Meta: we like crying babies October 7, 2011 3:13 PM   Subscribe

Problems with Ask parenting-thread deletions.

Most recently

It is kosher to come out with flamebait like


So, I suspect that before this is over, you're going to get a bunch of people recommending cry-it-out/Ferber, and a bunch of other people saying OMGWTFFerberistehEEEVUL!!!1! (Although things appear to be pretty calm so far, so cheers.)


but a response I took pains to make reasonable -- most babies are a PITA about bedtime around 8-11mo, this will pass, you don't have to leave your kid to cry, disappeared;


[folks, please answer the question being asked and not the one you want to answer. You can MeMail non-answers to the OP. Thanks.]


appeared, and this seems to be par for the course in these threads.

This person is asking for advice with

We can't keep doing this because we need some time to ourselves in the evenings.
I got tired of doing that and just let her cry it out.


...an attitude which would see her slated in any relationshipfilter question, and any reasonable phrased "Good grief you're a bad girlfriend; if you don't care about this guy you shouldn't be dating him" response would remain. But if it is bad parenting... I think many people on here who are not comfortable with that sort of neglect have given up, as there seems to be no way to phrase "Don't do that" that does not get, ah, moderated out. (Somewhat inexplicably there are a handful of non-parents who show up in these threads over and over being strongly in favour of leaving other people's kids to wail.) The threads end up being clusters of praise for an extremely controversial practice, and I do not notice the posts egging the OPs on with you have to do this or else your baby will etc etc! being deleted; it increasingly feels as though one may say anything in favour of "CIO," but any reasonable argument against is construed as "not answering the question," even though the question is explicitly and "How do we get our baby to sleep at night?"

Why is it okay to post "This is what you are doing wrong. Letting her cry for twenty minutes and then picking her up is teaching her to cry for twenty minutes. I know it's really hard to hear them cry, but it's so important for you to be consistent with what you decide to do" but not "Look, don't do this, here's a reason not to and a link to some research indicating this is a bad idea"? We are apparently allowed to egg depressed neglectful (I just need some me time!) parents towards leaving their kids to cry, but even politely worded suggestions in the opposite direction get shitcanned. The threads end up useless, giving the impression that if you poll a reasonable group of people, they will all come out in favour of Dr Ferber. Not so.
posted by kmennie to Etiquette/Policy at 3:13 PM (146 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

There are a number of co-sleeping and non-Ferber suggestions in that thread (that I can see; I freely admit this is a subject I know nothing about.) It sounds like this is a hot-button issue for you, and that's coming out in your answer in ways that aren't productive - your response made a lot of inferences about the state of the household and the quality of the parenting that didn't really have anything to do with the question and sounded super judgey.

(The comment you're calling "flamebait" was actually one of the more evenhanded ones in terms of recommending strategies - it's not really flamebait to point out that this is a sensitive topic. And oh, boy, is it.)
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:25 PM on October 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, and know that moderation follows flagging very often, so when you say something like the mods are trying to push some sort of agenda or drown out one side of the debate, know that the majority popular opinion stated via flags is often how we spot the problematic comments.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:27 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Your answer was deleted because, presumably, a moderator decided it was off-topic. Perhaps it would be better to ask this question of a moderator than of the community as a whole-- the community as a whole cannot answer your question without knowing precisely what your answer was, whether or how much it may have been flagged for being off-topic, or any of the salient details, which you of course are aware of.

Given that, it's reasonable for us to conclude that you wanted to pick a public fight about the topic in question. Which leads in turn to the conclusion that you appear have more emotional energy invested in your responses to the questions of strangers than is strictly necessary, or even wise. Which in turn leads to the suggestion that you turn your computer off, kiss your child, and go for a walk rather than picking fights on the internet.
posted by dersins at 3:28 PM on October 7, 2011 [24 favorites]


Are you comparing exhausted parents with bad girlfriends? That's weird.

Anyway, it sounds like you didn't answer the question but maybe directed your answer to rebutting other posters and also maybe brought in some of your own beliefs about how the OP is maybe neglectful, and that seems to be a really great way to make a post go bad real fast.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:29 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


We are apparently allowed to egg depressed neglectful (I just need some me time!) parents towards leaving their kids to cry

Perhaps if you refrained from referring to people whose parenting tactics differ from your own as "neglectful," your answers would not get deleted.
posted by jrossi4r at 3:30 PM on October 7, 2011 [65 favorites]


I vote that from now on, we just link to dersins' comment when anyone makes a MeTa post about how their AskMe answer was deleted.
posted by Specklet at 3:31 PM on October 7, 2011 [4 favorites]



Your answer was deleted because, presumably, a moderator decided it was off-topic. Perhaps it would be better to ask this question of a moderator than of the community as a whole-- the community as a whole cannot answer your question without knowing precisely what your answer was, whether or how much it may have been flagged for being off-topic, or any of the salient details, which you of course are aware of

I've done this (emailed a mod when my answer got deleted, or more specifically, I used the contact form to contact mods), and gotten responses really quickly. Sometimes I've disagreed, and I've gotten responses to my disagreements really quickly. Then I'm like, ah well, and go off and do something else. The system works well.

I think dersins is making a good point here. We don't know exactly why your comment was deleted, though we can guess. At the end of the day, the deletions are up to the individual mod discretion, based on their knowledge of the site practices, flaggings maybe, and just the fact that this is their job. I feel like whenever 'why was this deleted,'comes up as an AskMe, the OP wants to claim some kind of mod bias or personal beef the mod has, and I emphatically feel like that just does not exist here.
posted by sweetkid at 3:37 PM on October 7, 2011


kmennie: “We are apparently allowed to egg depressed neglectful (I just need some me time!) parents towards leaving their kids to cry...”

This is quite a judgmental thing to say. Every parent who utters the phrase "I just need some me time!" is not necessarily depressed or neglectful. I understand that you're offering earnest advice that comes from your own honest point of view, but can you see that there's a touch of cruelty mixed in there? Overwhelmed parents don't always deserve to be called "neglectful" or accused of depression. I appreciate that you think that this parent is doing something wrong; and you may be right. But in my experience, putting people down by telling them they're "neglectful" and talking about them as though they're "depressed" is not the best way to approach fixing bad parenting behavior.

The point of ask.metafilter is to help people solve their problems. Sometimes people who need moral correction ask questions – I don't know that this one does, I'm making no claim on that, but even assuming you're right, yes, sometimes people who ask questions here are doing the wrong thing. But – even so, when askers are wrong, it never helps to deride them or implicitly put them down. In fact, telling people they're wrong is the hardest thing to do in ask.metafilter. The only way to do it is to make it absolutely, perfectly clear that you want to help them; and making flat-out assertions that have a strong likelihood of being unfair is not a way to make it clear that you want to help people.
posted by koeselitz at 3:42 PM on October 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


We are apparently allowed to egg depressed neglectful (I just need some me time!) parents towards leaving their kids to cry, but even politely worded suggestions in the opposite direction get shitcanned.

I can't really say with any certainty without seeing exactly what you wrote, but seeing as how you've alluded in this MeTa that the couple are "bad parents" and "neglectful". I have doubts that your comment was as politely worded as you suggest. Maybe your comment was deleted because it was way too judgmental.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:44 PM on October 7, 2011


My experience of your answers in infant sleep related threads is that you are always incredibly judgmental and dismissive of parents' needs. In fact, I have a question about getting my own baby to sleep that I have not asked because I am too fragile on the subject to deal with your inevitable finger-pointing.

I'm sensitive about this because I refused to let my first child cry or learn to self-soothe at night, with the result that I found myself in a psychiatric ER when she was fourteen months old threatening to hurt myself if I had to to get a room where I could legitimately get some motherfucking sleep. It is incredibly hurtful and unkind to refer to parents who are aware that they have needs as "neglectful."
posted by KathrynT at 3:47 PM on October 7, 2011 [86 favorites]


We are apparently allowed to egg depressed neglectful (I just need some me time!) parents towards leaving their kids to cry.

People who need a little me time are not depressed and neglected by default. In fact, they may need me time because they've been devoting so much time to trying to be perfect parents that they have nothing left to give.

Your deleted "answer" was not helpful at all. Telling someone "This will pass" is just lip service, not practical help, especially since you indicated it might go on for three months! The OP wants help now. And saying "you don't have to let your baby cry" is also not an answer if you don't give actual advice about what to do instead.

Plus, i'm going to speak for all the parents out there who didn't do it your way, kmennie, who you are saying are bad, neglectful or depressed. Lots of us have great kids, happy and healthy and well-adjusted kids, kids who are now grown into fine young adults who can think for themselves, aren't in trouble with the law or addicted to drugs or in therapy, and at least some of that is because we were consistent, loving parents who happened to have different parenting styles than yours.

Exhausted parents who care enough about their parenting to seek out help when they are having trouble coping (and who may even actually be depressed) don't need your shame and judgment for not doing things your way, kmennie.

And none of us need this Meta post about how it hurt your feelings when your 'advice' was deleted, either.
posted by misha at 3:50 PM on October 7, 2011 [32 favorites]


Baby and child sleep questions are always frustrating because there are several very valid methods of sleep adjustment and people are passionate about them. I just accept the fact that anyone who does not follow Weisbluth is wrong and I move on. Now if someone will tell me how to get my teenagers to not nap after school and football practice so they can do their homework and how to get them to wake up before noon on a weekend, I would pay for that. The saying sleep begets sleep is never more true than when you have 3 teenagers in your house.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:51 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am not a parent (yet), but I get the impression that parenting immediately impresses a person as an incredibly important thing, and that therefore parents learn to be as careful as they've ever been forming thoughtful opinions about the right way to go about it. I also get the feeling that it's very, very hard to set aside those thoughtful opinions in accepting other parents who might do things differently than oneself. Given how important parenting is, it must be very difficult to accept that people might be doing it wrong, but that's their right, and you have to let them follow their own lights.
posted by koeselitz at 3:56 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Baby and child sleep questions are always frustrating because there are several very valid methods of sleep adjustment and people are passionate about them.

It might even be possible that different methods work better for different children or parents, and that there is not one true way of doing this.
posted by grouse at 3:59 PM on October 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


I don't think crying-it-out is a good solution, but I didn't think my suggestion (co-sleeping, or at least spending time with child until s/he falls asleep) was feasible for the OP (they want more time in the evenings) so I did not post an answer.

Seems like it's sometimes a good idea to just avoid participating in some AskMe threads.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:01 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


most babies are a PITA about bedtime around 8-11mo, this will pass, you don't have to leave your kid to cry

If that was the gist of your comment, it definitely would have stayed. If you'd like, I can repost your comment here. It was flagged a few times and read to me like fight-picking, in a thread on a topic that is difficult, with an asker who has already admitted that they are exhausted and having a tough time. And I'm sort of glad you posted this MeTa because we've sort of been seeing this a lot, from you and other people, in parenting threads. And I'm a non-parent so I don't have much of a bone to pick either way except that people who are strident about their "UR DOIN IT RONG" approaches to other people's parenting seem to strike a nerve here and cause parenting questions to tank, quickly.

