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  • Megan Robert


Working in the field of child sleep and being involved in several parenting Facebook groups, I am sure you can imagine the types of comments I see that revolve around the sleep of young children. If you're someone within any parenting group, you know exactly what I am talking about.

When I first started this profession, I would get very anxious when responding to someone within one of those groups. I became terrified to answer anyone's questions regarding how to help their child sleep because of the possible back lash. And I don't even have children! I can only imagine how a mother reaching out for help feels when making such a post.

Eventually, I noticed that this was causing a snowball effect within myself. One small comment would cause my heart to race and my blood to boil. This would then take over my entire focus for the rest of the day. I eventually decided that I needed to remove myself from these situations for a while.

Although I was specifically experiencing this with posts related to child sleep, child sleep is only one of the major parenting categories that is often considered a sensitive topic. One might even say controversial.

My most recent encounter regarding sleep, which leads me to writing this piece went a little bit like this...

A parent was celebrating the fact that her child was sleeping through the night within a parenting forum. She never mentioned how she got her child to that point. She just was celebrating, expressing how good it feels to get some rest. Some rest she hadn't had for a long time.

Although several comments were supportive and congratulating her, several others consisted of phrases like "I don't believe in CIO" or "I can't imagine letting my child cry."

I was flabbergasted!

First, CIO is only one of many options when it comes to sleep training. From what the mother shared, we had no idea how she achieved better rest. Second, if this mother had chosen to use CIO, so what?! It's her decision. One that I imagine she made with her child's best interest at heart based on their specific situation. And if you are thinking, well, she might be damaging her is some research to go through to see that this is not true.

This woman was celebrating SLEEP! Sleep for both her child and herself! And these people who have no idea how she got to that point made assumptions and used words that could tear a mother down in seconds. This is parent shaming, and I am so sick of seeing it. Parent shaming is, what I would consider, a social epidemic.

I found within the thread that people often do not really understand what parent shaming is.

When the mother was standing up for herself and others supporting her, the initial person who commented on the thread with parent shaming replied with something like this, "It's not parent shaming. It's just my opinion." OR "I wasn't putting her down. I was just saying that I could never do that."

So, to make sure that we are all on the same page, let's break it down.

Here is the definition of shame according to Webster Dictionary:

Shame (noun)

1 a : a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety

b : the susceptibility to such emotion

2 : a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute

3 a : a cause of feeling shame

b : something that brings censure or reproach also : something to be regretted