How else does Attachment Parenting look like in your home?

Editor’s note: Attachment Parenting International (API) advocates for a parenting approach rooted solidly in research, and continuing research further validates and builds upon API’s foundation.

Debbie Vinall of Upland, CA - hi rezIn June, you were asked to help tell your story through a survey created by Southern Methodist University (SMU) researchers in collaboration with API. We are thrilled to report that more than 1,200 parents participated in this first-ever survey on what Attachment Parenting (AP) actually looks like in the home! THANK YOU! This essential data will help expand our objective understanding of Attachment Parenting. Parents from 49 states and 37 countries responded, and we can’t wait to share preliminary data in early 2016.

Have more to say? Many of you told us that the multiple choice was too limiting, so we’ve created a short, open-ended set of questions designed to hear everything you want to tell us about the first survey and your AP experience. As always, responses are anonymous.

Thanks again for helping us tell the AP story!

Artimesia Yuen, API Leader
Editor, Journal of Attachment Parenting
API KnowledgeBase Coordinator

What does your family’s attachment look like?

Editor’s note: Attachment Parenting International (API) advocates for a parenting approach rooted solidly in research, and continuing research further validates and builds upon API’s foundation.

Stephanie BrownPlease complete a brief, anonymous survey (access using your API Forum login) regarding your experiences with family members and relationships. It is hoped that the information gathered will help move the psychological research and therapeutic community forward regarding the complex needs of today’s families.

The survey should take no more than 10 minutes of your time, and will contribute to a more detailed understanding of what helps — and hinders — familial relationships. Should you desire, the principal researcher will be happy to share the findings with you.

In addition, if you know of any other individuals who could offer input through participation, please feel free to share. Email me with any questions.

Thank you for your time, consideration and help with providing a more current and detailed understanding of family needs today.

Jenn Lewis, MS
PhD student at Northcentral University in Arizona, USA

Attachment Parenting and siblings

Siblings cover for TAF.comI am often amazed at how well my children get along. They are 9, 7 and 3 years old and each have very close, warm, secure and unique bonds with one another that very much enhance our family.

My 9-year-old and 7-year-old daughters are 16 months apart. They are each others’ best friends, whether at home, softball practice, 4-H contests or school. They protect one another, tell each other secrets, share many of the same interests and respect each others’ differences.

Yet, neither ever leave their 3-year-old brother out of the mix. Though my 9-year-old tends to take more of a protective, teacher role in her relationship with her brother, she isn’t overbearing, letting him explore the world at his own pace. My 7-year-old daughter is as drawn to physical play, from playing tag and climbing trees to building forts and making tunnels in the sand, as her brother…while my 9 year old is more likely to be found reading books to her brother, guiding him on how to plant the beans in the garden or teaching him how to use the insect net.

Oh, my children still have conflict. This is inevitable in any relationship, but it is important to remember that conflict can be healthy. As children learn how to manage their strong emotions in an attachment-oriented way, conflict grows relationships. Through conflict resolution, each child’s needs can be met while each learns more about the other as well as how to accept differences without threatening the bond.

I am intentional through Attachment Parenting (AP) in raising my children to have strong attachments to one another, and I will continue to be intentional as they move into their teen years and eventually adulthood. It is my goal that when they leave my home, that they continue the friendships they are starting now in their early and middle childhoods — and have the skills to quickly re-establish their sibling relationships when strained by life changes — in order to enjoy secure sibling attachments lifelong.

In the latest issue of The Attached Family, we at Attachment Parenting International (API) explore “Attached Siblings” with features on:

We hope that this issue of The Attached Family will inspire your efforts in encouraging secure attachments among your children.

We welcome your stories of Attachment Parenting in your family, including the benefits and challenges in your children’s sibling relationships.

If you are seeking support in this area of parenting, begin by reading through API’s Sibling Bonding resource page and API Reads’ archived Siblings Without Rivalry discussion. Also, feel free to contact your local API Leader (or API Warmline for parents without a local API Support Group) or start a thread on the API Neighborhood forums.

What does Attachment Parenting look like in your home?

Editor’s note: Attachment Parenting International (API) advocates for a parenting approach rooted solidly in research, and continuing research further validates and builds upon API’s foundation.

Patricia MackieHelp us tell your story! Describe what Attachment Parenting (AP) looks like in your home through this landmark, definitional survey designed to provide ground-breaking insights about AP families.

Created by researchers at Southern Methodist University in collaboration with API, the survey is voluntary, confidential, anonymous and takes about 40 minutes to complete.

Thank you for helping us tell the AP story!

