Music…more than a good time

Note: To get the full effect of this blog post, click here for some background music from children’s artist Roger Day to enhance your reading enjoyment.

I miss Music Mondays. In the tiny, farming community of Hartington, Nebraska, where I used to live, when my oldest daughter was just a baby, there was a mother who would reserve the library basement every Monday for what she publicized as “Music Mondays.” There, babies and toddlers and their parents would sing and dance and play musical instruments for an hour – a free-flowing, no-structure exploration of movement and music, I used to take my speakers to listen to music by using just Bluetooth, so you can take look at this page to see if is Bluetooth actually using data and think about if it works for you. I was only able to be a part of this activity for a short time before my family moved across the state, and our new hometown didn’t have a similar activity for families.

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Seeing API in a Whole New Light

A week ago, Friday morning, I kissed and hugged my husband and children goodbye and boarded a plane from the Lincoln, Nebraska, airport on my way toward Attachment Parenting International’s 15th Anniversary Gathering in Nashville, Tennessee. Besides a mix-up on gate numbers during my layover at the Minneapolis airport, and then being seated next to the lavatory on my second flight down (what’s that smell?), it was a good trip. It gave me several hours of reading and a great view of the earth that can’t be seen in any other way than in an airplane.

Knowing that I was going to be picked up from the airport along with Dr. James McKenna, well-known cosleeping expert and author of Sleeping with Your Baby, I made a dash to the bathroom at the Nashville airport to change out of my jeans, tank top, and sandals into an outfit in which I would be more comfortable shaking hands with a renowned parenting expert. So glad I did, too, because not only was Dr. McKenna in the vehicle but also author of Let the Baby Drive Lu Hanessian and API Co-founder and co-author of Attached at the Heart Lysa Parker!

We drove over to API Co-founder and author of Attached at the Heart Barbara Nicholson’s home for supper, where I saw the most wonderful sight of API Board of Directors president Janet Jendron and her daughter Claudia, API Executive Director Samantha Gray, and API Membership Coordinator Stephanie Petters, among others, joining together in a fury of fresh vegetables and greens, and pots of spaghetti and tomato sauce, making supper.

Throughout the night, people fresh from airport pick-up made their stop in Barbara’s beautiful home, greeting one another like everyone was old friends. I was a little overwhelmed to be in the company of so many of these parenting experts who helped to make API be what it is today – an organization working to educate and support parents worldwide in attachment-based parenting practices to benefit not only their children lives in profound ways but also their families.
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Looking forward to the API 15th Anniversary Gathering

So, the big event is coming up quickly…Attachment Parenting International’s 15th Anniversary Gathering in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. I’m very much looking forward to it, although it’ll be my first trip anywhere without my husband and kids. Known for my uncanny ability to get lost in the remotest of places – I have on more than one occasion called up my husband in a panic as I was driving around the barren countryside of Nebraska in search of a town of less than 60 people to interview one for a local newspaper article – I am more than a little nervous about trying to navigate a city as large as Nashville.

Despite these concerns, the weekend holds a lot more promise. I get to hear from experts on Attachment Parenting and parenting in general during an afternoon think-tank discussion. I get to listen to performances by country music artist Vince Gill and song writers Gary Nicholson and Mary Nielsen Chapman and their children during an evening event. I get to listen to kids music artist Roger Day. I get to meet other AP parents and their families, including API Co-founders Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker. I get to meet other API leaders, and I am super excited to meet some of the API staff members who I have only known so far through phone calls and e-mail messages!
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Thank you, Pam Leo!

Parent educator Pam Leo’s book, Connection Parenting, was the first Attachment Parenting book I ever picked up and it helped to change the course of my parenting journey – just as this book has influenced the thousands of parents before me, and after me, who flipped through its pages.

Connection Parenting brings together all the knowledge and experience of a woman who not only promoted attachment-promoting interactions between parents and children in her community but who saw success in her own home…not unlike so many attached parents who share their stories on API Speaks, in The Attached Family, and on the API Forum. What makes Connection Parenting stand out is how easy the concepts in the book could be taken off the pages and put to practice in real life, particularly for those parents who grew up in a home where punishments, such as spanking, were used. Many of us know how difficult the transition can be when going from a punishing mindset to one of true discipline, communication, and loving parenting.
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Celebrating the Model of Attachment – World Breastfeeding Week – August 1-7, 2009

While I was pregnant with my first baby, I wanted to breastfeed – but because I would save money and because breastmilk has superior health benefits to formula. At that time, I didn’t know anything about attachment or how important breastfeeding behaviors are to the mother-baby emotional bond – that breastfeeding is the very model of attachment, as explained by Attachment Parenting International’s co-founders Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker in their book, Attached at the Heart.

