A reader, Priya, emailed me a few days ago with a question that has had me thinking ever since:
As a new mom of a 4.5 month old girl, I have been grappling with sleep issues. She used to sleep well at night. Now she, well, doesn't. It sucks; I'm tired. And I'm also getting advice left and right. But somehow it's turned into a bit of a cultural issue in my head. The more "American" way to deal with it is to Ferberize. The more desi way to deal with it is to go with the flow, let her sleep when she needs to and in our bed if necessary (a la my mother and mother in law).
I'm of two minds.
Are there other baby care issues that can come down on cultural lines?
I was immediately reminded of the first couple times we went to visit my in-laws in L.A. after D was born. They were of course excited to show off their first grandson to their friends, and wanted to take him to weddings, parties, people's homes. I was an insecure new mom who, at the time, needed a schedule the way others need things like air and water. I knew what time D needed to eat, sleep, bathe--and I believe he thrived on the routine we kept. So I forced my husband to put his foot down (which is the subject of another whole line of posts) and insist that we wouldn't take D out after 8:00. D goes to sleep at 8, I would recite as mantra-slash-automated-cult-programming. After initial protest, my in-laws tried to be understanding of my rigidity, but I would still hear many stories from various people in the community about how when my husband and his childhood friends were babies, they were out partying till 3 a.m. on a regular basis, and how J over in Diamond Bar takes her kids to every sangeet and mehndi on the social calendar. And you know how those stories can affect you when the source is in-law-related and when you are still unsure of Every. Single. Thing. you are doing as a mom.
Fast forward to now. While I am no longer pathologically attached to my schedules, I still do believe in routine--maybe even more for me than my children. I suppose it isn't very "desi." But it is what keeps me "sane." I will take some sanity over homage to my cultural heritage in this round.
As for Priya's question: What do you guys think? Have you/do you sleep-train your kids and do you meet resistance from your family for doing so? Do you have other examples of care-taking that are frought with cultural implications?