Weaning in the Context of AP

My son Cavanaugh is a little over two now and we recently embarked on night weaning. Night weaning then researching weaning for our API meeting last month got me thinking about breastfeeding in the Attachment Parenting  community. So many of the AP mamas I know were planning on child-led weaning and many of them are changing their minds as their kids move further into toddlerhood. But a lot of us have mixed feelings about weaning, whether we decide to partially, gradually, or abruptly wean or to nurse as long as our kids feel like they need it.

So here’s how I’ve been thinking about weaning in relation to the Eight Principles of API

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Disciplining The Sensitive Child

I have two children, a four-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl. They have vastly different personalities, and I’ve had to tailor my parenting to address those differences. My son is energetic, independent and fearless, he is a picky eater, and even as a young baby, he didn’t sleep a lot. My daughter is more reserved and cautious, she sleeps and eats well, and she’s quieter.

The differences between them are most apparent when it comes to discipline.

When my son was two, a timeout was effective form of discipline for him. He’s the kind of kid you needed to physically pull away from sticking his fingers in the electrical socket because he wouldn’t listen any other way. A timeout is still a part of my discipline repertoire for him, and part of the reason it is such a punishment is because he has to stop playing, leave his toys and be by himself sitting on his bed. 99% of the time, he comes out a few minutes later, all apologetic and hugs me and says he won’t do whatever it was he did. Now that he is four, disciplining him continues to be a more “hands-on” approach. We don’t spank our children, but I do have to take his hands, and have him look me in the face, so I have his full attention. Continue reading “Disciplining The Sensitive Child”

Attached During the Holiday

Before I was a parent, December was a time of calm. There were a few office Christmas parties, and a little bit of shopping, but there was nothing frantic about it. We’d drive around to find the best light displays, go see a Christmas movie or two in the theatre, and just relish in the season. On Christmas morning, my husband and I would leisurely open our gifts, then head over to his mother’s house.

How times have changed.
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Weighing in on Breastfeeding in Public

I feel so lucky that I live in a place that is so open to nursing in public. I have never been asked to cover up, given funny looks, or asked to move to the bathroom to nurse my children. But I know so many mothers who are terrified of nursing in public because they have been questioned, given looks, and asked to move.

As much as those stories infuriate me, today I feel there is cause to celebrate…and to weigh in. Some of you probably already have accounts on Opposing Views because they seem to cover quite a few topics (spanking among them) that AP parents care about. Today they launched the debate: Should Women Breastfeed in Public?

The reason we should celebrate is because it’s not even a debate–no one stepped up to take the “No” position on this one. I choose to make this mean that we’re winning the battle against ignorance and I commend the three wonderful experts who spelled out all the many reasons to support nursing in public. But your votes still send a strong message to any dissenters (and as long as neanderthals people like Barbara Walters are around, there will always be dissenters on this topic), so go on, vote to support a baby’s right to eat in public.

While you’re there, you might also want to vote on these two:

Raised With Respect

Last month, my son received an award in school.  Something I really like is that his school gives out character awards as opposed to academic awards.  The award my son received was for demonstrating respect.

Of course as his mom, I was very teary and sniffly and proud as could be during the awards assembly.   The video I took is jiggly as I wasn’t able to keep the camera still because of my general verklemptness.

As proud as I am of my son, for many many reasons, I can’t helping thinking that it’s utterly unsurprising that he received a respect award;  my son has been shown respect since the moment he was born!  Continue reading “Raised With Respect”

Mom to Mom: An interview with Jan Hunt

An interview by Wendy Cook. You can read more from Wendy at Mother Rising.

Many of you know that I read Jan Hunt’s book The Natural Child: Parenting From the Heart when I was pregnant with Satch and it changed my life. The child in me felt validated and it helped me trust my gut and feel supported about the way I wanted to mother my son. As some of you know, it’s one of several books that I give as baby shower / blessingway gifts. I believe that it has the power to change the world, one family at a time.

I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Jan about motherhood; unschooling and her upcoming book for 2009. It is with great joy that I introduce, Jan Hunt.

1. In what ways has becoming a mother changed you?

It changed me in every way. It helped me realize that children are human beings and no different from adults in the ways that really matter. They are no different emotionally and react the same way we do to good or bad treatment; they are doing the best they can.

I learned a lot from my son – he’s been my teacher. Here’s an example that I’m not proud of. One day when Jason was a baby, he threw a spoon down on the floor and I reacted with an automatic response by gently tapping his hand. He gave me a look that I’ve never forgotten, even 27 years later. He gave me a perplexed look, as though to say, “Why would you do such a thing… how could you hurt me?” And right at that moment, I just grew, like the Grinch… my heart grew 100 times bigger. Because up until that point I didn’t totally get it, and from that point on I got it. And any other time when I strayed off the path of respectful parenting, he would give me a look of confusion or bewilderment. He knew from the beginning – like all babies – what he deserved and what I should be doing.
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Something to bump up against

Today, API Speaks is proud to feature a guest post by Dr. Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D., author of Playful Parenting. Dr. Cohen is a licensed psychologist specializing in children’s play and play therapy. Find out more at PlayfulParenting.com.

