Creating secure attachments through parental leave

By Barbara Nicholson, cofounder of Attachment Parenting International (API) and coauthor of Attached at the Heart with Lysa Parker

APM 2015 logoEditor’s note: This post was originally published through Parent Compass, an occasional message from API’s cofounders looking in-depth on how Attachment Parenting (AP) intersects with wider society. In celebration of AP Month this October, the latest Parent Compass explores this year’s theme: “Parental Presence: Birthing Families, Strengthening Society.” Sign up to receive future issues of this API newsletter, and we hope you are inspired this AP Month to continue striving to balance parental presence with work responsibilities.

“We have decades of research that tells us how important it is that a bond is established between parents and young children beginning at birth,” says Dr. Jack P. Shonkoff, Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. “The  need for time to form secure attachments is critically important. It’s one of the most important things you can do to build a foundation for a lifetime of healthy development.”

This quote was in reaction to the announcement that Netflix is offering up to 1 year of paid parental leave for its employees who give birth or adopt. Of course we rejoice at such progressive policies, but the sad truth is that few companies currently see the long-term benefit to their employees to instigate such policies.

Dr. Shonkoff went on to say in his remarks: “Babies need a sense of safety, predictability and responsiveness. We know from research that all areas of development — whether it’s cognitive development, emotional well-being or social development — has its foundation in this secure relationships. We do a lousy job as a society supporting parents after the birth of their babies. It’s unconscionable with all the deep scientific understanding we have now. It makes no sense to not offer more of that flexibility and support.”

Because of the overwhelming research, and our advocacy for infants and toddlers, Attachment Parenting International is in full support of strong parental leave policies, similar to those in many countries around the world. Sweden’s policy is probably one of the most generous, with 480 days of paid parental leave.

In the meantime, we are amazed at the creativity and dedication of parents to find solutions that will keep their bond with their children strong. From tag-teaming work schedules to enlisting grandparents and other invested family and friends, and creating cooperative childcare with trusted caregivers, many parents are finding solutions to keep their attachments strong. Some parents obtain loans to stay home longer: Many credit unions and banks will give loans in support of a family need, just like they would finance a car. But later this loan can cause a problem if you are not financially secure to repay. And unless you have scotland debt help near you which can help you in repaying the finances over a period of time with the help of their deeds, I don’t think it is a good plan taking such loan.

Lysa helps a lot with the care of her 2-year-old granddaughter, and I am often on-call for family friends that are juggling young children and work schedules. We feel so much compassion for these children who need consistency and trusting relationships — not a constantly changing cast of caregivers who may love children but who are also looking for higher paying jobs and less stress. We are amazed that even in the best university daycares, there is a large turnover every semester of childcare providers. There is such disconnect with the research and its application!

API Support Groups can be a wonderful resource for parents who do not have extended families nearby. Finding friends that have the same parenting values is another critical component in deciding on a non-parental caregiver.

As we move into another election cycle, we encourage all of you to pay attention to candidates who seem to have a particular understanding and compassion for babies and young children, and strong supportive policies. A strong mayor or city council member can have a tremendous impact on community awareness and progressive policies. Look into your state’s policies, too, as they vary tremendously. You might be pleased to know that your state has stronger leave policies then your place of work, and you can stagger the leave of each parent, allowing for more time at home.

Good luck to all parents who are looking for creative solutions! Talk to your local API Leaders, API Support Group members and Attachment Parenting families from around the world on API’s online Neighborhood forum for ideas, too.

Inspired to better balance parental presence with the busyness of our lives?

e4aee175-1115-4d03-bb68-c3009e6c4d4fAPI announces a special API Live teleseminar event on October 19 at 9:00 pm EST/6:00 pm PST as part of AP Month. Call in from the comfort of your home or while on the go to listen to and learn about Simplicity Parenting from Kim John Payne. Register today! Can’t make it that day? Everyone who signs up gets a recording of the teleseminar to listen to on their own time.

Kim John PayneKim John Payne helps families recognize the importance of parental presence, even more so in this day and age when so many pressures are taking the focus away from connected parenting. Through this teleseminar, you’ll walk away with a renewed focus for yourself and your family. To get a taste of his message, follow along on the API Reads discussion of his book, Simplicity Parenting.api reads logo

 

 

 

partners logo - with WYSH

Daily Tip: Why do we need touch?

