My husband often wakes up with his arms flung out to the sides, with two of our young sons' heads resting on each. He says it hurts his back. But he knows the two older boys will sleep with him, so he doesn’t stop them. Every night he puts our 6-year-old son and our 4-year-old son to sleep in their own beds. And every night, at different times, they both creep in to cuddle with daddy in what we call our California Kong: a queen with a side-carred twin, joined together with stretchy sheets. My partner attachment parents, and I’m so proud.
He didn’t start out that way. Neither of us did — we were clueless about babies, though he less so than I, thanks to the fact that I'd grown up with younger cousins and had a little more experience under my belt. But I convinced him to use a midwife for our first birth, and everything sort of spiraled from there. We learned all about breastfeeding, and he was determined to do it. We learned all about babywearing, and he was the first to wrap up our son in a Moby wrap after he was born six years ago. We ended up co-sleeping to help our son gain weight, and he never expressed a worry about it. He trusted me.
If he had any doubts about following the attachment-parenting model in the beginning, they’ve been erased now. For example, for seven months, when my then-2-year-old refused to go to sleep by any means other than back-carrying, I bought my husband a mei tai baby carrier, and he slung our son August onto his back every single night. He bounced on an exercise ball and waited, patiently, for his son to sleep. A lot of people — relatives and friends included — questioned the sanity of this method. They envisioned us back-wrapping a 6 year old to bed. But like all things, August’s need was met, and it passed. He goes to sleep like any other kid his age does now. And it's all because my husband had faith in the core of attachment parenting.
We’ve had children in our bed now for seven years, and he's never once complained, never once hinted that we should start finding them their own space, never once told me that attachment parenting isn't working for him.
From day one, he supported my breastfeeding. He supported my co-sleeping. He supported my obsession with babywearing, and even did some of it himself. But now that our youngest is 2, attachment parenting looks a little different for us. And my husband is still there every step of the way.
I’m annoyed that he won’t do it, but secretly proud. He’s prioritizing their needs over his own.
He doesn’t, for example, question our youngest son’s need to breastfeed in order to sleep, even though he’s almost 3. He supports my extended breastfeeding, and even my extended night breastfeeding. All this means that Sunny still sleeps in our bed full-time — he doesn’t have a sleeping space of his own, other than “the left side” of our huge family bed. My husband is absolutely OK with that. We’ve had children in our bed now for seven years, and he's never once complained, never once hinted that we should start finding them their own space, never once told me that attachment parenting isn't working for him. If anything, it’s me telling him to take the older boys back to bed in the middle of the night. I’m annoyed that he won’t do it, but secretly proud. He’s prioritizing their needs over his own.
As our kids get older, attachment parenting also means gentle discipline. My husband rarely yells — in fact, I certainly yell more than he does, though since I’m home with the kids all day, the numbers may be skewed. He focuses on redirection to alleviate bad behavior, and he never, ever spanks them: something we agreed was against our entire parenting philosophy. I’m proud to say that he keeps me on track: when I get mad, he reminds me to go cool down; when I start yelling, he tries to gently tell me to stop (it doesn’t always work). Though he still sends them to their room instead of doing time-ins when the boys have tantrums, he focuses on the why of their behaviors and doesn’t try to reason with them. Instead, he picks them up and cuddles them. This doesn’t teach them to tantrum, but it teaches them that anger is OK.
Basically, my husband does everything but breastfeed. He wears the kids. He co-sleeps and doesn’t complain. He uses gentle discipline, and he gives our kids plenty of physical love and attention — their favorite is walking on his back and wrestling. Now that our kids are bigger, he gives them more freedom. He helps them use a knife, for example, and doesn’t hover over them on the playground. He is an attachment parent through and through. And I am so proud.