Your words can change the world: API needs your help!

We all know the immense value of words in our homes, with our children and partners. Our words have the power to uplift others, to strengthen our bonds with our children and spouses, to repair a connection that needs a little boost after a conflict.

Your words also have the power to help change the world — through Attachment Parenting International (API).

“If people would follow the philosophy of attachment parenting as advocated by API, we could actually begin to produce generations of children that become exceptional grown-ups.” ~ signingspangler, donor

We need your help! API needs 10 new, positive reviews added to its profile on GreatNonprofits by Friday, March 31. As a nonprofit, API relies on a vast global network of volunteers plus donations to cover basic operating expenses. The reviews on GreatNonprofits earn API good-standing among potential donors who graciously choose to give. All we need for this GreatNonprofits status is positive reviews from the parents and professionals benefiting from our publications, programs, and services.

“API has helped me grow as a person to be a better mother to my daughter and keep the harmony and love. Thank you for spreading the love.” ~ Myrlam P., parent

If you love API’s work, please tell the world through GreatNonprofits! Taking just 3 minutes to share your story helps API to be listed as Top-Rated. It’s quick, easy, and really helps!

“API provides grounded resources and inspiration for families seeking deep connection with their children as a foundation for lifelong wellness. I have been personally inspired by their vision and dedication to bringing forward the wisdom of attachment science as both a professional and a parent. Thank you, API, for your commitment to families, and your positive impact on my own.” ~ Lisa494, attachment professional and parent

Attachment matters, but how exactly?

Attachment parenting is often — to those unfamiliar with the term — viewed as simply a fad, but in truth, every parent is involved in a form of parenting that is associated with attachment, whether healthy or not.

Read more about how insecure attachment affects us from childhood through adulthood, and how it may be affecting your relationships today, and what to do about that — both for yourself and for your children — in the new ebook, Attachment Matters, available only through Attachment Parenting International (API).

With your donation of $25 or greater, you’ll receive this ebook.

Attachment parenting, as a collective of parenting behaviors, is a research-backed approach to childrearing that promotes a secure attachment between parents and their child.

“Attachment” is the scientific term for the emotional bond in a relationship, born out of Attachment Theory developed by the late psychologist-psychiatrist Dr. John Bowlby. The attachment quality — or the quality of the emotional bond — that forms between parents and children, learned from the relational patterns with caregivers from birth on, correlates with how a child perceives — and ultimately is able to experience — relationships.

While the basis of Attachment Theory is rooted in infants and toddlers, the effects of attachment quality is an important feature of lifelong human development, affecting a child’s relationships within and beyond the immediate family through childhood and through adulthood.

Attachment Quality Affects Child’s Happiness

Attachment quality has profound effects for each child over the lifetime, often much more of an impact than is realized outside scientific and clinical circles. A person with a secure, or healthy, attachment is generally able to respond to stress in healthy ways and establish more meaningful and emotionally close relationships.

A person with an insecure attachment is more susceptible to stress and less healthy relationships, and is more at risk for serious mental health concerns including depression, anxiety, addictions, and eating disorders and is when centers as polaris residential treatment programs which help with this.

However, the effects of insecure attachments don’t wait until adulthood to show. Every relationship is influenced by a child’s attachment pattern, from the earliest peer interactions to that with school teachers. Secure children tend to earn higher grades, be more cooperative, and are more goal-oriented.

Insecure infants and toddlers are less curious and more inhibited and withdrawn than secure children, who are better able to master their environment and perform related motor actions. Insecure preschoolers have poorer social skills, adjust to school slower, and tend to have problems paying attention, focusing, and learning in school.

Overall, insecure children tend to have low self-esteem. Secure children have high self-esteem, prefer to be challenged in class, and are motivated to learn because they enjoy learning.

While attachment is one of many contributing factors of child and adult well-being, it cannot be overestimated how important attachment quality is to the health of a child’s future relationships, both with peers and with eventual romantic partners.

