Saturday, December 12, 2009

Attachment Parenting and The Family Bed

Even though my years of sharing a family bed are mostly over, it is a time I will always look back at as the best decision Steve and I ever made together. Having our children in bed with us just always felt right. My all time favorite book that was read over and over again is Nighttime Parenting by Dr. Sears. Reading Dr. Sears book made me realize how natural it is to have your child sleep next to you and has been a natural part of parenting until recent years.

Sleeping with my children allowed me to know them in a way that I don't think I would have ever known them. I learned that Sophia needed to sing herself to sleep, that Alexander woke up often with nightmares when he was a toddler and quickly fell back to sleep when he could cuddle with me. I learned that Sophia scratched at her eczema all night long and I could gently rub areas and help ease her back to sleep.

My family has many fond memories of our family bed. For many years we had a twin size bed next to our king size bed and I would wake up in the morning with both kids and I in one little corner cuddled up together. My mom bought us the book The Biggest Bed in the World which we loved and read often together in our biggest bed. We have the memory of Alexander and I laying next to each other listening to the pitter patter of little feet when we first moved into this house and realized we had squirrels living in our attic. We have tons of memories of funny stories that were shared after the lights went out. My most precious memory though is how when the kids woke up and saw our faces, they immediately smiled.

I have heard all the cons of sleeping with your child, but in all honesty, I will never believe them. After sharing a family bed for many years, I have seen too many benefits. I have experienced the gift of having my children with me 24 hours a day and it is just too wonderful to not think that is how we were meant to be.
Here are a few articles on co-sleeping that you might enjoy:
Ten Reasons To Sleep Next To Your Child At Night
Shunning the Family Bed. Who Benefits Most?

Family beds, breastfeeding and attachment parenting have been on my mind lately, more as reflections than wanting new information. We of course have weaned from the breast (I told everyone that my children would naturally wean when ready and they did!) and rarely have a family bed anymore although our dog Izzy has replaced the kids, but attachment parenting is something that stays with you a lifetime. I had this post ready to go and then did a few things around the house and wondered what made me feel the need to write about the family bed. Maybe it is because my family is moving into a new phase of our life - we are becoming a family of teenagers. With that is much excitement and I never wish my children to be any other age than the age they are now. But, it does challenge me to remind myself that the attachment parenting style I made my own when my children were infants, toddlers and children is the same style I need to use today. When I honor who they are and give them breathing room to be that special person, life is wonderful.