AP Month 2017 is here — Let’s celebrate “Word Power”

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Regardless of this old adage, words have been used to initiate great harm across history and into our present day.

As parents, we’re in a unique position to help our generation of children learn to not only “use your words” but use words designed to harness the power of deep connection, understanding, healing, and good.

This month, October 1-31, Attachment Parenting International‘s 2017 Attachment Parenting (AP) Month theme centers around the reality that our words are powerful and most beneficial when we seek and use them to connect.

Words fly around us in every medium imaginable and even visual media is translated into verbal and/or written expression. We swim in a great alphabet soup. How can we make it more nourishing for all of us — especially our children?

“Watch your language” is a well-known parenting phrase we use to prevent our young children from hearing, parroting, or even intentionally using impolite or disrespectful words. Despite our best attempts, we’ve probably all felt — or will feel — embarrassed about something our child has said, especially when we know they learned it from us.

“Word power” begins with a bang when our children turn 2, and their word of the year is “no,” which not coincidentally, mirrors our own word of the year. “Use your words” is what we say as we continue to guide our children between impulsive, full-body language to a more needs-based verbal language. Learning how to express feelings and ask for help and cooperation is a learning task that occupies parents and children across all of childhood and through life.

Over time, our children won’t mimic us as directly as when they were 2, but they never stop absorbing what we say to them. They take our words deeply to heart and to the point that our words form the outlines of the fundamental belief system around which our children come to think of themselves.

Our words matter a great deal to our children even when we’re not addressing them directly. When our children hear us speaking to and about others, they absorb this into their own repertoire without awareness. This type of knowledge transfer isn’t obvious teaching-learning, but we realize it happens when we hear echoes of it in their conversations and interactions with siblings, friends, and others. Sometimes we’ll find our own words directed back at us.

Words constantly swirl around us in our adult world, and they have an impact on us as well. As adults, we have the ability to choose where we direct our attention, but it can still be challenging to select for connecting and uplifting messages. Negative news sells — that’s obvious. It’s also obvious how much easier it is to fill space with thoughtless, snarky rants and vents than to take time to write with civility, kindness, understanding, and empathy.

When we aim to use and seek communication for connection, it makes a powerful difference in our mood and health. We reap benefits, but so do our children, families, friends, and others we encounter. This kind of “word power” helps provide us with a kind of superpower — it’s not just a protective shield, but a positive energy. This kind of “word power” is protective, but even better, it allows us to radiate positive and connective communications.

Join us this October as we use our superpower — “Word Power: Communicating for Connection” — to celebrate AP Month 2017.

Read the research behind AP Month 2017 here.

Healthy infant sleep, Part 4: The sticking point for parents

Editor’s note: In observance of Get Better Sleep Month this May, Attachment Parenting International (API) brings you a 4-part series on normal, healthy infant sleep. Here is part 4:

Often in our culture, it is true that parents find themselves in the very difficult place of making sleep-deprived family sleep choices without support. It is also true that in defending their choices that run counter to what is culturally prevalent, parents respond and react more defensively.

But if we follow evidence-based normal human development, early independence is a fallacy. We find instead that parents and infants are designed to be in close contact, breastfeeding and sleeping in intervals that begin at 2 hours and then slowly stretch out over time. If this were somehow maladaptive or unhealthy, we simply would not be here to tell the tale.

This fact leads us to grapple with our culture, our beliefs about it, and the parenting choices we make. Looking again cross-culturally, we can still find cultures that honor biological sleep needs and, perhaps as a result, have less need for infant sleep-training. I wonder if the sleep medication rates differ there, as well? Either way, a good night’s sleep need not be cookie-cutter to be beneficial.