Parenting Determines Attachment Quality

Parents develop a secure attachment by fulfilling that child’s need for trust, empathy, and affection by providing consistent, loving, and responsive care. By demonstrating healthy and positive relationship skills, the parent provides critical emotional scaffolding for the child to learn essential self-regulatory abilities.

The attachment bond that a person had with his or her primary attachment figure — usually the mother — as a child is that person’s model for how any relationship should work for the rest of that person’s life. For people who developed a secure attachment as a child, adult relationships are relatively easy, loving, and nurturing.

For people who developed an insecure attachment as a child, there may be great difficulty with adult relationships, especially related to trust.

What Kind of Parenting Creates an Insecure Attachment?

Insecure attachment develops when there are inconsistencies in the sensitive responsiveness of a child’s primary attachment model — or no responsiveness at all.

Because humans are social beings, having emotionally close relationships is essential. Without healthy relationships, humans are at a definite risk for social and learning disabilities, mental illness, and unhealthy, risky behaviors used to fill the void left by the unmet needs in the first attachment relationship — that with each child’s primary caregiver.

The success of this first attachment bond is what shapes the neural pathways in each child’s brain, influencing the way that child learns to cope with stress, perceive him-or herself, create expectations of others, and navigate relationships all through not only childhood but as adults.

Children who experience confusing, frightening, or broken emotional communication — verbal and nonverbal — may grow into adults who have difficulty understanding their own emotions and the emotions of others. This creates serious relationship deficits.

Whether secure or insecure, the parent-child attachment quality determines that child’s ability to maintain emotional balance, enjoy being his- or herself, enjoy being with others, and rebound from disappointment, discouragement, and other life stress.

The relationship skills required by both people in a healthy adult relationship include the ability to manage stress, to stay tuned in with emotions, to communicate nonverbally, to be playful in a mutually engaging manner, and to readily forgive without holding grudges. Each of these skills is most easily learned when modeled by a person’s first primary attachment as a child and that attachment quality is secure.

While overtly abusive or neglectful parenting may unsurprisingly influence attachment quality, insecure attachment also develops out of parenting approaches that promote isolation and loneliness.

An insecure attachment produces an adult who has difficulty with maintaining healthy relationships, as indicated by the 3 insecure attachment patterns:

  1. Anxious-Preoccupied — These people hunger for attachment, but because they don’t understand real trust, they are seek a partner who will rescue or “complete” them. They tend to be clingy, desperate, demanding, and possessive.
  2. Dismissive-Avoidant — These people are emotionally distant, self-centered, and insensitive. They seek not only independence but isolation, and in conflicts, they tend to shut down emotionally and easily detach from others.
  3. Fearful-Avoidant — These people are disorganized in their relationships, being afraid of becoming too emotionally close and too distant, at the same time. They are both anxious and emotionally distant. As a result, they are moody and unpredictable, often overwhelmed by their reactions, experiencing frequent emotional storms. While they understand that they need to have emotionally close relationships to have their emotional needs met, they have a strong, underlying fear of getting hurt or being abandoned when they get emotionally close to others, so they struggle with being emotionally intimate. Their relationships tend to be rocky, and there is a greater tendency toward abusive relationships.

Very simply, a child’s primary attachment bond is what determines success in all future relationships — romantic, family, work, friendship, and so on — through childhood and adulthood, unless and until an adult with an insecure attachment quality is able to work with a professional therapist to overcome attachment challenges and learn healthy relationship skills.

*Excerpt published with permission.

Editor’s pick: Top 10 of 2016

2016-api-in-review-graphic2016 has been a fulfilling year for Attachment Parenting International (API). Although the very best parent support is found in local API Support Groups, our evidence-informed magazine articles, blog posts, teleseminars, ebooks, and other resources also provide regular pulses of support to millions of families worldwide seeking information on raising their children with strong attachments.