We are apparently allowed to egg depressed neglectful (I just need some me time!) parents towards leaving their kids to cry, but even politely worded suggestions in the opposite direction get shitcanned.

This is an unkind thing to say. It's possible that the way you hear yourself saying this stuff in your head is more civil than the way it comes out, but if you really feel that parents who let kids cry it out are neglectful you may lack enough perspective or some variety of "these are topics on which reasonable people may disagree" outlook to be helpful in these threads. I'm that way on some topics myself, so I get the impulse, but it may need to be restrained.

tl;dr It would be helpful if people could try really hard to make their advice on tough topics especially gentle. It's better for the site and does you no harm.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:01 PM on October 7, 2011 [30 favorites]


Nobody likes to be told they are a bad parent - most parents (especially ones who take the time to ask for help!) are doing the best they can.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:04 PM on October 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Are you comparing exhausted parents with bad girlfriends? That's weird.

...comparing the tolerance level here for dubious behaviours in interpersonal relationships, I meant.

moderation follows flagging very often

!

I did not know. Okay, now I have to go and think about that...

From mail I get, sometimes from usernames I do not recognise at all, I know that there are others thinking: no matter what I post [in this baby-sleep thread] it is going to get deleted/I am appalled but I am scared to say anything because there will be a pile-on. I am sure there are others thinking as much on the other side, too, and I am not sure what the answer to that is. It is a cat-declaw thing at this point.

I have doubts that your comment was as politely worded as you suggest.

No; having gone down this deletion road before, I edited to what I think was pretty...bland. This is far more harsh, and there's a good pile of

You may be meaning well with the coddling, but it's not helping your situation. The same thing occurs when some mom's are always holding their kid. Guess what? the kid suddenly has issues if you're not in physical contact.

that sort of tsk-tsking crossed with advice from books most people threw out in 1952, and I had tried to be friendlier than that. I wish I had saved my comment, but I can promise that it was free of the snark I have had here.

But. There's really much to be said in favour of "I got tired of doing that and just let her cry"? There isn't better advice than "Sure, do that at night too." OK. Much to be considered here, I suppose. It is unfortunate that families get to these points, but I do not agree that they are well served by the current standard of advice here. Occasionally people advocate some pretty extreme hijinx (not just "we read this book and did X," more YOU MUST DO THIS SCHEME AT BIRTH OR ELSE YOUR BABY WILL BE RUINED HOW DID YOU NOT KNOW), and often in situations where a simple "Have a friend come over, it's okay if they see you in your pajamas" would go a long way to sort out the sleep-deprivation-crazy OPs. "This will pass" and "You and the baby pack up and go visit Grandma for a week" are valid answers that do answer the original questions, I feel, and much more nicely than some of the more extreme FERBER! answers.
posted by kmennie at 4:04 PM on October 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have a new baby and so not enough time to read the whole thread.

Your attitude, in specific, is usually obnoxious and superior, which is THE LAST thing parents at the end of their rope need. And you call things like letting a 10 month old cry for 15 minutes "neglect".

I am not a huge fan of CIO for that age but I'm going to guess that your response was less measured than you think it was, and more "my kid is perfect due to my perfect attachment parenting, you should try being perfect too"

I have posted AP advice and never, ever gotten it deleted. In fact, I will probably go into that thread and suggest that the OP not use CIO, and I'm going to guess that my answer will stay.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:06 PM on October 7, 2011 [20 favorites]


What koeselitz wrote. Also, that great expression "mommy drive-by" comes to mind.

It's always deeply made me sad how mothers, especially, can so casually, and often cruelly, ignore the boundaries of polite social behavior that otherwise apply and bluntly tell someone else that they are a bad mother. Besides being sad, there's a lot of interesting sociology implicit in this.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:09 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


It is unfortunate that families get to these points, but I do not agree that they are well served by the current standard of advice here.

Do you think we're better served by being told "Despite your exhaustion, your personal neglect of yourself, and your willing exposure to levels of sleep deprivation that would violate the Geneva Convention, you still have not done enough. If you were a better parent you would understand this. Your inability to exist without sleep is proof that you are unfit to raise children"?
posted by KathrynT at 4:13 PM on October 7, 2011 [18 favorites]


Heavens. I don't think I have to be a parent to see that there's a pretty large difference between "You may be meaning well with the coddling, but it's not helping your situation" and calling someone "depressed neglectful" parents. Perhaps try limiting your comments to the activity in question, and not to your own judgement calls about the asker.
posted by jess at 4:14 PM on October 7, 2011


I have doubts that your comment was as politely worded as you suggest.

No; having gone down this deletion road before, I edited to what I think was pretty...bland.

Maybe what you consider to be "pretty bland", other people read as judgmental.

I wish I had saved my comment, but I can promise that it was free of the snark I have had here.

The mods saved it and have offered to repost it here, if you like.
posted by 23skidoo at 4:15 PM on October 7, 2011


I've seen your bland comments and one in specific was actually good advice until you felt the need to twist the knife at the end, and let the asker know that your kid doesn't have anxiety problems. Not like the asker's kid who has problems. The strong implication was that had she been a better mother and not sent her kid to daycare, he wouldn't have an anxiety disorder. Ugh. UGH.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:21 PM on October 7, 2011 [30 favorites]


most parents (especially ones who take the time to ask for help!) are doing the best they can

I am trying hard to be sympathetic to this, but . . .

We can't keep doing this because we need some time to ourselves in the evenings.
I got tired of doing that and just let her cry it out.


. . . can we not ask for better than that? Again, I don't think a "roll with that then" response to that flavour would fly on here wrt any other sort of interpersonal-relations question. I and many others can take a poke at somebody appearing to be less than ideally disposed towards a grandparent -- that's okay. If your boyfriend's parents are mean then probably they are awful people, even if no history is offered. It is okay to condemn the apparently unpleasant, so long as they are not parents.

I am humiliatingly aware of having been rude in some of these threads in the past and have been more aware recently of what I post and tried to either stay away or stay kind, but I am pretty surprised at this being highly defensible stuff. We need some time to ourselves, and not "what is a kind way to go about getting that," just... I got tired of doing that. (I had actually expected a pile-on about postpartum depression.)

(Is there an easy method to repost all the deleted comments? I notice the one I linked to has just bitten the dust. Ironically I posted in the middle of some of my own sleep deprivation and will have to make with the apologies if I am way off on what I posted, though I...tried)

I don't know if I should now apologise for thread-sitting or apologise for having to go and deal with dinner; I will check in again later
posted by kmennie at 4:28 PM on October 7, 2011


Kmennie, I have great respect for your approach, and it was my strongly-held default. I clung to it with a death grip from day one to month 4, and in the meantime I grew more and more sleep deprived. I became mentally unbalanced and suicidal. In a lifetime that included abuses of every color, this was hell far deeper than I'd ever been in.

I finally got meds and two books, and we found sanity in compromise.

If I had come to AskMe to be called a bad, neglectful parent after I sacrificed everything of myself and it still wasn't enough? To put it mildly, it would not have been helpful.

Your POV is totally valid, but the tone is really, really hurtful. Your comments on the subject, even the ones that don't get deleted (I've caught both), are frequently extremely judgmental. I think it is absolutely possible to post advice and information on attachment parenting (which I am all for) without being so mean. When I saw Jessamyn's note in-thread, I knew exactly who'd been deleted without ever having seen the comment. It sounds like you're really trying to moderate your tone more now, but that you haven't quite reached that point, yet.
posted by moira at 4:33 PM on October 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Kmennie's comment:
Around 8-11mo babies get more active, distractible, interested in the world. They are a PITA to nurse (and thus easily accidentally weaned to a bottle when Mom freaks out that the kid who only a couple of months ago was nursing round the clock only wants it 2x/day -- but they return to the breast after this phase passes) and a PITA to put to bed.

This happens to loads and loads of babies and loads and loads of babies simply grow out of it as quickly as they grew into it. Your 12mo will be a totally different child.

Just ride this out and make with the milk and stories and cuddles, and, surprisingly quickly, your kid will be easy to put to bed again.

The CIO stuff is a mean trick, yes, but also risibly unnecessary. There is just no point; your baby is growing quickly and will not do what she is doing in a short time, so why be mean now? It is not even working. You have already washed your hands of putting her down for naps; why is it necessary to eliminate bedtime from the list of normal parental duties?

Early on you state that all is tickety-boo but

"We need some time to ourselves in the evenings
I got tired of doing that and just let her cry it out
So we don't know what else to do other than let her cry it out. When we do let her cry it out"

it doesn't sound like the happiest household; it sounds like you guys are struggling, and possibly suffering from the unrealistic baby care expectations that teevee (and books, and...) encourages. "I got tired of doing that" does not sound like a happy mother, and I could understand "we need some time to ourselves in the evenings" if it was not a certainty that early childhood was a fleeting moment. But it is a fleeting moment...

It seems to me that this sort of parental dissatisfaction/weariness often follows from disconnection, and my knee-jerk here is that when you were "tired of doing that" you lost a bit of empathy for and connection with your child -- you've desensitized slightly, lowered the overall level of responsiveness. With this wedge there, instead of having confidence in your ability to respond to your child, you've got "we don't know what else to do." Basically, you feel it worked once (lots of people mentioning "Ferber" here, but that is a scheme to get infants to sleep through the night, not a blanket permission to leave them to cry for anything) and are inclined to continue with further separation from the kid. This is not a good path to go down.

My suggestion for the "we're going crazy," and for the crying, would be to forget this crying nonsense and make with the cuddles. I cannot emphasise this enough: infancy and early childhood are fleeting. Your baby will be starting school in a flash, and then out your door, all in what amounts to a fraction of your life. You and your partner have decades to be alone together in the evenings.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:38 PM on October 7, 2011


Hey, hold on a sec, I'm gotta change junior's diaper. Just let me get this plate outta the way and...no no keep talking, where were we?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:48 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow.
posted by KathrynT at 4:48 PM on October 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Wow. That comment is rude and angry and does not do anything to answer their questions. "Make with the milk and stories and cuddles?" That could have been worded more nicely. "I could understand, IF..." That is dismissing their problems. "you lost a bit of empathy for and connection with your child." You can't make that judgement, and a bit of me wants to say "how dare you" for saying that. "You and your partner have decades to be alone together in the evenings." And how does that help their relationship now? How does that help the child if their relationship becomes so fractured that they separate?

