I called my friend, Javaughn in a panic on my way home from work (I started a part-time job as a teacher recently). ”I have a post due for APtly Said tomorrow and I have not written anything. What should I write about?”
Then she began talking about her own experience with co-sleeping and how it has made a positive impact on her family’s nighttime parenting routine. Javaughn Renee’s beautiful essay (she is such a gifted writer and artist) illustrates that Attachment Parenting can be adapted to meet individual families’ needs. Take what you like and leave the rest. There is not a checklist, only a core belief that connection and love works to build stronger relationships with children and their parents.
Without further ado — here is Javaughn Renee. She has three beautiful adopted daughters and a multi-racial family.
I let off a ‘holier than thou,’ sigh when I got off the phone with a tired friend practicing Attachment Parenting principles.
“That’s crazy, “ I judged, and promptly placed my three year old in her crib and shut the door. Two years and two more adopted children later, I hear myself saying, “…hold on Meg, I have to put the girls to bed, I’ll call you back.”
This time, “put to bed,” means co-sleep. Co-sleeping became a solution to predictable, yet unpreventable, nighttime screaming matches. I got the idea not from a parent but from the last of a stream of behavior and adoption experts and my own desire to be a peaceful parent.
I never wanted screaming matches, sarcasm, or baths of tears to be part of my parental script. I wanted organic babies, who ate organic food and breastmilk, while I decorated their rooms with leaves, pinecones and non-violent paraphernalia. What I was blessed with, was three super strong-willed, attention-seeking, trauma survivors. These include a five-year-old who will eat a shoe if she believes it is made of sugar, a three-year-old who will sacrifice her body to concrete before she uses her words and a 15-year-old who will silently suffer an ingrown toenail for two weeks but cry buckets if she does not receive an Easter egg with the same amount of candy as her younger siblings.
And me? My locks evolved into a very chicken like hair-do, my natural deodorant left me smelling like an ape and instead of counting my (three) blessings, I fell asleep nightly wondering what did I do wrong. Then I heard about oxytocin, the miracle hormone for my badass kids. A hormone their pre-adoption circumstances deprived them of and a substance I was not nurturing. Though, I discovered, I could.
“When they [children with difficult behaviors] receive attuned and attentive care, children can begin to have a healthy oxytocin response and engage in healthy social and emotional relationships,” says author B. Byron Post.
The book applies what I recognized as (some) Attachment Parenting principles to adoptive parents who’ve turned into screaming zealots. Although, the book does not spell out API principles, Post’s (and others’) parental paradigm suggests that love, not fear will reduce stress and help children and parents regulate their emotions and behaviors.
So, “to hell with it,” I thought. “I’ll try this love, thing. ” Every other expert trick or response was out and sleeping with my kids was in.
It was weird. Then it worked. So far, we’ve generally had months of nighttime peace. Even nights of, even-though-we’re-mad-we’re-
I can’t lie to the readers of this site and have you all believe I never resort to consequences or power struggles– because it happens. Yet, API and other new parenting paradigms will remain a part of my skill set as a parent. All three of my children have to play catch up when it comes to love, nurture, and bonding, and Attachment Parenting will now play a part.
Javaughn Renee is a 43 year old writer and artist currently living in South Bend, Indiana but missing sunny California. She is a nature loving, yoga teaching, parent, striving to live simply and with love.
In 2010, she completed a Master’s Degree in Liberal Arts. Her research focuses on images of African Americans and nature and their effects on stereotypes. She has written for regional and national publications and blogs for other unique families at Mezclados.wordpress.com. Javaughn continues to write, practice yoga and parent while watching her daughters grow to be sensitive and strong.