rationalizations to that effect after the fact.


> They generally don't do it because they genuinely believe it's best for the baby, though they will try to come up with rationalizations to that effect after the fact.

I think this is where you're going wrong. You're putting motivations into other people's heads based on having prejudged them. I certainly did sleep training with my kids because getting them on a regular sleep schedule is good for EVERYONE, not just me. Ever since, we have been extremely consistent about bedtimes, and now we have kids that have no problem going to bed at the appropriate time so they're not exhausted when they have to get up for school in the morning. Yes, it made/makes life easier for me as well, but the root reason to do it is a firm belief that establishing good sleep habits is good for them.


> Don't rationalize it with clichés like "love is all that matters"

Counter data point. My wife is Argentinian.

I'd say the values you see in her family primarily is "love does come first" and strict boundaries on kids. E.g. the adults are talking, go away.

When I compare that to my own nieces and nephews, they have little boundaries, are quite lethargic and can be quite arrogant. Yet their parents would all describe themselves by your standards.

We also tend to put our elderly in homes, an idea that is abhorrant to my wife.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is ideals are nice. But it's purely theory, mostly to serve your own sensibilities.


I'm not trying to say there's one right way to do things. But there are a lot of plainly wrong ways.

If your parenting philosophy is not based on any research or learning about what's best for your child, but instead on what's easiest and most convenient for you, then you're probably doing it wrong. That doesn't mean you can't set boundaries for kids who are old enough to understand them.

I think the way we discard our elderly is closely tied to our self-absorbed approach to parenting. If you don't put in the time and are unwilling to make sacrifices for your kids, you shouldn't expect them to be there for you when you need it.


Keep in mind that the research around this is very poor. It's in the realm of things where flipping a coin might be better.


Most of it is, but not all of it. My own conclusion (which is not the one I wanted to reach, believe me) was that when you throw out all the bad research, the evidence, while not conclusive, does clearly point more in one direction than the other.


Could you show such a research? Because you have been saying it all around the thread, some proof would be handy.


The major studies that have been done are fairly easy to find with some google investigation. I looked at them all over a year ago and formed my conclusions. I unfortunately didn't keep around a list of links to post in debates on internet forums.

This post mentions a few of the main ones (I'm not vouching for the post's content): https://www.laleche.org.uk/letting-babies-cry-facts-behind-s...


So much of the "research" is not research at all. It's no surprise to see anti-vaccine sentiment run strong among Grace Manning-Devlin types.


It's true. Yet another hard thing about being a parent is that there is a lot of crappy "research" and advice to wade through (including most of the research claiming to support your view, btw). But there's some solid stuff out there too--pretending there isn't because you might reach conclusions that conflict with a self-serving parenting philosophy is just another excuse.


Your advice in this thread falls into that category. You take some sort of puritanical ideal of hard work and sacrifice, then apply it to build a... distorted idea of what parenting is and to abstractly shame people who don't fit it, then ignore all requests for references to any research at all done on this, then repeat this over and over with everyone who's trying to figure out what you mean. From what I know, your ideas have no basis in reality. You're only adding noise for parents-to-be to sift through and worry about.

Just raise your kids with love and patience, don't listen to armchair child psychiatrists.


It's always fun to be criticized for not citing research by people who don't cite anything themselves.

You're the one advocating for an approach that is unnatural, brand new in human (and primate) history, and that causes both babies and parents visceral emotional distress. If I'm wrong about the research, why can't you prove it?


Argentina is pretty messed up, low trust culture, outside of the family.


> You have an obligation to do the best that you can

This reads like an expectation mindset that with high probability will end up hurting you, your kid and your relationship. Somewhere here belongs the put-oxygen-mask-on-yourself-first metaphor


As someone with older children, I can attest. Also the attitude can lead to a lot of tension with your co-parent.


It's possible you're coming from a very different background than me... I can understand your point of view if your context is being raised under real impoverished conditions; I agree a parent should do anything they can to meet a necessary level of stability for the child.

But this comment makes me think of what is more likely familiar to members of this forum, where parents use their children to serve their own ego, trying to do everything to yield the best "Success" for their child where success is defined by the parent. For so many of us (professionals in the tech industry), the "wellbeing of your child" is not really a question--we know we'll be able to provide food, shelter, etc. People will say they do other things for the "wellbeing" but what they really mean is living out their own failed life goals by putting that baggage on their kid.

So yeah, you got downvoted. It's possible you meant to make a more sympathetic point, but my first impression is that the comment espouses an actively harmful idea about the relation between parent and a child.


> the "wellbeing of your child" is not really a question

Mental health, substance abuse, and suicide statistics, including among the middle and upper classes, would seem to strongly indicate otherwise.

> It's possible you meant to make a more sympathetic point, but my first impression is that the comment espouses an actively harmful idea about the relation between parent and a child.

So "try hard, make sacrifices, and do your best" is now considered problematic? The relativism in this mindset is absurd. Nobody here would claim that there's no right or wrong way to design a distributed system, or that there are no right or wrong ideas about religion, but we have to pretend it's the case with parenting so we don't hurt anyone's feelings?


Children are not clay to be molded, and they are not computer systems to be planned and carried out. They are individuals. And there are no clear solutions to mental health, substance abuse, or suicide--but there are clear non-solutions like helicopter parenting.

EDIT: And best-efforts at laying out everything for your kid are more than potentially-wasted energy. It's smothering, controlling behavior of someone who should have the right to live and make their own choices and mistakes.


"Helicopter parenting" and "smothering" are not the only alternatives to self-serving, self-absorbed neglect.

Throwing your hands up because something is hard and there are no obvious answers is not a recipe for doing a good job at... anything.


I guess I see fewer under-concerned parents than I do over-concerned parents. Of course there are both.


I most often see that kind of thing from parents who are trying to compensate for failing to be present in more fundamental ways.


Some of the most troubled people I've known had very involved parents.


Yes, I downvoted your comment. I don't doubt your intentions are admirable, but please don't shame strangers.

GP is trying to survive in the world in which they find themselves. Will sniping some guilt at them summon up some hidden parenting strength?


> You have an obligation to do the best that you can

The problem I have with this attitude is the pronoun. If you have some standards, great but please try to keep them to yourself. There's a lot of toxic "you should do this, you should be like that" type of talk in parenting circles, a lot of which is frankly condescending and non-actionable and add a lot of unnecessary stress, especially for insecure people.

People like to armchair-coach about what a parent ought to be doing, while completely ignoring that the parent's emotional well-being is a pretty big component in a healthy relationship w/ their kids.

This is exactly why others are saying to ignore unsolicited advice: because a lot of it isn't actually advice.


Feel free to change every "you should" to "one should" in your head.

I understand that this is a sensitive subject, but there are people reading this thread who are about to become parents, and they need to know the truth.


> one should

No offense, but that's still kinda condescending. I have 2 kids myself but I don't go around preaching. Stuff like post partum depression, pre-existing chronic conditions, overbearing grandparents, domestic abuse, etc are all real things and you and I are neither psychologists, pediatricians, nor social workers so best to leave the advice giving to licensed professionals.


Your point seems to be that parenting is hard so we can never publicly criticize any common parenting practices because it might hurt some parents' feeling. I disagree. If I'm doing something harmful to my child, I want to know about it.

The "licensed professionals" I've talked with about this, like my kid's pediatrician, gave me terrible advice and were either ignorant of the research that's been done, or grossly distorted it to fit their bias.


> Your point seems to be that parenting is hard so we can never publicly criticize any common parenting practices because it might hurt some parents' feeling.

I mean, parenting being hard is neither here or there. You said it is "hard" yourself. There are parents that think parenting is wonderful and can't see themselves do anything but raising kids.

> If I'm doing something harmful to my child, I want to know about it.

That's great, and it's exactly what I meant when I said I took issue w/ the "you" pronoun: wanting better for oneself is very very different than telling others what ought to be what.

Medical professionals are known to make recommendations based on probabilistic heuristics (i.e. 95% of cases with certain circumstances fall into the same bucket so they usually assume said bucket) and this is why celebrity doctors like Dr Mike say that it's important to build rapport and have an open dialogue with the physician, armed with all the knowledge you are able/willing to muster yourself.

The thing w/ online advice is that people seeking help on the internet are often already very apprehensive and vulnerable and having a flood of strangers on high horses passing judgment doesn't necessarily help. The irony is that if we're in "I did my research and know better than professionals" territory, then the problem is that everyone and their mothers also claim to have done "research" too and "how dare they question my self-acclaimed expert authority", and that type of thread derails real fast.

