My Attachment Parenting support group made all the difference

Editor’s note: Parent support makes a world of difference — when we strengthen families, we nurture and fulfill our children’s need for trust, respect, and affection, and ultimately provide a lifelong foundation for healthy, enduring relationships. Sharing our parenting experiences — the difficult, trying, joyous, and happy ones — with other like-minded parents can help us feel understood and supported. Attachment Parenting International (API) is dedicated to supporting families in realizing the most important job there is –raising compassionate kids who will shape the future of our world. Click here to find an API Support Group near you.  

It was our usual afternoon trip to the library before picking up my oldest son from school. We typically go once a week and bring a large, reusable bag to fill with books — only on that day, I took a smaller bag, which I thought was a really minor change. But when my almost 4-year-old son realized that I’d done something that, in his mind, was completely different from what we always do, he wanted me to go home to get usual bag.

I could tell he was sad and close to tears, but he was trying to manage his emotions and to stay calm as I empathized with him and explained that it wasn’t possible to rectify the situation. After a couple minutes, he started to get sadder and louder.

Still, I managed to stay calm. It felt like a real success for me — completely keeping my cool even in a public setting, responding to him with empathy, staying connected, and not punishing or lecturing him for his emotions. Since we were in a library, I wanted to get out of there quickly so we didn’t disturb people. Unfortunately, trying to make that happen was quite a challenge for me as a mom. My younger daughter was with us and was happily selecting books from the shelf. I had to make the choice of checking out her books while my toddler cried and fought, or just leaving without them, which might upset her as well.

There were several other people around who seemed were watching me, including a few moms who were talking nearby, a mother with a young child playing calmly, a librarian, and an older man. As I struggled to the door with a baby in one arm and a crying toddler in the other, I didn’t worry if they were judging me. I knew I was handling the situation the best I could, and I was proud of that, but I did get upset that no one was able to offer me any help.

I felt that I could barely manage to open the door and get the kids to the car on my own, but somehow, I did. In the car, despite feeling pleased with my patience and ability to remain calm, I felt an overwhelming sense of loneliness. I realized just how alone I had been in that challenging situation, and I couldn’t help but cry.

Afterwards, I reached out to the other parents in my API Support Group about my experience. The amount of support and love I got from the other parents was amazing. Many praised my ability to stay calm in a stressful situation. Several pointed out that strangers are often unsure of how to help or unsure whether help is even wanted. Some shared that they had similar experiences and could relate. And one person also said that she wished she’d been there to help, to hold the door or to put her arm around me for support.

She told me, “You are not alone anymore,” which is something I wish all parents could hear when they’re struggling in moments like this.

Velcro or Teflon?

The following is a guest post by our own Camille North, API Links Editor. API Links is a monthly e-newsletter to help keep parents, professionals, and others abreast of the latest news and research in Attachment Parenting and updates of API programs.

Anyone can receive API Links! Click here to subscribe.


Velcro or Teflon?

by Camille North

As images from Sandy – rescuers saving pets, power strips charging strangers’ phones, and NICU nurses whisking preemies to safety (causing my blood to run cold, realizing that that could have been my own two-pounder) – morph into mental images of Thanksgiving celebrations, visiting relatives, and holiday festivities (which also made my blood run cold when I realized that Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away), one thing became clear to me … they all share a common theme.

In line with that theme, I happened to run across an article that talks about stress and how we handle it, and how it affects our health decades down the road. Velcro People, who let stress stick to them, tend to have poorer health than Teflon People, who let stress roll off their backs.

What’s the common theme? No, not stress. Support! Which just so happened to be the topic, and fittingly so, of last month’s AP Month. The thought of facing a catastrophic storm, the inability to communicate with loved ones in harm’s way, or even something as non-life threatening as an extra, ahem, interesting relative at the Thanksgiving dinner table made me realize how much I rely on the people around me to see me through times that pump cortisol into my system.

I’ve been, most of my life, a Velcro Person, and I’m trying really hard now to be a Teflon Person. (Just ask my kids about the “hard” part.) I’m making progress, but I’m not there yet. But I wouldn’t be able to make any progress without support, and that’s what API is all about, whether we celebrate one month out of the year or rely on it all year long.

Before the chaos and craziness of the holidays truly sets in – oh wait, too late – think of API and your Support Group as that little bluebird of happiness (or maybe the bluebird of sanity, or even the bluebird of “pass the bean dip”) whispering in your ear.

When those “helpful,” well-intentioned relatives come to visit and tell you, “A little crying it out is good for them! It teaches them how to self-soothe!,” or “If you respond to his every whimper, you’re gonna spoil that baby,” or “A little smack will show ’em who’s boss. Spare the rod and spoil the child, I always say,” or even “Come on, Sis, Mom and Dad spanked us, and we’re fine,” just breathe and picture the face of your Support Group’s Leader. Breathe, breathe, breathe.

Whether you want to get away from it all (“Sorry, Aunt Ethel, I simply must attend today’s meeting! We’ll talk about peregoric and colic when I get back.”), get suggestions for zippy retorts, or just vent, we’re here for you. If you don’t have a Support Group, run, do not walk – or at least run as fast as you can, with the double stroller, the dog on the leash, and the sippy cup the baby keeps tossing on the trail – to your closest computer and find one.

