10 Things I Do Each Day to Build an Unbreakable Bond with my Children

API welcomes this special guest post from Viki de Lieme, reprinted with permission from Happiness in Heart and Mind.

Smiling mother and elementary aged son touch foreheads

Relationships are work, sometimes even hard work. But when it comes to our state of mind, our children, and partners, this is the most gratifying work of all, because it directly reflects upon our happiness, and theirs.

Something about my mindset, and my state of mind, had always been different. I experienced this difference throughout my years. But it wasn’t until I came across one of Marshal Rosenberg’s videos on YouTube, some six years ago, that I finally “handed-down” with the dictionary to the way my brain works.

Wow.

I suddenly understood why I don’t fight, don’t yell, and manage to keep my balance (almost) at all times. I understood the structure behind the way I choose to parent my children daily. That video was the first step on a journey, still very much in progress, to master Nonviolence as a mindset.

A conscious, deliberate mindset that makes me a happier person, a happier partner, a happier mother, a happier me.

It took years of practice, and I am still learning. Every single day. I learn from myself (how I feel about situations, how I react to situations, what triggers me and how I react to these triggers). I learn from my children (they teach me what being a human being really means). I learn from my partner, my family, my friends, and my clients, of course.

I study Nonviolent Communication every day. I practice breathing, I practice shutting off my automatic responses, I practice feeling, I practice seeing, I practice thinking, I practice speaking, I practice making choices. I  practice not being controlled by my own thoughts.

This constant and ongoing practice empowers my peace of mind, my undivided focus on what’s really important. This practice empowers me, my children, my partner, and everyone else around me. Whether they are taking an active part or just being in its proximity.

All these years of learning and practice boil down to the following 10 things I do each and every day, to live life for what it really is, to feel, to love, to be. In full presence.


10 Things I Do Each Day To Make My Family Stronger and Happier

I ask for help. I’ve been doing it since day one. I ask for a glass of water, I ask for help getting up, I ask for help tidying up. This helps make EVERYONE givers and teaches giving through receiving.

I expect nothing. I am the only one responsible for my needs. Losing the expectations frees my loved ones to give – because they want to, not because I want them to.

I treat EVERYTHING given to me as the true present that it is. The glass of water, the bit of help, the pure intention. Everything is met with a kiss, a huge hug, and a smiling heart. This teaches that giving IS receiving, and that the joy is mutual.

I love – for free. Nothing can ever, and I mean – ever – condition my love. No matter what happens, no matter what was said or done – it will never cost my connection, the cuddles, or the bedtime story. These are sacred. This teaches that nothing can ever come between us.

I respect and accept all emotions. Even when it’s hard, even when I’m tired and out of patience. Emotions are the beating heart of a child. Loving a child is loving all his emotions. This teaches acceptance, coping skills, and resilience.

I don’t judge. “Amazing,” “lovable,” “my sunshine,” and “my love” are the only words I ever utter after “YOU ARE”. This teaches the freedom to be.

I don’t interpret. I can’t ever know why someone did something he did; my guess is as good as anyone else’s. I ask. And if I can’t get an answer – I accept whatever happens as is, knowing that my interpretation will only cause ME harm. This teaches the freedom to act.

I come closer. I never push away. I am always there. No matter what happens. This teaches the real strength of unconditional love.

I express myself. Authentically. I share my feelings, all of them. I share my desires, and my wishes. I am always honest about what lives in me. This teaches honesty and acceptance of self.

I let myself be. I let everyone be. Themselves. In their most authentic self expression. Without judgment or interpretation, without expectation, in a world where love is free and all emotions are welcome. In a world that celebrates the power of connection, where every day is the purest, most beautiful present. This teaches peace, love, and nonviolence.


These are the 10 things I do each day to build a strong relationship with my children. These are the 10 realizations I live and swear by, they are my roots in this world. Growing these roots, strengthening them every days allows my family and me to grow, nurture, and care for each other. These 10 practices unite us, make us one, inseparable being. As such – we are unbreakable.

 

 

Chest-up, casual portrait of the author, Viki de Lieme, who smiles while sitting in her living room, head propped in her hand

Viki de Lieme is a mom, a wife, a daughter, but first of all – a human being. She’s a life and a parenting coach, who firmly believes that the journey to the world we all want to live in, begins with each and every parent who chooses to parent from the heart.