Many of these parents are well-meaning but are in fact woefully underprepared to effectively provide help that is clear cut among medical professionals (e.g. dealing w/ a fever), and they often are eager to offer quick takes on topics where the research is mixed, non-existent, poorly done and/or where it doesn't really really matter (stuff like optimization advice for parents worrying about late blooming in development milestones like potty training). And then there's topics like spanking, where it's pitchforks galore, and the signal-to-noise ratio is basically zero.


To be clear, I’m not asking anyone to accept my “authority”, which as you rightly point out, is nonexistent as a random anonymous person on the internet. I’m not claiming to be an expert on child psychology, but I do have some knowledge of statistics and research methods, so I can read the abstract of a study and know, at minimum, if its methodology renders it worthless BS, scientifically speaking.

But, ultimately, the experts are divided on this issue, and the research is available for anyone to look into on their own. I gave my interpretation. Anyone else is free to give theirs. People can make up their own minds.

My experience is that it’s usually the sleep training people who handwave away the research, relying instead on appeals to convention (in the US) or emotional lectures about “shaming” the poor, helpless parents. But again, people can decide for themselves.

Also, for the record, I’m in the group that loves being a parent. It’s my favorite thing in the world and brings me joy every single day. It has been hard at times, but that never reduced my enjoyment.


> Like anything else in life, you can do a good job or a bad job at being a parent. If you're prioritizing your own convenience or ego or career over the wellbeing of your child, then you're a bad parent.

Sounds like you have no clue. Try looking after 3 babies then come back an talk to us.


[flagged]


This is a pretty terrible accusation for someone who you know nothing about. Why would you take the argument here?


Sorry. In retrospect, I shouldn't have engaged. Too late to delete now...


I don't have any opinion on sleep training, but you've been downvoted a lot here and I would just like to make an observation that I don't think has been stated explicitly so far.

IMO, you are coming across as someone who views themselves as morally superior and so feels entitled to try to control others via shaming them. This is probably not who you are in real life. But IMO this is the major reason why you have been so consistently downvoted in this thread, it is not mere disagreement on the sleep issue. Even if the evidence is easy to Google, linking to it and basing your argument on that would have gone a lot farther.

If you are sincere about taking the hard road (which I have no reason to doubt), I would do some self reflection about why your communication style has not been effective here.


If people feel shame, it’s probably because they have some ambiguous feelings on the matter. No one can force someone else to feel shame, especially not through an internet comment. People like you are trying to shame me for the posts I made, but I don’t think I did anything wrong, so it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Maybe I could have been a bit nicer and more sensitive, but it’s not like I was throwing out insults—just clearly stating my beliefs on a touchy subject.

I definitely don’t see myself as morally superior as a person—far from it. But on this topic, yes: I believe that there are some things people do, like sleep training or putting their career ahead of their kids, that are morally wrong and psychologically damaging. That’s why I’m taking the time to post.

I don’t view downvotes as any indication of comment quality on controversial issues. They generally just reflect the tribal belief breakdown of the community. And anyway, I got as many upvotes as downvotes across all my comments itt—probably like 100 of each based on the swings up and down I saw (no way to know for sure). So it appears HN, or the portion with any opinion on these matters, is more or less evenly divided.


> I don’t think I did anything wrong

> it’s not like I was throwing out insults

> I don’t view downvotes as any indication of comment quality

I am not saying you are being downvoted because people feel shame, I said you are downvoted because you are shaming them. You are accusing others of knowingly harming their kids, because they don't care about them as much as you do.

I don't think this is fundamentally different from an insult in its role in a conversation, and in fact most people would find this incredibly insulting. Insults and shaming/humiliation are attempts to change people's behavior by punishing them or threatening to, but they don't work for convincing them of the correctness of your position. If you are in a position of power over someone you can control their behavior with threats while they still feel you are in the wrong, but of course if it's too often you may end up resented tremendously.

In this conversation you seem to be presupposing that deep down, most people view you as correct already and so don't need to be persuaded, only shamed into the right direction. I think in most things in life this is a risky assumption.


Your argument seems to be that questioning the morality of anything an otherwise well-meaning person does and might be sensitive about is “shaming” and “insulting” and an attempt to “control” the person. That strikes me as very opposed to the principles of free speech and open debate.

You’re the one that keeps using the word “shame”. That was not my purpose. I responded to the implication that there can be no good or bad parenting practices as long as one parents with love. I think that is wrong, and dangerously so. In the past, similar arguments were used to justify physical abuse.

Sleep training is very difficult for most people to do emotionally. There is a natural visceral reaction against it, and feelings of guilt are ubiquitous. That’s my basis for thinking that people already have a feeling it’s wrong, not intellectual arrogance.

I don’t think people end up doing these things because they “don’t care” about their kids—again, those are your words, not mine. It’s more likely that they are being misled and/or suppressing uncomfortable feelings. They might be going along with what a partner wants to do or emulating other parents they know. Or maybe they’ve never been presented with a clear argument against it. There are a million potential reasons.


> Your argument seems to be that questioning the morality of anything an otherwise well-meaning person does and might be sensitive about is “shaming” and “insulting” and an attempt to “control” the person.

One thing to note about your argumentation style here is that you didn't merely question their morality. You assumed that deep-down, they actually agree with you but were acting immorally anyway, and you continued from there. The news flash is that no, people don't believe that what they are doing is wrong. The fact that they find it painful does not mean that they know deep down it's wrong, as you erroneously claim. Doing the right thing can just be painful sometimes.


I guess when you say things like this:

> I certainly have more respect for someone who does sleep training because they think it's best for the child, rather than for themselves. Of course, everyone will say that's why they're doing it

> I also think the reason people don't dig deeper is that they, perhaps unconsciously, would rather not discover something that is uncomfortable and inconvenient for them

> I just hope they won't do something that they know is worse for the kid because it's easier for them. In my opinion, sleep training generally falls in this category.

> People do it because they're exasperated and neither parent is willing to do something hard

> They generally don't do it because they genuinely believe it's best for the baby

> If your parenting philosophy is not based on any research or learning about what's best for your child, but instead on what's easiest and most convenient for you

> our self-absorbed approach to parenting

> because you might reach conclusions that conflict with a self-serving parenting philosophy is just another excuse.

it makes it seem like you are attacking the character of those that disagree with you.

> Your argument seems to be that questioning the morality of anything an otherwise well-meaning person does and might be sensitive about is “shaming” and “insulting” and an attempt to “control” the person. That strikes me as very opposed to the principles of free speech and open debate.

I am saying there is a difference between casting aspersions about the character of people who disagree with you, and trying persuade them that your position is correct. I see you added a link recently for some of the evidence that you found convincing. If the purpose of you posting here was to change peoples minds, that probably would have been more effective.

And no, I don't think ad hominem attacks are the same as free speech and open debate. And I don't think resorting to them so easily instead of other types of argument is a small thing either.


I don’t think those statements apply to e.g. everyone who uses sleep training, and I never said they did. But I know of parents who all those statements would apply to. It’s currently quite socially acceptable to prioritize your own ego, ambition, and indulgence over a child’s wellbeing, and plenty of people take advantage. Attitudes like GP that I first replied to are part of why these people feel justified.

None of those statements are “ad hominem attacks”. I’m not sure where you’re getting that from. I’m arguing against specific practices, attitudes, and beliefs. You’re attempting to tone police, which is much closer to an ad hominem argument than anything I’ve said, in that you are objecting to style instead of substance.


An ad hominem attack is when you attack someone's character, instead of their ideas or behavior. If you criticize sleep training because it is bad for the child and explain why, that is ordinary criticism and argument. If you insinuate that people who do sleep training do not care about their children, that is ad hominem.

To use another example: if I explained your behavior in this thread by claiming that you are a narcissist who holds yourself above others and so feels they have the right to (verbally) punish others, has trouble seeing any personal faults, and easily sees character flaws in others, that would be an ad-hominem. I have not done that, because I don't know you and your motivations, it wouldn't be constructive, and most people aren't narcissists. But similarly, most people care about their children, and arguing that they disagree with you because they don't care enough is not constructive.


That’s not what an ad hominem is. An ad hominem means attacking the person making the argument instead of addressing the substance of the argument. If the argument involves issues that might reflect on a person’s character, it is not an ad hominem to discuss those issues.

It’s kind of funny, because ad hominem is exactly what you yourself are doing. You aren’t objecting to the substance of any of my points—you’re just complaining that I wasn’t considerate enough of everyone’s feelings in my delivery and that it makes me a jerk. Even a narcissistic jerk apparently—pulling out the big guns!

