Thu, 04/24/2014 – 1:01 | No Comment

In this issue of Attached Family, we take a look at the cultural explosion of breastfeeding advocacy, as well as the challenges still to overcome. API writer Sheena Sommers begins this issue with “The Real Breastfeeding Story,” including …

Read the full story »
1. Pregnancy & Birth

Fertility and conception, pregnancy, childbirth, and the early postpartum period.

2. The Infant

From newborn to 17 months.

3. The Toddler

From 18 months to age 3.

4. The Growing Child

From age 4 to age 9.

5. The Adolescent

From age 10 to age 18.

2. The Infant, 3. The Toddler, 4. The Growing Child, Authentic Parenting with Naomi Aldort »

Separation Anxiety?
Sun, 13/07/14 – 10:56 | No Comment

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

Photo credit: Helene Souza

Photo credit: Helene Souza

When my children were young, it was common for me to take them when I traveled for speaking engagements. At their stages of development, they still wanted and needed to stay close to me.

I recall a psychologist friend of mine doubting my decision to take my then two-year-old with me. “If he cries it will help him to recover from past experiences of separation,” she said. She felt that the best way to get over separation anxiety is to encourage separations.

However, my child had no past experiences of separation to overcome, and I wanted to keep him free of such experience as long as he needed my uninterrupted closeness.

By nature there is no such a thing as “separation anxiety.” Instead, there is a healthy need of a child to be with her mother. Only a deprivation of a need creates anxiety. If we honor the need for uninterrupted physical closeness as long the child needs it, no anxiety develops. The concept “separation anxiety” is the invention of a society that denies a baby’s and child’s need for uninterrupted connection. In this vein, we can deprive a child of food and describe her reaction as “hunger anxiety,” or we can let her be cold and call her cries “temperature anxiety.”

My son, Lennon Aldort, says it well: “Our modern society and the nuclear family are large-scale experiments in extreme deprivation of the needs of both children and parents.” Parents are doing their best to move away from denying children their needs. Yet sometimes even the most securely attached parents, under pressure from extended family and friends, expect a child to live up to external expectations.

Some parents feel pressure to compare their children to others: “How come the other child is willing to be without his mother?” I always reassure parents by pointing out that the other child is a different person, and it is possible that the other child has, unfortunately, given up on what is best for himself. If your child is insisting on what is best for her, it is a reason to rejoice and to know that your parenting approach is empowering her self-confidence.

Stages of development

The confusion starts when we see a child as seemingly regressing. She was happy to stay without you at age two, and is suddenly back to needing you all the time at age three. But should we call this a “separation anxiety?” Or is it our own “intolerance for changing back and forth anxiety?”

Children try new things for a while only to recapture their old “baby” ways with gusto a year later. These changes are part of their steps forward. There is no rule that says that once a child achieves something, she must stick to it. In fact, observation tells us that most children go through such changes. They sometimes return to a former familiar stage to establish more confidence and gain a new momentum. Normal development in the early years may be two steps forward and one step back, a balance between exploring autonomy and feeling the need for security. They must feel secure and know that the door behind them never shuts, or they will not dare to try new territory.

Another reason children try things and then retreat is precisely because they become more aware. The world appears quite simple and safe to a toddler: Mommy, Daddy, couch, kitchen, doggy, yard, street, et cetera. As the child’s awareness grows, everything becomes larger and scarier. There is so much more unknown and so much that can happen. The child must be sure that springing out of the familiar doesn’t burn the bridge behind her. Being sure of that, she can try more new experiences with confidence.

Loving solutions

Sonya asked for my advice about her five-year-old child’s “separation anxiety.” “Haya wants to be with me at all times,” she said. “She even joins me in the bathroom.” Such a need can be natural even in a child who was never pushed too soon to be away from mom. But in Haya’s case, there was an early attempt to leave her at a nice, small preschool for half days. She seemed to enjoy the school but was having a hard time departing from her mother in the morning. “She was fearful and clingy, and over time she started to be more whiny at home and less happy,” her mother said.

I suggested stopping taking Haya to preschool. The result was immediate and dramatic:

“I got my child back,” Sonya said. “She is happy again and self-engaged, but she is still unable to be away from me.” Haya will regain her trust and confidence. She needs time in which there is no reminder of her experience of separation. She must know that it is up to her to be without mom. When we respond to the child, rather than try to manipulate her development, she can stay content. Keep a benign attitude of trust and peace with no hints of future expectations. On the other side, stay away from drama about her need for you. With no agenda, the child will act from within.

What if parents work away from home?

In many families, one or both parents work outside the home. Regardless of what options you may have, if you leave the baby or young child before she is ready, she is likely to develop anxiety about losing you. There are ways to alleviate the hurt and reduce the anxiety. If possible, the baby or child could stay in a familiar and loved space, such as at home or in another familiar home, with one or two intimately familiar people who love her, like Daddy, a grandparent or another consistent and loving caregiver.

Breastfeeding is nature’s magical way of telling you to stay close to your baby and toddler. When you go to work without your baby, do express milk for her but also minimize the time you are away. If after you return home your baby cries a lot, or your child is cranky and clingy, give her your full attention, validate her feelings and let the tears flow so she can heal.