You know how they say "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all?" Well, you're not being nice.
posted by IndigoRain at 4:49 PM on October 7, 2011 [16 favorites]


seems perfectly reasonable to me
posted by cupcake1337 at 4:50 PM on October 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

I don't know if I should now apologise for thread-sitting
You missed a letter.
posted by scrump at 4:50 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that's pretty bad. It's like you're not only mad about them letting the kid cry it out, but the breastfeeding thing, too. I really think, as a feminist, we women should support one another's choices, even when they don't work for us. That response isn't very empathetic at all.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:51 PM on October 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


You seem to be treating this answer as a battle in an ongoing Meta-war about correct parenting. Stop. AskMe is not an arena in which you do battle with armies of questioners and answerers about the correct or incorrect way to parent. It's a forum for people to ask for help about particular problems, and people to provide helpful answers addressing that particular situation. If you can't help but treat this as a salvo in a larger campaign to convince the world that your way of parenting is correct - even if it is correct! - then you need to step away from the keyboard.
posted by googly at 4:54 PM on October 7, 2011 [20 favorites]


There is no right answer unless it's your kid and you're living the day to day. Kids are a helluva drug.

I certainly feel like I've walked a mile and 12 months in the shoes of the OP, but everyones kid is different, there is no doctrine that works for all kids all the time.
posted by iamabot at 4:57 PM on October 7, 2011


I would call these phrases very judgmental and not pretty bland:

"you have already washed your hands of putting her down for naps"
"why is it necessary to eliminate bedtime from the list of normal parental duties"
"it doesn't sound like the happiest household"
"suffering from the unrealistic baby care expectations that teevee encourages"
"does not sound like a happy mother"
"parental dissatisfaction/weariness often follows from disconnection"
"you lost a bit of empathy for and connection with your child"

It's totally possible to give your same advice without all the judgment, like this:

Around 8-11mo babies get more active, distractible, interested in the world. They are a PITA to nurse (and thus easily accidentally weaned to a bottle when Mom freaks out that the kid who only a couple of months ago was nursing round the clock only wants it 2x/day -- but they return to the breast after this phase passes) and a PITA to put to bed.

This happens to loads and loads of babies and loads and loads of babies simply grow out of it as quickly as they grew into it. Your 12mo will be a totally different child.

Just ride this out and make with the milk and stories and cuddles, and, surprisingly quickly, your kid will be easy to put to bed again.

It sounds like you guys are struggling, but keep in mind that early childhood is really a fleeting moment. Some people say that not responding to your kid's crying can lead to further separation down the line. This is not a good path to go down.

posted by 23skidoo at 4:59 PM on October 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


C'mon, even the title of this Meta is fighty. Your comments weren't deleted because MeFi likes crying babies, they were deleted because they didn't answer the question.

The only question you appeared to be answering was "Kmennie, in your opinion - how am I failing as a parent?"
posted by Space Kitty at 5:02 PM on October 7, 2011 [21 favorites]


I dunno, 23skidoo. All that stuff about "accidentally" weaning your kid and making with the milk might feel like a punch in the gut to a mom who has recently made the decision to wean her child.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:03 PM on October 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


I've flagged several of your comments that have been deleted previously, kmennie, and I would have flagged this one as well. I'm glad your child-rearing experiences have been so shiny and crunchy, but you are extremely judgemental and outright rude to those of us who haven't been so lucky. This was an appropriate deletion.

Congratulations the young rope-rider!
posted by goo at 5:03 PM on October 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


kmennie I think know that your strongly held parenting opinions and activism lead you to care way too much answers in parenting askme's, resulting in answers that are typically judgmental at best and really fighty and confrontational at worst.

I think you would be awesome if you recognised that your emotional investment in these topics almost invariably colours your answers too much and considered just giving parenting askmes a skip.

I know that when you feel you're a subject matter expert in a topic, and you have a lot of help to give, how frustrating it can feel when people marginalise or dismiss your advice/knowledge, but by the same token I think it's important to recognise that the very existence of those feelings around a topic are probably pretty good indications that you are too close to it - and emotionally invested in it - to give advice in the kind of way that is the best fit for askme.
posted by smoke at 5:04 PM on October 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


askme isn't mothering.com.
posted by pinky at 5:07 PM on October 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Make with the milk and stories and cuddles?" That could have been worded more nicely

i read it more as "i can't write an exact, qualified statement because it would be too wordy, so here's something worded in an abnormal/cutsie way that should signal that i don't mean it literally, but get's across the general idea".

I really think, as a feminist, we women should support one another's choices, even when they don't work for us.

agreed, but we shouldn't use that sentiment to shut down critical thinking and debate.

... i can see how some people could take the more judgmental comments personally, but i always interpret these judgments as hypotheses, not definitive statements.

they were deleted because they didn't answer the question.

the question(s):

"How do we get our baby to sleep at night?"
"What are we doing wrong???"

kmennie's answer:
"Just ride this out and make with the milk and stories and cuddles, and, surprisingly quickly, your kid will be easy to put to bed again."
posted by cupcake1337 at 5:09 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I dunno, 23skidoo. All that stuff about "accidentally" weaning your kid and making with the milk might feel like a punch in the gut to a mom who has recently made the decision to wean her child.

Sure, take that parenthetical out, too.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:09 PM on October 7, 2011


You're so close in that comment, and I actually have some empathy for you here because it really seems like you're trying very hard to word things as nicely as possible, but you are approaching it from such an extremist viewpoint--you genuinely feel that a happy baby who is being fed and loved is being "neglected"--that it seeps through and renders the entire thing unpalatable.

I guess my only helpful suggestion for future comments is that the past is the past. No parent is magical enough to go back in time and redo the things we did wrong (or "wrong"). Focus on what they can change and make suggestions instead of telling them what not to do. That might help some of your comments stay. A simple "ride it out, it's easier than trying to get something to stick at this age and it would probably be easier on everyone in the long run" would have stayed.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:12 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


cupcake1337, I suspect that kmennie's previous peanutfreemom style responses have resulted in no one giving her the benefit of the doubt with this one.
posted by small_ruminant at 5:14 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


cupcake1337 - if that were the sum total of kmennie's answer, it wouldn't have been deleted. But it was surrounded by several paragraphs of judgmental sarcasm and that's not how AskMe is done.
posted by Space Kitty at 5:14 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kmennie, I don't have a sense of your past parenting answers but just based on what you've said here, it sounds like you are reading WAY more into those two lines ("I got tired of doing that" and "we need some time to ourselves") than I see there. Those two lines read as... totally reasonable... to me. If you're seeing neglect there, maybe as googly says you are importing a bunch of other stuff that is external to this particular question.

The question as a whole says: we have tried a lot of things, we did breastfeeding until the baby weaned herself, stable happy home, love the baby, she gets two naps, I can tell you all about her sleep habits which I've studied carefully because I'm an attentive parent, I play with her and take her out during the day, we've tried routines etc. We want some time to ourselves in the evening and the baby should be sleeping since she's overtired anyway. Letting her cry it out worked within a couple days for the nap, but hasn't worked for nighttime sleep and now we don't know what to do.

This sounds like a very common scenario that lots of normal, attentive parents find themselves in, doesn't it? Plus it sounds like these are parents who are eager for an alternative to "cry it out" since they already think cry it out isn't working. They just want an alternative that gets the baby to bed earlier in the evening rather than at 11pm. So if you've got a firm alternative plan that can accomplish that, I think you've got a receptive audience.

On preview - as for "it doesn't sound like the happiest household, it sounds like you guys are struggling with unrealistic expectations, driving a wedge between you and baby", yeesh. That is where your answer comes off the "helpful" rails, into the.. um.. swamp of unnecessary judgment. No kidding they're struggling -- they're exhausted and asking for help, doing their best, etc. Leave that stuff out and your answer would be fine.

(Comparison to relationship Askmes is misleading here because it's not like you can give them "tough love" advice to DTMFA the baby because they're not worthy parents.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:22 PM on October 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


cupcake1337, I suspect that kmennie's previous peanutfreemom style responses have resulted in no one giving her the benefit of the doubt with this one.

Not me. I'm basing my reaction to this deleted comment on this deleted comment alone. It has SOOOOOO much unnecessary, judgmental language included that I find it hard to believe that it was meant to sincerely change someone's mind about their parenting style. If you want to tell someone not to do something, just say "Hey, don't do that thing", don't say "Hey, you. The one slacking on their parenting duties. The unhappy, unempathetic, emotionally detached mother. Yeah you. Don't do that thing."

What's the point of all that? How is that going to make people listen to what you have to say?
posted by 23skidoo at 5:22 PM on October 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Well, yes. But honestly I've seen worse, is all.
posted by small_ruminant at 5:24 PM on October 7, 2011


For what it's worth, after this Meta went up I saw another OMG you terrible parent type comment (I think that might be the one kmennie was trying to link to upthread). It's gone now. I don't know much about the poster of that comment's previous posting history, but that one was pretty bad.
posted by sweetkid at 5:35 PM on October 7, 2011


FWIW, I frequently totally disagree with the main thrust of most responses to parenting questions on Ask, which tends to boil down to "The kid is trying to manipulate you! DON'T PUT UP WITH IT."

I just try not to read the questions, especially the ones about sleep. I figure that people who are not into CIO are probably already familiar with the parenting resources that offer other ideas on sleep, like Ask Moxie. And people who are into CIO are unlikely to find my thoughts on the subject useful. And frankly, I can't always muster the loving-kindness to be completely and utterly open and warm and unsarcastic about something I think is less-than-ideal in these areas, and yet that is what is called for if you really want to share information in a way that may change someone's mind. So I just shut it.

Also, I try to remember that most kids from loving, non-abusive homes are going to turn out basically the same, whether they were breast- or formula-fed, sleep-trained, or slept with their parents, etc. They are all, someday, going to be super-annoying teenagers who skulk around the mall in packs.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 5:47 PM on October 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


Early on in my (now illustrious 20-month) parenting career I gave myself permission to ignore advice that basically told me to martyr myself more and like it. Being a parent is tough. You'll sacrifice yourself in so, so many necessary ways. But there are a lot of other times when a solution exists, and someone in the throes of sleep deprivation reaching out for help does not need to be smacked down and made to feel like they're a bad person for not enjoying it.

Also, note that the child in question is 10 months old. Not a newborn. The OP and her husband have probably been going on nearly a year of poor sleep, and it's well within reason for them to want a plan of action to improve the situation.
posted by shrieking violet at 6:27 PM on October 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


I think the hmsbeagle is pretty much on it- like the alice in wonderland story of everyone running around figuring out the best way to dry oneself off- most (lovingly parented) kids are going to turn out more or less fine in the end (despite the CIO vc co-sleeping battle among others). But I am not a parent and I have my own issues and I have no authority on those matters.