Of all the posts published by API this year, here are the top 10 of 2016:

  1. “Reading between the lines, Part 1: Media Analysis Guidelines for Parents” — Just heard a story that is less-than-flattering toward attachment parenting, and don’t know what to believe? This article helps you learn how to discern fact from fiction in your reading of news, research, and blogs, so you can make informed decisions in your parenting.
  2. “Who will baby attach to?” — It’s the baby who decides who will be his or her primary caregiver, and that decision most often occurs within the first 7 months of life. The caregiver who is the most sensitively responsive and consistently loving — whether mother, father, grandparent, or nanny — is selected to be the primary caregiver. This article gives more details to this timeline, and why emotional care ranks higher than daily care in the baby’s world.
  3. “Emotional abuse, a dark form of children’s maltreatment” — Emotional abuse doesn’t have to be overt to be incredibly damaging. Read more on the the subtleties of emotional abuse, and its outcomes, in this article.
  4. “What makes emotional trauma? Fear, disconnect, and shame” — Shame in itself is a normal emotion, but like anger, unresolved shame can grow to unhealthy proportions. This article discusses the 3 ingredients to emotional trauma, of which unresolved shame is one, the enormity of healing from a shame-based self-image, and serves as a cautionary call for parents to be mindful in how they raise their children to process shame.
  5. The latest research in nurturing touch, breastsleeping, and babywearing” — At least 70% of new parents are found to bedshare at least occasionally, and 6-year-olds who bedshared as babies are found to be happier, less fearful of peers, and better learners. Here’s another tidbit: No oxytocin is released in elective cesareans, so skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding, massage, and babywearing is extra critical to compensate for the essential need of oxytocin in a newborn’s healthy development. Interested in learning more? This article is full of the latest research in touch, breastfeeding, and bedsharing.
  6. “To promote breastfeeding is to promote Attachment Parenting” — Breastfeeding is more common in less affluent regions. This article examines a report that showed a link between poverty and higher breastfeeding rates, why this may not be as ironic as you think, and what this reflects about our cultures views on formula use and breastfeeding support.
  7. “What really matters when it comes to daycare” — Not working is not always possible, or desired, for parents. But infants and children need ample time with their primary caregivers for healthy attachment development. This article explores how working parents can balance their time away with their child’s attachment needs.
  8. “A moment of silence for the ‘mother’ of doula work” — This article is a tribute to the late Dana Raphael who not only established doula work as a profession but also was among the first scientists to stand up against formula companies’ unethical marketing in developing countries. Her work has incredibly changed the landscape of both childbirth and breastfeeding support.
  9. “4 ideas for gentle weaning” — Maybe you’re struggling with night-nursings, or you want to conceive another baby, or you’re just feeling a need to slow down on your toddler’s or preschooler’s nursings. Whatever the reason, deciding to begin weaning can be hard, but it can even be tougher to know how to do it without hurting your relationship with your child. Here are 4 ideas for gentle weaning that really do work without tears.
  10. “Being a Daddy” — Becoming a new father comes with a steep learning curve, but it can be incredibly fulfilling. This article reflects on one father’s learning curve to become an affectionate Daddy.

Attachment matters

Ideally, all children would be able to experience a secure attachment with every meaningful adult in his life.

Attachment Matters, the latest ebook from Attachment Parenting International (API), was written specifically to help you — the parent — share the importance of Attachment Parenting to other meaningful adults in your child’s life.

At Common Wealth Psychology, they are dedicated to providing the highest quality and the best child therapists. If you would like to meet with a professional therapist at Common Wealth Psychology.

Attachment Matters is now available with your donation of $25 or more to API.

Learn more about secure and insecure attachment, read touching personal stories of how Attachment Parenting helped families, and share your copy with a grandparent, mother’s helper, childcare provider, teacher, or another of your child’s caregivers.

