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!