All posts by The Attached Family

Join Us for API Reads in May and June featuring “Attached at the Heart”

It’s reading time again. Our choice for the months of May and June will be “Attached at the Heart” by Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker. The topics we’ll be discussing are based on the Eight Principles of Parenting by API. Here are just a few: Breaking the Ties that Bind, Learning the Language of Love, Be the Change You Wish to See. Here is a personal note from Barbara and Lysa:

“Dear AP Families and Friends,Att at the Heart image

We are very excited about our book being chosen for API Reads for May and June.  You may be surprised to see that this is not only a book with practical parenting suggestions, but we include a lot of the “Why’s.” We wanted our book to give parents and professionals the research and observations of many different disciplines, from child development to anthropology. We continue to be excited about the corroborating research that affirms if we raise empathic, caring children, they will grow up to be more compassionate adults. The key is to parent more from the heart, listening to our inner wisdom, than the confusing messages of a society that often promotes disconnection in parenting advice.  Another critical reason we wrote the book and founded API was to give parents the support they need~parenting is not for the faint of heart!  We all need to be in a ‘tribe’ of like minded parents and extended family, and we hope our API groups will continue to meet that need for community for generations to come!

Love and Gratitude to all of you for being on this journey together!

Barbara and Lysa”

To join the discussion, please find us at GoodReads.

Have books you’d like to see us read? Send them to Stephanie@attachmentparenting.org.

Instill Creative Discipline During Screen-Free Week

By Stacy Jagger, MMFT, owner of Sunnybrook Counseling and Music with Mommie,  www.stacyjagger.com

As a mother of two children and a newborn, I understand completely how media can become a crutch and a babysitter at times for our children, even for those of us who are mainstream TV-free, and who rely on educational programs, family-based movies and school-based computer enrichment activities. Our world has become more “virtual” than real, and it is sometimes necessary and healthy to take a break altogether to regroup, refocus and reconnect with our children, our spouses and ourselves.1187577_84255851 girl in spring

What better opportunity to experience this than Screen-Free Week? It’s a time to get back to the basics and reflect on why connection-based parenting is not only our parenting theory but the way we actually choose to live our lives.

Here are three thought-provoking, guilt-free ways to instill creative discipline in our families while reconnecting with our children during Screen-Free Week.

1.     Put the TV and computer in the closet for the whole week.

“What!? I can’t do that,” you may be thinking. Many of us won’t. Some of us will. But isn’t our reaction telling us about how much the media has power over us? It’s one measly week, a seven-day respite where the cell phone, computer and TV are not calling the shots. What in the world will we do?

There was a period in my life where I desperately needed to unplug. My husband and I did not have children yet, but we proactively and adventurously decided to pack up our belongings, put them in storage, and live in an 1850s cabin for 18 months, without even electricity. EIGHTEEN MONTHS?! Yes, 18 months. And the first day was the hardest. The first day I literally looked at my watch every five minutes and felt like it had been at least three hours. I didn’t think I would survive. I thought, “Oh dear God, what have I done? I surely made a terrible mistake.” As I sat on the rickety front porch I thought, “This is it. I have officially lost my mind.”

But as the minutes and the hours ticked by, my mind and heart began to slow down. I began taking in life in real time. And I began to realize that life in real time was slower than I had ever imagined.  Little things like the whistling wind, the green rustling leaves, the sounds of the cattle farm next door, and most of all the quieting of my mind began to take on a new meaning. And it wasn’t so bad after all. It was a rest I had never known but one that I had needed for some time, probably for most of my life.

I learned many lessons from my cabin adventure, and the one that stands out the most is that the busyness of life had robbed me of experiencing life itself, life that happens in the now. This was not something I was willing to surrender anymore.

So whether you choose to lock your media in the closet for one hour, one day or the whole week, I hope you will find an adventure and connecting presence in your “virtual-free” time and see that “busyness” and “life” are not one in the same.

A great tradition worthy of starting is a “Technology Turn-Off Time” each evening where we turn off our cell phones, televisions and computers, and just sit and read with our children, play a game or go for a walk. Twice a year, we could even have a “Technology Turn-Off Trip,” where we vacation away or staycation at home and remember to experience life without virtual means.