I also never said that people who do sleep training “don’t care about their children” and it’s rather dishonest for you to keep repeating it. I think there is often a self-absorption issue which is encouraged by our culture, but it’s not the same thing.


The fact that you think GP called you narcissistic or a jerk really explains why it's futile to argue with you. You seem to have misread everything about the post you're responding to, including the complete agreement on what an ad hominem is.


Respect for coming back and apologizing when everyone's downvoting you. Like my sibling comment, I don't think you're here to start a fight and you're just very passionate about the subject to the point where you come across very badly.

One honest suggestion I'd like to offer you is to consider that the studies that support the "letting babies cry is harmful" side of this argument may be just as questionable as any other quasi-scientific advice new parents get. The "La Leche League", which you linked to, is definitely guided by some dogmatic principles that I think are a little on the nutty side and I don't consider them very trustworthy. It's been a long time since I researched this so I don't have all the evidence handy, but I recall that their favorite study to cite about the harm of sleep training is the canadian "Early Years Study", and if you look at the source of this study, it does not mention sleep training at all. In fact, the only references to babies crying in the entire study is a hypothetical situation where the baby is stressed because the mother is letting it cry and the father is yelling at the mother in front of the baby. This is an example of La Leche using a study to push an idea that the study absolutely does not support. Just be aware. Read the references, decide for yourself, and take everyone's input (including mine) with a grain of salt.

Edit: and don't forget to give yourself a break, because all you need is love. :P Sorry, couldn't resist.


I totally agree that there are questionable studies on both sides. That said, I’m not aware of any studies supporting sleep training that don’t have glaring issues.

I also agree about La Leche League being a biased source. I only posted that because it includes references to a broad swathe of the research on both sides all in one place. I don’t endorse the post itself.

It would be cool if someone compiled a big google doc of what’s out there. I should have done it back when I was in research mode, but at the time I didn’t know what to think and couldn’t have anticipated becoming an anti-sleep training person. Before diving in, I was the one trying to convince my partner that it’s ok. Seeing all the research changed my mind and, honestly, left me horrified that this is the advice pediatricians are giving to new parents.


To me, it’s very simple: I work and my wife works. After some maternity/paternity leave, we both need to get to work again to earn money to provide our kids with food, shelter, a future etc.

To be able to work, we need to sleep. For us to sleep, our kids and the baby needs to sleep.

So we put the baby in his own room on day three. Always had him sleep in his bed in his room. Didn’t let him sleep anywhere else (or when he fell asleep, put him in his bed). When in his room, he was there to sleep, not to play. So in short: sleep = bed = sleep = bed.

He slept on his own through the night after seven weeks, with only two half awake feedings lasting maybe 15 minutes.

Maybe in 1950 the wife was raised to not expect a career and could be up all night taking care of a crying baby, and the man could sleep and then on his own earn a living wage for the family during the day?

Maybe in 10.000 b.C. parents could be up all night taking care of a crying baby and “the village” could then take care of the baby during the day while the parents slept?

Maybe maybe maybe, but in 2021 there is almost no viable alternative apart from making sure your baby sleeps through the night sooner rather than later.


It is sad if in 2021 a wife (or a husband) cannot take even a year or half-year break from the career.

(To avoid possible confusion, I am shaming the society, not you.)


Agreed. Fortunately my wife's University employer provides 14 weeks full pay, then 38 weeks 60% paid maternity leave.

I would still argue that society needs to figure a way to balance this out for both the male and female partnership(IE figure out a way for men to participate in equal fashion for that year) but that hasn't happened. As it is, we're grateful for this much compared to what many have.


Many countries other than the US have figured it out, maybe something to aspire.


Well the universities in Australia are as per described. Most of the rest of society is minimum legal standards of "not really enough".


In many societies, organizations, families, the parents can. I'm so glad where we live we have access to governmental maternal and parental leave options and we're able to make it work financially.


I personalny blame american culture (and protestant work ethic hidden behind it). Add some capitalistic rat race to that and You will get richest society on earth in which almost no one can stop for a moment to take a breath and maybe even do some parenting. Meanwhile here in Poland my wife was able to take year long parent leave (two times - one for each child). Some may say this is sociallism - and I would say that it does not mean it is a bad idea. It makes socially acceptable for parents to take a break.


I am not American, but I heard there was an era when the American family could survive on one salary. Not sure if that applied to all social classes.


I also see an alternative in 2021, even with both parents working. Just as a baby might be trained to sleep through the night, an adult can be trained to not sleep in one big chunk of 6-8 hours, but sleep in several chunks of a few hours. A little nap here and there, and some getting used to using your brain (=working) when tired is a viable alternative for me at least. While sleep is very important for ones health, having a child got me to realize that I can function with less sleep as well. This would be more in the spirit of „parents adapt to their new life as a young family“ in contrast to „the baby adapts to the parents pre-family lifestyle“. I am ready to sacrifice sleep for going out and working late, and so am I to comfort a crying brand-new descendant of mine. (Maybe I‘ll change my mind once the second baby is here ;) )


That situation is choice, pure and simple. You appear to be some sort of web or database developer, or possibly a system administrator. You can afford to support a family.

The problem is this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keeping_up_with_the_Joneses

You forgo a lot to keep up with the Joneses. Family time gets cut.

If that's the choice you really wish to make, OK. If not, cut costs until you can live a different sort of life. Hints: entertainment, restaurants, high rent, excessive travel, single-use items, services, the expenses due to that extra job, etc.


> That situation is choice, pure and simple. You appear to be some sort of web or database developer, or possibly a system administrator. You can afford to support a family.

I think characterizing mothers (or perhaps all parents?) who choose to work rather than stay home to care for children (and taking the consequential career hit) as "Keeping up with the Joneses" is a pretty blinkered view of human motivations, quite reductive, and frankly insulting.

It's often a choice for parents to both work. But many parents choose to stay in the workforce because they derive meaning from work and a career, not so that they can enjoy entertainment, restaurants, single-use items, and excessive travel. In fact, some parents are forced to leave the workforce because childcare can cost more than their after-tax income (think an infant and two kids in daycare / with a nanny).


I know an engineer who is a stay at home dad married to a professor wife. They have over 10 kids. Logistically it made more sense for him to decide to focus his problem-solving skills on the children for a decade or so.


It sounds like you had an easy time. Good for you. Many, many parents suffer hell with babies not sleeping and being upset. It seems a bit dismissive to just say “oh just do X and it’s all good”.


I didn’t mean to imply that.

My point was basically, if both parents have daytime obligations necessary to support the family, it’s very logical that they try to get the baby to sleep in the night ASAP

In that regard, having babies sleep in your bed, or having babies that cry though the night and accepting that as natural is a luxury (or problem) some families cannot afford.


If you can't both give up time to care for the baby 50% of the time (as opposed to one giving up all the time for 100% of the care, which definitely is backwards) then you have to realistically consider whether or not you should argue online that this is peak parenting. If you don't have time for your children, don't have them.


> We don’t live in a hunter gatherer society anymore, we just don’t.

What you describe isn't a "hunter gatherer society" issue. It's an innate human/pre-human/primate issue. Throughout human existence and our pre-human ancestor's existence, the infant/baby is with the mother 24/7 for the first few months/years of its life. This is something that stretches back millions of years. We really don't know what effects separating the baby from the mother at such an early age does for its emotional, psychological, etc development. Not to mention the mother's emotional, psychological, etc well being and of course the mother-child bonding.

> The baby cried and cried and cried.

It would be shocking if it started to lecture you on the pros and cons of the modern geopolitical world order. That a baby cried is par for the course.

> Just raise your kids with love. Be compassionate, and patient.

Unless you need a good night's sleep? This is comes off as new age nonsense we just love in the US. It's trite and meaningless. Of course you raise it with love, it's your kid. Rather than the obvious, we should raise kids so that they are well prepared to compete and fend for themselves in the real world.


I'm positive of two things in regards to being a parent (and a human):

1. I have no idea what I'm doing

2. Neither does anyone else.


I'll add, the people saying something works and the people saying it doesn't are both right.


Definitely, every baby is different and what works for one baby may not work for another.


When our second was 15 minutes, we knew "This one is different." 22 years later, still true.


and,

3. billions of parents have gotten through this before you, you will too.


> Just raise your kids with love. Be compassionate, and patient. Find a doctor you trust. Don’t let people add to an already stressful endeavor.

This, right here is the most important lesson we learned from our experience. There is no right or wrong way and others judging/criticising you for your parenting style have no clue what crazy cocktail of genetics+environment+hidden factors are affecting your family.