API’s Response to 2016 AAP Statement on Infant Sleep: Infants and parents benefit from breastfeeding and sleeping near one another, reducing SIDS risk by 50%

Healthy infant sleep, Part 3: Combining adult structure with infant sleep needs

Editor’s note: In observance of Get Better Sleep Month this May, Attachment Parenting International brings you a 4-part series on normal, healthy infant sleep. Here is part 3:

Adult structure helps by recognizing and providing the time, space, and conditions for an infant to sleep and rest, but doing any more would be akin to trying to force teeth to appear in different places in the mouth at different times.

Cross-cultural studies of sleep have demonstrated time and again what we already know about biologically normative infant and child sleep patterns. Why do we continue to ignore it? Cosleeping and breastfeeding have been species-biological norms from time immemorial.

Light bulbs, alarm clocks, factories, and offices are new cultural inventions that require a whole new sleep-industrial complex to maintain. Taking it all into consideration, there is no question of adaptation. Listening to our babies causes us to take pause and ask ourselves: At what cost to our health and well-being do we continue to believe that our sleep is adaptive, and at what cost to our child’s health and well-being are we forcing them to do the same? What growth do they forgo?

Attachment parenting resists a one-sleep-fits-all solution and instead offers a multitude of potential sleep solutions that can accommodate working parents and infant development. All-inclusive sleep solutions with an infant will necessarily change and will necessarily be unconsolidated if we remain responsive to our babies in a healthy way.

Finally, part 4, we’ll encourage parents who are confronted with the conflicting infant sleep advice of our culture.

Healthy infant sleep, Part 2: The dependence of healthy infant sleep patterns

Editor’s note: In observance of Get Better Sleep Month this May, Attachment Parenting International brings you a 4-part series on normal, healthy infant sleep. Here is part 2:

If we take a holistic view of the sleep question, we have to ask how successful and beneficial it is when we discover the “normal” situation of medicated sleep and the reach of adult sleep difficulties into so many lives.

Is it “normal” that we should let our babies cry to sleep at a point when they most need short-interval feedings and physical contact with us to stimulate growth hormones? What’s the cost to them when we force them to adapt to our needs versus us to their needs?

Infants are notorious for explosive growth and, as most parents know too well, developmental stages are each marked by corresponding, changing sleep patterns. Like the children they are a part of, no 2 sleep patterns are identical.

Healthy infant sleep patterns — like teething, crawling, bipedal movement, and language acquisition — are the very biological developments that unfold independently over time.

Being helpless, infants necessarily must adapt to their environmental conditions. Their dependent state is augmented by a nifty alarm system they use effectively to call for help: their cry.

Ignoring a crying baby is akin to letting the battery go dead in a smoke detector. What would be the point? It’s true that the reason for some cries for help is not as urgent, but our response should never be that we give up looking for smoke.

Babies have their own unique sleep needs that change and respond to their unique needs in a period marked by the most rapid biological growth and development across the human lifespan. Why would we dream of forcing them into our own inappropriate sleep patterns for the sake of our own cultural maladaptions? What is lost when we do?

In part 3, we’ll learn about how we can combine adult sleep needs with our infant’s sleep needs for better sleep.

Healthy infant sleep, Part 1: Are modern sleep patterns healthier?

Editor’s note: In observance of Get Better Sleep Month this May, Attachment Parenting International brings you a 4-part series on normal, healthy infant sleep. Here is part 1:

I’m awake writing this during the biologically normative and healthy stages of first and second sleep. Research has revealed that right up until the advent of electric light, humans normally experienced 2 distinct segments of sleep.

Factory work, made possible with light, further compressed and consolidated work and sleep hours in industrialized nations. Normal sleep biology has been affected by these modern trends, so it should be little surprise that millions of adults now rely on medicated solutions for sleep to accommodate modern concepts of productive time.

It’s also little surprise that to achieve our quota of sleep, our babies must go along with these modern trends. It’s no longer acceptable for babies to literally sleep like babies. Most parents can attest that this phrase is an ironic fallacy, but nevertheless, there is a distinct infant and young child sleep pattern that fosters health and our society has co-opted that, too: Instead of allowing infants to sleep like they should, our modernized society has notions about the way infants “should” sleep.

