20 Years of Advocating for Families

By Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker, cofounders of Attachment Parenting International and coauthors of Attached at the Heart

We can hardly contain ourselves! Twenty years ago, we had a dream and this anniversary conference at Notre Dame this week is a fulfillment of that dream! This is a rare and exciting opportunity to meet and hear presentations by many of the influential and inspiring pioneers, both past and present, in the fields of attachment, child development and of course Attachment Parenting.

These are the people who influenced us, broadened our vision and helped raise the consciousness of a culture and shape the way we raise our children.

Our conference team has organized a day just for you, and most of the speakers you know and love will present on that day! Here are a few of our personal reflections about some of the speakers and why we know you don’t want to miss them:

  • Martha Sears, Lysa Parker, Bill Sears, Barbara NicholsonDr. William and Martha Sears… parents, authors, legends that wrote some of the first parenting books on Attachment Parenting. We were first introduced to their books as young mothers in La Leche League back in the early 1980s. Martha was a La Leche League Leader and she and Bill spoke at many state and international LLL conferences for many years. Some of their sons are carrying on their work in their pediatric practice , you can get a pediatric sleep consultant and on national television! Bill serves on the API Advisory Board and Martha sits on the API Board of Directors.
  • Dr. Isabelle Fox is a retired child psychologist, student of Dr. John Bowlby, author and tireless advocate for babies and young children. She continues to counsel parents on custody issues, focusing on the preverbal child’s need for consistent, predictable, responsive care. She is a member of the API Advisory Board.
  • Peggy O’Mara is Mothering magazine’s grand dame! Her warm and inspirational writing and articles were a source of great wisdom and comfort to many families for decades. We remember getting our first copies of Mothering when our babies were in arms and devouring each issue like it was manna from heaven! We consider Peggy a dear sister mentoring us from afar… Now her writings will live on in her books, new website and presentations all over the world. She is a member of the API Advisory Board.
  • Dr. Gabor Maté is a co-author with Dr. Gordon Neufeld of the classic book Hold On to Your Kids, a key API Leader applicant text. He is a gifted speaker who will illuminate us in the social and psychological stresses that children face today.
  • Dr. Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, author, La Leche League Leader, pioneer researcher in the field of maternal depression. Her experience as a mother and breastfeeding advocate have enriched and influenced her field of research in amazing and insightful ways. She is a member of the API Resource Advisory Council and was the Guest Editor of API’s 2013 Journal of Attachment Parenting.
  • Lu Hanessian, author, educator, TV host, founder of WYSH, is another dear friend and advocate that has served on the API Board of Directors and continues today on the API Advisory Board, now continuing her activism in so many areas, we can’t keep up! As the mother of teenage sons, she’s living in a new world of balancing a very active family and active career. We are blessed to have her moderating all of our panels, as well as contributing from her rich experiences as a true Renaissance woman!
  • Barbara Nicholson, Jim McKenna, Lysa ParkerDr. James McKenna, an anthropologist, researcher, author, professor, speaker and advocate for babies, mothers and fathers. His pioneering work in the field of infant sleep has changed the paradigm for modern parents, helping them understand that our babies come in to this world wired for a safe, protective sleep environment, mandated by the need to be in close proximity to their parents. He is a fearless advocate for truth in research and empowering parents to make their own decisions. He is a member of the API Advisory Board and is the Guest Editor of the 2014 Journal of Attachment Parenting to be released by API later this year.
  • Dr. Wendy Middlemiss, professor of child development and researcher on early infant stress, will share her research and the work she is pioneering at the University of North Texas. She is the coordinator of the API Research Group.
  • Dr. Darcia Narvaez, professor of psychology at Notre Dame University, and the catalyst and organizer of this amazing conference, will share her stunning research on the moral development of children and how she discovered Attachment Parenting through her research. She is a member of the API Board of Directors.
  • Michael Mendizza, filmmaker and author, founder of Touch the Future. We have been hearing of Michael’s work for years, especially in relationship to his amazing archives filming such legends as Dr. Ashley Montagu and Joseph Chilton Pearce. (If you don’t know these names, look them up as you’ll be amazed at their contributions to humanity.) When we met Micheal, we knew we had a met a “brother in the cause,” and his insights will be an amazing contribution to the conference.
  • Rebecca Thompson, marriage and family therapist, author, speaker and founder of Consciously Parenting Project Community will share her insights and experiences as a mother and professional in her work with families.
  • Janet Jendron, API Board President! It’s hard to describe the deep friendship and roots we have with Janet that come from our La Leche League (LLL) Leader beginnings. She has always been someone we had hoped and prayed would come on our board, as her experience as a former LLL International board member were invaluable. Her enthusiasm and love for people is an example to us all.
  • Barbara Nicholson, Richard Bowlby, Xenia Bowlby, Lysa ParkerSir Richard Bowlby Bt is the son of the “Father of Attachment Theory,” the late Dr. John Bowlby. He is an excellent speaker and advocate for his father’s legacy as well as an archivist of some of his father’s early writing and films. We first met Sir Richard at the home of Dr. Isabelle Fox in Los Angeles, California, USA, several years ago and he soon joined the API Advisory Board.