>Just raise your kids with love. Be compassionate, and patient.

Right and i would add, give them as many time with you as possible. Some of my greatest memory's was strolling around my dad workplace, when he had work todo. Children's don't need parent's as entertainment, but as adventure preparers.


> give them as many time with you as possible.

Children in the West today already spend more time with parents than at any point in the past:

https://news.uci.edu/2016/09/28/todays-parents-spend-more-ti...

Quality time with parents is important, of course, but we have become so focused on parental time that children are sacrificing solo time where they learn independence and initiative, and peer time where they learn to create their own identity and cooperate. Also, this places an unsustainable burden on parents who are expected to work full time as well as be parent, teacher, playmate, and cruise director for their kids.


> Children in the West today already spend more time with parents than at any point in the past

That's not what the article says. It compares to just 50 years ago, which is well into the industrialized world of two working parents in the office away from home.

Just a bit farther back, like with my grandparents era, kids grew up on the family farm, with their parents 24x7, learning by example from them.


How much of that "24x7" time was actually time spent together? When I was growing up kids and adults barely interacted with each other, most of the time kid(s) would be in one area of the house (or outside) doing their own thing and adult(s) would be somewhere else doing their own thing. This wasn't just my house either, it was normal.

Nowadays it's totally the opposite (and it's completely insane)


That's exactly what i meant with Adventure preparers, and not the Kids Entertainers :)


As I've grown older I've found it necessary and desirable to tell my own father about these moments, to assure him that he's done a great job for what he's done even if it was sometimes hard. Thanks for putting this in this perspective. I hope to remember it when I'm a father.


We are in an orthodoctic era. Lots of tensions about what principle is the best to follow, less patience and acceptance.


Would you please define that word? I can't find a definition online and I try to look up unfamiliar words to widen my vocabulary.


I'm not the OP, but my attempt through breaking down word etymologies would be something like:

ortho: rigid, straight, correct

doct: teachings, learnings

ic: of, or pertaining to

So orthodoctic seems to have the meaning of "pertaining to rigid or correct teachings".


Hm I improvised an adjective for orthodoxy. Maybe it's orthodoxic .. I hope you get the meaning now.


The adjective form of orthodoxy is orthodox. Think of something like the "Orthodox" church. And it's antonym is "unorthodox", for example: "the unorthodox church" ;)


And what's the term for adding redundant adjective suffix to an adjective ? :)


I’ve heard of the word “orthorexia”


I much prefer a “hot tip” over advice. Here’s my latest for example: Sometimes instead of telling my kid to do something, if I can just give the task a good “dad stare” then give him the same look, he’s less likely to try and argue against me. Just tapping into that part of his brain that already knows what I want from him without vocalizing it gives him less room to wiggle out.


> For us, ‘extreme’ was the sleep deprivation we experienced with baby number one as we tried every ‘no cry’ method in the book.

I was more generous in how I interpreted the article: the need for sleep-training is a consequence of the child having a whole different room to themselves. Parents in other cultures who share the room (or the bed) do not get the same level of extreme sleep deprivation and, as a consequence, will not need to sleep-train.

To me, the article is not questioning how good the parenting in the west is - it's contrasting it with parenting elsewhere (and tracing the roots of the parenting practices)


> Parents in other cultures who share the room (or the bed) do not get the same level of extreme sleep deprivation

That was my direct experience as a kid growing up in a non-Western society (I'm 40 now, am from Eastern Europe). When I first read about the Western tabu of parents not being allowed to sleep in the same bed with their children anymore I was a little surprised at first, and then saddened for those kids: "do you mean 3-year or 5-year old me should have slept all alone in his bed at night with no parent close to me? That is pure madness!"

More than that, one of my most vivid memories as a kid was sleeping with my brother and my two grand-parents in the same 3x4 meter room (give or take), my brother with my grandma and 6-year old me with my grandpa (there were two beds, a stove, a TV set and a small table in that room). I can still remember my grandpa peeling apples or pears and sharing them with my brother and me, just before we all went to sleep while we were watching some TV, very, very nice memories (in fact my nickname is taken from a Soviet TV series we were watching then [1]). Afaik neither me, nor my brother (who is 2 years older than me) were making any unwanted sounds while we were asleep at night.

[1] https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088635/


There's the extinction method which is the most hardcore and there's also the Ferber method which has the parent periodically check in with the baby.

Extinction is extreme, as one is basically abandoning the child to cry. They're scared, they don't know what's happening and they're alone.

Sure, they're (probably?) not gonna suffer long-term damage, but it's just an asshole thing to do. In the book recommending this method all parents had their instincts screaming that they're doing something wrong and they were feeling guilty even if it worked.


It’s not suitable for new babies, that’s for sure. But if you’re closer to the 1yr mark then they’re not crying because they’re scared, they’re crying because they know exactly what’s happening and they want to party and not go through the effort of figuring out how to go to sleep, again.

Some kids are just nuts. Ours both were. We went from an hour-long party of rolling, chanting, screaming, head-butting the wall, pulling the hair of any nearby parent, multiple times a night, to... asleep in 10mins. It felt bad at first until we saw how much his mood improved in the daytime because he wasn’t exhausted.


What method of sleep training did you use?

This article lists 6! https://www.todaysparent.com/baby/baby-sleep/most-popular-sl...


I've been wondering the same, the BBC article explains:

> the most extreme version of which involves leaving a baby on their own to "cry it out", in an effort to encourage their babies to sleep for longer stretches so their parents can get some much-needed rest.

I'm not a parent but that sounds pretty sensible to me. Odd of the BBC to call it "extreme".


We sleep-trained our first starting at about 6 months old, and we're about to do the same with our second. The strategy we used was some kind of incremental back-off. Put them down, light out, leave. Wait 5 mins. Go on, give them a little hug or back pat, leave. Wait 10. Then 15. Then 20. Then 30. Then stay at 30 until they fall asleep.

Next night, 10, 15, 20, 30, 30, 30...

next night, 15, 20, 30, 30, 30....

At some point it went up to like 30 mins for first check, then an hour for subsequent checks. I think if we'd gotten to that point we'd consider trying something else cause that's a lot of crying.

But in practice we never had to really adhere to most of the structure because iirc it was like:

Night 1: 5, 10, 15, asleep. Night 2: 10, 15, asleep. Night 3: asleep. Night 4: 15, asleep.

Then he was sleep trained and has slept like a rock with 0-30 seconds of fussing (usually 0) (and ~never crying) since.


This is called the Ferber method and it worked very well for us as well. Note to others considering using it, the method is just as much about the ritual leading up to sleep (bath, reading a book, etc)


“Solve your child’s sleep problems” by Richard Ferber, M.D. is the book which includes this. It also includes a lot more, including an overview of sleep physiology including phases, as well as lots more like details about night terrors and other “partial arousals”.

The big thing he says for going to sleep is to set up the desired sleep associations (eg, alone in the crib in a dark quiet room if that’s what you choose) and then ensure the child falls asleep in that situation and it doesn’t change while they sleep. So for instance, don’t let them fall asleep on your lap then move them to the crib, because when the next normal sleep cycle ends and they partially wake up, they will discover something is different and get upset.


Ah I can see that, we've always had a pretty rigorously-respected bedtime routine.


The baby is crying because they want attachment to the parent. Give them the love they want. Don't deprive them of love by letting them cry it out. Comfort them!


You're not wrong. But at the same time... it's a very effective method with some babies. One thing often missing from these discussions is the practicality. Yes, responding to your child like that would be ideal. But it just can't be done if they literally just cry constantly when put to bed. And some babies do that! Sleep-deprived parents who come to actively resent their child's crying is a very real thing. And probably far worse for development and attachment.


An informal application of #1, the Ferber method. On 4 kids. Worked great. Or seemed to, anyway. You can't know if anything actually works or if the baby just decided to start sleeping on his or her own.


> You want to continue to check on your baby at preset intervals but never feed or rock them to sleep

Sounds like childrearing done by a robot.


While you aimed for a flippant remark, robots helping with child rearing is absolutely going to happen. It’s already happening to the extent that it’s possible. What’s so bad about it?


I think this anxiety exists in traditional society as well but instead of getting advice from books and news articles in traditional societies you get an avalanche of advice from relatives


Yeah we waiting a pretty long time to sleep train our first. Just doesn't sound like something that can actually work. And seems really hard to do, psychologically. But we were kind of amazed how well and how quickly it worked. And yep, there are huge benefits to having a better rested baby and better rested parents. We'll probably do it earlier next time.


