Friday, September 2, 2011

Mastering the Smile and Nod

If there is one thing parents have learned it is that you will get advice you did not ask for and comments will be made about your child(ren) about situations they know nothing about. This is where mastering the art of Smile and Nod comes in. I'm still (and will probably always be) a work in progress but I have come a long way. I have learned that it is not worth my time and energy to engage certain people when all it will do is make me defensive and frustrated.

Recently I was speaking with a therapist trying to work through things from my past. I'm not sure how we got on the subject of my son and sleep but we did. The comment was made that in other countries everyone sleeps in the same room but in America we don't do that. This person went on to say that if an 8 year old still sleeps with their parents then they would not be able to attend a sleep over because they would not be able to sleep without their parents, inferring that in other countries this is not a problem because they do not have sleepovers.
As she was speaking she was looking at me with the look of 'you agree right?' So this is where I applied the smile and nod technique. Since she is more educated in child development I did not think this was a discussion I wanted to get into. My smile and nod technique consisted of a neutral facial expression, little eye contact and looking at my son as a distraction. Since she is a therapist I wonder if she knew what I was doing.

I don't agree with the statement that an 8 year old who sleeps with their parents would not be able to attend a sleepover for a couple reasons.

  1.   Personal experience - When I was 8 I was still sleeping with my mom most nights. Honestly I was afraid of the dark (and kind of still am). I could sleep just fine in the dark with my mom. I went to plenty of sleepovers and overnight trips with friends just fine! When I felt that I was too old to sleep with my mom I slept in my own room on my own (with a light).
  2. Going off my own understandings of co-sleeping, it is not just about sleeping with your parent. It is about sleeping with other people around. I believe that at 8, a child who wanted to sleep over with their friends would do fine because they would still be sleeping with other people, not alone. And honestly, how much sleep goes on at a sleep over anyway? If the child got scared and wanted to go home and snuggle with their parents, what's wrong with that? That said, I could be completely wrong.
So after applying the smile and nod, I assume that the therapist thinks my son sleeps alone at night in his own room in a crib. If she only knew my son sleeps next to his mommy and daddy every night :)

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