Artimesia Yuen, API Leader
Editor, Journal of Attachment Parenting
API KnowledgeBase Coordinator

Motherhood is a gift

1386612_mom_and_kidEditor’s note: Attachment Parenting International (API) hopes every mom enjoyed her Mother’s Day on May 10 and every dad is looking forward to Father’s Day on June 21. This week, in honor of all mothers, API gives you a special “Inspired Mothers” celebration. We hope these posts inspire you in your parenting journey.

The road to forming your family through adoption, and thus becoming a mother, can be long.

Various interviews, paperwork, letters of reference and physician referrals that are required before you are considered eligible can make the process of becoming a parent seem tedious. As you wait and yearn to care for a child, it can become difficult to see other couples and families receive referrals or become matched. At times, the wait may seem unbearable.

Yet, you still need to prepare physically and emotionally and be ready for your little one to arrive. So, like any parents anxious to build their family, you turn to blogs, books, anything that will give you a glimpse of what a family formed through adoption looks and feels like. You decide upon things like cosleeping or nursery, bottle-feeding or breastfeeding, open or closed adoption.

While waiting to grow our family, my husband and I researched it all. Yet, no matter how many books we read or blogs we followed, nothing could have prepared us for that moment: sitting across from this woman, seeing both the pain and joy in her eyes, watching her hold our son.

Up until this moment, preparing to meet our son, I had been focusing on how to care for a baby, not how to emotionally connect with my son and the woman who gave him life and love — his birth mother.

As I watched her and heard the palpable mix of loss and love in her voice, I learned more than a blog or book could ever teach me. My husband and I left this conversation with our son’s birth mother with a seemingly conflicting sense of sadness and loss but also joy. We renewed our determination to provide both of our sons with greater security, tangible love and a concrete sense of confidence in themselves, knowing they are loved beyond measure. I learned the love of a birth mother and how that love would transform our sons’ lives and ultimately encourage me to be a better mother myself.

The love of a birth mother is at times sacrificial and gives life and possibility, not only to the precious life brought into this world but also to the adopting mother and family. This love allowed me to experience motherhood, to see my children’s first smiles and hear their first laughs, to hold my boys close and dry away tears, and to receive unconditional love from two wonderful beings. It encourages me to seek everyday moments of connection through activities, such as light saber battles and family football games, strengthening the bonds that I have with my sons.

The knowledge of this first love sparks honest and empathetic conversation within our family. When my older son asks, “Where did my baby brother come from?” I am able to openly tell him a story of a woman who loved his baby brother and carried him in her belly, ultimately allowing us to grow our family, just like his own birth mother did before he was born. Responding sensitively with empathy and love as we talk about their birth mothers, or first families, allows me to build trust with my sons, sharing in their developing emotions.

On this year’s Mother’s Day, I celebrated more than being a mom myself and being blessed with a compassionate mother and caring grandmothers. I’m celebrating the courageous women — the other mothers — who granted me the amazing gift of becoming a mom.

Nurturing touch restores security in adoptive families

sarah kucSome of my favorite parts of the day are when my husband and I get down on the floor with our sons to wrestle and play, hearing them belly laugh. Or when I lie down for sleep with two tired, little boys snuggled tight under my arms.

Since we started our adoption journey four years ago, we have received so much joy and love from our sons and their birth mothers. However, it’s bittersweet…for although it’s true that there are countless joys and benefits from building families through adoption, there’s also inherent sorrow and loss resulting from separation from their birth mothers — they who had comforted them in the womb and held them during those first wakeful moments.

For some adopted children, this loss of a birth mother can have profound effects on their sense of personal security and ability to trust others. Undertones of anxiety and apathy may affect their relationships with loved ones. Furthermore, children who have experienced prenatal and perinatal trauma and loss may display even stronger, more vivid emotions of fear or anger when exposed  to stress in the future. Adoptive parents, being aware of these potential challenges and facing them head-on, is one key to the child’s successful bonding, growth and development. 

When we brought our sons home from the hospital, we couldn’t verbally make them understand that both we and their birth mothers love them immensely. However, we could — and did — use nonverbal communication to express our love and commitment to them.

We did skin-to-skin contact, laying them on our skin and allowing us to connect without words. We also chose to respond quickly to their cries by holding them close and reassuring them that we will always come when they need us.

Babywearing became an essential aspect of early bonding, especially with our second son. Life became noticeably busier with two young children. Both need love and special attention, and babywearing allows me to keep my little one close while still freely interacting with my older son. I can provide simultaneous security to both of my children.

These forms of physical contact are categorized as nurturing touch by Attachment Parenting International (API). When words are difficult, as is the case with newborns and young children, nurturing touch transcends language while still communicating security and love. It involves everything from massage to physical play and can be as simple as putting your arm around your child while on the couch together.

