I am a social worker and parent in Australia concerned about the western practice of a method called 'controlled crying' that is used on infants to get them to sleep. This blog talks about the use of this method and other parenting methods. Search all the information on this site to be better informed about the practice of controlled crying. For any comments or questions, my email is

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Guilt is often said to be synonymous with parenting. But should we feel guilt if we are happy and comfortable with all the choices we have made? If we are not comfortable with the choices we’ve made, then do we feel guilt? or is it more like regret? or perhaps even grief?
I think that when we make informed choices we don't feel guilty. I have received some negative comments about my parenting style but I don't feel guilty because of this, that’s because I'm happy with my decisions. Really, we can’t feel guilty for accepting the bad advice that our society offers us. Most Maternal and Child Health Nurses in Australia are told to encourage self-settling and this often involves advocating controlled crying. These professionals are meant to present all options for evidence based care, in a balanced and unbiased way, but sadly they often do not. Sometimes we are unaware there are other options other than controlled crying, and often we are raised by parents who have used it on us.

Guilt has been referred to as the ‘useless emotion’ (Hay, 1999) because there is nothing we can do about the past, we can only go forward. Here is a great quote from Pinky McKay;

“When we pussyfoot around about making women feel guilty, we are patronising them - how can anyone make an informed choice if information is deliberately withheld? In any other circumstances, if we deliberately withheld information, we would be considered dishonest or even negligent. When we are prescribed any medication or medical treatment, if we are sensible - we will ask, "what are the risks?" / "are there any side effects?" We expect to make informed choices, and give informed consent about health care.
Guilt is only legitimate if we have let another person down - if we haven't honestly done all that we could have or should have. And nobody can make us feel guilty without our permission. Feelings of guilt may be triggered by external factors -like a health professional telling us about the hazards of artificial feeding, as we are reaching for the bottle - but these are OUR feelings. This is our own internal value system at work. We each need to decide whether this guilt is legitimate or not - or whether it is in fact, guilt , or some other feeling - and how we will act on this feeling.
For the sake of the mother child relationship, we do need to help mothers differentiate between feelings of guilt, and unrealistic expectations of perfection. We can encourage mothers to examine their feelings - to ask them selves -

 "Where is this feeling coming from?"
 "Is this the best I can do for now? Or am I really letting my child down?"
 "What are my responsibilities?"
 "What can I change?"
 "Where can I find support?"

The positive thing about guilt is that we can act on it: If we feel guilty about the choices we are making, we can use these feelings to motivate us to make better choices. There is a vast difference between guilt and regret. We can act on guilt. The sad thing about regret is that it is too late. We don’t get another chance to go back and do it all differently with each baby”.

It is important to release feelings of guilt, regret and grief, in whatever way we can. But it is also important to see that we can’t go back, but we can make changes NOW. Some researchers believe that with more ‘natural parenting’ methods (holding baby as often as we can, co-sleeping and so on), we can even somewhat reverse the effect of controlled crying on our babies maturing brains.

We all have the right to be informed about our options and choices so we can make the best decisions that suit our family. The majority of parents wouldn’t know that there are possible risks in choosing CC as a method to settle their baby. This is why I have put together this blog, so that parents can have access to all the information about controlled crying. They can read this and then form their own opinion on the information, but it is not intended to make parents feel guilty.

As Jodie Miller says, “Parenting is not about being perfect. It's about gradually moving in a forward direction and doing the best [we] can with each new day. I know what I’ll definitely do different next time. Trial and error. Is there any other way?”

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