The infant sleep-training industry has been happy to “help” parents train babies to adapt to this biologically foreign sleep pattern, just as we parents have adapted to our own unnatural sleep habits.

It would be interesting to discover a study that investigated possible links between infant sleep-training and later adult sleep difficulty. To date, there are no studies that have examined this. Are we literally setting ourselves up for maladaptive sleep patterns from birth? Maybe not — we can’t know, with the lack of research into this matter — but since we’ve had 100 or so years to adapt as a species to this new sleep pattern, we can and should ask how successful it’s been for us: Has sleeping become more healthy over this time? Of course, GDP (Gross Domestic Product) has been strong and we’ve been productive — and destructive, waging a few massive wars — but are we all healthier for it? Is our sleep healthier, or even healthy, as a result? Is anyone even looking at it?

Examining trends that qualify under the creep of cultural normalcy is like trying to examine the tip of your own nose without a mirror. Our perspective is never perfectly clear.

Consolidated sleep is a cultural adaptation that’s hard to examine with sufficient perspective, because it is not obviously something we would think to examine. We take it for granted.

Adaptations are not all necessarily good or healthy ones, and there are several examples of the way we’ve accumulated unhealthy habits that don’t seem to be immediately connected. Direct and immediate connections are not the only evidence that “normal” actions are “OK.”

As a nation, we’ve suffered untold illness — much of it related to our abundant food supply and our taste for sugar. It’s hard to wrap our heads around how this happened when many of us would argue that there has “always” been this much sugar in our foods. Yet looking at food over a few generations reveals the truth of our diet shifts that match the health curve.

Not all adaptations are beneficial, nor then, are they instantly or clearly maladaptive. This is a difficult challenge.

In part 2, we’ll learn about how healthy infant sleep patterns are supposed to be.

Nurturing peace for world harmony

API honors parents and caregivers as the ultimate peacemakers. 

Children internalize the values we transmit over time through our own actions and interactions. Parenting infused with peace and harmony informs the responses of our future global leaders as they face conflict.

We aim to support parents in peaceful and harmonious impulses, so they might be reflected in future global conditions.

Parents and caregivers who foster peaceful  relationships with their children make real contributions toward this global goal.


Peace and harmony can seem like a distant goal when technology constantly broadcasts world news to our wrist, the palm of our hands, our lap, or desk. Unprecedented access to the people, places, and events around the world is both wonderful and the cumulative stresses can silently build up and weigh on us without our awareness.

The relentless news cycle features conflict with rarely a hopeful note. Loud discord streams continuously and is a pervasive presence in our social lives. Conflict and outrage are regularly stirred in this reactionary stew where micro-aggression, triggers, and general incivility feel like inescapable behavioral norms.

Our success as a species is based on our social dependency, which in turn ensures that conflicts are a regular feature of our lives. It’s impossible to live with so many different fellow humans and avoid conflict.

The good news is something we don’t often hear: We’re not predisposed to violence. Moreover, violence is not the only or natural result of being a social species. Peace can be our response, our way of life, but we must continuously and consciously choose it so that it becomes a well-worn groove.

Most of us have the ability to make choices about our behaviors and learn different behaviors, but being able to does not mean that change is easy or quick.

culture-of-peaceChildren imitate and learn new things with surprising ease, so we can intuitively understand how peace and harmony in the home can lead children to rely on peaceful interactions over time. These are lifetime learning experiences that, when internalized, can persist across generations. And this is our motivation and incentive to keep seeking and trying peaceful and harmonious parenting.

The advent of instant access to everything has shifted the ground under our feet. The frequency and degree of our exposure to violence has increased dramatically in just a few years. A cultural acceptance of violence and, in some cases, even glorification of it can have the effect of acceptance. It’s not that we like it necessarily: It’s just that it’s our new normal.