My wife and I went through the usual western slepo traibit cry out etc, I read an article about sleep cycles before electricity wher people had two sleeps per night, first one after dinner for 4-5 hours then and hour or two away where people had a snack or talked etc then went back to sleep for another few hours, I would liked to have tried that schedule with our kids even as a experiment, the sleep deprivation is horrible, I wonder if we aligned our schedule with our kids would it be better for everyone especially when they are babies


We have three kids and we sleep trained them. (Not a pediatrician, standard disclaimer.) This article calls it an ‘extreme’ practice.

Sleep training appears to be standard for all the parents I know, in the U.S. and otherwise. I think it's more likely that the author of the article has extreme views on parenting that they're tying to impose on others.


Not necessarily standard in Germany. Some literature explicitly calls it out as cruel, parenting books coming from the US recommend it

Mileage varies, know of one couple who did sleep training and had success with it.

Other couples shared a bed with their kid until it was about two and when they moved to a different apartment they took the opportunity to explain: hey you have your own room now.


I’ve sleep trained 3 kids by myself (my wife wants no part in it) in the last 4 years or so. It takes a couple of days and then everyone involved is happier going forward (mother, father, and child).


The constant stream of "you should be doing X" is only shameful or confusing if you think the people imparting it on you have any credibility or their opinions have any validity.


This whole thread is chaos, but I just wanted to share my experience in case its useful for anybody. Once our kids were out of the bassinet and into a larger cot, rolling and crawling around a lot, it was really clear they just wanted to be with us, and in the end we just found it best for everybody if they just slept between us or even lying on my chest.


The struggle we’re having is the baby scratches himself nonstop. No matter how much we trim his nails, if we leave him alone at night he’ll be bleeding everywhere. Other than that he sleeps relatively well.


Have you tried baby mittens? It looks like a pouch, there are no individual fingers on the mittens. We put those on our baby to avoid the scratching problem. Here is an example: https://www.amazon.com/RATIVE-Newborn-Scratch-Mittens-9-pair...


Yeah. He eventually figured out how to take them off. We switched to using socks because they stayed on tighter. Then when teething started he would suck on them and rub his face giving him some bad rashes.


Is the article saying anything is 'right' or 'wrong'?


My wife has joked about writing (yet another) book on parenting but "chill, just go with it and do whatever works" isn't much material for an entire book.


Can you share more about how you sleep trained them? Thanks.


> The baby cried and cried and cried.

What did you expect having a child to be like?


Of all the "weird" things we do as parents in euro/anglo nations, sleeping arrangements seems nowhere near the top.

IMO, the top "offender" is over-scheduling kid's activities. So many kids in my area have their days booked solid with sports, academic tutoring, music lessons. Approaching zero free time to enjoy being a kid.

Edit - and this isn't really a western thing, "Tiger Mom" and similar probably pre-dates this behavior in the US.


Not so sure this is necessarily a western thing. When I was a kid in Germany in the 90ies, school started at 7:30, and ended at 13:00. Once a week you had afternoon school from 14:30 to 16:00, and my parents wanted me to have piano lessons once a week. But after 13:00, and on weekends, I was generally free to do whatever I wanted. I played computer games excessively and watched a lot of movies, of course, but I also explored the nearby forest, build tree houses, taught myself how to build a computer, BASIC, Delphi, HTML, CSS and JS, and drew a comic series with a friend (of course we were the only readers). Except for math, everything that helped my through university and my professional life so far I learned in this free time, just by playing.


Isn't Germany western?


Are we talking about west Germany?


Yes, thus their point.


I volunteer with a U.S. Scout troop. I see boys that don't know whether or not they can go on an activity/campout because they have to ask their parents if they're free that day/weekend. I try to tell them their old enough (most are teenagers) that they should start deciding for themselves what activities they participate in. Most all of them just seem apathetic.

I'm sure their parents are trying to do what is best for their children, but it doesn't seem to be working.


I don’t know what it means for kids to be free nowadays. Free to visit a friend’s home seems like the only thing, because everything else is a home that’s an anonymous unit or a commercial establishment that’s gated by money.

It’s not like you’re releasing your child to be raised by the experiences of the village.

With that in mind, many parents are probably struggling to not have their kids consumed by the web during free time, esp during COVID lockdowns.


There are plenty of areas open to the public that are accessible to children: playgrounds, libraries, schoolyards, skateparks, large underused parking lots, malls, public pools. Some places have great nature nearby: beaches, creeks, rivers, hills, and mountains. Some of those are more dangerous than others, but they are all accessible if the parent allows it.


In the US, if the children in question are under 12 and going to any of those places unsupervised, they're likely to get the police and/or CPS called on them.


That's one cool thing about living in Utah: https://www.npr.org/2018/04/01/598630200/utah-passes-free-ra...

The other cool thing is all the natural parks and outdoor activities (skiing, biking, climbing.)

The downsides are the utter lack of nightlife (not really my jam anyway, but whatever) and all the damn Mormons (I am one.)


Sadly true. And part of the problem. There's now an expectation (at least in upper middle class areas) that kids be in formal, supervised activities 24/7.

I still remember growing up, playing around the neighborhood, and a parent would call out the front door "Danny, dinner time!" and all the kids would scatter to get home for dinner.

#getoffmylawn #wheresmycane


This upsets me a lot. I'm in my 30's and I was still allowed to ride bikes around the neighborhood, go to the store for snacks, etc. with my brother. I don't understand how kids can develop a sense of exploration without these opportunities. Hopefully it's still possible to develop it during the teen years.


It depends on where. A few years ago, I lived in a falling-down house in a family neighborhood of mainly immigrants. There was a school a few blocks away, and kids used to come hang out in our trees (I’m pretty sure they thought the place was abandoned) and occasionally set off fireworks by the creek we lived next to.

I wouldn’t have called the cops on them since they weren’t causing any real trouble, but if my neighbors did, no one ever came. There are bigger problems in that town (like the feral fucking dogs) that the cops refused to do anything about.

But honestly, most of the neighbors were familiar with each other and let their kids roam pretty free. It was nice to see that places like that still exist.


We raised my son in the DC suburbs (Herndon, VA). There is still a "town center" of sorts, with several parks nearby. So, free for him meant a combo of going to friends (mostly in the same large subdivision), getting to school on his own (bike, board, foot, bus), and running around after school (parks, downtown, whatever - I know a few of his common haunts, but didn't track his every waking moment).


Skateboarding? Climbing trees? Taking apart a toy? Messing around with a computer and a programming language? Inventing a game?


It gets beaten out of you and the easiest response is to just give up and wait it out.

“You don’t want to do this anymore? You need this for college, you shouldn’t quit everything you do, I wish I could have done this” etc.

Eventually it’s just easier to passively suffer whatever activity you dislike and just recognize the starting cost to trying new things is extreme.

> “ I try to tell them their old enough (most are teenagers) that they should start deciding for themselves what activities they participate in.”

I’d start with asking them about what their parents are like.


it can be sort of futile. as a kid, you can argue, resist, or break the rules, but until you can support yourself financially, your parents get the final say on most important matters.

reminds me of my first meeting with my advisor at college to pick courses for freshman year. I came in with a few ideas for courses/majors that my dad thought were practical. my advisor picked up on this almost immediately and asked "okay, but what are you interested in?". we had a nice talk, but at the end I went back to picking from the list my dad approved of. my advisor was disappointed and insisted that I needed to chart my own path through college. my response: "yeah, but I need my dad to write the check".


There is truth to both. The problem with charting your own course as a kid is you often don't really know what is worth doing. "Underwater basket weaving" might be interesting, but it won't prepare you for any future. There are a lot of good choices though, you don't have to be a doctor just because your dad wants you to. And your dad might still be under the illusion that lawyer is a great paying job, when for the most part it isn't anymore (or maybe I'm wrong and it will go back to that? your guess is as good as mine).


I think there's a difference between a parent saying, "You should consider the economic ROI of what you choose to study, the risk of success/failure, and what life it could lead to" vs. "be a lawyer". If your kid really wants to act then they can go to LA and learn what the best way to do that is.

I think parents bias to being risk-adverse in advice for their kids because they only experience the downside risk and little of the upside from potentially riskier paths. I think a good parent would communicate some of this, but that's not a skill everyone has.

A lot parents just don't know that much and are over confident (like most people) even if their intentions for their kid are good. Others leverage their power over their kids to force them into certain paths which isn't great either.


Downside risk being having to support adult children who can't support themselves?


Yeah, I think some people are clueless to this context.

Even in more direct ways.

I remember getting yelled at in middle school because I would show up late to early morning jazz band practices I had to be driven to. I was ready to go 40min before we had to be there. I can't make my mom get me there on time.

