Making a Difference to Children

1034106_ripplesI make a difference every day, and so do you.

July is recognized as “Make a Difference to Children Month,” and many organizations and businesses took this opportunity to raise awareness of their causes or to ask for donations to a favorite child-centered charity. And that is wonderful.

But we as parents are making a difference to children in the world every single day. We may not be teachers, childcare providers, parent educators or other professionals who touch the lives of children outside our homes, but yet, we are still making a huge difference to our communities and society—through our relationships with our children.

We as parents may forget the ripple effect that Attachment Parenting has. One drop causes a small ring, rippling out from the center in successively larger rings until the rings meet the shore. That is our impact. We as parents are that drop, and by raising our children in a way that promotes secure attachment, we are creating ripples that will reverberate through our society, carried by the interactions and impressions that our children make on their partners, children, and other important relationships, as well as those interactions and impressions that our grandchildren make, our great-grandchildren, and so forth.

Sometimes we get impatient with how slowly Attachment Parenting seems to catch on in our society when in reality, the grassroots movement is on fire! Just a few years ago, Attachment Parenting was still a relatively unknown term for our solidly research-based parenting approach, and now it’s a household name. Yes, it meets resistance as it clashes with long-held assumptions that children were blank slates, could spoil with too much holding and had to be controlled and coerced and punished to be taught to be good. The Attachment Parenting Movement has grown up with the technology able to demonstrate that children’s brain development depends on the consistently loving interactions between parent and child, as well as the technology able to provide education and support to even the most rural of households.

Our society’s parenting philosophies are gradually adopting the research-based information that makes up the Attachment Parenting approach. It’s generally accepted now that breastfeeding is better for babies, that there is merit to reducing Cesarean birth rates and most hospitals allow doulas to assist with their maternity patients. We’re seeing the importance of the family sit-down meal, that holding our babies as much as possible will not spoil them, that there is no basis in the idea that crying helps a baby’s lungs to grow. Society is recognizing that the attachment quality between the parent and the child is important not only for ease of childrearing and influence with the adolescent, but also that it affects relationship quality lifelong for that child. We’re slowing getting to the point of recognizing the vital importance of parents in the early childhood years, that social-emotional development affects cognitive gain, too, that spanking and physical punishments are archaic and unneeded.

We still have a ways to go. Nighttime parenting and non-punitive discipline are still hard to grasp for society at large, as is the crucial need for parents to spend much more time with their children and that it’s possible to find personal balance while doing so. We still have more education, support, and advocacy to do.

And that’s what Attachment Parenting International’s global base of volunteers do—volunteers who are parents themselves, whose lives were touched by Attachment Parenting to the point of making miracles in their family relationships, and who dedicate a little of their time and talents to carrying the Attachment Movement forward.

We are so thankful for our volunteers, who include the API-trained leaders of local parenting support groups and resource leaders available for information in their communities.

But you are making a difference to children simply by focusing on your attachment with your child in your everyday life. You are making a difference to society by playing with your child, by learning about your child’s interests, by listening to your child and responding with sensitivity as you would with a close friend, by being there. You are making a difference by teaching your child what positive, peaceful, empathetic, HEALTHY relationships look like. And when your child goes out in the world, his or her relationships will promote this same secure attachment quality so that each relationship encountered will touch off another ripple in our society, furthering the idea of Attachment Parenting through generations to come. Thank you.

Here, through API, every day is “Make a Difference to Children Month.”

Author: Rita Brhel

Rita Brhel, BS, CLC, API Leader, lives with her family near Hastings, NE, USA, where she works as a WIC Breastfeeding Counselor. She also writes for Mothering and La Leche League's New Beginnings.

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