The overwhelming focus on negative aspects of life and conflict in the news colors our perception as well and can either numb or desensitize us or increase our general anxiety load, or leave us feeling helpless over events outside our control.

This October, during AP Month, we’re working to surround parents in peace and harmony. We aim to support parents in building family lives and parent-child relationships that are as peaceful and harmonious as possible. We’ll discover ways to cope and counterbalance the effects of negativity and uplift and honor the positive, hopeful, loving, and secure aspects of our world.

role-of-parentsParenting toddlers who refuse to eat or sleep or (fill in the blank) seem a far cry from world peace and harmony, but we invite you to examine and explore the connections. It may not feel like it in any given moment, but cumulative parent-child interactions become an influence for good that is greater than a collection of moments when we managed to get out the door on time.

These days, when we have to work a little harder to surround ourselves with sustaining goodness, API helps parents tip the balance.

The Reality

citizenship-and-community-participationStatistics from The Peace Alliance and WHO we’d like to turn around:

  • If violence containment spending were represented as a discrete industry, it would be the largest industry in the U.S. economy — larger than construction, real estate, professional services, or manufacturing.
  • If violence containment spending were represented as a discrete national economic entity, it would be the 7th-largest economy in the world — only slightly smaller than the UK economy.
  • Violence containment spending is 4 times higher than the national defense budget.
  • Public sector spending on violence containment spending accounts for 10.8% of GDP while private sector spending is 4.2% of GDP.
  • If U.S. federal violence containment spending was reduced by 5% each year for 5 years, the $326 billion saved funds would be sufficient to entirely update the energy grid, rebuild all levies, and renew the nation’s school infrastructure.

Everyday Conflict

deposit-memoriesThe impact of conflict in our daily lives generates a feeling that’s hard to escape:

“As I get caught up in the opinions and harsh words being thrown around Facebook and other social media outlets, I can’t help but think about the message we are trying to make a reality in our home. And I wonder what would happen if we, as adults, stopped shouting long enough to listen and dropped our pride long enough to learn from the person who’s speaking.” ~ Storyline

Domestic Violence

children-exposed-to-violenceDomestic violence is a reality for many families and children and many dedicated professionals work to change this. The more support we build for families and communities in peace, the less prevalent intimate violence will be over time.

More than 5 million children are exposed to physical domestic violence each year. We know from the ACE study that for 95% of children exposed to domestic violence, there is also substance abuse, mental illness, neglect, abuse, or incarceration within their home.

Domestic violence can teach children negative and harmful lessons:

  • Violence is normal
  • Conflict is resolved by violence
  • Abuse should be kept secret
  • Negative behavior can be excused

broken-menStatistically, we will all come into contact with children who are exposed to domestic abuse. As adults, we need to counteract the lesson of domestic violence with kindness, empathy, trust, and compassion. Just as we don’t expect children to know math before we teach them math, we need to help children develop healthy skills, such as conflict resolution, problem solving, emotion regulation, and calming strategies. Most importantly, we need to model and encourage healthy relationships.


Media is pervasive and may play a role:

“‘TV teaches people that aggressive behavior is normative, that the world around you is a jungle when it’s actually not so.’ In fact, research has shown that the more television a person watches, the more likely he or she is to believe that ‘most people would take advantage of you if they got a chance.'” ~ Alfie Kohn

“In the United States, exposure to media violence is becoming an inescapable component of children’s lives. With the rise in new technologies, such as tablets and new gaming platforms, children and adolescents increasingly are exposed to what is known as ‘virtual violence.’ This form of violence is not experienced physically; rather, it is experienced in realistic ways via new technology and ever more intense and realistic games. The American Academy of Pediatrics continues to be concerned about children’s exposure to virtual violence and the effect it has on their overall health and well-being. This policy statement aims to summarize the current state of scientific knowledge regarding the effects of virtual violence on children’s attitudes and behaviors and to make specific recommendations for pediatricians, parents, industry, and policy makers.” ~ The Council on Communication and Media


peace-educationWhile we need to be clear-eyed about the challenges, we work this month to promote a season of hope and agency.

