The gift of opening my heart

8 examples of new year parenting resolutions

pixabay-2017-new-yearHowever you feel about making new year resolutions, this very early part of the year at least serves as an annual reminder that we need to — at some point — take time to reflect on our lives, check where we are on our goals, and continue making plans moving forward.

It’s important to set and work toward goals in our parenting journey. We have to be seeking growth in our attachment relationships with our children to be able to experience it, and being the parent, that growth falls back on us continually working to move forward on our parenting journey.

Here are 8 examples of new year parenting resolutions:

  1. I resolve to admit when I am wrong, and to include my kids in the housework, even when it would be faster and easier not to. — Jennifer
  2. I resolve to breastfeed my child at least 2 years.– Kate
  3. I resolve to do more self-care, including regular exercise, more sleep, and eating greens everyday. — Monica
  4. I resolve to validate emotions and experience, to use positive language, to model what I wish to elicit, to assume the best of intentions, to learn from my child, and to be present. — Miriam
  5. I resolve to become aware of frustration, to see my child’s resistance as a wake-up call, to become more proactive instead of reactive, to speak respectfully of my child’s other parent, to make more emotional deposits than withdrawals, to see my child as good and not bad, to find ways to acknowledge and encourage my child, to see “misbehavior” as an unmet need, to give my child advance notices of a transition, and to help my child move closer to his purpose in life. — Bill
  6. I resolve to read a book related to each of API’s Eight Principles of Parenting, to teach baby signs, to learn infant massage, and to not spank and to instead practice positive discipline. — Christina
  7. I resolve to be more connected to my children. — Cason
  8. I resolve to trust my instincts, to nurse in public, to care for myself, to live in the moment, and to ask for help. — Courtney

10 tips for nurturing attachment during the holidays

pixabay-tips-for-attachment-parenting-during-holidaysThe holidays are an exciting time for children. The gifts, the lights, the decorations, the food, the family gathering — the list goes on and on. But in the hustle and bustle, it’s easy to lose sight of the values we want to pass down to our children, such as strengthening and maintaining a strong parent-child attachment.

Here are 10 tips to nurture attachment with our children during the holidays:

  1. You are the best gift“Living in a split-attention society, many children have rarely experienced the full, uninterrupted attention of a parent.” Stacy inspires us to give our children what they really want: Our time.
  2. Emphasize family time “The best present we are getting each other this year is time together.” Scylla encourages all of us to intentionally spend time together as a family in our annual holiday traditions.
  3. Santa or not, don’t use gifts as a bribe“Our family does Santa, but we don’t use him as a discipline tactic. The kids have no idea of the notion that they ‘must be good’ so Santa will come.” Sarah suggests that we keep the spirit of the holidays without any of the shame.
  4. Protect your child’s sleep“Don’t disrupt your normal sleep arrangements. If you normally cosleep, continue to do so.” Especially while traveling, Jasmine reminds us to continue nighttime parenting and safe infant sleep guidelines despite the holiday.
  5. Inspire the spirit of giving“For the first time ever, the school-aged children beamed with pride over the effort put into their gifts and the expectant joy when the receiver opened them. The emphasis was now on the making and giving rather than the receiving.” Judy offers a list of gifts that children of all ages can make and reclaim the spirit of the holidays.
  6. Rethink holiday treats“Many of my holiday memories revolve around food. Now that we are starting our own family traditions, I am trying to incorporate the fun and pleasure of holiday goodies without the overload of sugar. As a parent, it is my responsibility to nurture a taste for nutritious foods.” Dionna inspires us with tips to make holiday treats that are both special and healthier.
  7. Strive for balance“Especially going into the holidays, I find that it’s easy to lose days to errands, decorating, and purchasing presents. I get to the end of the day and feel like it was lost.” API Leader Sonya Feher reminds us to take some down time for ourselves.
  8. If you’re breastfeeding, take advantage“The holidays can be overwhelming to little ones, so time spent breastfeeding can be like a retreat. It’s a quick and easy way to reconnect and helps restore calm and reduce overstimulation. When I’m nursing, I also get the chance to sit down, put my feet up, and let some other folks do the work for a bit.” Amber encourages breastfeeding mothers to make the most of breastfeeding, both for their children and themselves, during the overstimulating holidays.
  9. Model discipline“Christmas can be a tricky season as far as discipline goes. There are presents stacked under the tree. There are cookies and sweets everywhere. There is constantly family, noise, and activity. It is very hard to stay disciplined ourselves, and it is the same for our children.” Jasmine reminds us to teach our children through example of how to navigate boundaries during the holidays.
  10. Plan on growth — “I resolve to practice positive discipline, not to spank or use rewards or punishments to coerce behavior.” Never big on making New Year resolutions, Christina explains why she had a change of heart.

Thankful kids

Effie2 (2)It’s this time of year — Thanksgiving holiday — when we pause and take a moment to reflect on all that we are grateful for.

A few years ago, I adopted Thanksgiving as a daily practice, and to my surprise, it has transformed my life for the better: I’ve become more centered and peaceful which naturally affected the well-being of myself as well as my family.

Having a deep sense of gratitude benefits us in developing the ability to savor the pleasant moments in life and preserve through the painful ones.

