Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Nighttime Parenting Parable

Disclaimer: This is a purely fictional story. While there may be similarities to real life events, these are purely coincidental and not intended.

My father had a stroke. He requires round the clock care because he is unable to get out of bed by himself. He has also lost the ability to speak, but is able to communicate somewhat with gestures. During the day, a nurse comes in to care for him. However, at night, he is solely my responsibility.
Lately, my father hasn’t been sleeping well at night. I hear him waking up and moaning. When I go to check on him, he gestures for me to give him something to drink. Then he likes for me to sit with him and hold his hand until he falls back asleep. It’s getting to be ridiculous! He is a grown man and should be able to sleep through the night. I suspect that his nightly requests for water are at least in part manipulative- all he wants is my attention.
I am incredibly tired. I feel very irritated with the situation in our house at night. When I mentioned our problems to my father’s nurse the other day, she suggested I ignore his moans during the night. Last night, I decided to give her advice a try.
My father awoke as usual, moaning. I heard him, but decided that it was time to put a stop to his constant night wakings. I ignored him. His moans got louder and louder, then turned to quiet whimpering. It was very difficult for me to listen to, so I just put on some earphones and listened to music. Eventually, he stopped making noises and was able to put himself to sleep.
I am very happy with the way I handled the situation. After all, my father is 65 years old- there is no reason for him not to sleep through the night. I know he feels thirsty, but it won’t hurt him to go without a drink until the morning.

I hope you get where I’m going with this. Does this sound wrong to you?
 Please, don’t ignore your baby’s cries. Be an available parent- even at night.

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