I think adults forget kids are not independent.


I know what they're parents are like during meetings and campouts. I have to manage them as much as I manage the boys. Some of them try to helicopter during meetings. There was one Scout that I've only seen smile when his dad wasn't around.

They don't seem to like the idea that Scouts is supposed to be youth-run/led and that it's okay to fail as long as they learn from it and improve. The parents just don't want them to fail or be uncomfortable at all (it's not always dry and warm outside).


Cool - sounds like you have the context.

I just remember adults yelling at me as a kid for things like this. “You should take responsibility.” Etc.

At the time I didn’t know what to do.

I wish I had just said, “I have no control over my life”.

I think other adults can sometimes be clueless about what a kid’s family life is like.


> Most all of them just seem apathetic.

Which seems the other side of helicopter parenting; kids don't get much of a say in deciding what they fill their free time with, so they don't develop an opinion in things like that.

Plus (and I'm going to sound old here, give me my cane so I can shake it), there's a lot more casual entertainment lying around the house nowadays to fill the voids in people's time. "doing nothing" is not much of a thing anymore, because people will casually browse their phone or turn on the TV or something. (I'm guilty of that as well).

In the previous generation, there would be a TV but not everything on there would catch the interest of everyone.


I wonder if browsing your phone is really much different from channel surfing. I suppose by sheer volume you never run out of "channels" on the internet.


It's all so strange to me.

My son (now 26) always had summers free at minimum. While he was younger, he did go to a YMCA outdoor "adventure" day camp at a nearby lake park. Once he was in middle school, he stayed home. Sports 2-3 seasons, but he got to pick which one he played and never the crazy travel league stuff. In high school, he was free to do what he wanted (football for 2 years, guitar all 4, and a mix of rec league basketball and volleyball when he felt like it). Always plenty of time to ride his bike, play at the park, run around with friends. Starting in middle school, he'd often disappear across town on bike of skateboard for hours at a time. School was 2.5 miles away and he often opted to ride his skateboard instead of the bus.

I see kids today where every free moment is booked with stuff. All in some sisyphean effort to get into Harvard or something. I mean, sure, I get a desire to go to a top name uni, but the changes of little Johnnie getting in, regardless of extra-curricular, is so small that all the effort seems mostly wasted to me. I "only" went to UVA and turned out fine, IMO, so maybe I'm biased. I dunno.


I don't disagree with your premise, I'm strongly against parents trying to game college admissions for their 13 year old. But getting into UVA is not easy at all. Especially out of state, the admit rate is like 15% - so while not as crazy as Harvard it's in line with a few of the Ivies.

IMO a lot of the admissions-centered thinking has propagated down the rankings further and further in recent years too. Anecdotally I've seen people over-scheduling their children for target schools in a tier below UVA. This attitude of course creates a terrible feedback cycle, as admissions gets more and more competitive. At some point I'd like to think the admit offices are sick of seeing so many prototypical candidates, but still you need to do something to stand out. Ideally the parent should advise the kid on this meta-info, without literally telling them what to pursue.


These days, there aren't many kids who only do Scouting...it's an over-scheduling comorbidity. For kids who resist over-scheduling, scouting seems to be one of the first things to go...because den and pack meetings are by and for adults, they never make it to a troop.

Or to put it another way, teenage apathy prevalence is probably pre-teen survivor bias.


I wonder what the rate of dropping out during Cub Scouts is vs Scouts BSA, vs how many don't cross over from Cubs to Scouts. The crossover happens around age 11, so I would imagine most of the dropouts happen later.


Anecdotal observation from my child's experience is nearly everyone who dropped out dropped out as a cub scout. That was a very large fraction. Those who crossed over are typically Eagle Scouts. But for one of those kids, they were all highly scheduled. But for a different one, they were each complying with parental wishes.

My child was over Cub Scouts by Bears.

But more than a decade later, my grown-ass child hangs out with several of the Eagles. They are close friends.


The scouting, at least here, is very time consuming. It seems to want to be your whole lifestyle.


How so? When my son was in scouts, it was a weekly meeting, usually after dinner (to avoid sports). Plus one optional weekend activity (camping, etc) per month (and these usually slowed between Nov-Mar because fewer people want to camp when it's freezing and wet).


Most actives do. Commitment is the way to win championships, so any one moment you are not practicing your sport is a chance to lose the award. That things can/should be fun is lost. Scouting is a bit better than sports, but they still want your life.


They don't. You can go to piano teacher once a week. You then train at home as a side hobby. You go to art lesson once or twice a week. You go to sport training 2-3 times a week and that can be it. There are plenty of clubs like that. They even have competitions one in a while - you won't be champion but you will compete against kids like you.

There are also super competitive clubs, but huge amount of them is not like that. My own kids go to clubs like that, my friends kid go to clubs like that. The teacher typically acts seriously and attempts to teach you what is possible during that time.

But scouting is whole another level, occupying afternooms, weekends and plus giving "homework" projects. The kids were either fully into it or left.


That was not my experience with Scouting as a youth. My troop was around 30 kids. It was one 90 minute meeting a week, one weekend campout a month, an annual food drive, and an every-other-month selling consessions at the church bingo game as a fundraiser for about 2 hours.

Pretty much everything else can be done at summer camp (1 week a summer) or maybe a merit badge fair on a Saturday once a year.

Sure, you might have to keep a log for a month of your chores, or do a home improvement project for the Family Life merit badge, but it never felt like a time sink as a kid, and didn't occupy all my afternoons. I essentially never had "homework" from Scouts.

Maybe some troops are really gung-ho, but there are plenty of troops that aren't. Troops are not allowed to set requirements that aren't in the Scout Handbook, if they are, there's the district, the council, and ultimately the national office that can put a stop to it or revoke the unit's charter.


I don't think attitudes to infant care translate in any way to how older kids or teenagers are treated in different cultures. I'm not a parent, but I was a child and teenager at some point, so I can say from personal experience that parents who are extremely present at a young age can actually give you more leeway later in life.

On a more general note, I can recommend Jared Diamond's 'The World Until Yesterday' - it covers similar topics to the bbc article and more.


That seems normal to me? I'm well-past the teenage years, and I wouldn't commit to a weekend activity without double-checking with the rest of my family first.


I think it's "normal" only in the sense that most everyone behaves this way today, but I don't think it should be that way.

By the time I was older in Scouts, my siblings were in college and my parent could drive me to wherever, or at least to the meeting place where I could carpool. The times when my parent wasn't available, I took the city bus.

I imagine if one of my siblings was was the same age and our parent could only drive one of us, the other would take the bus.

The first time I took the bus, my parent went with me to show me how, and then let me do it myself going forward.


I dont think the person you responded to was thinking about driving vs busses.

Basically, you are 16 and want to spend whole weekend out of house including during the night. Not doing it without parental permission seems normal to me.

Nor it seems new. My gradma or grandpa definitely could not just spend whole night and weekend away just by own decision. They would expect my parents to ask them for permission. I was expected the same.


Mine was default allow, his was default block. I had to inform, he had to get permission. Perhaps same result, but one feels more autonomous than the other.

From another one of my comments:

> I always just told my parent that I was doing something just so they knew where I was - not necessarily asking for permission, but that gave them the chance to veto it (which they only did one time as punishment when I got in trouble at school).

> I think that parents need to teach their kids how to be responsible and autonomous, and treat them like they are their own person


I dont think it necessary implies default block. It just implies you have to ask before comitting to activity. Whether the parents are more likely to say yes or no is orthogonal.

Also, we are talking here about overnight camping. It is not the same out for few hours. 16 years old being expected to sleep at home by default does not strike me as overly controlling.


There is nothing new in that? When I was pre teen and teen, I definitely had to get parents permission for weekend campout. It seems to me normal that parent have a say in whether the non-adult child sleep at home. Plus there were weekend activities woth familly I was expected to participate in - trips, familly visits, grandpa birthsday, etc.

So I would ask. I mean, idea that 16-17 years old goes for campout without asking parents strikes me as wtf.


I don't know, my parents always asked me if I wanted to go to my Grandmother's house or other trips (I did).

I always just told my parent that I was doing something just so they knew where I was - not necessarily asking for permission, but that gave them the chance to veto it (which they only did one time as punishment when I got in trouble at school).

I think that parents need to teach their kids how to be responsible and autonomous, and treat them like they are their own person, because they need to be to have any chance at being successful.


"IMO, the top "offender" is over-scheduling kid's activities. So many kids in my area have their days booked solid with sports, academic tutoring, music lessons. Approaching zero free time to enjoy being a kid."