Always validate and give outlet to self-expression. “You want mommy to stay with you. I know. I miss you too. I love you so much. Tell me about your day.” Make peace with your child’s anxiety about your absence, so you are not anxious yourself. Your child needs a secure parent who can listen to her.

Denial teaches denial

Some parents believe that by denying the child’s need repeatedly and consistently, the child will develop the “muscle” and learn to be comfortable away from mom. Unfortunately, the child does learn to be away from mom, but in doing so, she must detach emotionally and ignore her own inner voice. The process is not one of developing inner strength, but of resignation and of losing trust.

What we see externally is not always what the child experiences inside. As one three-year-old said to her mother: “At daycare I look smiling outside, but I am crying inside.” The innate drive of the child to please us and seek our approval causes her to comply rather than choose authentically. She learns to deny her own inner voice and follow external expectations instead because she yearns to fit in with our world. In order to do this, she must shut down her feelings and her sense of connection. Training your child to give up on herself and follow others leads to insecure teenagers and adults who, thoughtlessly, follow peer pressure, media and other external influences.

Each family must make the child care choices that they feel are best, and we must learn to love the life we have so the child will develop emotional resilience. But do allow for crying, validate the feeling and know that she may develop a separation anxiety that you will want to keep healing.

Rejoice in your child’s connection

When children rage and refuse to separate, I always celebrate. “Your child is not a tameable one,” I say. “You must have done a wonderful job of protecting her authentic being.” The more the child is rooted in herself, the less you can sway her away from who she is. We call it confidence.

When your child tells you confidently in words or actions, “I want to stay with you all the time,” and you respond to her need, she learns, “I can trust myself. My mom trusts me and takes my cues seriously.” The child who relies on herself and does not deny herself in an attempt to please you is developing self-reliance and confidence. She stays connected not only to you but to herself, creating bridges of love and inner independence.

 

Spotlight On: The Girl Behind the Door
Sat, 28/06/14 – 0:31 | No Comment

The Girl Behind the Door by John Brooks chronicles a father’s experience from the adoption of his only child to her suicide in her teen years, including the exploration of the role of an attachment disorder. 
Editor’s …

Traumatic Birth, Healing Birth: Melissa’s Story
Tue, 17/06/14 – 10:00 | 3 Comments

By Melissa Brennan
My name is Melissa, and I am a mama to four kiddos. I’ve been an Attachment Parenting mama since before I knew it was a phrase. For me, having the “perfect birth” with …

Featuring API Leaders: An Interview with Thiago Queiroz
Thu, 12/06/14 – 3:06 | No Comment

By Rita Brhel, API’s publications coordinator, managing editor of Attached Family magazine and an API Leader (Hastings, Nebraska, USA).
In celebration of Attachment Parenting International’s 20th Anniversary, the “Featuring API Leaders” series honors the unique paths …

Saved by AP and Now 8 Kids Later: An Interview with Margie Wilson-Mars
Thu, 5/06/14 – 0:34 | One Comment

By Rita Brhel, API’s  publications coordinator, managing editor of Attached Family magazine and an API Leader (Hastings, Nebraska, USA).
My husband and I have three children, and we consider our family to be quite busy especially …

For Grandparents: When Your Adult Kids’ Parenting Drives You Crazy
Tue, 3/06/14 – 4:50 | No Comment

By Naomi Aldort, author of Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves, www.AuthenticParent.com.
Q: My daughter-in-law is into a way of raising our grandchildren that includes cosleeping, organic food, wooden toys and so on. She and our son …

API Reads June 2014: Attached at the Heart
Mon, 2/06/14 – 7:50 | No Comment

Get ready… we are beginning the long awaited discussion of Attached at the Heart (2nd Edition) by Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker.
The  topics we’ll be discussing in June will be:

Introduction

Charting a New Course: Breaking …

Creative Education: An Interview with Dr. Carolina Blatt-Gross
Thu, 29/05/14 – 12:18 | No Comment

By Rita Brhel, API’s publications coordinator, managing editor of Attached Family magazine and an API Leader (Hastings, Nebraska, USA).
It’s amazing how far our understanding of children has come in the last two decades since 1994, …

Generation AP: An Interview with Patricia Mackie
Tue, 27/05/14 – 8:38 | No Comment

By Rita Brhel, API’s publications coordinator, managing editor of Attached Family magazine and an API Leader (Hastings, Nebraska, USA).
In celebration of Attachment Parenting International’s 20th Anniversary, we are pleased to present two series of interviews …

The Chemistry of Attachment
Thu, 22/05/14 – 3:54 | 2 Comments

By Linda Folden Palmer, DC, member of API’s Editorial Review Board and author of The Baby Bond (www.babyreference.com).
Human babies are born helpless, needing to be entirely cared for and protected. Luckily, they are born with …

API Announces “Voices of Breastfeeding” Double Edition of Attached Family
Mon, 19/05/14 – 23:38 | No Comment

New Magazine Issue Advocates for Increased Support of Compassionate Infant-Feeding Choices
In honor of the millions of women who have come together throughout history to support one another in motherhood, Attachment Parenting International (API) is pleased …

