When I was growing up, occasionally I would overhear my mom giving other mothers or mothers-to-be advice. One topic that seemed to come up often was that of getting your infant to sleep independently through the night. My mom swore by the let-them-cry-it-out method. She liked to point to her experience with me as a success story.
Apparently, when I was a newborn in the hospital the ladies in the nursery would put me to sleep by rocking me. My mother felt that this was not a routine she was willing or able to continue when I came home so, from her account, our first few nights at home were difficult ones because I couldn't go to sleep.
At this point in recounting the story to her advisee, she put on her most determined face and said with a considerable amount of pride: "I had to just let her cry and cry and not go to her. I never rocked her to sleep once. Pretty soon, she learned not to expect it."
Hearing that story always made me sad, but I never said much about it over the years. Finally around age 14 or 15 I spoke up.
"But what was the big deal?" I asked. "Why wouldn't you have rocked me? I was your baby."
Her jaw tightened, and she said, "Because I wanted you to learn early how to take care of yourself. I needed to show you that someone wasn't always going to be there for you."