Before I even knew that the term "attachment parenting" existed, I was raising my daughter in a way that aligned well with this style of parenting. All the books and articles I read only confirmed my beliefs, and helped me to become more confident in the instincts that I was following. It certainly wasn't the norm to parent in this way, but that didn't stop me!
However, as with all ideas, beliefs and value systems, nothing is ever black and white. Attached parents may not be able to follow this frame of mind all the time, and different children require different strategies.
Although I can't call my child "different," I can certainly call her many other things - spirited, gregarious, head-strong, and challenging, to name a few.
Maybe she's only challenging to ME, the parent, who is perhaps less suited to this type of personality (I like quiet - lots of it!) But the most important lesson I've learned (so far) as a parent, is that we must accept our children for who they are, not what we think they should be.
Of late, we've had some challenges with A (not surprising, given she's 2!), that have made me question my attachment parenting frame of mind. I breastfed (still do), babywore, co-slept, avoided cry-it-out techniques and tried to understand my baby's cues. I didn't do all of this just because I read it in a book - I did a lot of it naturally (although self consciously at times).
Now that we're in the toddler years, and I'm working two jobs, the struggles with sleep and nighttime parenting have become an issue. For a while, we thought we were "in the clear," when she started sleeping through the night. That only lasted several months until she started waking up again - very predictably, at 1am and 5am.
It doesn't necessarily bother me to comfort her back to sleep and occasionally share the bed. What is bothering me is a niggling thought that I need to be "tougher." That given my child's boisterous personality, I need to perhaps apply some stricter boundaries.
It helps me to think about it this way - when am I giving up TOO much, just to make her happy? When am I ignoring all my needs?
And so last night, we had a big cry-fest, when I refused to give in to her demands. We can't shut the door and leave, as she knows how to open the door, but I just sat beside her while she threw a MEGA tantrum at 4:30am. She eventually went back to sleep, sniffling and hiccuping in that horribly sad way.
This is where my frame of reference becomes foggy, and I can't determine my true feelings. If I am an attached parent, don't I want to avoid letting her cry like this? Yet, if I tap into my needs and desires, don't I really need/want an extra hour or two of sleep before starting our day?
So my attachment parenting friends out there - tell me your experiences. Can I be an attached parent and avoid giving in to every nighttime need?