How Parents Can Support Their Budding Performers: An Interview with Actress Elisa Llamido
Tue, 13/05/14 – 11:41 | No Comment

By Rita Brhel, API’s publications coordinator, managing editor of Attached Family magazine, and an API Leader (Hastings, Nebraska, USA)
From the beginning, 20 years ago, Attachment Parenting International has been a community of parents coming together …

API Reads May 2014: Giving the Love That Heals
Tue, 13/05/14 – 11:40 | No Comment

We’re finishing up talking about Giving the Love That Heals by Harville Hendrix, PhD and Helen LaKelly Hunt, PhD. The  topics we’ll be discussing in May will be:

The Stage of Concern

The Stage of Intimacy

The Possibilities for …

Screen-Free Week: An Interview with the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood
Thu, 1/05/14 – 4:04 | No Comment

By Rita Brhel, managing editor of Attached Family magazine, API’s Publications Coordinator and an API Leader (Hastings API, Nebraska, USA)
Television, computers and other technology can offer a lot in terms of education and entertainment. Living in …

Stop Hitting Kids in School: An Interview with Nadine Block
Tue, 29/04/14 – 10:55 | One Comment

By Lisa Lord, editor of The Attached Family.com.
Though research continues to show that spanking and other forms of physical punishment are both ineffective and harmful, and despite many nations across the globe instituting bans on …

Breastfeeding into Toddlerhood
Thu, 24/04/14 – 0:00 | 19 Comments

By Debbie Page, RN, IBCLC, CEIM, director of TheNewBornBaby.com. Originally published on The Attached Family.com on September 28, 2009.
In Western societies, it is commonplace to expect a child to breastfeed for six months to a …

Every Birth is Natural
Wed, 23/04/14 – 3:34 | One Comment

By Kelly Coyle DiNorcia, API Leader. Originally published in the 2009 “New Baby” issue of Attached Family magazine
When I became pregnant with my daughter, I had every intention of having a “natural” childbirth. I wanted …

The Importance of Sharing Birth Stories
Wed, 23/04/14 – 2:59 | No Comment

By Tamara Parnay. Originally published in the 2009 “New Baby” issue of Attached Family magazine.
 
Birthing is a hugely important subject for parents and parents-to-be. We have a great deal to learn from and share with …

The Beauty of Breastfeeding: An Interview with Photographer Christine Santos
Thu, 17/04/14 – 3:22 | 2 Comments

In May 2013, a Kickstarter campaign was launched to raise funds for an innovative art exhibit featuring the work of photographer Christine Santos: “Nursing is Natural … Naturally Beautiful.” This exhibit was intended to revolutionize …

API Announces New Attached Family Edition: “Voices of Breastfeeding” Double Issue
Wed, 16/04/14 – 4:42 | No Comment

By Rita Brhel, Editor of Attached Family magazine, API’s Publications Coordinator, and an API Leader (Hastings, Nebraska, USA)
The core of Attachment Parenting is responding with sensitivity.
API recognizes that breastfeeding can be difficult in our society. …

Navigating Military Life with API’s Eight Principles of Parenting
Thu, 10/04/14 – 3:00 | 3 Comments

By Kathryn Abbott, API Leader. Kathryn led an API Support Group in Skagit County, WA, in 2011-2012 and then served as a Co-Leader for San Diego County API in 2012-2013. She plans to start a new …

40 Percent of Children Miss Out on the Parenting Needed to Succeed in Life
Wed, 9/04/14 – 6:07 | No Comment

Press release issued March 21, 2014, by the University of Bristol.
Four in 10 babies don’t develop the strong emotional bonds–what psychologists call “secure attachment”–with their parents that are crucial to success later in life. Disadvantaged children …

An Ever-Changing Village: The Importance of Parent Support for Military Families
Tue, 8/04/14 – 3:25 | No Comment

By Kit Jenkins, Master babywearing educator for Babywearing International, Event Liaison for API and a co-founder of The Carrying On Project (www.carryingonproject.org).
We are celebrating Attachment Parenting International’s 20th anniversary this year. One of the main …

API Cofounders Featured in Parenting with Presence Summit
Thu, 3/04/14 – 4:48 | No Comment

World peace, for many, may seem like an unattainable ideal. Not so for families finding support through Attachment Parenting International (API), whose research-backed parenting approach promotes healthy relationships rooted in nonviolent communication and respectful interactions, …

API Reads: Giving the Love That Heals
Thu, 3/04/14 – 4:47 | No Comment

We’ve started talking about Giving the Love That Heals by Harville Hendrix, PhD and Helen LaKelly Hunt, PhD. The  topics we’ll be discussing in April will be:

Growing Yourself Up

The Stage of Attachment

The Stage of Exploration

The …

Pocket Full of Feelings: An Interview with co-creator Dr. Ann Corwin
Tue, 1/04/14 – 3:50 | No Comment

By Rita Brhel, API’s publications coordinator, managing editor of Attached Family magazine and an API Leader (Hastings, Nebraska, USA).
 
Part of the core of Attachment Parenting is teaching our children about emotions—what they’re feeling and what …