2.     Look your children in the eyes and feel your feelings.

In our media-saturated world, our computers, televisions and cell phones have taken the place of simple eye contact, even with those we love most. To gaze in your child’s eyes, using words or no words, is a healing and bonding experience at any age. It helps us to get in touch with our most primary emotions, many of which we have unfortunately left behind in order to survive our adult world.

A therapist friend explained the concept to me that the word “intimacy” is “into me see.” We teach this type of “into me see” early on with our children. What we don’t realize is that when we forget to bond with our children while feeling our feelings and empathizing with theirs, we are sending them an important message for the rest of their lives. We are saying, “This is too hard,” “I am too busy for you,” “I am not comfortable with this.” This message eventually matures into their adult relationships where it is no longer parent-child, but spouse-to-spouse.

We can use the “replacement principle” in this matter and, instead of sending those negative messages, forgive ourselves and take the time to bend down, look our children in the eyes, giving the message, “You are important,” “I like you,” “My time is well-spent with you,” “I want to know you.”

We are in essence saying to ourselves: I may not have received this when I was a child to the degree that I wanted or needed it, but I recognize the importance and choose to slow down, guard this bond, reconnect and repair from what is familiar to me. I can do this. I can slow down and be with myself and with my child, minute by minute. And when I fail, I can repair. I can humble myself and say I’m sorry, I was wrong. Please forgive me. Now let’s go have some fun!

3.     Experience nature.

One of my heroes is Richard Louv, and his wonderful book, The Last Child in the Woods, literally changed my life and way of thinking. What was in my heart, he put into words. What I knew to be true, he communicated brilliantly. Childhood completely separated from the natural world may be no childhood at all. There may be a forever void in children who are more comfortable plugged-in than unplugged. Children were made to be outside. Media is a wonderful tool that can enhance our lives. It is our job as parents to limit our children’s access to media, and to give them the tools to combat our culture’s message that unstructured time playing outside is a waste of time. It is just the opposite.

Time children spend in nature is a natural healer. It teaches them the circle of life, how long things actually take to grow, how to work together as a team. It really is a child’s first classroom for creativity, problem-solving and emotional and intellectual development. Connecting with nature goes hand-in-hand with connecting with people. Children learn the value of life, the value of a moment, and how moments pass quickly. Children need time to be children. Excessive media robs that from them.

So for this week, turn off the screens. Sit in the silence. Feel uncomfortable. And let it pass. Then watch the birds, the bees, the trees, and find the magic in the moment. With yourself. With your child. Experience life in real time, and then write about it. I would love to hear from you.

Feeding a Vegetarian with Love and Respect

By Kathleen Mitchell-Askar, senior contributing editor to Attached Family magazine

When my friend, a mother of one, found out her nine-year-old daughter wanted to become a vegetarian, she didn’t know what to do. She and her husband had never considered a meal complete without chicken, beef or fish, so her initial worry was whether her daughter would be healthy. The worry was quickly replaced with wonderment at the person her daughter was becoming.803603_23406961 vegetables

Parents of adolescents and teens may find that their child’s growing awareness of the world and their part in it may lead them to choose vegetarianism. Some parents may worry that their child’s choice is a reflection of some mistake they have made, but parents should instead be proud that they have raised an empathetic child.

For my friend’s daughter, the shift occurred on a family trip to Mexico, while walking through an open market. When her daughter saw the meat hanging in the butcher’s stall, she decided then and there she would never eat meat again. She has been a vegetarian for two years and remains committed.

For parents who were raised on the idea that meat is essential to health for its vitamins, nutrients and protein, vegetarianism may seem like a nutritionally inferior way to eat. On the contrary, a vegetarian diet is often lower in fat, cholesterol and calories, and higher in fiber than a diet that includes meat. Eliminating meat, however, is not a sure path to health. A vegetarian who eats large amounts of potato chips, cookies and cheese will, of course, not reap the same benefits as one who focuses on wholesome, plant-based foods. Dr. William Sears encourages parents to ensure their vegetarian child does receive proper amounts of calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin B-12, nutrients found in high concentrations in the meat and dairy the child may choose not to eat. Continue reading

6 Things To Do When Your Child Says “I Hate You!”

By Bill Corbett, author of Love, Limits & Lessons: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Cooperative Kids, and member of the API Resource Advisory Committee, www.cooperativekids.com.

