how to soothe a crying baby

A life lesson, using a child as an example:  when my son was born, we were good parents. When he cried, we ran to him.  We rocked him, sang him comforting songs in English and Russian.  We gave him milk to get him to sleep.  We slept in the room with him. We still do.  He sleeps in fits and spurts.  He’s a great kid, but his sleep patterns are erratic.

When my daughter was born, we were good parents. When she cried, we waited.  We rocked her sometimes, but put her down at the first sign of drowsiness.  We sang to her when she was awake, but never to put her to sleep.  We gave her milk sometimes, but often put her to sleep long after milk.  We never stay in the room with her.  She sleeps through the night occasionally – something we never could have imagined with my son at her age, or even now.

The life lesson?  Constant attention is not always the answer.

1.  Your spouse does not need your constant attention. People are individuals.  When you get married, you are not a cyborg unit, a fusion of male and female (or otherwise, depending on your state’s legal system).  You are two individuals who love each other.  Back off a bit sometimes.

2.  Children need to grow and explore – and here’s the shocker, they don’t need you ALL THE TIME. I thought I had to entertain my son 24/7.  He’s a brilliant boy (I’m an objective observer) but he’s highly dependent on interaction.  Maybe that means he’s going to be president in 2044.  Who knows?  But my daughter already shows independence and the ability to entertain herself.  One of the keys to life is to be happy with yourself, and although that can come from interacting with others or from spending time alone, kids do need to develop the alone-time skill first.

3.  Work does not require constant attention. Back off a bit.  Have a life away from work.  Don’t think that your company will fail without you.  It will not.  I promise you.  Try it – stay home for a day and turn off the phone and email.  It will still be there tomorrow.

4.  Money will wait. If your finances are great – or shoddy – they will not change drastically if you look at every penny or if you let slide a few dollars.  Make an overall guiding philosophy, then let the small things slide.  Constant attention to every expenditure in your life is not necessary.

The term “accidental parenting” applies to a lot of decisions made by parents – overindulgence in one area creates problems later in life. “Accidental life planning” or “accidental money planning” would be equally apt terms.  I’ve always found it amusing that I’m considered one of the most draconian and strict parents in my neighborhood.  I don’t view myself that way, and according to most of the parenting books I read we are on the lax end of the scale.

The most important thing to learn is that nobody benefits from being treated like a baby, not even babies. Not friends, not family, not kids, not parents.  Our financial, social, intellectual and spiritual lives don’t need to be treated like babies, either.  Push your kids and your own limits and you’ll all benefit.  Push yourself and limits won’t matter.

9 comments

  • Great lesson for life in general, Steve. I have a manager who believes that everyone who works for him should act as an extension of his own thoughts and actions. That kind of control has many undesirable results.

    In managing my own group, I am confident that I'm not going to control anything. I hope to just ride the wave and be able to steer every now and then.

  • I LOVE this post!
    Detachment is a critical part of true love. So often, we take the action of “giving love” for pretty self-centered reasons, to be important in the other person's life and to feel good about ourselves. Noticing this is pretty tricky, however, and I applaud you writing this very practical, experience-based article.

  • Yeah, I guess so. Spouse doesn't need constant attention. You and your spouse has a nice theme.

  • Pingback: Happy New Year Carnival of Family Life | Mixed Metaphor.net

  • This is a great post Brip. Not only when it comes to parenting (I was just talking about this the other day), but life in general. My wife and I spend a lot of time together but we also know the importance of having our own individual selves. As for the baby thing, do you think you would be able to have treated your first child that way? I think it's human nature to not take anything for granted and be more careful than you need to when you're having a first child. What do you think?

    Anyway, one of your finest posts in recent times…

  • micheljohnson98

    I’m really impressed with your article, that was exactly what I was looking for.. it was certainly a great read for me, I’ll be looking forward for more of your articles cause that’s one of the best I’ve read recently. Keep up the good work

  • One of the best articles I have read this year, you have really done a great job, i am totally impressed! thanks for posting.

  • These tips are really very helpful, I really appreciate it! thank you very much for posting.

  • I love the practical views about life and spending quality time with family and setting aside work even for a day or two. This is very true and what we need now.