This essay focuses on Ann Landers and Prudence. That is, people tend to evaluate the decisions of parents as either
One thing that I learned upon becoming a parent is the extent to which parenting decisions are moralized by others. That is, people tend to evaluate the decisions of parents as either “good” or “bad,” and parents go through a lot of grief trying to ensure that they are raising their child in the best possible way. This tendency to moralize parenting decisions clearly extends to the decision of whether parents should allow their child to co-sleep with them. For example, America’s most famous infant sleep expert, Dr. Richard Ferber, had the following to say about co-sleeping in his 1985 book:
to sleep with your infant, you should consider your own feelings very carefully.” Dr. Ferber also states that “even if you and your child seem happy about his sharing your bed at night, and even if he seems to sleep well there, in the long run this habit will probably not be good for either of you.” The moralization of co-sleeping is even more evident when we consider some guidance provided on this topic by two advice columnists, Ann Landers and Prudence: Dear Ann Landers: I have three chi ldren, ages 2, 3, and 5. Here’s my problem: All three end up in my bedroom during the night. Usually I know they are there, but I sleep right through
is no man in my bed, so the kids aren’t disturbing anyone …. My mother tells me I must make the kids sleep in their own rooms. She says sometimes children who want to sleep with their parents need to be taken to a psychologist because their behavior indicates deeper problems. What do you say? Is it that big a deal when they are so young? -Wondering Dear Wondering: Usual ly, I tell parents to keep the kids out of their bed at night, but in your case I suspect the divorce has made them insecure. Talk to your pediatrician about the way to wean these kids away from this habit. You really do need professional guidance ….
You have your hands full. (January 14, 1992; reported in Shweder, Jensen, & Goldstein, 1995) Dear Prudence: I am writing you about a rather bizarre situation. My wife and I have been together for nearly 13 years. Things were great until the birth of our second child, a daughter …. Since the day our daughter came home, she has slept in our bed . The year before last we even bought a new, larger home so that our daughter would have her own bedroom. This improved nothing; our daughter sti ll sleeps in our bed, and I have been retired to the family room couch.
I complain, only to be told that our daughter-nearly 7!-wi ll be in her own room soon. At times these debates become loud, at which point I am told I am selfish and must not care about our daughter. I know that I am not selfish or uncaring. I am, however, considering a divorce. It is not something I want, but I no longer wish to live like a guest in my own home. -lost and lonely Dear Lost: Something obviously happened in year six of your marriage that made your wife decide she had reached her sexpiration date. Not only