As our sons continue to grow, we are finding other ways to deepen this connection. Our 3 year old loves to wrestle and pillow fight. Each night, we happily indulge him to meet his need for physical contact, helping him to build trust and confidence in us and himself. Later, at bedtime, I lay next to him and rub his back through stories and prayers. He craves this connecting, nurturing touch and the security of knowing that we love him immensely.

Parents can never undo the loss that some adopted children experience, but hiding or not acknowledging it can be detrimental to them. Being aware of these challenges and meeting them with
persistent affection and honesty can allow healing to take place.

My husband and I are so blessed to have two happy, spirited and loving sons. Looking back, I am confident that much of our boys’ smiles, laughter and love are due to our decision to follow API’s Eight Principles of Parenting. There is so much unique joy experienced in adoption, and connections formed through nurturing touch foster this joy — allowing our children to feel secure and build necessary, lasting trust in us.

15 years

alissa tschetter siedschlawFifteen years — a lot can happen in that length of time. Marriages, divorces, births, deaths, adoptions, new jobs and big adventures can paint their way through a life like mine when so many days have gone by.

It truly seems like it was just the other day that a small group of dear friends and I decided to start a local group affiliated with Attachment Parenting International (API) in Des Moines, Iowa, USA — only the second one in the Midwest.

We were all in need of building our intentional village.

Having been a leader of a breastfeeding support group prior, I now found myself facing a new challenge of not only re-lactating to nurse a micro-preemie, but an adopted, drug- and alcohol-affected baby with a plethora of special needs. I finally needed to call in favors for support for myself. But those supports didn’t exist in my community at the time.

My parenting was evolving, and I longed for a group where I could speak more openly and find honest and straightforward, yet gentle and kind friends, while offering the same to others. I wanted us to be the kind of people you trust around your children, because you know we believe in nurturing and validating each other and we want the best for all of our kids collectively, not only individually.

I had been doing Attachment Parenting (AP) for many years before I knew there was a word, but once I realized that we could begin offering support, information and encouragement to others, I was excited to get going. From very early on, we had a few very regular families and we bonded into such a natural support that it wasn’t unusual to see us with one dad pushing someone else’s child on a swing while a mom wore two babies at once, hers and her dear friend’s. We viewed Attachment Parenting not only as our choice in a parenting style but in our broader approach as to how we faced the world.

Later, when some coleaders moved away, my current co-leader of somewhere close to a decade, Laurie Belin, stepped forward and agreed to assist, support, advocate, nurture and encourage so many here in Des Moines — along with me. Other organizations were envious that I had such a phenomenal coleader, but as I moved into a place of single parenting my five children, with many special needs, while trying to provide financially for them, she took on so much more of the responsibility so that our group could not only survive, but thrive and I could just show up and help lead meetings.

Many families have passed through our doors through the years, and many more find support through our private online support group that Laurie moderates with grace and knowledge like few could. We have had a diverse group, and I have been privileged to witness some beautiful parenting and some thought-provoking conversations, and to be a part in some parents’ growth. I have heard myself quoted and am honored to have a positive impact on our AP community.

I have been blessed to lead API of Central Iowa for 15 years. My children are now nearly 23, 19, 15, 12 and 7. My Attachment Parenting journey is far from over, as I believe we carry API’s Eight Principles of Parenting throughout life. I am tremendously thankful for all I have learned, how I myself have grown and for all Laura, other coleaders and I have been allowed to share with families throughout these 15 years.

Thank you, API. I have received so much more than I ever gave.

An Adopted Daughter Reflects on Her Birth Mother’s Decision

By Juliette Oase, retired API Leader from Portland, Oregon, USA

brokenheartMy adoptive dad spent years regretting that they had me call them “Mom” and “Dad.” He always said they should have just stayed “Uncle” and “Aunt.” He felt it would have made it easier.

I recently explained to my dad that I feel that was something that saved me. I always felt complete having a mom and a dad. I didn’t grow up feeling like an orphan, but like someone being raised by family. I had a mom and a dad. That was priceless for me.

When my birth mother died, she died. Memories of her are vague, but they stay in my heart. I still cry when I think of her, and I am crying as I write this.

I can’t imagine her last thoughts as she died, concerned for me. No doubt. She is gone, and I had to go on with my life. I was 2 years old.

I needed a mommy, and so my birth mother — with no other choice — chose my aunt to be my mom. It may be hard to swallow, as a mom yourself, reading that and thinking about your own child. But what is best for the child? Do we ever really know?

My mom never, ever took away from my birth mother. She always kept pictures of my birth mother around, and we always talked about her.

I know for years my mom may have felt she lived in my birth mother’s shadow, never living up to a memory.

My mom was only 25 when she took me in. A brave lady, who just desperately wanted to be a mom and knew she would never conceive. I don’t know if she would have done things differently. But as an adult going back to that brave lady at 25, I would ask her not to change a thing.

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