And that’s just the speakers! Put on your dancing shoes, because we will also have a live band with the Kennedy’s Kitchen. Plus, great videos of “Mr. Universe” with comedian Jim Gaffigan (an AP dad who may not know it) and “The Milky Way,” a powerful film about the ongoing breastfeeding movement. Not to mention, there will also be great food, exhibitors and poster sessions!

Lysa Parker, Bruce Perry, Barbara NicholsonAfter our day and a half of API celebration and sessions, Dr. Darcia Narvaez’s program will begin with world-renowned academics, including API Advisory Board member Dr. Bruce Perry, founder of the Child Trauma Academy, as the keynote.

For those of you who have always longed to come face-to-face with other professionals and families in this cultural movement to truly “change the world,” this is your opportunity. Join us!

We hope to see many of you at Notre Dame!

No Quick Fix

barbara nicholsonBy Barbara Nicholson, cofounder of Attachment Parenting International and coauthor of Attached at the Heart

If there was ever a true maxim in parenting, this is one to remember: There is no such thing as a quick fix!

Now, that may sound sad or daunting to parents who want some simple tools to raise their children, but it’s important to step back and look at the big picture when we find ourselves opting for quick fixes. If our goal is to raise healthy, happy, compassionate, loving human beings who are responsible citizens of the community, this could be compared to creating a masterpiece in music, art or even some business endeavor.

Can we expect to create a musical masterpiece by ignoring our need to put hours into practicing our instrument, learning theory and listening to other virtuosos in developing our craft?

Each stage of our parenting journey has equal amounts of relief and new challenges. Just when we rejoice that our toddler is out of diapers, he decides to draw us a picture with permanent markers on the newly painted kitchen wall. Just when our teenager gets his driver’s license and we have him run a few errands, he gets in a fender bender in the parking lot of the grocery store.

The parents who look at the big picture can keep their cool: “Remember, this is a teachable moment. What can we all learn from this?” The quick fix answer would be to simply put the toddler in the corner or ground the teenager from driving, but how will that accomplish our long-term goal of a healthy, responsible human being?

Yes, it takes so much more time to get out the cleaning supplies and ask the toddler to help clean the walls, then set up an art corner in the kitchen with appropriate supplies for painting a picture. It also takes more time to give the teenager more instruction in parallel parking and possible restrictions on his driving until he’s more mature. But what incredible opportunities for connection, understanding and empathy!

Once, when my oldest son was a toddler, we had the experience I just described: He found some markers and joyfully created a beautiful mural all over the walls in the freshly painted main hallway of our house. Being a new mom, I was shocked at how strongly I reacted to this.

I was so angry, yet he was so proud and happy. Seeing my reaction, he dissolved into tears and I lacked the maturity and parenting skills to know what to do! I actually left him crying while I called a friend who had older children and whose parenting skills I admired. She wisely told me to get out the cleaning supplies and have him help me, thus beginning my journey into seeing these episodes as teachable moments.

Parents may fear that this is taking away their power, that if they don’t harshly chastise their children, they will not learn a lesson and will then repeat the behavior. But going back to the musical metaphor, what if you were spanked or yelled at every time you made a mistake playing your instrument? Who can learn anything by this kind of treatment?

However, if our instructor — or parent — can patiently demonstrate the correct way to play the song, or clean the wall, or drive the car, then the lesson is deeply understood, often not repeated, and everyone’s dignity remains intact. How can a quick fix compare to that?

API-Inspired Leadership: An interview with Thiago Queiroz

API-Logo-20th-themeIn celebration of Attachment Parenting International’s 20th Anniversary, the four-part “API-Inspired Leadership” series honors the unique paths that inspired parents to pursue API Leadership. Read the first, second and third parts of the series, recognizing Lauren Osborne of Alabama, USA; Candice Garrison of Tennessee, USA; and Kelly Shealer of Maryland, USA. Following is the fourth part of the series:

Involved fathers are a pivotal part of the Attachment Parenting (AP) family, and the passion of Thiago Queiroz of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is contagious! He now serves as the leader of API Rio.

He also blogs for APtly Said and volunteers with the Attachment Parenting International (API) team creating the Tribute Presentation, to be narrated by Sir Richard Bowlby Bt (API Advisory Board member and son of John Bowlby, the “Father of Attachment Theory”) at API’s 2014 “Cherishing Families, Flourishing Children” Conference on September 26-28 at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana, USA.

RITA: Thank you, Thiago, for your time. Let’s start by learning how you discovered AP.

thiago queiroz 1THIAGO: My inspiration to start practicing AP with my son was bedsharing. At first, it was the logical thing to do, considering the amount of caring we had to give to him at night. But then I started reading more on this subject and ended up finding about AP and falling in love with it.

Now, what inspires me is how it feels so right to have such a strong and deep connection with my son.