However, I just wanted to say that the obvious problem was that the answer you detailed screamed "DON'T DO THAT AND HERE'S WHY" rather than, 'hey, if 'CIO' (an acronym I just learned) isn't working for you, why not try this?" LIke someone else said, If you actually believe yourself to be very knowledgeable in these matters, why not explicitly say WHAT to do. NOT what NOT to do. Milk and cuddles doesn't seem to be very solid advice, nor does it fit their parameters.

So in many sentences of sort of accusatory things, not much advice was actually given. If you have a history of deletions then why wouldn't you proof-read, edit and JUST GIVE PERTINENT advice?

Ok, now I am emotionally involved in the CIO battle, how the hell did that happen??
posted by bquarters at 6:37 PM on October 7, 2011


AIW Link didn't work.
posted by bquarters at 6:41 PM on October 7, 2011


Why the hell is everyone suddenly all up in arms about Chief Information Officers? It's just a silly name for a position, is all.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 6:43 PM on October 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


cortex is MeFi's CIO, it should come as a surprise to no one.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:47 PM on October 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


(Somewhat inexplicably there are a handful of non-parents who show up in these threads over and over being strongly in favour of leaving other people's kids to wail.)

Huh? Where?

Though it may also be worth noting that there are non-parents who have cared for children.
posted by desuetude at 6:55 PM on October 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


(Somewhat inexplicably there are a handful of non-parents who show up in these threads over and over being strongly in favour of leaving other people's kids to wail.)

What?
posted by sweetkid at 7:02 PM on October 7, 2011


Kmennie's answers in AskMeta would make a great drinking game. Take a shot for every mention of: milk, cuddles, cherishing this time, looking at the moon, the cruelty of CIO.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:08 PM on October 7, 2011 [22 favorites]


So hey, I generally always agree with the content of all your posts regarding parenting, but I can see how the tone can be off-putting. I find it crazy-making to see people recommend that you let a baby cry for up to 30 minutes too, but I don't feel like being the world-saving crusader for attachment parenting because it's hard to do that and also get the tone right for people who may not be familiar with it and will sometimes see it as an attack on their child-rearing choices. So I mostly read them and don't answer unless I have some super on point advice to give about a specific thing.
posted by chiababe at 7:12 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just want to say that apart from the attachment parenting stuff, I think kmennie is awesome and a really valuable part of the askme community. I hope that whatever she takes from this thread she still decides to stick around.
posted by moxiedoll at 7:18 PM on October 7, 2011


Really though can anyone point me to the roaming hordes of non parents who make comments on letting the children cry in parenting threads?
posted by sweetkid at 7:21 PM on October 7, 2011


Non-parents usually advocate putting whiskey in the bottle to stop the crying.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:41 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ouch, first callout. I'm not really interested in getting into a big thing here, but I will just say that the portion of my comment kmennie quotes was only intended to warn a sleep deprived new mom (and possibly a relatively new MeFite, if I recall the user number correctly) that she had stumbled upon a rather contentious issue around here.

I did not intend it to be pro-CIO or anti-AP. I did not intend it to be snarky or flamebait-y. I did intend to reassure a fellow mom dealing with a difficult situation, offer solutions she might find useful, and attempt to prepare her for some harsh judgment / criticism I suspected she might receive based on previous threads on the topic. It's a warning I would appreciate if I were new here, and posted a question about fedoras or something.

If that part of my answer was/is inappropriate, I'm completely fine with it being deleted, although I would love it if the rest of the answer could stay because I really found Moxie (and warm baths) extremely helpful.
posted by somanyamys at 7:50 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


And on yet another reading of the pullquote, I see my lame attempt at humor did probably come across as snark, and for that I apologize.
posted by somanyamys at 7:53 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah the problem is that we never edit comments [unless it's something small and you've asked us to do it yourself] so we won't selectively keep a part of a comment and remove another one. So this is why, a lot of times, you'll see sort of snarky answers that stick around in AskMe. We have to make a judgment call about whether, on balance, an answer is more helpful or more snarky and either delete it or leave it accordingly. So this can be frustrating in cases like these where kmennie, for example, has a lot of good advice, but it's sometimes couched in less-good non-advice.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:59 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do you think we're better served by being told "Despite your exhaustion, your personal neglect of yourself, and your willing exposure to levels of sleep deprivation that would violate the Geneva Convention, you still have not done enough. If you were a better parent you would understand this. Your inability to exist without sleep is proof that you are unfit to raise children"

Yes, exaggerate the words to garner more support. This is fantastic stuff.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:20 PM on October 7, 2011


I'm not trying to garner support; I'm trying to demonstrate the emotional impact of comments like kmennie's when you're exhausted to the point of a physical and psychological breakdown. I like kmennie, and I actually AGREE with her about attachment parenting. When I was pregnant, I smugly proclaimed that before I'd let my child cry herself to sleep, I'd lock myself up in a mental institution.

Then I found myself being evaluated to see if I needed to be locked up in a mental institution, and I developed a little more flexibility.
posted by KathrynT at 8:27 PM on October 7, 2011 [28 favorites]


Yikes. Sorry about tough times. Hope you're doing better.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:30 PM on October 7, 2011


Really though can anyone point me to the roaming hordes of non parents who make comments on letting the children cry in parenting threads?

They're not non-parents. They have cats and/or dogs. And as they'll tell you, that's just like having kids.
posted by secretseasons at 8:31 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, being woken up every 2 hours, around the clock, for a year and a half will do that to you.
posted by KathrynT at 8:32 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


They're not non-parents. They have cats and/or dogs. And as they'll tell you, that's just like having kids.

This isn't real? I mean, this isn't really something one can find in AskMe parenting threads? This seems like a totally made up problem to me.
posted by sweetkid at 8:32 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Around 8-11mo babies get more active, distractible, interested in the world.

This is highly individual, so even that's not particularly useful.

Somewhat inexplicably there are a handful of non-parents who show up in these threads

And? For some time - until she was murdered in the UK - one of the worlds' leading cot death researchers had no kids. I'd have taken her advice over Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel, whose only qualification had been managing unprotected intercourse some number of times in his life.
posted by rodgerd at 8:36 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


They're not non-parents. They have cats and/or dogs. And as they'll tell you, that's just like having kids.

Cite please.
posted by lalex at 8:41 PM on October 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Um. I was kidding. Maybe some parents here know what I'm talking about? Haven't you ever heard someone saying that having pets is just like having kids?

And I've noticed it's never parents who say that.
posted by secretseasons at 8:46 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


To clarify, my comment about picking the baby upmafter 20 minutes of crying was not an explicit endorsement to CIO. It's an indictment of failed CIO. Either pick the baby up right away and don't let her cry, ie comfort her in various ways, or don't pick her up at all. The in between is a big mistake and every sleep book I've read - which is, by now, every sleep book ever published - emphasizes this.

That said, I flagged a comment in that thread which literally included the sentence 'Who the fuck cares what you need?'. When that shot is flying around I don't blame the mods for being extra sensitive.
posted by bq at 8:59 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Really though can anyone point me to the roaming hordes of non parents who make comments on letting the children cry in parenting threads?

How many non-parents are in a horde, anyway? And do we have to bring our pets with us while we roam? My cat really prefers to be at home.

It's interesting that a call-out of one parent by another parent eventually devolves into what the non-parents are doing wrong.
posted by virago at 9:00 PM on October 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


And do we have to bring our pets with us while we roam?

You can if you want, but they have to be on a leash.
posted by KathrynT at 9:08 PM on October 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


They're not non-parents. They have cats and/or dogs. And as they'll tell you, that's just like having kids.

Always have safe sex. Always. Please.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:23 PM on October 7, 2011


I flagged the original comment and was thrilled to see it deleted shortly thereafter. If I could have flagged it before it was even posted, I would have- I knew as soon as I saw the thread that kmennie was going to come in and post something judgmental with a dash of milk and cuddles. It's too predictable. It was nice to see a parenting thread not devolve into the kmennie show.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:33 PM on October 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


If I could have flagged it before it was even posted, I would have- I knew as soon as I saw the thread that kmennie was going to come in and post something judgmental with a dash of milk and cuddles. It's too predictable.

I completely agree.
posted by lalex at 10:48 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I did not read the question or any responses. But I hate babies. Put it in the oven.
posted by yerfatma at 11:02 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am not a parent and do not comment in parenting threads, because to give any meaningful advice to parents abouts parenting I would have to have experience as a parent.

However I do have have some experience on AskMe (which is not the same as parenting), and I'll say this:

AskMe is not your place to tell people that that they are bad, evil, horrible people because they have problem X, or because they're not like you in some way. Do you think it's really important to tell people who have problem X that they are bad, evil and horrible? Too bad, your answer will get deleted. Telling them that doesn't help them fix the problem.

AskMe is a place where people can ask questions and get a diverse set answers. The askers can then sort through the answers and try to figure out which ones make sense. The mods are not in the business of determining which answers are correct. They are not omniscient about every subject, including parenting.

There is no basis for complaining that some people gave wrong answers to a question and the mods didn't delete them. AskMe doesn't work that way. If you want to convince the asker that you're right (because that's who answers are actually addressed to), you need to present some evidence or some kind of logical reasoning in your answer that your answer is correct. Saying that you're a bad, evil person for asking this in the first place, or that anyone who says something different from what I said is bad and evil because they said something different from what I said, and they're bad and evil because I said so, are not terribly convincing or helpful responses.

Though I said "if you want to convince", if you're trying (too hard) to convince people of things on AskMe you are probably taking the wrong approach. If someone asks a question about something you know something about and you can provide them with helpful information, that's great. If you're approaching AskMe with an agenda and can't leave it up to the person asking the question what to make of your advice or information, you're going to run into problems.

What you're doing here is trying to help people solve problems, not trying to rid the world of bad parents, fundamentalists, Windows users, Christians, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, rednecks, feminists, or whoever you think needs to be eliminated, no matter important you think you think your cause of eliminating these people from the site or the world may be.
posted by nangar at 11:25 PM on October 7, 2011 [14 favorites]


I'm not a parent but I have commented in some threads about childcare. I used to nanny. Don't think I've ever commented on the cry-it-out thing.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:43 PM on October 7, 2011


I am reminded of what my mother was once told: "Madam, now you understand why mammals eat their young."
posted by klangklangston at 11:53 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

AskMe is not your place to tell people that that they are bad, evil, horrible people because they have problem X, or because they're not like you in some way. Do you think it's really important to tell people who have problem X that they are bad, evil and horrible? Too bad, your answer will get deleted. Telling them that doesn't help them fix the problem.nangar
Yeah. This.

With regard to judgmentalism, I've never thought there should be any tolerance for these kind of answers anywhere in AskMe, including the relationship ones. If it's tolerated there, it shouldn't be; and even if it is, that doesn't mean that it should be acceptable elsewhere.