Daily Tips logoTouch meets a baby’s needs for physical contact, affection, security, stimulation and movement. Skin-to-skin contact is especially effective, such as during breastfeeding, bathing or massage. Carrying or babywearing also meets this need while on the go. Hugs, snuggling, back rubs, massage and physical play help meet this need in older children. Learn more through Attachment Parenting International.

 

Lysa and Layla

API Cofounder Lysa Parker with her grand-daughter

Send us a photo of how you are celebrating this year’s AP Month theme: “Parental Presence: Birthing Families, Strengthening Society.” Read here for complete guidelines.

 

Attachment Parenting International thanks Lamaze International, DONA, Dr. Peter Haiman, Linda Folden Palmer, DC and Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper for being our AP Month 2015 Sponsors!

Daily Tip: What sustains you?

Daily Tips logo“I sustain myself with the love of family.” ~ Maya Angelou

What sustains you through those trying times?

kelly shealer 5

API Leader Kelly Shealer

Send us a photo of how you are celebrating this year’s AP Month theme: “Parental Presence: Birthing Families, Strengthening Society.” Read here for complete guidelines.

Attachment Parenting International thanks Lamaze International, DONA, Dr. Peter Haiman, Linda Folden Palmer, DC and Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper for being our AP Month 2015 Sponsors!

Daily Tip: Are you centered?

Daily Tips logoIn order to be tender and loving, even after unexpected events, parents may need to practice centering and balancing themselves so they can be positively emotionally present to provide for the baby’s needs.

Mommy & Baby babywearing in rocker

API Leader Patricia Mackie

Send us a photo of how you are celebrating this year’s AP Month theme: “Parental Presence: Birthing Families, Strengthening Society.” Read here for complete guidelines.

Attachment Parenting International thanks Lamaze International, DONA, Dr. Peter Haiman, Linda Folden Palmer, DC and Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper for being our AP Month 2015 Sponsors!

Moments

APM 2015 logoEditor’s note: Welcome to Attachment Parenting (AP) Month 2015! This year, we celebrate the theme: “Parental Presence: Birthing Families, Strengthening Society.” Beginning this year, APtly Said is the new home of AP Month, so check the blog each day of October for inspiration through our Daily Tips and other posts centered on the theme. Want to tell your story of how you balance(d) financial/career needs with being a new parent and providing presence in the early years? Send us your story!

Other AP Month events include the annual API Auction and Photo Event, plus an Oct. 19 API Teleseminar with Simplicity Parenting‘s John Kim Payne. Follow along as we read his book through API Reads, also housed here on APtly Said. There will also be special articles in the Parent Compass enewsletter from API’s cofounders and The Attached Family online magazine.

For this first day of AP Month, Yvette Lamb helps us remember that our challenges in providing parental presence in the early years are but moments that we will remember fondly and that help shape our child’s perception of what love is.

yvette lamb 2Children must go through almost a million phases, particularly in the early years. Sometimes I could barely get used to my baby’s latest pattern before he had moved on to a different one! Some phases — especially regarding sleep, settling, behavior or needing more attention than we are able to give — can feel never-ending at the time.

But of course they do pass, all of them.

And when we look back at testing moments — at days that seemed to stretch on forever — we mostly remember them differently: fondly, with love. They are just moments after all…moments that will pass…moments that become memories sandwiched in our hearts, reminding us how much our children have changed and grown — and how we have, too.

My son is only 2 years old, but recently I have found myself starting so many conversations with my husband with the words, “Do you remember when he used to…?” It might be about him refusing to sleep anywhere but on us or only at the breast or when rocked for at least 30 back-aching minutes, or cluster-feeding him every evening, or how he used to cut up my dinner so I could eat it with a spoon.

We told him about some of these memories this morning as he sat dawdling with his breakfast, smiling ear-to-ear at the little person he used to be but can’t remember.

“And when you were a tiny baby, you couldn’t speak. Everything was just ‘Waaahhhh’ until we rocked or fed you — sometimes all day.”

He laughed delightedly at us, “All day, all day, waaahhh!”