Some parents are intuitively attachment-oriented; some seek out an alternative to their childhood; and some stumble onto it. Whichever way they find attachment parenting, it can seem to many parents like the solution to every parenting situation. As the saying goes, give a child a hammer and everything suddenly looks like a nail.

But life isn’t that straightforward, is it? Just about anything in life powerful enough to provide significant solutions is also likely to create some new difficulties along the way. As a child and family therapist, I frequently recommend more attention to attachment in non-AP families.

However, when I work with attachment-oriented parents, they are typically puzzled by the problems they are facing, because they are “doing everything right” in terms of fostering attachment. I explain that they have indeed prevented many common problems, but in the process they have opened themselves up to some new and different challenges that “come with the territory.” This does not undermine the choices they have made. It’s like choosing not to vaccinate against chicken pox; it would be naïve to make that decision and not be prepared for spots, itching, and missed school days.

So what are the “itchy spots” of attachment parenting? The ones I tend to see most frequently involve some or all of these: aggressiveness, defiance, frequent meltdowns, emotional oversensitivity; sensory oversensitivity, and inflexibility. Paradoxically, there are also sometimes problems with separation and insecurity. Often these issues arise rather suddenly, most typically between age 2.5 and 3.5. The parents, meanwhile, are often at the end of their rope, begin to have conflicts over parenting style, and may wonder if they have created a monster.

But these problems are not the result of too much attachment or of not being good enough at attachment parenting. They are simply some of the predictable challenges of this approach.

Fortunately, these issues are generally easier to resolve than the ones caused by not enough attachment. A little playful parenting goes a long way towards bringing things back into balance and harmony.

Children thrive when they have manageable challenges. Insurmountable obstacles make them shut down, but sometimes the commitment to secure attachment can mean that a child does not have enough obstacles to “bump up against.” Part of the problem is that some parents only say “no” when they really really really mean it, or when they have flipped from their usual calm state to their rare–but intense–“losing it” state. The result is that “no” gets filled with tension, and there are no good ways for the child to release that tension. So play with the word no: “Nobody better touch these pillows or else they are in BIG TROUBLE!” Make sure to smile a goofy grin when you say this, and make sure the “trouble” is funny and fun. If a child is using potty talk or obscenities, you can try saying, “Oh, that’s OK to say, but you better not say kumquat.” Again, remember to ham up the silly-fake-mad reaction when they do say the pretend-bad word.

One reason this set of problems often arises around age 2-4, is that kids this age really need something to fight against, so that they can know where they stop and the world starts, and so they can know how strong they are. So roughhousing and playful rough and tumble play are perfect games for them. Wrestle, chase, pillow fight–but keep it light and fun. Go for the giggles, which are the sign of a release of the tension and a return to their sunny (safely secure) selves.

I hope you can see that I am not suggesting “toughening up” or (heaven forbid) letting children cry themselves to sleep. I’m suggesting a playful approach that helps to balance the wonderful strengths of attachment parenting. Try it out and let me know how it works at larry@playfulparenting.com.

Compassion and Attachment Parenting

After having my own children — now 7 and 2 years old — and watching them interact with other children in different situations, I’m convinced that compassion is learned by modeling the behavior.

Attachment Parenting (AP) is an excellent way to teach your children about compassion and what it means to consider other people around you and how your actions affect others around you.

When a parent is concerned about the child’s feelings and expresses it to the child, the child will learn that is the right way to communicate and consider other people and their feelings. When children learn first hand that their feelings matter because their parents care, they are more likely to model that behavior outside of home such as at school or playgrounds.

The other side of a compassionate, loving home is the authoritarian home, where the parents are in charge and the child’s feelings or opinions are not considered. This is a form of bullying actually when an adult, who is bigger and older, uses his or her power on a child who can’t defend himself and has to obey to avoid serious consequences.

The child who constantly gets bullied by his parents or siblings is more likely to be bullied or become a bully himself outside of home and show little or no compassion for others around him.

I’ve actually seen this type of behavior in action when a child who comes from an authoritarian home hurts another child and has little or no remorse and will only say “sorry” to the hurt child because his parents are demanding him to say it.

Deep inside, the child is just repeating the behavior and words he has learned at home and doesn’t really care if someone gets hurt, because why would he since nobody around him cares about his feelings?

It’s very sad, but this type of behavior is very common in today’s households. Bullying at school is a very common occurrence these days, and I’m certain that most of these situations could be avoided if children were treated with more respect and shown compassion at home by siblings and parents.

Children who learn compassionate behavior by nature at an Attachment Parenting home also have less sibling rivalry, because they care for their brothers and sisters who care for them in the same compassionate and loving matter. My heart goes out to those children who don’t get the model at home and get to experience what is like to live in a family where all members love and respect each other and are compassionate.

I hope that the AP children around the world can be role models at school and teach other children compassion and what it is like to be a caring individual, and hopefully that will have a lasting impact on some children who might have never experienced it.

Reija – Attachment Mothering