Some winning tips to connect and reconnect with children – at the holidays and all of the time

Making time to share time and interests with your child refills the love-tank and lets you bounce back after struggles.  Small moments in every day, every week, keep us connected. Small moments mean the connections do not have to be complicated to be powerful; they can be something like:

  • Stop and make eye contact over breakfast
  • Find a funny meme to share a smile together
  • Put your coat on backwards for a silly laugh together
  • Put a note of appreciation on the bathroom mirror
  • Notice something your child does well that might not normally get noticed and ask them about it
  • Interrupt dinner prep and give a hug
  • Make up a special word or phrase to share that means “I love you”
  • Take a walk together and share what you notice
  • Sit and make plans together for an adventure
  • Join your child in something he or she enjoys and share the excitement
  • Playing simple games your children make up and direct
  • Find ways to help others together

All of these moments in time are the heartbeats that keep us connected. This heartbeat tells our children that we’re there for them, we’re available, we see them, we love them. What keeps you connected?

AP Research: Nurturing touch changes DNA, Spanking doesn’t work, and more

It’s exciting to see how much research is constantly being churned out that shows just how beneficial Attachment Parenting is to healthy infant and child development! Check out these recent studies that support API’s Eight Principles of Parenting:

  1. Knowing how our eating habits while pregnant may affect the health of our child is Preparing for Parenting 
  2. Waiting to introduce solid foods until at least 6 months is Feeding with Love & Respect
  3. Responding with Sensitivity may involve treating infant colic with probiotics
  4. Using Nurturing Touch changes DNA
  5. Ensuring Safe Sleep means feeding our children fish
  6. A lack of safe childcare options makes Providing Consistent & Loving Care challenging for dual-income and single-parent homes
  7. Practicing Positive Discipline realizes that spanking doesn’t work
  8. Guarding against paternal postpartum depression is an important part of Striving for Balance

What are API’s Eight Principles of Parenting all about?

Learn more about API’s Eight Principles of Parenting here.

My Attachment Parenting support group made all the difference

Editor’s note: Parent support makes a world of difference — when we strengthen families, we nurture and fulfill our children’s need for trust, respect, and affection, and ultimately provide a lifelong foundation for healthy, enduring relationships. Sharing our parenting experiences — the difficult, trying, joyous, and happy ones — with other like-minded parents can help us feel understood and supported. Attachment Parenting International (API) is dedicated to supporting families in realizing the most important job there is –raising compassionate kids who will shape the future of our world. Click here to find an API Support Group near you.  

It was our usual afternoon trip to the library before picking up my oldest son from school. We typically go once a week and bring a large, reusable bag to fill with books — only on that day, I took a smaller bag, which I thought was a really minor change. But when my almost 4-year-old son realized that I’d done something that, in his mind, was completely different from what we always do, he wanted me to go home to get usual bag.

I could tell he was sad and close to tears, but he was trying to manage his emotions and to stay calm as I empathized with him and explained that it wasn’t possible to rectify the situation. After a couple minutes, he started to get sadder and louder.

Still, I managed to stay calm. It felt like a real success for me — completely keeping my cool even in a public setting, responding to him with empathy, staying connected, and not punishing or lecturing him for his emotions. Since we were in a library, I wanted to get out of there quickly so we didn’t disturb people. Unfortunately, trying to make that happen was quite a challenge for me as a mom. My younger daughter was with us and was happily selecting books from the shelf. I had to make the choice of checking out her books while my toddler cried and fought, or just leaving without them, which might upset her as well.

There were several other people around who seemed were watching me, including a few moms who were talking nearby, a mother with a young child playing calmly, a librarian, and an older man. As I struggled to the door with a baby in one arm and a crying toddler in the other, I didn’t worry if they were judging me. I knew I was handling the situation the best I could, and I was proud of that, but I did get upset that no one was able to offer me any help.

I felt that I could barely manage to open the door and get the kids to the car on my own, but somehow, I did. In the car, despite feeling pleased with my patience and ability to remain calm, I felt an overwhelming sense of loneliness. I realized just how alone I had been in that challenging situation, and I couldn’t help but cry.

Afterwards, I reached out to the other parents in my API Support Group about my experience. The amount of support and love I got from the other parents was amazing. Many praised my ability to stay calm in a stressful situation. Several pointed out that strangers are often unsure of how to help or unsure whether help is even wanted. Some shared that they had similar experiences and could relate. And one person also said that she wished she’d been there to help, to hold the door or to put her arm around me for support.

She told me, “You are not alone anymore,” which is something I wish all parents could hear when they’re struggling in moments like this.

Smartphones and parenting

girl-with-smart-phone-1616794

Editor’s note: This week, May 1-7, is Screen-Free Week — an annual observance founded by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. Plan to unplug from digital entertainment this week and instead connect with your family. Need more inspiration? This post was originally published by Attachment Parenting International in 2015, and it is as thought-provoking today as ever:

Instinct tells you it’s been too long. She’s been too quiet. It has only been a few minutes since you held her. Probably all is well, but you can never be sure without checking.