Also, there should be a very high hurdle an answer has to clear for a "you're asking the wrong question" response to be acceptable. Being judgmental is a separate but confounding problem—it does seem like they sometimes go hand-in-hand, though.
Then I found myself being evaluated to see if I needed to be locked up in a mental institution, and I developed a little more flexibility.KathrynT
To the degree to which experience is authoritative (and while it's not the sine qua non of authority, it counts for a lot), KathrynT's experience and advice should be given a lot of weight. Sometimes people who become dissidents just invert things, reversing the emotional investment; but KathrynT seems to me to still clearly share much of the worldview and emotional investments in this issue as kmennie yet offers a moderated, more flexible and empathic view of it. That's a really good thing, both for learning and for productive discourse.
It's interesting that a call-out of one parent by another parent eventually devolves into what the non-parents are doing wrong.virago
The snarky culture war between parents and non-parents (or, rather, those for whom those states represent the actualization of an ideology) is as regrettable, unproductive, and unempathic as mommy drive-bys. It's probably a good idea to avoid stirring that up here?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:15 AM on October 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yes. And I have to say that the charge of non-parents showing up to give advice is a red herring, at least in regards to that thread. Pretty much everyone who commented was a parent; one or two with undisclosed parenthood status were simply linking to past threads/resources, and in one case a book that helped a friend.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:55 AM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is just no point; your baby is growing quickly and will not do what she is doing in a short time, so why be mean now?

kmennie , you say you're trying to be more kind and civil yet you flat out tell struggling parents that they are being mean to their child. Surely no one is deluded enough to think that's a reasonable, non-judgemental thing to say?

How about instead leaving out the paragraphs of off topic judgement and expand the parts where you give a alternative? That's what the parents are asking for after all. "Make with the milk and cuddles" isn't really helpful advice, it's too vague, so instead expand that into a couple of paragraphs of how you think a child should be looked after and how the parents can get through this horrible phase. Then maybe they'll do that instead of CIO or whatever else you don't like. Of course some parents won't agree or follow your advice, which is their prerogative, but providing positive advice and a good example is going to get you a lot further than berating and judging people going through a hard time.
posted by shelleycat at 12:56 AM on October 8, 2011


Um. I was kidding. Maybe some parents here know what I'm talking about? Haven't you ever heard someone saying that having pets is just like having kids?

And I've noticed it's never parents who say that.


Heh. Actually, my mom has said this. In fact, this is something she says kind of a lot. On the other hand, best friend's mom has said the reverse, that having a baby is like having a pet. Not sure which one of us should be insulted?

kmennie: I like you and your posts on this site. I don't often read parenting topics so I haven't seen any of the other posts people are talking about here, but on all the other topics I think of you as an intelligent person who gives quality answers.

..an attitude which would see her slated in any relationshipfilter question, and any reasonable phrased "Good grief you're a bad girlfriend; if you don't care about this guy you shouldn't be dating him" response would remain. But if it is bad parenting...

I think many people on here who are not comfortable with that sort of neglect have given up, as there seems to be no way to phrase "Don't do that" that does not get, ah, moderated out... it increasingly feels as though one may say anything in favour of "CIO," but any reasonable argument against is construed as "not answering the question,"


After reading that comment that got deleted, it's true, it really does seem like you feel these people should be slated or to slate them yourself. (I'm in no position to judge since I've slated people myself). There's a cornucopia of slating going on there.

Your second paragraph that I pulled is about how there's no way to phrase your opinion without getting moderated out, that any reasonable argument will get moderated out.

But it doesn't seem like you tried to phrase your opinion to avoid slating and it was moderated out anyway. It seems like you tried to moderate your slating to be acceptable, and it was moderated out anyway.

Even though slating often doesn't get removed from other threads, I think the difference on parenting topics is that lots of people are in favor of the view or action that's being condemned, as opposed to a thread about cheaters where nobody is in favor of that. So I think no matter how much you moderate the condemnation, how subtle or polite you make it, it's not going to fly.

I really DO think you could phrase your disagreement with anything in a way that it would stay, if you took out the condemnation. You can still say you think something is wrong. Hopefully this is not presumptuous of me but in case you are interested, here are my thoughts on what could be taken out while still getting across your same ideas.



Around 8-11mo babies get more active, distractible, interested in the world. They are a PITA to nurse (and thus easily accidentally weaned to a bottle when Mom freaks out that the kid who only a couple of months ago was nursing round the clock only wants it 2x/day -- but they return to the breast after this phase passes) and a PITA to put to bed.


To my reading of this, it appears you see the OP as having "accidentally" weaned her baby because she freaked out.

This implies three things:

1. That the OP weaned "accidentally" implies she made a mistake
2 That the OP "freaked out" implies she's sometimes hysterical or not always rational.
3. That weaning under these circumstances would be, as "accidents" are, something wrong that should not have happened.

It also just seems odd that the whole weaning thing even comes up at all because the question wasn't even about weaning.

So to fix this, I would explain why it was relevant if it was, in language that didn't imply the other person had made a mistake or didn't behave totally rationally.

The CIO stuff is a mean trick, yes, but also risibly unnecessary. There is just no point; your baby is growing quickly and will not do what she is doing in a short time, so why be mean now?

Telling the OP that she is being mean comes off like trying to convince someone by making them feel like a bad person, rather than convincing them by the merits of what you're saying. That shaming is another thing that I think gets these comments deleted. Not that I think it's never called for to tell someone they're being mean -- just, I think it's getting these comments deleted here. But if what you're saying has substantive merits, then there are plenty of other things that could be said instead.

You have already washed your hands of putting her down for naps; why is it necessary to eliminate bedtime from the list of normal parental duties?

Why is it necessary to imply that she's cavalierly ("washed your hands") shirking her normal parental duties? This statement doesn't contain any information, doesn't offer any reasoning for anything. It's just more shaming.

it doesn't sound like the happiest household ... "I got tired of doing that" does not sound like a happy mother

Why say these? Genuinely, what could be gained by saying this? If there is a reason, it would be good to make it clear in cases like this, because if there's no reason then it comes off as making a jab just for the sake of making a jab. And making a potentially very hurtful jab at a struggling new mom is something a lot of people are going to flag.

it sounds like you guys are struggling, and possibly suffering from the unrealistic baby care expectations that teevee (and books, and...) encourages.

Implying that the OP and husband are gullible dupes who get their baby care expectation from TV is really, really condescending.

I could understand "we need some time to ourselves in the evenings" if it was not a certainty that early childhood was a fleeting moment. But it is a fleeting moment...


Guilt tripping...


I'm most of the way through the post so I won't go on because I don't want to pile on. But in the ~6 paragraphs of the post, there were about 3 sentences of actual advice addressing the OP's question, and many many many lines and paragraphs of shaming, guilt tripping, subtle insulting, etc. Why pad the real advice with all that?
posted by Ashley801 at 1:12 AM on October 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


The one piece of advice I would give you kmennie (having now read the material in question) is that you do yourself no favors by trying to write in a clever way. The abuse of syntax you are willing to go through to obscure your point under a pile of "Look at me!" is off-putting.
posted by yerfatma at 7:05 AM on October 8, 2011


Dunno...I've wondered myself why some things stay and some things go. You have a thick enough skin for raising it here and allowing yourself to be lambasted. Passion is better than apathy. It's sometimes hard to get the right tone when you write as opposed to when your speaking - one never knows how the reader interprets what you're saying.

I should think that answering non sleeping, crying baby strings is almost always a recipe for disaster. I run quickly in the other direction when I receive those questions in person or in writing.
posted by YukonQuirm at 7:11 AM on October 8, 2011


Kmennie, I share a lot of your views on parenting, and we often post in the same threads about parenting. I'm not shy about sharing my opinions on sleep issues and CIO because I think some number of parents and caregivers out there misunderstand CIO as a method. And even given that, I still dislike it because my parenting experience has been that babies don't stop crying if that method is use. And that's because my particular child would work himself up more if he was left for five minutes to cry.

Some babies will work themselves down and need a few minutes to fuss to sleep. That's not CIO, in my opinion. That's very much meeting a need of that particular child.

It remains to be seen what particular methods will work for my second child, but she's too young for all of that stuff right now.

All this said, I don't think I've ever had an answer where I suggest finding a method other than CIO for babies under a year deleted. There are ways to say such things without the post getting deleted. Your comment in this particular thread had far more information in it than needed and reeks of the self-righteousness you find over in a good portion of the mothering.com forums. Seriously, the OP in that question had a weaned baby. It happened two months ago and is now done with. Bringing up the fact that the maybe the parents shouldn't have weaned the baby or the baby probably wasn't ready to be weaned was completely unnecessary to the question at hand and is part, among other things, why people found your comment to be judgemental and critical.

I think you need to watch your tone on parenting questions and stick to the particular question being asked because even though I often agree with your general opinions, I find myself going, "Oh, dear, that could have been said much more nicely."
posted by zizzle at 7:39 AM on October 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


If you honestly think variations in sleep training methods constitute neglect or abuse, I'd hate for you to find out what REAL child neglect and abuse look like in the real world. I'm not sure you could handle it. You can't possibly know, or you'd never compare "cry it out" to actual child neglect or abuse. I'm looking at a stack three inches high right now, that I have to have read by Monday, that will have accounts of child neglect and abuse that are apparently totally outside your realm of knowledge or imagination, or you would NEVER suggest that loving parents trying to get a kid to sleep constitutes neglect.

The unrealistic child care expectations I see here come from you, not from the "teevee." You know that attachment parenting, et al, are privileges of the upper middle class, right?

If you'd like to see more parents doing it, the appropriate venue of attack is not individual parents -- although I know that makes the attackers feel better about their own tenuous self-esteem relating to parenting choices -- but the culture that makes it difficult for mothers to stay home with infants, fathers to be fully involved, and parents to both earn enough to support their families AND be involved with those families. Attacking individual parents for failing to be involved enough parents is a red herring. It's anti-liberal, it's anti-feminist, and it keeps moms who could be a powerful political force from manning the barricades because it's so much easier (and pscyhologically satisfying, I guess, for the insecure) to judge individuals than to fight to change a culture that renders parenting an afterthought. Telling parents who have to work to feed their families that their "need" to get some sleep so they can remain employed and not have their children starve that they're not trying hard enough to be good parents by not remaining awake 24/7 is a pernicious form of distraction from the cultural issue that forces these choices. It fails to recognize YOUR privilege, and it's plain cruel.

