Attachment Parenting Is For Kids Of All Ages
Ensuring Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
Are you ready for this? I still stay with my boys in their bed until they fall asleep. And you know what else? Sometimes they wake up early in the morning and want to cuddle with me in bed. You know what?Â I let them! You know what else? Sometimes they ask to fall asleep with me in bed. And do you know what I do? I do it! Sleep is a hard time for babies and children. It’s dark, it’s lonely, and you’re taken away from the person and people who keep you feeling the most secure.
We wonder why parents spend thousands of dollars on sleep coaches, why people battle sometimes for hours with children who refuse to fall asleep, and why children will start fights before bed and ask for “one more cuddle,” “one more kiss,” or “a cup of water.” I don’t. It’s because of our obsession with independent sleep from infancy. Most traditional cultures do not include sleeping alone; neither does our human history.
Those of us who safely co-sleep tend to find that bedtime is not a battle. My sons don’t fear sleep or bedtime. Do I lose some independence? Sure. Does it cut into my evenings? For now, yeah. But less than before. And I may have gotten a divorce, but thousands and thousands of years of evolution and thousands and thousands of couples who safely co-sleep and stay married should convince you, once and for all, that sleeping with or near your babies or children doesn’t cause divorce. Period. Safe sleep, both physically and emotionally, is a gift you give your babies and continue to give your children to form positive associations with sleep and a trust in the night.
Providing Consistent and Loving Care
While this tends to reflect the need of a baby for stability from a caregiverâ€”be that a mom, dad, family member, friend, or daycare or babysitting facility of provider, the need for consistent loving care for children is important, even when they are no longer babies. The “latchkey kid” archetype from my childhood in the 1970s was my earliest introduction to the notion that it’s hard for kids to not have someone caring for them consistently. In many homes in America, both parents work, and I hope there continue to be more resources from our schools and communities to help kids be consistently and lovingly cared for when their parents can’t be with them. That’s as important to a five or 10 year-old as it is to a five-week or 10-month old.
Practice Positive Discipline
This is the one principle of AP that only gets more important as kids get older. I will never be able to stop this, even once my kids are out of my house and married and raising their own families. The principles of respectful communication, not using physical force, not using harsh punishment, threats, or withholding attention, love, or “goodies” will forever be a part of my life as my son’s mother. And this is the principle of AP you will find almost universally revered among AP parents. We may birth differently, feed our babies differently, or sleep differently, but positive discipline is a powerful and eternal concept of this style of parenting.