So, then my daughter was born prematurely and due a variety of problems, I found I could not breastfeed. I had to pump and feed her my breastmilk through the bottle. By all accounts, at least according to my original reasons for breastfeeding, I should’ve been content – I was still saving money and still giving the health benefits of breastmilk to my baby. But I felt like I was missing something, though I didn’t know what. When my second baby was born and I was able to breastfeed, I realized just what was missing.

I had been looking at breastfeeding as filling purely a physical need, when it is so much more – it provides mothers and babies an emotional connection with one another that can’t be replicated in any other way.

When I first came to Attachment Parenting, I viewed each of the Eight Principles of Parenting as separate entities – like I could do one or a few but not have to do the others, too. (When you’re new to this parenting approach, especially coming from a background that is so foreign to the concept, it can be difficult to trust that this parenting approach will work for you. And trying to think of all Eight Principles is perhaps a little overwhelming at first, too!) The further into my parenting journey I go, though, the more I realize how all the principles weave together and rely on each other. It’d actually be very difficult, perhaps impossible, to just pick out one or a few principles and not do the others, too.
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It’s OK to Get Mad

Good parents don’t get mad. They’re never tempted into power struggles with their children, no matter how violent a toddler’s tantrum or how venomous a pre-teen’s backtalk or how silent a teen’s cold shoulder. Good parents never have to raise their voices or say “no.”

Who is this good parent? It certainly isn’t me. But there is this myth about Attachment Parenting that we don’t get angry, that no matter what our children do, we are always calm and don’t experience the strong emotions that parents not practicing AP do.

Being an attached parent doesn’t mean we don’t experience emotions like anger, disappointment, and frustration. Oh, we experience them – just like any parent does! What being an attached parent means is that we choose to express these strong emotions in ways that don’t hurt our children. We choose to look inward to ourselves when we’re feeling angry, instead of blaming others, in order to see the real reason for our feelings. Instead of “You make me mad when you throw your bowl of food on the floor,” we teach ourselves to think, “I feel angry when you throw your bowl.” No one can “make us mad” – we make ourselves mad. It is our expectations we place on situations that don’t get met, and that is what makes us mad.
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The Meat of AP

I first came to Attachment Parenting like most parents do – because it felt wrong to let my baby cry herself to sleep and it felt good to hold her all the time. And I came to Attachment Parenting International, because gosh, there are a whole lot of people in the world who feel compelled to criticize the way I raise my children.

It was through my membership to API, plus a whole bookcase full of parenting books and neuropsychology texts, that I learned exactly what Attachment Parenting is: that it isn’t just a feel-good approach to parenting. It is a set of eight parenting principles proven by science to raise our children to be well-adjusted, emotionally healthy members of society who are able to establish and maintain secure attachments with other adults and their future children. (Read Attached at the Heart by Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker to learn more about what the research says.)

We hear a lot about these attachments. What exactly are they, and why are they so important? Attachment is the emotional bond between two people in a relationship – in this case, between the parent and child. A relationship can either be healthy and stable, producing a secure attachment; or it can be stifling, violent, or otherwise dysfunctional, which indicates an insecure attachment. Relationships are absolutely vital to our individual happiness in life – they determine our success in school, our careers, our friendships, and our marriages – and our ability to attach to other people in a healthy way and maintain that attachment over the long term is absolutely vital to our relationships.
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Striving Toward Controlled Chaos

Striving Toward Controlled Chaos
By Rita Brhel, editor of The Attached Family

I am naturally a very high-strung perfectionist with a short fuse. A bad combination for relationships of any sort. After seven years of marriage, my husband would now describe me as much more mellow than when he first met me. I can walk through a kitchen with dishes that haven’t been washed for three days, a table covered in an odd assortment of items with a small surface cleared off to allow for a family dinner, and a mine field of kids toys without batting my eye once. I can now look past many of the messes that come with a busy family with young children, especially the messes that come with a laidback husband who just doesn’t care if things aren’t perfectly in order and the messes that come with two toddlers. I just strive toward “controlled chaos” – that is, things don’t have to be perfect; they just have to be good enough.

It is through attachment parenting, specifically the approach advocated through Attachment Parenting International, that I have found a way to control my natural tendencies to demand too much from everyone around me including myself and then punish them when they don’t meet my expectations. I credit Attachment Parenting International not only for creating a truly joyful family atmosphere in my home but also for finally giving me peace and especially for saving my marriage.
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