PS -- I need time to myself in the evening too. And the idea that mothers should totally subsume their identities to their children is ANOTHER way of keeping them too busy to realize that the broader culture is shitting on motherhood and families. Step one: keep people too busy to protest. Step two: Enlist the mama-warriors to shame anyone who tries to retain an identity, free time, or anything that might give them a chance to realize the systemic issues, so you don't even have to do it yourself. Willing little culture warriors will fight the battle for you by proxy. Step three: Profit, with by paying lower wages, offering shitty family leave policies and poor health insurance, paying lower taxes for bad schools, etc. Good thing the moms are too busy meeting unrealistic standards of childcare and tearing each others' throats out about it to notice!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:42 AM on October 8, 2011 [73 favorites]


You know that attachment parenting, et al, are privileges of the upper middle class, right?

Spare me the neo-Marxist rhetorical babble. We practice attachment parenting, and, let me assure you, we barely qualify has middle class.

This sort of adversarial, contemptuous attitude does not help.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:54 AM on October 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Don't fight guys.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:18 AM on October 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm with you. My answer was deleted, too. It was beause I said "fuck what you need" in it. But seriously, it's about a 10 month old baby who the OP is allowing to cry for 30 mins straight!!!!!!! That is fucked up.
posted by pick_the_flowers at 9:45 AM on October 8, 2011


If you honestly think variations in sleep training methods constitute neglect or abuse, I'd hate for you to find out what REAL child neglect and abuse look like in the real world.

So because some people are doing something REALLY horrible, it makes it OK for others to do someting that's a bit horrible?
posted by pick_the_flowers at 9:49 AM on October 8, 2011


pick_the_flowers, can you really not understand why "fuck what you need" was not appropriate advice for the OP of the original askme?
posted by crankylex at 9:54 AM on October 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


KokuRyu was generous enough to discuss some of my points with me over memail in a very constructive and non-snippy manner (and I would not have blamed KR for being snippy after I was strident), and I think we understand each other better now.

Just wanted to throw a little love in the thread for a place where people who are emotionally involved in a topic can have a calm conversation that sheds more light than heat. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:56 AM on October 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


pick_the_flowers, your comment was really, really not helpful. Just thinking generally about how to frame advice so that it's best accepted, how could your comments be helpful?
posted by sweetkid at 10:08 AM on October 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Anyone who would like the full text of their deleted comment posted here is welcome to ask us to do it. We deleted your second comment, pick_the_flowers, because you told the parent asking for strategies to deal with their child that what they were doing, trying to let them cry it out, was [and I quote] "abusive and really really mean"

That's just not okay AskMe etiquette and we're trying to have a discussion here about why that is. I will repeat what I said earlier, if you seriously think that what a parent is doing is child abuse, I feel for you, but you need to either find a way to temper that emotion into something that's constructive advice, or keep on walking.

This is a topic on which reasonable people disagree, similar to circumcision somewhat. If you do not feel that reasonable people can disagree on this topic, then you need to not get into threads where you can not be constructive and civil to people, period.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:11 AM on October 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, I was snippy to Eyebrows McGee, and I apologize for that.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:11 AM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I read through this thread reasonably attentively, but it seemed like kmennie never came back to address the substance of her comment once everyone could read it instead of her paraphrase of it. Did I miss it when she did?
posted by OmieWise at 10:59 AM on October 8, 2011


You guys are right, it was not a good idea to say "fuck what you need" in AskMe, and I agree that is not constructive.

It's a good thing that the mods axed me.
posted by pick_the_flowers at 11:38 AM on October 8, 2011 [3 favorites]



The unrealistic child care expectations I see here come from you, not from the "teevee." You know that attachment parenting, et al, are privileges of the upper middle class, right?

Attachment parenting, for many, is the provenance of broke-ass hippies. And even when it's not, I make philosophical choices about how I want to treat my child because I have done some serious thinking about it and have read a lot of stuff and talked to a lot of people, not because I'm an airhead who, I don't know - doesn't work hard? Doesn't have life pressure? Or something? Is that what's happening?

I do understand what I think you're saying, that pitting parents against each other in culture wars is a handy distraction from the fact that (American) culture makes parenting very difficult, but man... don't say stuff like the above if you want to have a real conversation. It makes me really cranky, and not want to listen to any reasonable points you have to make - sort of like I imagine you think kmennie's approach makes people feel.

I read through this thread reasonably attentively, but it seemed like kmennie never came back to address the substance of her comment once everyone could read it instead of her paraphrase of it. Did I miss it when she did?

Why would she come back after so many have used this as their forum for axe-grindy drinking game cracks? This isn't a discussion, it's a dumping ground.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 4:02 PM on October 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


pick_the_flowers: "You guys are right, it was not a good idea to say "fuck what you need" in AskMe, and I agree that is not constructive.

It's a good thing that the mods axed me.
"

And as Jessamyn said, it was also not okay to tell other parents they were being "abusive and really really mean."
posted by IndigoRain at 6:08 PM on October 8, 2011


Telling somebody you've never seen in action that she's not giving the kid enough milk or "cuddles" just sounds to me like a really patronizing way of suggesting that maybe she's starving the baby and maybe doesn't love her enough. Seriously, "make with the milk"? It might be less insulting to be blunt.
posted by Adventurer at 6:20 PM on October 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


And as Jessamyn said, it was also not okay to tell other parents they were being "abusive and really really mean."

Actually, what I said was, "Since you did ask for advice, it is my opinion that leaving your child to cry it out is abusive and really really mean (especially for 30 mins! Can you imagine crying your heart out for 30 mins and your own mother ignoring you???), and I advise you to stop doing it right away. "

Jessamyn edited away the part where I did specify that this is just my opinion based on the question being asked.
posted by pick_the_flowers at 10:32 PM on October 8, 2011


Don't think of it as "crying it out." think of it as self soothing. And, I say this as a father of three (children, not dogs or cats, but I have had both and loved them as well).

A child needs his or her sleep and a parent needs his or her adult time. And when parents and children get this time, it makes for a better family life for everyone (YMMV as always).

That being said, I'm not here to judge. Every parent should do what is best for them and their children. And the crazy exhibited by the OP does no one any good at all.
posted by cjets at 10:46 PM on October 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


pick_the_flowers: Actually, what I said was, "Since you did ask for advice, it is my opinion that leaving your child to cry it out is abusive and really really mean (especially for 30 mins! Can you imagine crying your heart out for 30 mins and your own mother ignoring you???), and I advise you to stop doing it right away. "

Jessamyn edited away the part where I did specify that this is just my opinion based on the question being asked.


Well, but her question wasn't, "Tell me your honest and blunt opinion of my parenting no matter how harsh it is." I've actually seen questions that say things like that and some pretty no-hold-barred comments have stayed.

But she didn't say that, she asked a specific question about how to get the baby to sleep. So, that reply isn't based on the actual question that was asked. Asking for advice on something specific doesn't make it a free for all to just give any opinion.

As to the other thing you said, I really really, REALLY respect that you acknowledged it wasn't the best thing to have said, that puts you in a small minority of people who take not-positive feedback well IMO.
posted by Ashley801 at 11:05 PM on October 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


pick_the_flowers: "Jessamyn edited away the part where I did specify that this is just my opinion based on the question being asked."

Isn't that part understood? I mean, that's what all the answers to that question are: the answerers opinions.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:05 PM on October 8, 2011


I have learned, the hard way, that AskMe is often not a great place to go for advice about your parenting. The thing with parenting is any comments on it are probably going to be the most personal - it is a judgement on you, about something that is most precious to you - and if you hear something you don't like, it will probably hurt more than anything else. More than someone telling you you are handling your relationship wrong, more than someone judging your choice of career or life direction.

Add to that the fact it is very hard in a post to give an idea of the 101 individual factors of your situation. Add to that you might be in a position of stress so finding it very hard to write a post that is dispassionate enough to give a reasonable account of what you are going through. Add to that there are some people who see their way of doing things as the only way. Add to the the view of some people that what we do as parents is all determining for our children's future outcome and happiness. Add to that everyone has different views on what is reasonable to expect of parents (and especially mothers) when we talk about the amount of time and effort given purely for our children.

Then you start to get an idea of why parenting threads are so fraught. Thanks to all those who have tried so hard to be helpful, positive and non-judgemental in them.
posted by Megami at 3:35 AM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sleep deprivation is really horrible, truly a form of torture. But I don't think it's fair to kmennie to bring it in here; the AskMe OP didn't say the baby was waking during the night, just that she didn't go to sleep until 10 or 11pm, and then slept until 8am. The AskMe OP wanted more of an evening with her husband -- totally understandable! -- and was not, as far as I saw, complaining that the baby's sleep was interrupted in those 9 or 10 hours. That's a nice long sleep for any 10-month-old, honestly.

I do think it's cruel to tell a mother to just deal with sleep deprivation -- I've experienced it, and it's beyond what I can just deal with. And I feel like the comments in this MeTa have had the effect of insinuating that that's what kmennie was doing (whether or not the individual commenters meant it that way -- I know it was probably just a set of extreme examples to show how maternal devotion-in-the-face-of-all-suffering can be taken too far).

It also bothers me that Ferber is presented as some kind of magician who will make your baby sleep just as long as ever you please. I think Ferber is awesome, and I've Ferberized 2 babies. But the AskMe OP's baby is already sleeping 12-to-13 hours out of 24 (the OP mentioned 3 hours of napping, too)! That's pretty much exactly as much as Ferber says a baby that age typically needs.

Putting a 10-month-old in bed for 16 hours a day and letting her just cry for the HOURS she doesn't need to sleep in that time really would be cruel.* So honestly, those answers bugged me at least as much as kmennie's.

*If your 10-month-old sleeps 16 hours a day, great! I think that's awesome! My mother-in-law says my husband did that. But it's not something you can force on just any baby that age; the vast majority will just not sleep that long, no matter the training method.
posted by palliser at 8:11 AM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


This thread has gone well and I find this discussion very interesting. I don't have children but I just asked my mother what she did when I wouldn't stop crying at night. I've been told I was very fussy until I was 2. She had to leave her minimum wage job to take care of me when I was born and my father was unemployed, so there were some strong money and time pressures. They also had my brother who was only a year older than me. She says she picked me up if I cried. My father said he wished she'd let me cry it out because that's how his mother dealt with his younger siblings. I turned out okay or terribly depending on who you ask and when.

All this just to say that this seems like an old issue and I don't see it being resolved in an Askme question, so perhaps it's best just to put your best information in the answer that can help resolve the specific problem and let the OP choose what strategies to try.
posted by Danila at 2:39 PM on October 9, 2011


My first kid was a terrible sleeper and I was very sleep deprived. I eventually drove through a red light into an intersection. I never saw the red light. I was SO LUCKY there was no one there at that precise second. Crying it out took a week, and then he slept fine and slept better and seriously, everyone in our house including him was just... better. I went from pretty much lounging in my pajamas in a hazy stupor all day to bringing him out to playgrounds and wading pools and zoos and more fun things I was just too tired to do before. CIO has survived as a method because it works for some tough situations, it was never my first choice, and I coslept for 10 months with him. But good christ, it may have legitimately saved our lives.