We’re all trying to get more done in less time and with less money. When it comes to our kids, we do our best to spare no expense to give them the world. Then, without warning, they hurt us with words because they don’t like a limitation or boundary we’ve set or the word “NO.” Here are six things to do the next time your child screams, “I hate you!”Bill Corbett

1. Remain calm. In order to do the next five things, you’ve got to keep your emotions from getting the best of you. It’s also an opportunity to model self-control for your child.

2. Acknowledge that the words stung. It’s hard to think of anything more hurtful that our children can say to us than hearing them say these words. Accept the hurt, but don’t let it determine your behavior at that moment.

3. Avoid the urge to hurt back. It is a normal human reaction to become defensive when someone attacks or hurts us. Remember that it’s your child in front of you at the moment, and know that he doesn’t mean what he has just said.

4. Say to the child, “You look like you’re mad at me.” A child either loves or hates us, there is nothing in between for her. Our children do not know hate as we do. Help them put into appropriate words what they are feeling at the moment.

5. Remain silent, and let them express their anger without retribution or defensiveness. Here’s one of those opportunities I’m always talking about—talking less. If a child is allowed to express his anger, it is emotion released and not forced back inside to build up and explode sometime later.

6. Examine what it was that triggered your child to get angry to begin with, and take responsibility for your part. Children need plenty of advance notice to help them transition from one activity to another, and visual cues (something they can watch for) work best. Also, giving in to a child’s demands just to get her to calm down only teaches her to repeat the demanding behavior whenever she wants something.

One more thing—our parents would not have tolerated hearing us say those words when we were kids. That was a different world and a different time. Don’t let your parents’ voices in your head control your own parenting in today’s modern world. Ignore their voices, and do what you know is right.

 

My Child Doesn’t Want to Visit her Father

By Naomi Aldort, author of Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves, www.AuthenticParent.com

Q: I have recently gotten divorced. My daughter is three and initially enjoyed her time with her father, but since staying overnight she refuses to go. Each time he comes to pick her up it is a giant scene. I try to convince her and remind her what a good time she had before, but she won’t budge. What should I do?

Note to readers: This response relates specifically to the questioner, who is a mother and primary caretaker.  Though the terms “mother” and “father” are used here, other terms may be appropriate in individual families that may have different custody and caretaking arrangements.

A: It is the parent’s job to see to it that the child feels at ease during time together. My guess is that staying overnight must have scared your daughter, and/or there may be other issues that she does not feel comfortable with.489190_81593777 upset girl

Any time we try to convince a child to ignore her inner voice and follow our ideas, we teach her to become dependent and insecure. In essence, we tell her, “Ignore how you feel inside, and do what someone else tells you.” Unfortunately she may actually learn this undesirable lesson. She is learning to fall for future peer pressure, media sales, social pressure and to become more dependent on what others say in general. This is the nature of insecurity, a learned habit of undermining one’s own inner guide and following others. Continue reading

Peace at Home: Military Families Embrace Attachment Parenting

By Kit Jenkins, babywearing educator for Babywearing International, communications coordinator for API and a co-founder of The Carrying On Project, www.carryingonproject.org

One of the best things about Attachment Parenting is the consistency in all of its principles. Everything is done from a perspective of mutual comfort and respect for the whole family. It creates an ongoing safe and comfortable environment, even when the outside world gets crazy. For military families, often “crazy” is part of the daily programming. Parents are in and out of the home for days, weeks or months at a time; there is often lots of moving, new people to meet and places to go; and there is so much chaos. For a grown adult, it is an adjustment. For children, it can be terrifying. To help combat that, more and more military families are turning to Attachment Parenting, either pieces of it or sometimes “the whole enchilada.”KJenkinsBabywearing2

Like many military families I have spoken with, we stumbled into Attachment Parenting almost by accident. My husband and I had a courthouse marriage a few months before our ceremony. We knew that we would also be in the middle of moving to our next duty station on the other side of the country and wanted things to be as seamless as possible. The day we signed on our first house, bought in Colorado from New York City, we also found out we were pregnant.

