API post-conference: Who is Kate Frederick?

kate frederickKate Frederick.

She wasn’t a speaker at Attachment Parenting International‘s 2014 conference. She wasn’t even in the audience. But her name is stuck in my head.

As a bonus for early conference attendees, API hosted a showing of “The Milky Way” film on the evening before the weekend “Cherished Parents, Flourishing Children” conference at Notre Dame University at the end of September. As an added bonus, the lactation consultants behind the film, Chantal Molnar and Jennifer Davidson, were available for Q&A.

And during that Q&A, the name “Kate Frederick” became part of the conversation.

In the film, Kate’s part was just a brief glimpse of a 2013 newspaper article about a mother being fired from her job for breastfeeding. Her name wasn’t mentioned in the film, just a reference to the many mothers who have been discriminated against because of their choice to breastfeed.

But after several showings of “The Milky Way” film, Chantal and Jennifer received a letter that was different than other notes of support. This one was from Kate, who identified herself as an API member from New Hampshire, USA, and the woman about whom the article featured in the film for maybe a couple seconds is about.

Kate was a child support officer for the state Department of Health and Human Services at the time of her job termination due to failed negotiations with her employer regarding her right to breastfeed and her desire to leave the workplace to breastfeed during breaks.

She is now an event planner and has since founded The Rustik Baby Project, through which she advocates for breastfeeding mothers’ rights. Among her projects is a New Hampshire legislative bill that would provide greater protections to breastfeeding mothers.

It is exciting to think of what Kate’s hard work — borne of a passion ignited because of a low point in her life when she refused to give up on what was her biological right — has the potential to give all of us.

Of course, Kate — like any of us — is just one person. And each person can only do so much. But think about what amazing things all of us working together can do!

Some names, like William Sears or Ina May Gaskin, are household names in our Attachment Parenting (AP) communities. And these AP “celebrities” have done so much for the Attachment Parenting movement. But there are so many people whose names we don’t so readily know, or names we may never know — people who are all doing their own little part in their communities, even if only in their homes, to make the world a more compassionate place for their children and future generations.

Kate Frederick is one of those names that we might not otherwise know, but a person who is doing great things in her own little corner of the world — things that when added up with all of our efforts are changing culture.

Every one of us could be Kate Frederick.

Editor’s Pick: AP Month on “Celebrating Family”

“That’s what Attachment Parenting International is trying to do – to change culture from one that ignores the critical importance of attachment to one that embraces the normality of healthy family relationships, securely attached children and connected communities.” ~2014 Conference: Life Giving, Mindful Beginnings” on APtly Said

API-Logo-20th-themeHaving just arrived home from API and Notre Dame University’s 2014 conference in South Bend, Indiana, USA, my head is spinning with all that was shared by researchers and experts in the Attachment Parenting (AP) field.

It was a wonderful way to celebrate API‘s 20th Anniversary with some really special bonus events, like Friday night’s showing of “The Milky Way” film with live Q&A with the lactation consultants who produced the documentary on the U.S. cultural view of breastfeeding support as well as Saturday night’s anniversary celebration reception with Irish music provided by Kennedy’s Kitchen.

george holden on positive parenting at the 2014 conferenceI am only sorry that I had to duck out early due to health reasons. But, like many of you, I have been keeping up on the final days of the conference via API’s Facebook page. I would have loved to have been there when George Holden, a psychologist and parenting expert at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, USA, made the comment how “Attachment Parenting International is one of the largest positive parenting organizations in the world.”

For those who were unable to attend the conference — as well as for those who, like me, did attend but were blown away by the amount of really great information — API is planning to release video of the speakers at “Cherishing Parents, Flourishing Children” portion of the conference in a few weeks.

apm logoIn the mean time, I would like to point you to AP Month. Every year, during the month of October, API and this year’s sponsors — Peter Haiman, Kindred, Ergobaby, Tummy Calm/Colic Calm and Lamaze International — challenge parents to re-examine their daily activities, routines, beliefs, habits and traditions and learn new ways to engage with their children to grow with each other and remain close while promoting opportunities for healthy exploration, individuation and development.

This year’s AP Month, which begins today, centers on the same theme as API’s portion of the 2014 conference: “Cherishing Parents, Flourishing Children.” You can follow along each day of October on 2014 AP Month Calendar.

You can also participate in the 2014 AP Month blogging and photo events, read the research supporting this year’s theme and watch for special activities in other API resources, including here on APtly Said and API’s Facebook page.