Kids are all different. My second kid didn't need it. I feel blessed for that. But I've coslept, I've had them in separate rooms, I've breastfed to 17 months, I've had to switch to formula at 4 weeks, I've cloth diapered, and I've disposable diapered. IT DOESN'T MATTER. IT'S ALL PARENTING. Drive-by judgement on other parents is the stupidest damn crap. Stop it.
posted by kpht at 6:46 PM on October 9, 2011 [17 favorites]


kmennie is one of the few posters whose tone I can recognize within the first sentence of any response she gives, whether it's sleep, feeding, parenting, face creams, or website design. It all starts and ends with cavalier dismissal, smugness, and self-righteousness. The parenting stuff was always the worst though and I'm thrilled that she's finally called herself out so I don't have to.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 8:33 PM on October 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


I just have to say, since I missed it before:

Kmennie's answers in AskMeta would make a great drinking game. Take a shot for every mention of: milk, cuddles, cherishing this time, looking at the moon, the cruelty of CIO.


The answers of pretty much anyone who posts here regularly would make a good drinking game. Comments like this could be potentially really humiliating for some people. Making comments like this seems like a good way to get people stop posting earnestly, honestly, about things that they really care about, are sensitive, or vulnerable about. How could they continue if mocking like this becomes a thing?
posted by Ashley801 at 1:00 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The comment right above yours describes her answers as starting and ending with, "cavalier dismissal, smugness, and self-righteousness"- and you think a crack about a drinking game is harsh? thehmsbeagle was right, kmennie got pretty well piled-on in this thread, and I can understand why she wouldn't want to come back here, but I also agree with otherworldlyglow that this thread was a long time coming for some of us who were tired of her style in parenting threads. If kmennie took the form in which I called her answers in parenting threads predictable as harsh, I apologize, but I stand behind the meat of what I said.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:23 AM on October 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh come on. That kind of non-apology is the worst. Why pretend you're apologizing when you're actually just saying "Hey, please check out my complaints again!!"?

I am really unimpressed by the pile-on in this thread. If kmennie's parenting answers are sooooooooo horrific to you, perhaps the time to point these things out is in response to individual comments. At the time.

And yeah, I think you ARE being harsh. I think a lot of people here are being harsh. I also agree with Ashley801, that people in here are having a little bit of fun thinking of themselves as perfect, non-judgmental commenters, which is total bullshit. If there's a community of people who comment with cavalier dismissal, smugness and self-righteousness, many of you are eligible for membership.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 7:59 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


If kmennie's parenting answers are sooooooooo horrific to you, perhaps the time to point these things out is in response to individual comments. At the time.

No, that wouldn't be appropriate, because that would derail the threads. I flag and move on. But this is a thread on her behavior, so it's perfectly within bounds for anyone to say they find her behavior objectionable if they feel that way.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:05 AM on October 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


You have access to the memail system. You could have emailed her to say these things at any time.

Yelling at someone in public because you feel that her responses do not sufficiently take into account that there's a real live person on the receiving end does not magically take away your own responsibility to be aware of the fact that you're yelling at a real live person.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 8:15 AM on October 10, 2011


> You have access to the memail system.

But, but, I don't get favorites that way.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:19 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't know that I would ever do that again- send someone a private message to take their public behavior to task. I can't think of a time when I've done it in the past where it's gone well. We're all talking amongst ourselves here in this public space, where's the line drawn where we should deal with things privately? Should I have MeMailed kmennie or should she have MeMailed the poster of the AskMeta thread or should I have MeMailed you or should you have MeMailed me (and why didn't you, if you believe in it so strongly)? To me, all that stuff is fine if people want to do it and if they feel it's productive, but it's secondary to the community we're all participating in.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:29 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


The comment right above yours describes her answers as starting and ending with, "cavalier dismissal, smugness, and self-righteousness"- and you think a crack about a drinking game is harsh?

Well, having addressed that one comment doesn't mean I think all the other ones were better---

And, It's not that I think the drinking game comment was harsh, as in too overly blunt. It was the mockingness of it that really made me cringe. Giving someone negative feedback, even sometimes to the point of harshness, can at least be constructive. But mocking them just seems like something else. Something that makes me cringe and remember like junior high. And it seems gratuitous.

Because this-- If kmennie took the form in which I called her answers in parenting threads predictable as harsh, I apologize, but I stand behind the meat of what I said.

Out of the 5 things listed in that comment, two of them were "cherishing this time" and "looking at the moon." Is it so horrible if kmennie posts about looking at the moon, no, nobody is caring about that here. So throwing that in, for example, seems like just making fun of her for no constructive purpose.

I don't know if kmennie took that comment as harsh. What I'm trying to say is that *I* would find it off-putting in the extreme to be mocked like that here, and I can't imagine I'm alone in that. I would find it off-putting in the extreme to see mocking like that start to become a thing people do here because it reminds me of junior high and mocking someone to communicate displeasure with them is not a way of interacting with the world that I really want to be around or see at this point in my life.
posted by Ashley801 at 8:48 AM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Okay, TPS, so what exactly is accomplished by this kind of public pile-on? The benefit "to the community" is probably not that a person getting piled on realizes "Wow, the way I've been commenting hasn't been very effective, I should take a look at that... but definitely keep participating here." If you were the subject of a thread like this, do you think it would be helpful to you, or do you think that it would make you want to leave and never come back?
posted by thehmsbeagle at 8:50 AM on October 10, 2011


I appreciate the feedback, Ashley801, and will keep it in mind for further interactions. This is a good example of why I like to keep negative interactions public- you get feedback from people that don't have a dog in the fight and that's easier to swallow, somehow.

thehmsbeagle, I have, in the past, been piled-on for things I have said and done, and while it was incredibly embarrassing at the time, the part that was really embarrassing was that everyone was right. I took the feedback to heart and I'm still here, so yes, I suppose it was helpful to me. I'm certainly not the only one who's been through that experience and lived to tell about it. Given the open nature of Metatalk, I can't imagine the pile-on will ever totally go away.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:05 AM on October 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


TPS's responses may have been a little harsh, but you can kind of understand the outpouring of feeling - as mentioned many times above, this IS a touchy subject and I agree that mentioning such feelings in-thread is a derail, as opposed to FingIAMingO (acronym lolz).

Generally speaking the balance here looks to me like it's around 80% feeling like Kmennie has been out of line, and 20% empathising with her. So it does feel a bit like a pile-on. But hopefully, she can take that to mean something like, perhaps, that whilst about 20% of her post was valid content, the rest needs a rethink. That's not such a bad conclusion, as far as a clear answer to why it got removed. And not totally discouraging, hopefully. I'm sure she has the ability, given time and a bit more sleep, to put her future answers together a bit more thoughtfully.
posted by greenish at 9:45 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you were the subject of a thread like this, do you think it would be helpful to you, or do you think that it would make you want to leave and never come back?

If you think this thread is more likely than not to make someone want to leave and never come back, what should a thread look like that makes someone go "I guess I should tone down the judgment in my AskMe answers"? I'm being non-rhetorical and serious: If you don't empathize with people who are super judgmental in AskMe answers and you want them to stop doing that, what should you do?
posted by 23skidoo at 10:18 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


ThePinkSuperhero: “thehmsbeagle, I have, in the past, been piled-on for things I have said and done, and while it was incredibly embarrassing at the time, the part that was really embarrassing was that everyone was right. I took the feedback to heart and I'm still here, so yes, I suppose it was helpful to me. I'm certainly not the only one who's been through that experience and lived to tell about it. Given the open nature of Metatalk, I can't imagine the pile-on will ever totally go away.”

No, but sometimes I get the feeling that it's getting worse. It's astounding how tempting it can be for me, anyway, to jump in with a biting "yeah, what you did is bullshit" comment.

But the fact is that there's a line that we should be careful not to cross. In real-world communication – when we're talking to people face to face, I mean – when someone has been chastised, most of us who aren't sociopathic feel some shame and embarrassment for them, and aren't likely to chastise them even further. The pain people might potentially feel is much more evident in person, and we aren't usually eager to add to it even when we kind of like the feeling of chastising them. But online communication makes it easy to indulge ourselves by grinding people down again and again; we don't have to experience as directly how brutal that is, so we can keep going.

I'm only saying this because it's something I'm working on learning myself – because it's always been really, really easy for me when I'm online to lapse into stabbing over and over at the same wound when I think people are wrong. I think this happens a lot on Metafilter in general, too, because, even aside from the few people who get carried away like I do, it's easy for people to feel like their two cents can't possibly be over the top if it's just one or two comments. But two dozen semi-insulting chastenings from two dozen separate commenters is a pile-on.

I just feel like this is often a problem. And I think maybe it'd be worth it for all of us to think a lot about where we draw that line. There's a natural rhythm to these kinds of threads where someone might have done something wrong, and one person says so clearly and incisively, and then a bunch of us chime in to say "yeah, that's bullshit" and throw in a sort of half-insulting (or fully insulting) insinuation. I think a better rhythm would be for us to note when the one person has said it incisively and stop – and especially to hold off chiming in with insulting stuff. A Metatalk conversation isn't a voting booth. We don't have to register our agreement with a chastening, much less register our dislike of a poster or some things that they do.
posted by koeselitz at 10:41 AM on October 10, 2011 [6 favorites]

But online communication makes it easy to indulge ourselves by grinding people down again and again; we don't have to experience as directly how brutal that is, so we can keep going.koeselitz
This is the essential social problem with the new online culture. There are so many checks-and-balances, if you will, in real-world social interactions that don't exist online. Some of the things which are missing are not uniformly positive in the real world and their absence online is a benefit. But the natural empathy that comes from being face-to-face with someone isn't one of them.

I've only been back hanging around MeFi and posting for days, really, and so it's too early for me to make any judgments about how it's changed in the four years that I've been gone. But, at the risk of being premature, it does seem to me like it's gentler than it used to be. Which is a really, really good thing.

I used to call the culture here an "attack and ridicule" culture; but, really, it's the culture of the Internet. It's corrosive. To one's soul, I think. (I don't believe in a soul, but that idiom is still very meaningful to me.) To survive MeFi when I joined in '04 and quickly found myself vastly disliked by a few who put a lot of effort into targeting me, I quickly learned to grow a thicker skin. But, over time after having done so, that thicker skin made it easier for me to be less empathic. And even the most non-conformist of us will at least modestly modify our behavior to match local standards when we are part of a subculture for a long period of time. I found that my online persona had become angry and contentious and even cruel in a way that isn't like me in real life at all, and which I found I eventually developed a kind of self-hatred about. And I also just found all the conflict and the bad feelings very tiresome. When I left MeFi, within a couple of months I realized that I was much happier without a daily dose of that "attack and ridicule".