There are many organizations who are working to turn things around on a global level:

“Global philanthropic support for efforts to prevent, mitigate, and resolve conflicts totaled $283 million in 2013… 288 foundations awarded nearly 2,000 grants in support of more than 1,200 organizations working for peace, justice, diplomacy, and national and global security, from conducting research on the prevention of nuclear terrorism to supporting citizen journalism in Egypt. The top 15 peace and security funders…provided 67% of the $283 million awarded in 2013, and 70% of the funders included in the study awarded less than $250,000 each, and 37% gave less than $50,000.” ~ Philanthropy News Digest

And there are organizations that work on multiple levels including community and individual, even parenting, such as:

Peace More Than War

children-valuable-resourceThe good news is that the news may be more good than bad if we look at the biggest picture:

“Humans are more often at peace than at war; we cooperate more than we conflict. In fact, there is mounting evidence that cooperation may be a central facet in explaining our success as a species. On the other hand, this does not mean we are egalitarian, nonviolent pacifists. Human nature is neither simple nor linear. Our core adaptation is one of cooperation, but we can and do compete — a lot — and often use aggression to do so.” ~ Being Human

Or these articles:

API’s Stance

children-to-adultsSuffering still persists without a doubt, and violence is a fact for far too many of us. But this October, we’ll work to support parents and families find and share the peace because:

“Ultimately this is about showering people in love—even the people who we so strongly disagree with.” ~ Storyline

Read the AP Month 2016 Research Paper in its entirety, including links to specific studies, on AP Month Central.

Simon Says Post!

You’re invited to submit a post for the 2011 AP Month Carnival of Blogs. We’d like to hear from parents with all types of family configurations and different aged children about the many different ways you play with your children!

October is our 4th annual AP Month celebration and we’re looking for blog posts to help us celebrate our theme of “Families at Play: Nurturing Parent-Child Relationships through Play.”

To participate in the carnival:

1. Submit a post about play in your family.   Ideas might include (but are not limited to):

  • your experiences (re) learning how to play!
  • ways you’ve avoided boredom or discomfort around play
  • ways that play has influenced the family dynamic
  • things you remember about play from your own childhood (and how that might affect how you play with your child!)

2. Publish the post on the topic of play to your blog with the following text (including hyperlink):

This post is part of the Attachment Parenting Month blog carnival, hosted by Attachment Parenting International.

3. Once your post is completed, submit a link to your submission via the API Speaks Contact Form with a short message that the post is part of the AP Month 2011 blog carnival.

Submissions will be accepted until October 5!

Please note that in order to participate in the AP Month 2011 blog carnival; the post must be published and publicly viewable. If you do not have a blog, but would like to submit a guest post for AP Month, please use the API Speaks Contact Form to make arrangements.

For more information on AP Month 2011, visit the Attachment Parenting Month website.

AP Month 2010 Blog Carnival – Full of Love

October is Attachment Parenting Month! The theme for AP Month 2010 is “Full of Love: parenting to meet the emotional and physical needs of children” with a focus on preventing childhood obesity.

During AP Month 2010, parents are challenged to re-examine their daily physical activities, nourishing routines and habits, and learn new ways to fuel both healthy emotional and physical growth.  The “envelope” in which we deliver guidance to our children provides the underlying degree of emotional connection and feeling that can become associated with physical nourishment and activity.

Explore with us the challenges we face in raising children who know the healthiest ways to be nourished in every aspect of life.  Participate in our Attachment Parenting Month blog carnival and share your experiences in keeping our children “Full of Love.”
Continue reading AP Month 2010 Blog Carnival – Full of Love

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