Once we arrived in Colorado, I started looking at prenatal classes. We were pointed by family to the Bradley Method because I wanted a natural birth. I am allergic to several kinds of medication, and decided that the less I had to potentially die from, the better! Through our class we learned a little bit about various parts of “crunchy parenting,” as my husband called it, and we knew that we wanted to do some of it but weren’t sure about all of it. We knew we wanted to breastfeed and cloth diaper, and were mildly interested in babywearing, but we didn’t want to co-sleep, had made no real decisions about disciplinary approaches, and so on. Continue reading

Consistent and Loving Discipline

By Kelly Bartlett, author of Encouraging Words For Kids, certified positive discipline educator and Attachment Parenting International Leader (API of Portland, Oregon, USA), www.kellybartlett.net

In the Eight Principles of Parenting, Attachment Parenting International reminds us of the importance of consistent and loving care for children. When children receive this kind of care, they learn that they can trust their caregivers. They develop a healthy attachment to those who are always there and who meet their needs with love and respect.KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

As my kids grew from infants to toddlers to young children, I wondered how I could apply that same principle to my discipline style. After all, when my kids were babies, I made sure I met their needs with consistency and love. How could I continue to do so when their needs became more complex and less physical but more emotional?

Learning a few positive discipline tools helped. I found positive discipline to be such a natural extension of the loving care I had so consistently given in my kids’ infancies. But I also found it took a lot more effort as everyone’s emotions became much more prevalent in our relationships. Continue reading

Cultivating Attachment: Making It Easy For Your Kids to Talk to You

By Shoshana Hayman, director of Life Center, The Israel Center for Attachment Parenting, www.lifecenter.org.il

“Children should be seen and not heard” was a common attitude in generations past. Today we are more aware of the importance of making room for children’s ideas, thoughts and feelings, but children and adolescents are not always inclined to share these things with us. Even the simplest question such as “how was your day” evokes an answer such as “Okay” or “It doesn’t matter,” thus bringing the conversation to a close before it even begins1397790_83069154 flower 2

What makes some children talk openly with their parents, while others seem closed, shy or hesitant to talk? Understanding the polarity of attachment energy gives us an answer. Just as any power in the universe has an opposing force, so, too, does attachment. Just as a magnet has a north and south pole, so, too, does attachment have two opposing poles. Attachment energy is not neutral, meaning that a child will either be drawn to someone he is attached to or repelled by someone he is not attached to.

This polarity is first seen in children usually by the middle of their first year of life, when they begin to shy away from certain people. Any adult such as a grandparent, aunt or caregiver can care for the baby, but by the age of approximately 6 months, the baby may protest when those same people approach him. The attachment brain is now preparing the child to develop deeper attachment, a greater capacity for relationship, and so closes the door to people who interfere with the attachment that is already taking root. This demonstration of protest develops into shyness, which is a positive sign to see in children. It will take the child’s brain about five more years to make sure he has a deep enough relationship with his parents so that he can optimally function in a world that is quite alarming and wounding. Continue reading

Attachment Parenting and the Adolescent Child

By Chris Oldenburg, originally published on www.BetterParenting.com, reprinted with permission

Creating Bonds that Will Support Teenage Development

Many people who have heard of the term attachment parenting probably envision babies cozied against their mothers in wraps or co-sleeping with their parents. However, this parenting approach of forming close bonds with children through consistent positive interactions is not limited to infants and toddlers. Research shows that adolescents go through a period of such tremendous change that they, too, require some of the same foundations that attachment parenting provides.337571_6215 teen

What is Attachment Parenting?

Obviously attachment parenting is not done the same for infants as it is for teenagers, but some of the same core principles are still present. Infants develop attachments to caregivers when their cries and other signals for needs are met. Caregivers, usually one or two involved parents, are present offering positive support, creating a strong bond with the infant. Contrary to some beliefs, infants do not then grow up to be too dependent on their parents and afraid of venturing into the world alone. Instead they learn positive self-images and gain confidence that allows them to step out and try new things, secure in the relationships they can reach back to if needed. Continue reading

Join Us for API Reads Featuring Dr. Laura Markham in March/April

Come join API as we read Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting by Dr. Laura Markham through the end of April.PeacefulParentHappyKids_FINAL.indd

Here are some of the topics being discussed: Yelling; nurturing yourself through challenging times; special time; disconnection and daily rituals.

We look forward to seeing you online either through our API Reads forum or through our GoodReads program. Happy reading! Any questions? Please email stephanie@attachmentparenting.org.