Attachment Matters is also appropriate for health care providers, school administrators, mental health therapists, child custody attorneys, adoption agents, and other professionals who work regularly with children and parents.

attachment-matters-coverInside:

  • Foreword: An Attachment Crisis
  • Why Attachment Matters
  • Can Insecure Attachment Be Healed?
  • How Secure Attachment Happens
  • Attachment-Promoting Behaviors
  • Attachment Parenting Stories, Real Life
    Why Attachment Matters to Me
    -Attachment Parenting Can Heal Intergenerational Hurts
    -Saved by Attachment Parenting, and Now 8 Kids Later (3 with Autism)
    -A Father Reflects on His Introduction to Attachment Parenting
    -Helping My Young Child Adjust to a Change in Caregivers
    -Protecting Attachment During Divorce
    -The Challenges of Becoming an Attached Father
    -Attachment Parenting Restores Security in Adopted Children
    -The Heart of Attachment Parenting
    -Was Attachment Parenting Worth It?
    -Generation AP

How little we really know about the topic of shame

pixabay-child-on-dads-lapWorking on the “Parenting Without Shame” issue of Attached Family was unlike any that have come before. I didn’t realize, when I began, of how little I knew about shame as a topic.

“Shame” is a term used often in parenting and parent education circles, but do we really know what shame is?

So much of putting this issue together came down to doing the research — and soul-searching — to really understand the differences between shame and guilt, and shame as a normal emotion and when it crossed into unhealthy territory, the effects of that toxic shame, and then the sheer enormity of effort — and courage — that must take place for a person to heal from a shame-based self-image.

Healing from toxic shame is no small feat. It serves as a cautionary tale that we parents must take care to be intentional about promoting secure attachment in our relationships with our children and in guarding our children’s hearts while we guide them through how we discipline.

But at the same time, it’s important to not inadvertently turn that shame onto ourselves for not being perfect parents. No one is perfect, and fortunately, there are healthy ways around those imperfections to help our children process their normal feelings of shame when they happen.

So, it’s not so much how to parent without shame, but rather how to parent our children — and ourselves — to best process the normal emotions of shame that will arise in their lives, just as we teach them to do when they are angry or disappointed. I hope you enjoy this in-depth study into this important topic.

~ shame-cover-v2Rita Brhel, Executive Editor of Attachment Parenting International on the latest issue of Attached Family, “Parenting Without Shame”

Is it possible to parent without shame?

pixabay-shame-child“Parenting without shame” is a hot topic on search engines. Google pulled up more than 5 pages for me of links with this search term. It seems that many parents are looking for ways to raise their children without shame.

But is this possible?

Shame is among the myriad normal emotions felt by humans in certain social situations. It is borne of a feeling that one has violated the standards of their social group. With this in mind, it would be nearly impossible to eliminate shame from a child’s emotional repertoire.

No, I don’t think it’s shame in and of itself that we parents fear. We understand that, as an emotion, shame is an uncomfortable feeling. But denying the feeling of shame completely is like denying anger as an emotion. It’s neither practical nor healthy.

Actually, what we parents fear is inadvertently raising our children with an identity shaped by shame. And this is a valid concern. Past generations used shame pervasively as a discipline technique, and many of us can identify parts of ourselves still tied to a shame-based self-image years and decades later. We do not want our children to grow up in a family environment where shame is promoted.

But we must still value discipline. Our children thrive with warmth, sensitive responsiveness, empathy, trust, nurturing, and boundaries. Boundaries on behavior guide children toward the family values we hope to pass down. Boundaries are healthy. They keep the child’s developing mind knowing the parameters of what is safe in the world and what is not, what is expected by his social group or not, how she can gain a feeling of contentment or not. Children need the structure provided by boundaries.

So, therein lies the question: How do we teach our children boundaries in their behavior without instilling a shame-based self-image? The seventh of Attachment Parenting International‘s Eight Principles of ParentingProvide Positive Discipline — is how. Being consistent and firm, yet not harsh or punishment-based, positive discipline creates an environment that specifies the boundaries of behaviors for a developing child without relying on physically hurtful or emotionally manipulative tactics to control and coerce children. The goal of positive discipline is instead to teach and guide. And it works.

shame-cover-v2This latest issue of Attached Family, “Parenting Without Shame,” explores and examines shame at its core — what is it, how does it differ from guilt, when does it cross the line from a normal to unhealthy emotion, the effects of toxic stress, and the great difficulty it is to heal a shame-based self-image. It’s an in-depth look at a rather scary emotion, but it gets to the heart of an often-misunderstood topic, and it affirms how positive discipline and Attachment Parenting is protective of our children’s self-worth in a shame-based world.