I wish there was some magic solution to these problems, but there's not. It's possible to have very pleasant and friendly Internet communities, but there's a direct correlation to how "light" the tone is, how strongly small-talk is emphasized. Or, alternatively, you can have a very formal, academic tone that also keeps the nasty stuff to a minimum, though it's not very friendly, with social stuff and small-talk and even anything about subjective "feelings" is discouraged. That's not optimal, either. The kind of wide-ranging conversations that we have here at MeFi make it hard to utilize one of the tried-and-true discursive style conventions like those I just mentioned to keep people from being hurtful to each other. We talk about stuff here that matters to us, a lot, both with regard to ideas and with regard to our personal and social lives, and those things involve a lot of emotional investment.

Few things involve emotional investment more than parenting. And few reasoned ideas and values have so much at stake as how we decide children should be raised.

That implies that we should try extra hard to be empathic and treat each other with respect and generosity and kindness. But, of course, it's often when it's most important, most needed, that our discipline and best intentions fail us.

I'm not sure that shaming is even remotely as effective in an online culture as it is in the real world with regard to altering behavior. I have a suspicion that very often the result is that if someone isn't simply driven away, they end up with thicker skins and a greater resistance to persuasion.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:44 PM on October 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


Interesting discussion - I'm drawn to these b/c of my own experiences with my now 2 year old daughter, who has had terrible sleep issues over much of her life (for several months she woke up every hour, which was just torture, it destroyed us to the point at which we were able to justify CIO, because the alternative was I-don't-even-know). CIO worked, at least to the point of dropping the wakeups to 2-3 times a night. Later on, when she began to wake frequently again, at about 1 1/2 years, we figured out that she had mild asthma, and treatment has helped. Sleep still isn't great, 2-3 wakeups a night, but it is better.

I don't think that kmennie is coming from a bad place and my impression of her outside of the CIO threads is positive. But she is coming from a community that abhors CIO. I know, as my wife and I are part of that community (attachment parenting/Montessori/home birth w/ a midwife/Dr. Sears/no TV/etc). I also am pretty sure that kmennie has never been subjected to sleep deprivation so severe (regarding of co-sleeping, herbs, no cry sleep solution, baby wearing, etc etc etc) that you literally are afraid that you will mentally crack up. We had to take leave of the community (and Dr. Sears') approach when forced to do so by our experience. However, if we had a good sleeper, I'm sure that I'd at least quietly sniff to myself about CIO, doubting the abilities of those parents who let their kid CIO.

Also, a note: there seems to be a couple of members on this thread who assume that the original thread's poster was only complaining about the late bedtime and that the baby otherwise slept through the night. I don't think that's the case, as a contiguous 8 hours of nighttime sleep for a baby of that age would be exceptionally awesome (at least in my experience).
posted by seventyfour at 12:53 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, a note: there seems to be a couple of members on this thread who assume that the original thread's poster was only complaining about the late bedtime and that the baby otherwise slept through the night. I don't think that's the case, as a contiguous 8 hours of nighttime sleep for a baby of that age would be exceptionally awesome (at least in my experience).

A contiguous 9 hours of sleep (baby falling asleep around 11, waking around 8) is not so unusual, if you consider that many babies that age are going down around 8 and waking around 5 or 6. My first slept from 8:30 to 6:30 at that age. (The other two, not so much, but parents with good sleepers just don't talk about it because it sounds obnoxious.)

I don't think the AskMe OP is suffering from sleep deprivation because she specifically says, "We can't keep doing this because we need some time to ourselves in the evenings." Understandable, but not the crisis that sleep deprivation is. And in order to solve it according to what Ferber actually says, they're going to have to give up that 8am wake time.

Honestly, the worst advocates for Ferber are the ones who know nothing except the few pages that have his method, or not even that; just the general idea that crying will get your baby to do what you want, sleep-wise. The whole rest of his book is about meeting infants where they are: knowing what they need and giving it to them. It is inaccurate to tell a parent that they can get a 10-month-old to go to sleep at 7:30 and not wake until 8 the next morning, plus take 3 hours of naps (as several commenters did, when they suggested backing bedtime up and that it wouldn't mean an earlier wake-up). It will mean pointless, helpless crying, rather than crying for the purpose of learning self-soothing. It will not end after 3 days, because no one can "learn" to sleep more than they need. If someone put you in bed, lights out, for 11 hours/night, you'd be permanently miserable.

Well, after the first two nights, which would be AWESOME.
posted by palliser at 1:14 PM on October 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Wow, welcome back, Ivan Fyodorovich!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:58 PM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


TPS, it's nice to be here. *nods amiably*
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:02 PM on October 10, 2011


If you think this thread is more likely than not to make someone want to leave and never come back, what should a thread look like that makes someone go "I guess I should tone down the judgment in my AskMe answers"? I'm being non-rhetorical and serious: If you don't empathize with people who are super judgmental in AskMe answers and you want them to stop doing that, what should you do?

I think that for people who are not outrageous assholes (and I don't think that kmennie is one), something like "I have to say that I agree with the first person who mentioned that your comments on this topic can seem kind of judgy. In a recent comment, I noticed that you said [x]- I think that phrasing it that way makes it seem like you're really sitting in judgment of the asker. Phrasing the same thing [like so] might help in the future." would probably suffice.

Reading someone's criticism about you and seeing it agreed with by others is a pretty serious gut check for almost everyone. Once you start going beyond that, I don't know what that's going to achieve. Some people are going to leave, and some people are going to get defensive and fighty. I can't imagine a lot of people just sitting there and going "Wow, the person who keeps coming back to make the same point is so totally right, again!"

However, I don't think that threads like this are actually about helping someone who is otherwise a valued member of the community alter the tone of their comments. I think they are about people who have built-up grumpiness about something venting a bunch of steam at once. Which is a very human response. I totally get it. There's a person who gives food advice who irritates me in a completely irrational way, and if they showed up here I would really have to wrestle my demons. But I do think it can become a vortex of cruelty that people justify to themselves: look, everyone else is doing it, clearly this is fine. Oh, I should drop a note about that other thing this person does that pisses me off while I'm at it...

I don't have answers for all of this stuff. But I think there is real community value to being kind, even when you're really frustrated. That's what people in this thread are asking kmennie to do in her parenting answers, and I think it's good advice for all of us.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 3:33 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just want to say that it's really a deep pleasure to see the return of one of the people from the "old days" of this site that I liked most and was saddest to see the back of. Welcome back, Ivan Fyodorovich. I like your new handle.
posted by koeselitz at 3:36 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


In real-world communication – when we're talking to people face to face, I mean – when someone has been chastised, most of us who aren't sociopathic feel some shame and embarrassment for them, and aren't likely to chastise them even further. The pain people might potentially feel is much more evident in person, and we aren't usually eager to add to it even when we kind of like the feeling of chastising them. But online communication makes it easy to indulge ourselves by grinding people down again and again; we don't have to experience as directly how brutal that is, so we can keep going.

I think that is so, so astute.

I wonder if there's even a way people can indicate "I get it, I'm showing my belly here" in text?
posted by thehmsbeagle at 3:43 PM on October 10, 2011


Welcome back indeed. It's a testament to the distinctiveness of your participation here that one paragraph into your comment, before you even mentioned being back after an extended absence, I thought "Wait a minute... is that ________ _____? Awesome! When did he come back?"
posted by dersins at 3:47 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


seemed like kmennie never came back

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! I am only just now sitting down after the whirlwind of cooking, oven crapping out mid-cook, family, etc etc, trying to skim this...extensive commentary

(The comment about non-parents wasn't a comment on the current thread; just that Ask has a little collection of nannies/sitters/etc who are stridently CIO and they do pop up in the baby sleep threads, with advice I always think they will be embarrassed by if they ever become parents. Generally non-parents have good insights, but sometimes you really need to've felt parenthood in your kishkas, not merely observed or acted it, to advise... Anyway.)

Also:

But she is coming from a community that abhors CIO. I know, as my wife and I are part of that community (attachment parenting/Montessori/home birth w/ a midwife/Dr. Sears/no TV/etc).

I do not know many "AP" parents and am iffy about using the label on myself. But I do not know ANYBODY who leaves their babies to cry, or at least nobody who would admit to it in public. No high-school friend making updates on Facebook, no neighbour, no old friend who just had his first kid, no neighbour with lots of kids, who does this; nobody. I have three younger siblings and would've been traumatised to find one of them crying untended to.

You can see how it might appear if it was that far out of your culture...?

I also am pretty sure that kmennie has never been subjected to sleep deprivation so severe that you literally are afraid that you will mentally crack up.

No, been to the hospital for that one; more than once, long-standing sleep disorders. (And I did not have a "good sleeper" or something; I night nursed until +/- 2.5. I am a rural single parent, sometimes a broke one thanks to joint problems bad enough to get me a handicapped parking permit; I did not do things with a surplus of help or resources, in case anyone else was 'pretty sure' about guesses along any of those lines)

Anyway.

I think I had some misunderstandings about the site, and for the good of all concerned will take a break. I am mortified by the idea of even a temporary "flounce" but in the face of mutual disappointment, it seems like the best way to roll. But ta for the constructive advice that managed to sneak into this.
posted by kmennie at 7:46 PM on October 10, 2011


Welcome back, Ivan Fyodorovich! You've been missed.
posted by misha at 7:55 PM on October 10, 2011


Well... you're the judge of the best solution, and if taking a break is it then so be it, but I think it's a shame and regret seeing you go, esp. under these circumstances.
posted by Ashley801 at 7:56 PM on October 10, 2011


Ask has a little collection of nannies/sitters/etc who are stridently CIO and they do pop up in the baby sleep threads, with advice I always think they will be embarrassed by if they ever become parents. Generally non-parents have good insights, but sometimes you really need to've felt parenthood in your kishkas, not merely observed or acted it, to advise...

Charming.

Enjoy your break!
posted by grouse at 8:08 PM on October 10, 2011 [14 favorites]


Wow, kmennie. You just can't resist, can you?

For the record: I am a parent who breastfed >1yr, co-slept, blahdiblahdiblah AND let our kid cry it out when we deemed it appropriate. There you go you have an N = me, and years later, I'm not embarrassed by it. It's the solution that we determined would work best for our family. The end. It's a parenting choice, it's not abuse, it's not neglect, and for the record, over half of the many many parents I know did it as well.

It's your presentation of the practice as factually neglectful which is the obnoxious bit. At least I won't have to read that silliness again for a while.
posted by gaspode at 8:28 PM on October 10, 2011 [13 favorites]


Even the parting comment was thick with judgement. Argh.
posted by kpht at 8:32 PM on October 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Welcome back, IF.
posted by chinston at 9:31 PM on October 10, 2011


Okay, OP has responded and pretty much everyone has said everything they have to say, I think, so I'm going to close it up.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:22 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


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