Well Being

Mothers Who Lie

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I'll let you in on a little secret. All three of my children “slept through the night” at three months of age! For real! I'm not lying! Except, then they didn't. Inevitably my 3-month-old would cut her first tooth, get a cold, or just plain decide it was nice to have her mama comfort her back to sleep in the night. So can I say in all honesty that my children slept through the night at three months of age? Not quite.

Image courtesy of Lorenzo González

I think a significant number of mothers are not completely honest about how things are going in their mothering journey. For some reason, mothers (and fathers too) sometimes feel a need to tell a tiny untruth/white lie/fibber about whether or not little Johnny eats much solid food, uses the potty, or sleeps through the night. This happens for a number of reasons — mothers think they are the only ones struggling with these issues (because, well, other mothers lie!) and they think for some reason their children should be doing X, Y, or Z but they aren't yet. Mothers who exaggerate the abilities of their children do all other mothers a huge disservice.

I see this mainly in two areas — (1) potty training and (2) sleep. Moms might brag about how little Johnny was out of diapers at 2.5 (heck, I've said that about my own children), but they fail to mention how much effort (and control — more about that in a minute) went into that “accomplishment” and that there are still occasional daytime accidents and the child still wears diapers at night-time (for another 2-3 years!) I have seen cases of forced/strict potty training backfire before. Sure the kid is “out of diapers” by age 2, but then at age 3 he decides he's no longer interested in pooping on the potty and he simply soils his underwear as a way of exerting control. Please don't get me wrong. I am not saying all children will do this, nor am I saying that I've seen such a huge sample of children that I know if and when it will happen. I'm just saying, even the parents who think they're telling the truth might just possibly not have any idea of what will happen in the future due to their pushing a development before the child was ready.

The claims of the sleep trainers and cry-it-out parents are the ones that really get to me though. Oh, Johnny goes to bed at 7 without a peep and doesn't get up until 6. Okay, number one, at what price? Tears and a complete surrender of the hope that his parents will comfort him in the night? And number two, sure, after those 3/4/5 nights of endless crying, little Johnny sleeps through the night. But what about the next time Johnny is teething, or has a cold, or is going through a growth spurt, or is trying out some new developmental skill like standing up or walking. In my experience, moms rarely come back and admit oh yes, Johnny slept well for a couple of weeks but then he got that ear infection and we had to start the process all over again — 3 more nights of crying! It was torture!

At best these mothers are lying to themselves, at worst they are lying to other mothers. And that's all I'll say about “mothers who do this” or that. I just hope we all can support each other, no matter where we are in the journey.