Happy Attachment Parenting Month, everyone!

2014 Conference: Life Giving, Mindful Beginnings

darcia“Attachment is not only a benefit to kids but is the gateway, the whole gateway. But its a complicated topic.” ~ Lu Hanessian, API Advisory Board and speaker at the 2014 API Conference

So let’s get the conversation rolling.

I’m here at the 2014 Attachment Parenting International conference, “Pathways to Child Flourishing,” at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana, USA. It is amazing and humbling to be in the presence, the audience, of these speakers. It’s mind blowing.

In the first session, this morning, we heard from Lu Hanessian, author, educator and founder of WYSH; Darcia Narvaez, psychology researcher at Notre Dame and co-coordinator for this conference; Kathy Kendall-Tackett, psychologist and founder of Praeclarus Press; and Lysa Parker, founder of API. Peggy O’Mara, longtime editor of Mothering, founder of Mothering.com and founder of PeggyOMara.com, was unable to come due to the widespread flight cancellations yesterday.

Darcia opened this first session, “Life Giving: Mindful Beginnings,” with a very interesting introduction to her new book, Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality, particularly the early body-mind co-construction of the infant by caregivers.

She talked about how the human infant is born really 9-18 months too early, compared to other animals. And that for most of our time on earth, secure attachment has been essential to our survival as mankind.

Those survival tools have been: nurturing touch, sensitive response, breastfeeding through toddlerhood, alloparenting (raising children in a community with multiple trusted caregivers), free play (especially with multi-age peer group), positive social support (the feeling of being wanted) and soothing perinatal experiences.

Through these experiences, children developed not only secure attachment and healthy family relationships, but also exceptional right brain development. Well, I shouldn’t say “exceptional,” because in reality, the results of Attachment Parenting are normal.

What is the right brain responsible for? Self-regulation, introsubjectivity and social pleasure, emotional intelligence, empathy beingness, self trancendance, higher consciousness.

And in normal human development, these right-brain features are able to control our brain’s survival systems, which include stress response. For many in Western society, however, as infants, they are exposed to toxic stress such as long-term mother-baby separation or insensitive response. As a response, the brain’s stress response takes over the mind.

“What you’re left with is this very self-protected, easily stressed brain. It changes development,” Darcia continued.

And it changes culture. It’s a closed loop, actually, so that our childrearing practices dictates culture and our culture dictates childrearing. And that’s why much of the Western culture is competitive, self-contained, autonomous and disconnected rather than the connected communities that healthy right brain development promotes.

That’s what Attachment Parenting International is trying to do — to change culture from one that ignores the critical importance of attachment to one that embraces the normality of healthy family relationships, securely attached children and connected communities.

“We’re all trying to get back on track,” as Darcia concluded.

Yes, we are — one family at a time.



2014 Conference: The Milky Way

milky wayThis has been seven years in the making.

I had seen “The Milky Way” film before during a local 2014 World Breastfeeding Week event. It was powerful then, and it was no less powerful this second time around, here in South Bend, Indiana, USA, at Notre Dame University at the 2014 Attachment Parenting International conference, “Pathways to Child Flourishing.”

This time around, the producers of the film were available for discussion: Chantal Molnar and Jennifer Davidson. And that’s where I learned that it took seven — SEVEN — years for them to make their film, “The Milky Way.” During that time, Attachment Parenting has really come into its own as far as the national conversation goes…here in the United States.

We seem to be at a tipping point. There are so many people — parents and non-parents even, professionals within parent support and beyond — who are joining the Attachment Parenting movement, and the Western culture seems ripe for questioning the status quo.

The purpose behind making “The Milky Way” film is to help change the world. I believe that it could, that it is. It is getting people talking, helping members of Western society to reframe their minds around what’s supposed to be normal about infant development specific to breastfeeding.

It is empowering women to advocate for themselves. And that can change the world, one mother, one baby, at a time.

During the discussion afterwards, audience members — parents just like you and me — had the opportunity to ask questions. There was much discussion about the varying experience levels and approaches to breastfeeding support by lactation professionals, the milk bank movement, what advocacy work is happening that can help working breastfeeding moms, exactly how little medical students learn about breastfeeding in med school and the amazing things that countries beyond the United States — like Germany and Sweden — are doing to promote secure attachment from even before birth.

My husband, after watching the film and attending the discussion at the conference, said we should move from the United States to Sweden. I have to admit, it’s tempting.

It was a great start to the conference.