And, even if all is fine, you long to lift her, hold her, gaze at her. You wonder why you didn’t carry her everywhere today as you often do, wearing her and, instead, have put her down across the room. As you look toward her, just out of sight, you consider loading the dishwasher. You walk toward the sink, but mid-stride, that first instinct wins out. You tell yourself it will be just for a minute and then you’ll get back to work. Just a quick check in.

You always have an ear listening in her direction as she often calls for you first.  But this time, you are the one to seek out, lift and hold the rectangular little body of…your smartphone.

Could it be that our smartphones are hijacking our inborn biological systems, the bonding instincts that are activated when we become parents? Are we actually driven by borrowed biological systems to hold these devices, carry them, interact with them and be concerned about “feeding” — aka, charging — them in ways that go beyond our tendencies with other tools? Consider selling your iPhone through an iPhone trade-in program online.

While pregnant with our first child at age 18, I worried that one day I might forget the new baby in the grocery store. I knew I would love our baby, but what if I became distracted for just long enough to get in the car and drive away? Once our son arrived, I was thrilled to discover that not only was it impossible to forget him, but that it was challenging to leave him home with his dad because he was perpetually on my mind and I felt empty without him in my arms or at least nearby. When I went back to college, I studied maternal attachment in an attempt to grasp the science behind the apparent magic of maternal attachment. I was awed to learn from the research of Klaus and Kennell that mothers of newborns have instinctive ways of touching, holding and gazing at their babies in their first moments. How much, I wondered, did instinct support our roles as mothers and fathers?

kim allsupNow, 45 years later, I am an elementary school teacher. I started to think about a potential link between smartphone addiction and parental attachment systems just after I taught my students about the cuckoo bird. My students had looked curious when I told them how the cuckoo lays her egg in the nests of other birds that, unwittingly, raise the nestling as their own. They grimaced as I spoke about the interloper pushing the natural offspring out of the nest and how the baby cuckoos behave in ways that trigger an instinct to care and feed from their new mother.

I wondered, could our smartphones be like baby cuckoo birds that activate the magical bonding system I experienced as a young mother? Teenagers today certainly appear to be as attached to their smartphones as I was bonded with my baby back in the era when all phones were attached to a wall and did not offer Facebook, Twitter, a camera and a flashlight. Is addiction to our smartphones and their ability to connect to social media rooted in a deeper place than a fondness for cute cat videos? Phone Repair Stores in Hamilton can give you the best specialized services for you and your phone.

In the case of the birds that unwittingly become foster parents, the calls and the gaping mouth of the chick automatically trigger the feeding instinct. Similarly, are there features of the smartphone that automatically turn on our biologically based attachment behaviors?

I can hear readers saying, “Hold on there. One baby bird looks similar to other baby birds, but my smartphone looks nothing like my baby!” This is true enough. It seems far more believable that pets, especially dogs, with their expressive faces, hijack our attachment systems. In fact, research highlighted in this April 2015 New York Times article suggests that that our dogs routinely utilize our parental attachment mechanisms, that gazing into the eyes of our own dogs and our own babies both cause a surge of oxytocin. If you own for your children we recommend to take them over at Veterinary Naturals for their yearly check up.

This bonding hormone that is released in some animals and in people in a variety of pleasant social interactions, oxytocin is especially strong in women during and after childbirth and during breastfeeding, and high levels of oxytocin are found in both mothers and fathers of babies. We are all likely to experience a surge in this hormone that reduces stress hormones when we get and receive hugs. Now scientists are discovering that contact with others through social media or a phone call from a loved one also causes the release of oxytocin.

So, while a smartphone does not look like a baby, it is — like a baby — associated with a frequent surge of this hormone that brings relaxation, reduces fear and promotes bonding. A second similarity between the smartphone and a baby is that they are carried continually or, when not carried, kept in continual awareness. We also maintain an awareness of the need to feed babies and to charge cell phones.

Finally, the classic pose of the phone cradled between the palms of two hands is very similar to the “encompassing palm contact on the trunk” along with “intense eye-to-eye contact” observed by researchers Klaus and Kennell when studying mothers’ first contact with their babies. It is not that the baby looks like a smartphone, but that our inner experience of ongoing awareness along with bursts of the bonding hormone during connection is similar whether we carry and connect with a baby or a socially connected smartphone.

Do you experience your smartphone as a cuckoo in your nest?  Please share your thoughts about the possibility that your smartphone could tap into your instinctive attachment systems.

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