It's a weird and tricky balance that one has to strike, in the US, in 2021 ...

On the one hand, I feel strongly that kids should have free time and energy to explore and experiment and I am reinforced daily in my instinct that a "bored" kid is just another 10 minutes away from doing something interesting and magical.

On the other hand, as my oldest children reach pre-teen age, and I pay more attention to their pre-teen peers, I find myself agreeing with the "idle hands are the devils playground" heuristic. I want my teenage children busy doing constructive and healthy things.

But it gets complicated ... you can't just plug your kid onto a age 12 or age 13 baseball or hockey team. Those kids have been playing the sport (and playing the sport together) since they were 4 or 5. Your kid will not make the team or will be conspicuously out of place. So if you've been free-ranging it for their first ten years you're going to need to get more creative as you transition to the teenage years...

I have seen things like mountain biking and BJJ be good options...


Yeah, totally agree on sports. But, that's part of the problem - kids specializing in a single sport before high school? That's bonkers to m.

When I was in school, very few kids specialized, even through high school. The top football players were also the best wrestlers or basketball players, and most also played baseball or track or lacrosse. Few of them did school basketball and then AAU the remainder of the year.

My son stuck to club/rec basketball (instead of the school team) and volleyball (school team, but mens volleyball prior to high school isn't really a thing in DC).

And, like you said, there's always cycling, martial arms, or track/field (typically takes all interested).

I also agree with keeping kids active/engaged. But, to me, that means supporting them as they pick their own activities, not scheduling every second of their non-school time.

Edit - many of the kids specializing before high school are pretty obviously NOT destined for scholarship athletics. There's really no point to it, IMO. I coached football and basketball for much of my son's youth. Of all the kids I coached, 1 went on to NCAA D1 sports (and that was to W&M, where he still had to meet stringent academic standards).


Exactly. I tried joining sports for the first time when I was 14 (around 15 years ago). And it was honestly a humiliating experience. I was so far behind the other kids in skill level it was just sad. And I was the ONLY one on the team that couldn't keep up. Everyone else had been practicing for 5-10 years.

You're a good parent to notice and think about these things.


I would suggest approaching this in two structured phases - "breadth" and "depth".

In the breadth phase, you instruct the kid to study the topic of interest at a distance, collect information, attend events casually and give some reports explaining what they like. Make the thing of "pursuing an interest" just a little bit academic and intentional on their part. With a lot of topics they'll have their fill and loosen their grip pretty quickly, and when that happens, allow them to go on to the next thing.

If they can't shut up about it, that's when you go towards the depth phase and push them towards a more intensive effort, to take the class, read the book, join the club. Set modest goals that still take a committment, and indicate that it's very likely that some kids will be ahead or pick up the material faster. They should still report how things go and get your feedback so that you can spot issues, or teach them how to seek out good feedback where you lack competence. But there's a definite thing here of getting them to see the struggle itself as something rewarding, not the outcome like "being the best" or "making a career". Because if they get a feel for that, they will reach adulthood with some sense of balance and intention to what they pursue and why and a sense of their strengths and weaknesses.


"So many kids in my area have their days booked solid"

Sounds like a wealthy thing, not a Western thing.


In the west your children's days can be roughly just as busy but you if you're wealthy you can make it easier, basically.

The only thing I'm really jealous of from spending time around people who've grown up with more money is that, assuming your family are basically nice, it's much easier to brush over any cracks or for the children to mentally seperate themselves e.g. The house I grew up is fairly miniscule, the first thing I noticed visiting a large house was not only that they had (say) a music room [so separation] but also that the children could hide within the house outside of earshot of their parents.


Queue the Doctor / Lawyer married couple with 2.5 kids who vacation twice a year, lease German cars, and have positive net worth crying about 'only being middle class'.


Technically, aren't they right? Middle class typically means you still have to work, strictly speaking.

I'm going off of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_class#Three-level_econo...


Depends who you ask, or the context. Anecdotally, software developers, being more math-minded than average, tend to think of middle-class literally - the middle third or middle quintile of income distribution.


That has never been the meaning of the term historically and doesn’t capture the magnitudes-difference between the middle and upper classes.


I agree. I was just pointing out that there is a portion of the HN readership that tends to use the strictly economic definition (rightly or wrongly). Also, the meaning has shifted over time.

As used in the early 1900s - I realize the term was coined even earlier than that - it referred to what today we'd likely call upper-middle-class (or if you're a fan of Engles, the bourgeoisie). White-collar, professional, well-educated, but not rich/powerful/nobility. It excluded almost the entirety of the working-class (even those who, by income, were well above poverty).

More recently, usage in the US has trended towards anybody above poverty but not quite rich (and choose your own definition of rich to suit your point). Which itself includes a massive span of incomes and lifestyles.


The usage hasn't really changed in the UK.


depends how you slice it. "have to work" is kind of a vague way to define class membership. someone with a $500k net worth doesn't "have to work" if they're content with living on $20k/year or so. of course, if you insist on sending your children to private school and taking them to europe every year, this is going to be unworkable.

most people tend to think what they have isn't quite enough, twice as much would be just right, and anything more than that is excessive.


Nit: It's "cue" as in "stage cue".


Odds are good the couple you mention are in fact negative net worth, or close to it. They don't own the car. Every time their house goes up in value they refinance and take the cash out to pay for the vacation.

Generally those with a significant net worth live more modest lives - older cars (they might buy new, but that is because they know if they do the maintenance it will last for 15-20 years). The house might be nice for the neighborhood, but it won't be in the rich part of town. They might vacation twice a year, but they will be cheap vacations. The difference goes into funding their retirement plan, and some other savings.


In the US, a doctor/lawyer dual income couple should be earning at least $300k, if not $500k+ per year.

Source:

https://www.medscape.com/slideshow/2020-compensation-overvie...

Even with $600k to $800k ($4k to $6k per month loan payments) of student loans, they should be able to pull off a decent lifestyle and be positive net worth by their mid 40s.


Income doesn't equate to wealth. You have to look at the other side of the equation, outgo, to determine what someone's net worth is.

In addition to student loans, there's the house payment. People tend to buy a house based on what they can be approved for, not based off of a budget number they developed before talking to a bank. A 300k salary will get you pre-approved for a a lot of house in the US. Docs and Lawyers also fall into the trap of buying practices, so that's another factor.

The biggest factor you're missing in your assumption, though, is that personal finance problems are largely behavioral. There's a parallel with personal health. The difference is that people know more about how to lose weight and be healthy - and still don't do it - then people who actually know how to make good financial decisions. Even those who know they shouldn't buy things they can't afford, routinely do so for whatever reason they have been told or have invented.

For what it's worth, the study by Ramsey Solutions says that the top 5 careers for becoming a millionaire are engineers, teachers, CPAs, attorneys, and management. While some of those are vague and capture a large range of professions, Docs are conspicuously missing.


This doesn't jive with any data or personal experience I have. The Ramsey Solutions study also seems like garbage, especially because it seems like their definition of millionaire is someone with $1M in a 401k.

But if you line up 100 teachers or CPAs and 100 doctors in the USA, you can sure as hell bet the doctors will be far wealthier than the teachers or CPAs.

It's a fact that US doctors, across the whole population of doctors, earn $200k+ per year, and outside of software engineers, I don't think any of the Ramsey careers earn anywhere near as much as a population (unless management includes high level execs in F500 companies?). Docs are conspicuously missing because Ramsey is trying to sell something to people with lower to moderate incomes/high debt, such as teachers/CPA/attorneys, etc and they're not targeting doctors. Doctors would never need the Ramsey website.

See the difference in advice on a website like whitecoatinvestor.com vs Ramsey.

As for assumptions about personal finance behaviors, I'm sure some doctors are bad at it, just like every other profession. But I would need some pretty firm evidence that doctors who are by any measure, very highly motivated and intelligent individuals, are somehow so poor at managing their finances that they squander $100k+ per year.


Well, their definition of a millionaire is someone with a net worth of greater than a million dollars. That's also my working definition of a millionaire, and I thought was the definition of a millionaire.

Can you provide your definition so that I can frame your comments with it?


Sorry, I should have said the metric of a millionaire as defined buy $1M in a 401k is not saying much.

Having $1M after decades of working at or near retirement age is the bare minimum one needs for a “decent” retirement if they want to continue their lifestyle. I know 90% of Americans don’t come close to it, but if you want security of quality of life and not worry about medical expenses, $1M will not go far in many of the places in the US that are popular.

