2014 Conference: Life Giving, Mindful Beginnings

by Rita Brhel on September 27, 2014

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darcia“Attachment is not only a benefit to kids but is the gateway, the whole gateway. But its a complicated topic.” ~ Lu Hanessian, API Advisory Board and speaker at the 2014 API Conference

So let’s get the conversation rolling.

I’m here at the 2014 Attachment Parenting International conference, “Pathways to Child Flourishing,” at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana, USA. It is amazing and humbling to be in the presence, the audience, of these speakers. It’s mind blowing.

In the first session, this morning, we heard from Lu Hanessian, author, educator and founder of WYSH; Darcia Narvaez, psychology researcher at Notre Dame and co-coordinator for this conference; Kathy Kendall-Tackett, psychologist and founder of Praeclarus Press; and Lysa Parker, founder of API. Peggy O’Mara, longtime editor of Mothering, founder of Mothering.com and founder of PeggyOMara.com, was unable to come due to the widespread flight cancellations yesterday.

Darcia opened this first session, “Life Giving: Mindful Beginnings,” with a very interesting introduction to her new book, Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality, particularly the early body-mind co-construction of the infant by caregivers.

She talked about how the human infant is born really 9-18 months too early, compared to other animals. And that for most of our time on earth, secure attachment has been essential to our survival as mankind.

Those survival tools have been: nurturing touch, sensitive response, breastfeeding through toddlerhood, alloparenting (raising children in a community with multiple trusted caregivers), free play (especially with multi-age peer group), positive social support (the feeling of being wanted) and soothing perinatal experiences.

Through these experiences, children developed not only secure attachment and healthy family relationships, but also exceptional right brain development. Well, I shouldn’t say “exceptional,” because in reality, the results of Attachment Parenting are normal.

What is the right brain responsible for? Self-regulation, introsubjectivity and social pleasure, emotional intelligence, empathy beingness, self trancendance, higher consciousness.

And in normal human development, these right-brain features are able to control our brain’s survival systems, which include stress response. For many in Western society, however, as infants, they are exposed to toxic stress such as long-term mother-baby separation or insensitive response. As a response, the brain’s stress response takes over the mind.

“What you’re left with is this very self-protected, easily stressed brain. It changes development,” Darcia continued.

And it changes culture. It’s a closed loop, actually, so that our childrearing practices dictates culture and our culture dictates childrearing. And that’s why much of the Western culture is competitive, self-contained, autonomous and disconnected rather than the connected communities that healthy right brain development promotes.

That’s what Attachment Parenting International is trying to do — to change culture from one that ignores the critical importance of attachment to one that embraces the normality of healthy family relationships, securely attached children and connected communities.

“We’re all trying to get back on track,” as Darcia concluded.

Yes, we are — one family at a time.

 

 

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2014 Conference: The Milky Way

by Rita Brhel on September 27, 2014

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milky wayThis has been seven years in the making.

I had seen “The Milky Way” film before during a local 2014 World Breastfeeding Week event. It was powerful then, and it was no less powerful this second time around, here in South Bend, Indiana, USA, at Notre Dame University at the 2014 Attachment Parenting International conference, “Pathways to Child Flourishing.”

This time around, the producers of the film were available for discussion: Chantal Molnar and Jennifer Davidson. And that’s where I learned that it took seven — SEVEN — years for them to make their film, “The Milky Way.” During that time, Attachment Parenting has really come into its own as far as the national conversation goes…here in the United States.

We seem to be at a tipping point. There are so many people — parents and non-parents even, professionals within parent support and beyond — who are joining the Attachment Parenting movement, and the Western culture seems ripe for questioning the status quo.

The purpose behind making “The Milky Way” film is to help change the world. I believe that it could, that it is. It is getting people talking, helping members of Western society to reframe their minds around what’s supposed to be normal about infant development specific to breastfeeding.

It is empowering women to advocate for themselves. And that can change the world, one mother, one baby, at a time.

During the discussion afterwards, audience members — parents just like you and me — had the opportunity to ask questions. There was much discussion about the varying experience levels and approaches to breastfeeding support by lactation professionals, the milk bank movement, what advocacy work is happening that can help working breastfeeding moms, exactly how little medical students learn about breastfeeding in med school and the amazing things that countries beyond the United States — like Germany and Sweden — are doing to promote secure attachment from even before birth.

My husband, after watching the film and attending the discussion at the conference, said we should move from the United States to Sweden. I have to admit, it’s tempting.

It was a great start to the conference.

 

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20 Years of Advocating for Families

September 24, 2014
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By Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker, cofounders of Attachment Parenting International and coauthors of Attached at the Heart We can hardly contain ourselves! Twenty years ago, we had a dream and this anniversary conference at Notre Dame this week is a fulfillment of that dream! This is a rare and exciting opportunity to meet and […]

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Spanking and the Golden Rule

September 23, 2014
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By Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker, cofounders of Attachment Parenting International and coauthors of Attached at the Heart “Adults teach children in three important ways: The first is by example, the second is by example, the third is by example.” ~ Albert Schweitzer At one point in our own lives, we have spanked at least […]

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The Clown is Sometimes Serious

September 22, 2014
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The clown, the astronaut, the chatterbox, the complainer, the “slob” and many more stereotypes all appear in our families and in our classrooms. These are the characters that can disturb, annoy, frustrate and anger us, because they interrupt and spoil our agendas. We are convinced that this is how they always are. They make us […]

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The House of Timothy, an Attachment Parenting Inspiration

September 21, 2014
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As a mother of seven, and former therapeutic foster parent to 51 children, attachment and Attachment Parenting have been a constant in my life for the last 28 years. My children range in age from 7 to 28. Three of my children were adopted at the age of 4 years, 2 years and 7 months. […]

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An Adopted Daughter Reflects on Her Birth Mother’s Decision

September 20, 2014
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By Juliette Oase, retired API Leader from Portland, Oregon, USA My adoptive dad spent years regretting that they had me call them “Mom” and “Dad.” He always said they should have just stayed “Uncle” and “Aunt.” He felt it would have made it easier. I recently explained to my dad that I feel that was […]

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Choosing a Preschool

September 19, 2014
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The thought of sending my first child to preschool always had me worried. Not because I didn’t feel like I’d be ready to part with him, but because I didn’t know how preschool would fit in with Attachment Parenting and the positive discipline that he was used to. Would he be put in time-out? Would […]

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