The sweetness of Attachment Parenting

Have you ever tried to explain to someone what attachment parenting is? Parenting is very personal, and it’s not so easy to describe any approach to raising children given the amount of emotional baggage, future hopes, joys, and trials there are wrapped up in that one word, “parenting.”

But as I was contemplating today about how much Attachment Parenting International and attachment parenting means to me and my family, how it literally changed the very direction of my life — personally and professionally — not to mention, given my children the quality of lives they enjoy, I came up with a word that sums up what attachment parenting is in my home: “sweetness.”

It really is just about treating my children with the sweetness of attachment.

I received one of those fun challenges on Facebook a few days ago where you ask your children a series of questions and then post exactly what they say. The first question was, “What do you hear me say the most?” Other Facebook friend’s posts had responses like “clean your room,” “dang it,” or “supper’s ready.” More curious of what my kids would say, rather than posting their responses on Facebook, I decided to ask them the questions.

And here’s what they said:

  1. What is something I say a lot? I love you
  2. What makes me happy? When we make you food and give you wildflowers (Nathan, 6), When we don’t yell and we follow the rules (Emily, 10), When we give you hugs (Rachel, 11)
  3. What makes me sad? When you’re sick and you want to do something excited that day (Rachel), When you have to postpone something because it just won’t work out and it was going to be really fun (Emily)
  4. What’s my favorite thing to do? Spend time with us (Nathan), Pet the cat (Rachel), Cuddle with us (Emily)
  5. Do I have a favorite child? No! But if you did, it would be Rachel-Emily-Nathan-Kate (Kate is my angel baby)
  6. If I could go anywhere, where would it be? To a chocolate factory made of chocolate in a chocolate land in a chocolate world
  7. Do you think you could live without me? No! Well, I guess we could, but it would be really, really sad (Emily) Yeah, it’d be a sad life (Nathan) I mean, we could still be alive but it wouldn’t be a really happy life (Rachel)
  8. How do you annoy me? By yelling, screaming, or interrupting you when you’re doing work
  9. What scares me? If we’re quiet in the bath tub and you hear no splashing or rippling or anything
  10. How do you describe me? A nice mom, the best mom in the world! With dark hair, dark curly hair, dark short curly hair. A person who likes being warm.

Now, isn’t that sweetness? And you may think that all children would say nice things about their parents, and gosh, I hope so!

But my point is, the overall atmosphere in my home is sweetness and peace and love. My oldest is now 11, and my youngest is 6. I’m well past the early years of attachment parenting, but for all the intensity of breastfeeding, cosleeping, responding sensitively, and learning gentle discipline, attachment parenting has since become a lifestyle.

Attachment parenting has become a mindset that directs my thoughts and actions with everyone, not just my kids and husband but my friends, coworkers, and strangers. In all my interactions with others — and with myself — I strive for the sweetness of attachment.

The importance of attachment cannot be overestimated

Your Parent Compass: The ‘enlightened witness’

The latest Parent Compass has been released by Attachment Parenting International (API). Click here to read this thought-provoking message from the API cofounders, or sign up for an API Membership to receive this bimonthly enewsletter directly to your inbox.

“April is both Child Abuse Prevention Month and Cesarean Awareness Month. These two important issues are intertwined in that, in many cases, both may be prevented through parents getting the support and education that are critical in starting their parenting journeys.” ~ Parent Compass, Attachment Parenting International, April 2017

This issue of Parent Compass, “The ‘Enlightened Witness,'” explores the shared roots contributing to 2 seemingly unrelated parenting issues: child abuse and high cesarean rates. It is a compelling call for more intentional early and ongoing parent support. API’s cofounders take it a step further in providing a clear, easy plan for all first-time parents that would secure them ongoing parent education and support to provide lasting impact on their parenting journeys.

Imagine an entire generation of secure attachment

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

Still Face: A lesson in responsiveness and relationship repair for ALL caregivers

How important is it that we give our infants and children intentional presence?

The third of API’s Eight Principles of Parentingrespond with sensitivity — is one of two common threads that run through all 8 principles. The other is to provide consistent and loving care.

Research that began with the late psychologist John Bowlby’s Attachment Theory back in the 1950s has shown the critical need for consistently loving, sensitive responsiveness to develop a secure parent-child attachment — that component that forms the foundation of how our babies and toddlers go on to relate to others…in all relationships…through the rest of their lives.

“That initial responsiveness, that interaction between the father and baby, are keys to the baby’s success as a child and an adult.” ~ Richard Cohen, PhD, director of Project ABC at the Children’s Institute

So, yeah, it’s important.

Picture Alternatives has partnered with the Children Institute in Los Angeles, California, USA, in replicating the famous Still Face Experiment developed in 1975 by Ed Tronick, PhD, of the University of Massachusetts’s Infant-Parent Mental Health program in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

This new video is the first-ever application of the experiment on fathers and their babies — clearly showing that infants need sensitive responsiveness from all caregivers:

 

Just as important as consistently responding with sensitivity is relationship repair as needed:

“The infant can overcome it. After all, when you stop the still face, the baby starts to play again. …When you don’t give the child any chance to get back to the good, there’s no reparation and they’re stuck in that really ugly situation.” ~ Ed Tronick, PhD, featured in this 2009 Zero to Three film:

 

No parent is perfect, and there will be situations that arise that take our attention away from our children. Life happens, and sometimes we may be less responsive than we wished, but it’s OK. Babies and children can recover quickly when their caregiver works to repair the relationship when needed.

In short: How you respond to your child’s expressed needs when you make a mistake makes a big difference in what they’re learning about with the give and take, and repair, of relationships.

Will you accept the challenge of Attachment Parenting?