I do acknowledge that, back then, it didn’t always seem like much fun. I sometimes felt like I was living in a state of constant exhaustion, almost afraid of the baby I had made but didn’t understand. And yet, though I haven’t forgotten this, I know it was how early parenting had to be for me, for him. The rocking, the feeding, the tiredness, the uncertainty — it was necessary for me, and it was mere moments in the grand scheme of raising our boy.

We built foundations. We learned to adapt. And also to eat one-handed and survive on mere crumbs of sleep.

And now there are other phases, other challenges. There’s daycare and separation anxiety. There’s fussy eating and kicks at diaper changes. There’s lying down every night next to his crib, him demanding our hand be wedged uncomfortably through the bars while he unwinds from his day and eventually drifts off. Any gentle suggestion he go to sleep without us, or with us sat near but not practically inside his cot, are firmly and loudly rejected.

We are not going to leave him when he doesn’t want us to. But it can be difficult. We are always tired from our day by this point, and we want to have our dinner and unwind, not to mention finish any necessary jobs before our own bed calls. Sometimes after I’ve been on bedtime duty, I practically stagger down the stairs, disorientated from an uncomfortable 10-minute sleep on the floor or grumpy with hunger and the weight of the things I had planned, but will not get to do, for my evening. I have witnessed much of the same from my husband.

But last night I realized that my stress and concern over this current issue is completely misguided. We won’t still be doing this in 5 or 10 years. I know we won’t. Perhaps with some gentle encouragement or perhaps completely naturally, our son will learn to fall asleep without us near. Right now, though — in this moment — he needs us. He needs us until the day he doesn’t any more and all we have left is the memory of his slowing, rhythmic breathing and occasional checking of our presence through the brushing of his tiny, soft hand against ours.

Despite the practical downside, these moments are beautiful. He is our wonder, our masterpiece. He wants to be with us — just for a little longer — and really, how is that anything short of wonderful?

So although moments like these — when our children need almost more than we are able to give — can be frustrating and challenging, they are just moments. And when we tell our son about this particular phase in a few years, when his oh-so-grown-up exterior refutes our claims of him needing us, there will be no frustration attached. The desperation to get downstairs and eat dinner will have long since passed and we will be left with just the good parts: the closeness, the being there, the love.

We will remember these moments, even though he will not. But what I hope he is left with is a warm glow of being loved, of feeling love, of knowing love — for him — when he needed it.

partners logo - with WYSH

Daily Tip: Have you ever wondered…

Daily Tips logoHave you ever wondered why some people are so much happier working in groups than others?

cason zarro

API Leader Cason Zarro and her family.

Send us a photo of how you are celebrating this year’s AP Month theme: “Parental Presence: Birthing Families, Strengthening Society.” Read here for complete guidelines.

Attachment Parenting International thanks Lamaze International, DONA, Dr. Peter Haiman, Linda Folden Palmer, DC and Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper for being our AP Month 2015 Sponsors!

Getting Ready for AP Month 2015

apm logoIt’s time to start getting ready for Attachment Parenting (AP) Month.  This year’s AP Month theme is: “Parental Presence: Birthing Families, Strengthening Society.”

We will be having our annual auction, Blog Event and Photo Event to celebrate. You can find all the auction items here. The auction will open up in mid-October. The Blog and Photo event are both very popular. We love to see and read about your experiences!

BLOG Guidelines:

  1. Write a blog post on the topic “Parental Presence: Birthing Families, Strengthening Society”
  2. Kindly remove any promotional and advertisement features from your posts.
  3. We loves photos!  So, if you have one to include, please send it (with proper credit and license).
  4. Submit a link to your post via email to APMcontests@gmail.com and use the subject “AP Month 2015 blog event”.
  5. API will review all submissions and feature those that most closely demonstrate our AP Month theme.

PHOTO Guidelines:

  1. Send your photos to to apmcontests@gmail.com
  2. Email subject should read “2015 APM photo event”
  3. Include your name, mailing address, e-mail address, and phone number at the beginning of your message.
  4. Subjects in your photos need to give their permission to use the photo for these purposes.
  5. Only one submission per person, per topic.
  6. Preference will be given to personal, candid photos.
  7. There is no fee to participate.
  8. Submissions can be any size, black-and-white or color, and should be attached to the e-mail message as a JPG or TIF.

 

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