Creative Child

The Trouble with Ignoring Cries

by Rebecca Eanes

I very often see others advising mothers to ignore their childrens’ cries. I see it in comment sections of friends’ posts and in articles written by numerous “experts.” I see it in books and blogs and I hear it in waiting rooms and at the playground, and each time I do, my heart sinks and all I can think is “where is the empathy?


Empathy is lacking in American culture all over the board, but there is a pronounced lack of empathy in dealing with the emotions of children from infancy through teenhood. We are bombarded with advice to ignore them almost as soon as they exit the womb in a sad and misguided attempt to “train them.” It is common to allow babies to cry to teach “self-soothing” and to ignore the screams of a distressed toddler so as not to “reinforce negative behavior.” (I’m not villainizing parents here, either. Stick with me!) We are told to ignore the cries of preschoolers so as not to spoil them and boys so as not to feminize them. We are asked to ignore the distress in our teens so we don’t “feed the drama queen or king” or to teach some twisted form of resilience. It’s all perfectly normal. 

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