Maybe all you need is the little bird whispering in your ear to remind you that your proper response in trying situations might be, “Pass the bean dip.” Or, in this case, “Pass the cranberry sauce.”

Here’s wishing you a Teflon-inspired, stress-free holiday season.

Camille North,
API Links Editor

AP Month Featured Blog Event – Finding the Support You Need

The 2012 AP Month Blog Event is here! Every Tuesday, we will select a blog to feature that best demonstrates this month’s theme: “Relax, Relate, Rejuvenate:  Renewed with Parent Support.” This week, Lara Kretler of tells us how she built her parenting support network from scratch, starting soon after she learned she was was expecting.

Finding the Support You Need

by Lara Kretler

lara-mom pregnant friendsBecoming a first-time parent is so life-changing that you can find yourself needing support in ways you are not used to. Whether that’s education during pregnancy to learn more about the kind of birth you want to have, breastfeeding support immediately after your baby comes, family and friends who can help give you a much-needed break from time to time, or parenting advice and counsel as your baby transitions into toddlerhood – it’s good to have a network of fellow parents you can count on. Read more to find out where Lara found the support she needs…

Enough with the ‘mom enough’ stuff…Can we just talk?

There’s little more demoralizing than being told what we’re doing is wrong, or that there’s a better way, or worse – that we’re in some way harming or damaging our children. We take it very personally, especially when the criticism centers around our parenting.

That’s why the TIME cover and tagline, “Are You Mom Enough” exploded over the media as it did. Their job was to get attention and ultimately sell copies. Unfortunately, to do so, they resorted to playing on mothers’ emotions and spotlighting the negative, competitive vibe around a conversation that should be supportive, encouraging and helpful.

pathways magazine fall 2012The Fall 2012 issue of Pathways magazine features the cover mom herself, Jamie Lynne Grumet, sharing her thoughts and clearing the air about the TIME cover photo and the media storm surrounding it all. Grumet tells Pathways, “I think the hate that comes from some mothers is from defensiveness and that they believe what we are saying is that what they do is less or they are hurting their child, which is totally untrue. There are so many ways to parent.”

It’s not just TIME. It happens all too often. Some parenting practice is framed as an us vs. them, a red team against the blue team, a this-way-wins-over-that-way or this-group-is-better-than-that-group issue. Then we, as parents, end up divided.

Sadly, when this is the arena we’re given, we’re left with little choice. We either risk getting into a debate, or we stay hush-hush about how we parent. Parenting becomes one of those off-limits topics, like religion and politics. We don’t want to offend anyone, fuel the mommy wars, or create guilt. As a result, we miss out on conversations that inform us, ease our fears and give us new ideas or perspectives.

It’s a shame, because we want to reach out, to get support. To give support. Instead, we miss out on the kinds of discussions that benefit our children.

We can’t control what the big media outlets will do. All we can do is try to create an environment for healthy conversation within our own circles. When you find yourself discussing parenting, here are some things to keep in mind to keep it friendly and supportive:

Remember, the AP principles are adaptable. For example, “feed with love and respect” applies to parents who breastfeed as well as parents who bottle-nurse. “Respond with sensitivity” is about as non-specific as it gets and applies to all kinds of interactions. Each of the principles is written very broadly and can be adapted to every family situation.

We never know the whole story. So we can’t possibly judge without all of the details.

We all make mistakes and are doing our best. We all want what is best for our kids and we’re working with what we’ve got. Nobody can be faulted for that.

Change the subject if you must. Some people just want to be right. And that’s okay. When the conversation takes a turn toward competitiveness and winning or losing, and that uncomfortable feeling sets in, it may be time to move to another topic.

Respond with sensitivity (sound familiar?). Always assume the other person’s feelings are easily hurt. This is advice my husband and I were given right before we got married, and it applies well here. If you assume the other person is sensitive, you won’t say anything wrong.

Want to open up a discussion with other parents who share your goals? API Support Groups provide a nice, level playing field that encourages helpful discussion and avoids judgment and competition. Find a support group in your area.

Also, coming soon: Jamie Lynne Grumet and her family will be featured in the next issue of The Attached Family!

Your Blog Could Be Featured on API!

Open call for AP Month Carnival of Blog Submissions

Blog about your “support team” and join in the AP Month celebration as we round up the secrets of group support! We’ll be showcasing selected blog posts in our Blog Carnival in October so warm up your fingers and let us hear about ways social support (groups) have been beneficial to (or absent from) your parenting – and your sanity!  Ideas you might cover (but are not limited to):

  • ways you regularly rely on, access or wish to gain social support
  • ways you find social support to be stress reducing
  • benefits you’ve found from social support
  • surprising benefits
  • breakthrough moments
  • struggles getting regular support


Publish your post to your blog with the following text (including hyperlinks):

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

3.  Kindly remove any promotional and advertisement features from your posts.

4.  Once your post is completed, submit a link to your submission via email with a short message that the post is part of the AP Month 2012 blog carnival.

Submissions will be accepted until September 15!

Please note that in order to participate in the AP Month 2012 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 to make arrangements.

Check out AP Month!