Click here to access the online magazine and be inspired in your parenting,

Rita Brhel, Executive Editor of Attachment Parenting International

Attached Family: Parenting without shame

shame-cover-v2Attachment Parenting International (API) is pleased to announce the release of the latest issue of Attached Family: “Parenting Without Shame.”

In this issue of Attached Family, API examines shame versus guilt and how shame contributes to emotional trauma. API looks at the intersection of parenting and shame, keeping in mind that shame is a normal emotional response to certain social situations, but like anger or disappointment, when unresolved, shame can lead to lifelong difficulties.

Inside this issue, you’ll find mind-bending, inspiring, and empowering features to stretch your parenting wings:

  • “What is Shame?” by API Executive Editor Rita Brhel — defines shame, how it differs from guilt, when it crosses the line to become toxic shame, and what parents need to know
  • “Core Beliefs Color Your Parenting,” also by Rita Brhel — explains how shame-based core beliefs affect our everyday decisions, including our parenting behaviors
  • “What Makes Emotional Trauma? Fear, Disconnect and Shame,” an interview with Daniela Sieff, PhD — explores the ingredients to developing a shame-based view of oneself and what is all involved in healing, which certainly underlines the importance of prevention through parenting
  • “Parenting as a Protest Against Hate” by Lauren Gottschalk-Scher, motherhood fashion designer — looks at how parenting can be activism
  • “What is Normal, Healthy Infant Sleep?” by API KnowledgeBase Coordinator Art Yuen — discusses what biologically normal sleep in infants, and adults, looks like and the effects that artificial light and work productivity expectations have
  • “6 Tips to Lessen Separation Anxiety,” also by Art Yuen — looks at goodbye routines and other ideas for children and their parents when separation is necessary, such as for working parents
  • “Self-Validation Before Self-Control” by Denise Durkin, MA, child mental health consultant — explains how development of a positive self-worth must be in place first before trying to teach a child self-control
  • “Engagement vs Redirection to Create Emotional Safety,” also by Denise Durkin — describes the differences between these two discipline techniques and why engagement may be the better choice
  • “11 Ways to Parent Outside the Box” by Brooke Campbell, MA, creative therapist — gives ideas on how to incorporate more attunement in parenting
  • “How to Heal Attachment with Your Teen” by Shoshana Hayman, Neufeld Institute Faculty — outlines how the teenage years can reveal attachment weaknesses and how to restore a close attachment when necessary.

Shame can be a difficult topic for parents. This issue of Attached Family helps you be able to explore this topic safely. API hopes you take away the idea that parents don’t need to fear shame as a normal emotion, but rather that when shame enters our children’s lives, that Attachment Parenting is exactly how to address it in a healthy way.

Parenting for peace

“But peace is about much more than putting weapons aside. It is about building a global society in which people live free from poverty and share the benefits of prosperity. It is about growing together and supporting each other as a universal family.” ~ Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General

There seems to be barely a day when we don’t hear of a tragedy somewhere on the globe — an act of violence, a casualty of war, a community in mourning, a home shattered by abuse. Where is peace?

Peace in our world, our nations, our communities, our homes, ourselves — we all want it, but it can seem unattainable in the societies where we live. Or is it?

On this International Day of Peace — today, September 21 — Attachment Parenting International (API) is excited to announce the theme of this year’s Attachment Parenting (AP) Month beginning October 1:

logo that hopefully doesnt change color

Each day of October, API will delve into how parenting is critical for striving toward peace and world harmony. We will renew our support for the ultimate peacemakers — you, the parent.

This October:

  1. Follow us here on APtly Said for 31 days of Peace and Harmony through Daily Parenting Tips and inspirational posts from peacemakers around the world.
  2. Add your family to our Wall of Harmony.
  3. Submit a post, however short or long, on what “parenting for peace” means to you to be published on APtly Said during AP Month.
  4. Donate items to our online auction, running October 18-31.
  5. Keep in touch and share AP Month with friends on Facebook.
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