On the other hand, when I’m putting together a real estate deal and I need a few hundred thousand dollars, I have many doctors I can call who might be able to pony up, but no teacher is going to be able to come up with that kind of investment. I know a couple of outlier engineers and CPAs who can come up with that that, but nowhere near the amount of doctors, especially as a percentage of all engineers and CPAs.

It’s just crazy to me to hear of the profession where all members are higher earners that are at $200k on the low end be put in the same bucket as teachers whose median might be $60k to $80k, in high cost of living areas.


Some doctors can get the several hundred thousand dollars, but many of them fall for scam investments and lose it all in them. Teachers are more likely be investing in safer things than a real estate deal. An index fund (or similar) will give you more diversity for the same investment and so is a lot safer, it won't grow as fast in the best case, but it won't drop nearly as far in the worst case. (I recommend target date retirement funds these days for even better diversity).

Not that real estate is a bad investment, but a single high value deal has no diversity and so it a bad investment. If you are putting several hundred thousand into a single investment your net worth really should be closer to ten million than one.

Note that I said some doctors above. If only 1% of doctors are good with money/investments, that is a lot of doctors, and they will in general have more money than any teacher.


Docs are conspicuously missing.

Student loans are the reason for this. Physicians have to pay a great deal for school in USA.


At the amount doctors make they can pay that off in a few years. Student loans are [can be] big for doctors, but they are only a couple years after tax income even at the most expensive schools.


I thought a large number of lawyers end up not earning much?

And straight out of university, you really can’t look at the average, because the income distribution of lawyers is extremely bimodal in the US: https://www.biglawinvestor.com/bimodal-salary-distribution-c...


But not for doctors. The lower end of the household income range I listed is achievable by doctors alone. I would also presume doctors are more often than not marrying lawyers on the higher end of the income scale.

Bottom line, based on numerous personal experiences and pay data, I do not expect lawyer/doctor families to have the quality of life the person I was responding to claim they have, on average.


You are confusing quality of life with money saved for a rainy day. So long as the income holds out they are not much different, but when bad times come one is in trouble


Who is not much different? Surely having six figures of extra free cash flow makes a different in quality of life compared to 80% of the population.


How is flying first class to your cruise ship where you have to most expensive cabin (complete with a full size grand piano) a higher quality of life than a week camping in a nearby state park? The first vacation will set you back at least $20,000, the second $300.

If you are asking about the difference between $10k and $20k that is a big difference. If you are asking about $60k vs $600k, the difference is not nearly as big even though the first is double, with the second is 10x.


That link needs an account. Maybe a screenshot or something


Weird, I just searched medscape 2020 doctor pay in duckduckgo and it works for me.

Here’s an alternate search result with similar findings:

https://c8y.doxcdn.com/image/upload/Press%20Blog/Research%20...


Interesting, thanks.


If they were upper class they wouldn't have to queue ?


My coworker did this with her son. She was spread thin with afterschool programs, sports, projects and so on. Well, the kid got into Caltech. Where he'll probably meet amazing people and receive an excellent education. So maybe it worked? How many YC founders had this overbooked childhood? I'd guess over 70%.


But did the overbooked childhood enable that, or was the kid destined for a top-notch uni regardless?

The students gaining admissions to top unis are largely self-motivated, extremely smart, and would have chosen high-quality activities on their own.

Looking back at my own childhood, I chose my sports, music, and other activities. My parents enabled them, but never forced me into them. Would forcing me to play an additional sport, or forcing me to attend after-school tutoring made the difference between UVA and Harvard? I doubt it. And what did attending UVA instead of Harvard cost me? Hard to say for sure, but I'm inclined to say "not much" as I'm happily upper-middle-class as it is.

And considering my high school peers who did attend Ivies and similar, most of them either smarter or harder working than me.


I have the same experience; I think what school you get to attend is just the happy byproduct arising from your internal combination of intelligence, self-motivation, and emotional resilience (mostly! I am speaking in generalities).

I remember reading a study about this exact topic and it turns out name brand has little to do with career success in meritocratic career paths - i.e., upper-middle white collar professionals such as engineers, doctors, lawyers, etc.

I guess my conclusion is to be aware of your child's personality. If they aspire to be an engineer, they could probably go anywhere, even gasp Virginia Tech and do fine. However if they aspire to be a politician, then they'd probably be best served to attend the highest grade institution they can so they can be socialized into that in-group.


Now you're just being silly. Nothing good ever came from that backwater university. ;)

Flashes back to massive football losses... "It's alright, it's ok, we're gonna be your boss someday!" College students can be such insecure jerks.

(but, yeah, totally agree - the vast majority of students will do just fine with a degree from Big State U)


Well, I believe that some minimal pushing is necessary. Like you can’t be motivated in a topic you don’t even know exists, so if nothing else, giving a broad view of the “palette” is the task of a parent. And of course as you write, enabling said activites.

Also, I do find it bad when parents push their child from an overly young age into some specific thing, but at the same time the reality is, that both physical and mental development improvements in such a young age have a really profound effect. So looking at a 5 years old play the violin is sad in one way, but at the same time at his/her teenage years he/she can choose (at least hopefully) to continue the efforts and with an inner motivation he/she can have a bright future, much more than only starting it at 10+ years old.


And there's plenty of students at Caltech who were not overbooked in their free time.


As someone who went to Caltech I assure you Caltech faculty care very little about the name on the undergrad programs of their grad students. I.E. the value proposition of a Caltech undergrad education barring a few IMO cases (which Harvard tends to grab) is doubtful


Hey notsureaboutpg just so you know, you're hellbanned and all of your comments are grayed out. Replies to you are disabled.


FYI (and not sure if this requires a karma threshold) if you click the timestamp on a comment you'll get a "vouch" option that you can use to resurrect non-problematic comments from banned people.


I think your guess would be wrong, but I also don't think overbooking is a problem.

As a child who had lots of free time due to living in a place with a lack of structured activities for kids, I really envy kids who can take advantage of such resources enough to have a packed daily schedule.


It's not so much that kids shouldn't have structured activities; it's that these activities shouldn't be thrust upon them by parents.

Yeah, the smaller the kid, the more direction they're going to need. But a 5th grader should be able to pick their activities within reason.

I mentioned it in another thread, but when I was coaching youth sports, I saw two huge (IMO) problems... first, kids specializing at a young age - 5th and 6th graders playing a single sport 9+ months of the year (vs mixing it up). Related to that was a disturbing frequency of overuse injuries in younger athletes. Baseball players coming back from summer with stress fractures in their spines from too much pitching practice and things like that.

And also a whole lot of straight-A students being forced to attend extra-curricular tutoring. I'm sure in some regions, it might be necessary to learn advanced subjects, but Fairfax County schools have robust GT/AP/honors programs and allow dual enrollment at the local community college - very few kids are running out of available maths classes, etc.

And with a robust state college system (UVA, W&M, VT, GMU, JMU, and on and on), the "penalty" for not getting into Stanford isn't much (for the majority of subjects).

Anyways, all anecdotal, but of my son's peers, the kids with the overbooked schedules didn't really go to colleges any more prestigious than anybody else. Most just ended up at one of the several excellent state colleges.


> and this isn't really a western thing

For real, I've heard some horror stories about e.g. Chinese parents pulling their kids through the grinder.


Best decision my parents made for me when I was kid: no extra activities after school, no summer camps, no music lessons, etc, no soccer teams, etc.

I did have "unofficial summer camps", I did play some music instruments (without teachers), I did play a lot of soccer (without teams, just in the street)... I (and the kids in my neighbourhood) did all of these without adults.


Did you not have any desire to do these things? This strikes me as an odd "rule" to have since a lot of people genuinely enjoy these activities. Playing football in high school was one of my favorite parts of the time period, and going to a summer camp legitimately changed my life path. I think these things can be extremely good if the child wants to participate.

I couldnt imagine not letting my own child not do these things if they wanted to.


Yeah me too! I had the occasional swimming lesson once per week or something but other than that, if the weather was good, you'd find me and all the neighborhood kids running around playing tag or riding our bikes everywhere. I grew up at a co-op so all of the houses were close together and there were a lot of families and other kids my age.

I think the number one thing you can do for your kid is to live in a neighborhood with lots of other kids.


I went to art class once a week because I liked it, but stopped at a young age when I didn't se any classes in the course catalog that I was interested in. The only summer camp I did was one week a summer with Scouts.

I'm guessing "summer camp" for most other kids is of a longer duration?


Not everyone grows up in a neighborhood with kids their age.


I'd argue that romanticizing children's free time is more weird and more western than anything else. My free time as a kid usually just involved being bored and lonely while watching TV or playing video games.


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