Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Night time parenting

The security of knowing he can turn to me begins as an infant, develops through toddler-hood, and flourishes as he continues to grow. I do not give in to his every whim, but it is important to me that he develop a positive association with sleep and night time hours. This is just another way I enact the principles of Attachment Parenting.

There are a lot of reasons I chose to parent through the night (rather than cry-it-out or refusing to answer my son throughout the night). Certainly co-sleeping makes it easier, but that is just one part of the equation. I parent my child to sleep, at his request, so he learns that sleep is peaceful and pleasant. I co-sleep and respond to his cries so he learns that sleep is a relaxing secure state to remain in.

When I went back to work, night time parenting became even more important than it was prior to that time. The Boy needed to connect, reconnect, with me, and the time we had together was night time. He missed me during the day and needed me at night. I think this is normal.

Most times, in the night, all he wants is to know I am there. He reaches over and touches me, occasionally requesting my arm or to nurse. When he is going through major changes-- Kevin's return, switching day care rooms, learning a new skill-- night time parenting provides added stability to his developing mind and body.

Night time parenting, to me, sets the tone for a life-long relationship with my son. When he has a nightmare, I want him to know that he can come to me for comfort. When there is a problem at school, I do not want him to doubt that he can talk to me about it.  There is a long-term reason for night time parenting.

How many parents have you heard "wish" that his/her teenager would talk to them more? Or "wish" they knew how to help their son/daughter? Most children do not wake up one day and refuse to communicate with their parents. It takes years to develop a relationship, and years to create distance.

Night time parenting basically all boils down to this-- I respond to my son's cries during the day. Why would I ignore them at night? I would not leave my son alone all day. Why would I do it at night? I do not like going to bed stressed. Why would my son?

I hope to blog more about night time parenting and co-sleeping, because I have had quite a few questions on how it works for us. Maybe I can do a question-answer post or two too... if you all ask that is!


Amy said...

I love the idea of "parenting through the night". Can I still accomplish this even though my baby sleeps in a separate room? I go to her when she cries (she doesn't cry out often so I know if she does there is a reason). Thanks : )

Maria said...

Of course Amy! Attentive night time parenting takes many forms. If co-sleeping does not work or is not your sleep arrangement, that does not mean you cannot parent through the night by responding to your child!

I'll add this to my next post on night-time parenting. Thanks for bringing it to my attention! :)

McCool said...

Great post Maria! Enjoyed it! As you know, we use a modified version of co-sleeping - B starts the night in his crib, but always ends the night with his mama! We don't nurse throughout the night anymore, but come 4am, I'm all his! Just a choice we had to make to all be happy and content - so far so good!

Dawn said...

We have ALWAYS done the family bed.

And, now that we have two kids Brett starts out upstairs with Courtney our 11 year old. Then comes and gets in bed with Camryn and me.

I nursed both girls for a long time. I nursed Courtney 19 months and Camryn 22.5 months. LOVED it.

I love having my babies in bed with me. I don't think I could sleep otherwise.

Great post Maria! See, you weren't the only attachment parenting mommy at the get together the other night. LOL!

Maria said...

Dawn-- You were WAY down at the other end!!! LOL!

Erin said...

As you know I am not an attachment parent, so I am the odd man out here on your blog comments:) I actually have some posts on my blog in reagrds to parent-centered families that are upcoming, so we can have some good discussion there too:)

I was wondering how you would say attachment parenting would approach parenting through the night while sleeping apart. Is it to go in as soon as you hear your baby cry? Naomi is sick right now and so she coughs and cries out once or twice in the night. If I were to go in and ocmofrt her at those times, I know she would wake up more and get less sleep in the night. Yet, if I let her cry for a minute, she goes back to sleep and gets what I think is more important: sleep. Would attachment parenting just place the comfort of the parent above the extra sleep? Just trying to understand mroe because I know parenting decisions can be complex:)

Maria said...

Erin-- some of parenting through the night while sleeping apart will be addressed in my post today. I am trying to add the links now, but my son is talking in his sleep, so I'm getting distracted. He is so funny when he talks in his sleep...

Attachment parenting, in my opinion, is not putting the needs of the parent or the baby first, but the needs of the family. One of the eight principles of AP is "strive for a balance in personal and family life."

Dr. Sears even describes sleep in his Discipline book-- from those who respond to every fuss (which IIRC, he actually does not recommend) to (I can't remember his exact words) responding when your instinct tells you to. I don't have his book in bed with me or I'd cite it better.

I know a lot of APers would disagree, but in my opinion it is applying the eight principles to the ability and comfort level of your own family makes attachment parenting unique. I usually describe it as parenting by instinct, but I may have read that somewhere too.

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