Today the City of Milwaukee launched a new ad campaign against co-sleeping (babies sleeping in the same bed as their parent/s). I hope it works but I really have my doubts.
I never slept with my kids. I saw going to bed with my husband in our own room WITH THE DOOR SHUT to be about the only peace I would have all day. I would no more have brought my children’s complaining, needy little selves into my bed than I would trade in my Posturepedic for a bed of nails. I needed a break from them and, lord knows, they needed one from me.
Plus, let’s be frank here. How do couples who sleep with their kids have any kind of sexual relationship? Like, how does that work?
Now I know a lot of that attitude is cultural. It would never even have occurred to my parents to sleep with their kids. I can’t honestly say I even remember seeing my father in his pajamas. A short-sleeve white shirt with a clip-on tie, yes. Pajamas, nope.
In other families, that kind of round the clock physical presence and intimacy defines family life. And that’s where this campaign, I believe, is missing the boat.
The ad agency and city officials have studied this issue of co-sleeping deaths and, certainly, they test-marketed the ad and must be convinced that it will work. But it just hit me wrong.
Maybe because it feels to me like we’re assuming co-sleeping moms are negligent. They are too lazy to put the baby in his crib, too preoccupied with alcohol, drugs, texting, whatever to properly care for their baby.
I think 99.9% of the time, a mom’s decision to have her baby sleep with her is an affirmative one that she is making, almost reflexively, based on how she was raised and what she learned to be best practices in mothering from her own mother. If a woman was raised to co-sleep, she would no more put a baby in a crib on his back with no blankets, pillows or toys than she would lay naked in a snowbank.
So, I am kind of wondering. Where are the moms in this campaign? Why do I only see Mayor Barrett and Health Commissioner Baker talking about this? I think if you want moms to think about something in a new way, you’ve got to start where they are, respect who they are, and believe in them.
You know the old adage about working with kids? Kids don’t care what you know until they know that you care.
Put in other words – respect me, respect my family, show me how to be a better parent.
That’s the ad I’d like to see.