I find that as challenging and complex parenting can be, it is equally inspiring and simple — that is, if we are mindful and appreciate every challenge, pain, delight, and triumph on our parenting journey.

Our children serve as our constant reminder that the ordinary is actually the profound. When we ask children what their most treasured memories are, their typical responses are “camping overnight in the backyard with Daddy,” “baking cookies with Grandma,” or “playing in mountains of snow with friends” — small moments that we adults may not think they attribute much significance to.

I am grateful for being around children on a daily basis — observing their actions and interactions. Getting a glimpse into their delightful world keeps me grounded, reminding me that connection, mindfulness and simplicity are the essentials that fill our heart and soul.

In celebration of Thanksgiving, we bring you reflections from kids around the United States as to what they are most grateful for:

Emma, 7: “I am most grateful for my family and health. I am grateful that we are all together. I am grateful to God for everything.”

Sophia, 5: “I am grateful for my parents, sister, brother, and grandparents. I am also grateful for breastmilk when I was small since it made me grow strong.”

Valerie, 2.5: “Food. Yogurt, peanut butter in a bowl, apples, and peanut butter sandwich.”

Abby, 4: “Strawberries, because I love strawberries.  It’s my wordcloud6favorite fruit.”

Josh, 9: “Family, food, and water. Family because it’s family, and food and water because we need food and water to survive.”

Nicholas, 12: “Having a good mom.”

Tatiana, 11: “I am thankful for my family. I am thankful for the house that I live in, for the food that I eat, that I have education, that I’m healthy, and that I am alive.”

Gianna, 8: “I’m thankful that my mom makes dinner for both sides of our family.”

Adriana, 4: “I’m thankful for pancakes, because I don’t like turkey.”

Rachel, 10: “I’m thankful for God, for veterans, for my family, and for my pets.”

Emily, 9: “I am grateful for my life and everything that God created, and for heaven, and I’m grateful for my family, my house, my clothes, my food, everything.”

Nathan, 5: “I am thankful for birdies and that we love animals, and I’m grateful for my family and pets.”

Camille, 18: “I’m thankful for the people who love me and the opportunities I have been given.”

Nicole, 10: “I am thankful for Tapping (EFT) and the breathing technique Mommy taught me to discharge stress.”

Luke, 14: “I’m thankful for being able to choose my career. I’m thankful for Internet. I’m thankful for love, and I’m thankful for family.”

Zaiah, 10: “Friends and family. The chance to live every day and have food and water.”

Julienne, 14: “I am grateful for music.”

Kaiya, 11: “I am grateful that not all animals are endangered.”

Ethan, 2: “Toys!”

Jared, 9: “I’m most grateful for my family.”

I am thankful for Attachment Parenting International (API) for granting me the opportunity to be part of an organization that promotes an intuitive, kind, and gentle approach to parenting — the foundation of our quest for a more tolerant world. I am also grateful for our API volunteer community and readers for all of your support, and for spreading the message of peace and harmony — because together we are a greater force, capable of making a real positive difference in the world.

My warmest wishes to you and your family on this Thanksgiving holiday. May you always find inspiration and gratitude on your parenting journey.

With Mindfulness and Light,


Sharing gratitude on a nightly basis

Before my children go to sleep at night, I have 3 questions that I ask them:

  1. What did you learn today?
  2. What was your favorite part of the day?
  3. What are you grateful for?

These questions have become a ritual for us as we have been doing it for years. We continue to do so even as we navigate the middle school days for my youngest and now are moving into the high school years for my oldest. I know we all look forward to this time of connection as it opens up a conversation that goes beyond the simple responses to those questions.

I have been surprised to find that the topic about gratitude is often the one that is discussed the most. There is an appreciation for all of us when we take the time to offer our thanks for something that happened during the day. My girls’ answers may be about a material item they received or a favorite food that they were able to eat — especially if it is a dessert — and I have found that is a practice for me to listen to their responses without judgement.

hands-heart-grainsIt is a gift for each of us to pay attention to one another in a way that offers a willingness to receive whatever the other person has to offer. I am thankful for this opportunity to connect with my kids and for us to grow in our understanding that often it is the simple things in life that we are most grateful for.

Sometimes my girls give me the same answer for all 3 questions, and I am fine with this as I recognize that maybe being tired overcomes the desire to engage in conversation. I trust that they are offering what they can in the moment and that on a different day I may hear much more when they are ready to share. It is also possible that one event was the highlight of their day and the one thing that does answer all 3 of the questions. When I realize this, I am excited that they were able to engage in an activity that was filled with joy.

The time just before we fall asleep is one of my favorite moments of the day. I know that this can be a magical time when both girls are willing to open up with me and express what they are thinking or how they are feeling, which they might not do during any other time of the day. Every once and awhile, I have tried to get them to answer the questions over dinner only to be confronted with the comment that the day is not yet complete so I will just have to wait until later in the evening.

Over the years, I have grown to realize that this simple time with my kids is one of the best ways to engage in peaceful parenting as it reminds us what we are thankful for and encourages a dialogue that may not have taken place. I am amazed at all the events that they encounter in a day without me. I trust that they are navigating each experience with grace even when it is not so easy. I know that they will talk to me when needed.

As we move into a season where many families are expressing gratitude, I am reminded of how lovely it is for me and my kids to share our thanksgivings on a nightly basis.