cry it out–tricky language

there’s one big divide in parenting land, and an easy way to find out what side a person resides is to simply ask:

do you do cry it out?

‘cry it out’ is supposed to refer to a technique, a set of specific methods, but commonly i hear people use it to simply mean cry. ‘my husband just let her cry it out while i was at my appointment!’ ‘he was upset, i had to let him cry it out in my arms.’

there’s a bunch of linguistic things at play:

added words. cry it out is not the same as cry—it’s weaker, because we bury a powerful verb, “cry,” with two words that abstract it—“it out.” if i’m beta-reading someone’s fiction and i see that, i suggest making it more direct, but here, this vagueness is intentional. Cry it out is couched in language, because letting a baby cry while his needs go unmet is abuse. letting a baby cry it out suddenly becomes a parenting choice, because of those two extra words.

the phrase “verb it out” appears elsewhere as “it” being a bad thing and the “out” meaning that the bad thing gets purged away—let it out, squeeze it out, cut it out, pull it out, wash it out, yell it out, get it out. This implies that the cry in the baby must come out, which is patently untrue. Cry it out tears are tears that do not have to be shed at all.

adding another verb, do, “do cry it out” (as in, implement sleep training) even further distances the speaker from the action, because then cry-it-out becomes a noun instead of a verb. the parent is simply doing a technique, not leaving a baby to cry.
there’s plenty of evidence out there to dissuade against cry it out. i won’t bother posting or linking here, because google. you’ve probably already made up your mind, but it’s something to think about for any types of parenting or techniques that come along: does it require tricky, deceptive language to appeal? if so, that’s all i need to know that it’s not for me and my child.

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