RITA: We are all introduced to AP in our own unique way and certain parenting practices will facilitate that close relationship with our children more than others. Sleeping in close proximity is one of my favorites, too. Have you encountered any challenges in practicing AP?

THIAGO: Oh, I found all sorts of problems! To start with, my mother didn’t understand very well what my wife and I were doing. I had to be very firm and confident when explaining to my family why we see AP as a better option for our reality [rather than the authoritarian parenting style he grew up with].

Besides that, I received some bullying at work for the choices I made in parenting. For my colleagues, I was the “weirdo, organic hippie” who had a son born at home and who talked about weird things like exclusive breastfeeding, positive discipline, babywearing and things like that.

RITA: Did you seek out Attachment Parenting International out of the need for parent support yourself?

THIAGO: I found API by Googling on AP. I was so excited about AP that I wanted to read more and more, so I Googled it and found API and API’s Eight Principles of Parenting. My first contact with API’s staff was to offer help in translating the Eight Principles of Parenting into my language, Brazilian Portuguese. I thought it was so important to have this information available for people in Brazil that I did the translation.

RITA: And from there, you decided to become an API Leader?

THIAGO: If AP is not exactly something widely known and practiced in the United States, you can imagine how it would be in Brazil, where we can find so little material available in our language and so little local support for parents. I’ve always thought I had to be one of the people who would help make AP known in Brazil, so over a year ago, I created an AP Facebook group in Brazil. I started writing a blog about my experiences as a securely attached father, and then I decided it was time to prepare myself to become an API Leader.

It was seeing how people needed and wanted support related to a more sensible and respectful way to raise their kids that inspired me along the way.

RITA: How did you find the API Leadership process?

thiago queiroz 2THIAGO: Oh, boy, the API Leader Applicant process was such a beautiful journey to self-acknowledgement! I absolutely loved being an applicant, as I was learning more not just about AP but about being a better human being. I learned so many things that I’m using in my life now that I could never thank API enough for this opportunity.

RITA: Now that you’re an API Leader, what are your plans of how to support parents locally?

THIAGO: I’m sure I’m going to love the meetings. Being able to share experiences and learn from other realities is a blessing. And on top of that, being able to see the babies that attend to the meetings grow up is going to be priceless.

RITA: Are there any challenges of being an API Leader?

THIAGO: I believe the challenges of being an API Leader involve the relationships with other people. The ability to connect to other people, to be empathetic to their feelings and to be able to hear without judging is the key challenge for anyone who wants to truly help other parents.

RITA: What of API’s resources do you think you’ll find most helpful as an API Leader in supporting other parents?

THIAGO: I have no doubt it will be the repository for the meetings. Meeting ideas and handouts are the sort of resources from API that will help me a lot in my position.

RITA: Thank you, Thiago, for your insights. I have one final question. You have already shared about projects that you started before becoming an API Leader. Has API Leadership inspired additional projects in your life to raise AP awareness?

THIAGO: The way I live and breathe AP inspires me to become a book writer and a positive discipline educator, but only time will tell!

Using NVC in the Family

By Barbara Nicholson, cofounder of Attachment Parenting International (API) and coauthor of Attached at the Heart

barbara nicholsonNVC-language-for-lifeOver the last several years, I have been reading Dr. Marshall Rosenberg’s classic book, Nonviolent Communication, and sharing some of his pearls of wisdom with my adult sons. Oh, how I wish I had this book when they were very young! And how I wish I had the wisdom to model this kind of communication for my children as we were dealing with sibling rivalry and other normal challenges of family life.

When we’re all together eating, playing games, or watching TV, my husband and I are amazed at how the “old tapes” can get played: The same dynamics that you think adults outgrow can rear over such insignificant comments! Four adult children with four very unique temperaments, talents and interests make for interesting combinations, to say the least. But no matter what the issue, it’s affirming to see how well the Nonviolent Communication (NVC) tools work!

There were several times when a simple misunderstanding could have escalated into a full-blown argument; however, reminding ourselves of what the core issue was — the feeling that was felt, the need that was identified — diffused the situation into an opportunity to really see the big picture. So often we don’t want to take the time to dig a little deeper, thinking that it’s too time consuming, yet arguments can linger over the rest of the day, creating a pall over what should be a loving day of connection and respite from our busy lives.

In my ideal world, not only would parents model these communication tools for their children, but teachers would be taught these methods in all training programs. What a gift for a teacher to be able to help her students who are having an argument on the playground to identify their feelings and unmet needs, to see that we have a universal vocabulary of feelings that are web of strength, not a weapon of name calling and division.

If this became our language of connection, we might even be able to change the way we communicate in business and government, changing our whole society in such a way that mediation becomes more the norm than the exception.

When I see my sons using NVC tools, even though it might be a little stiff and even though I usually have to initiate the conversation, I see the potential that all families have to greatly improve their quality of family life. It’s even a great tool to use with grandparents and other family members, especially over the holidays or other events when we’re in close quarters for extended periods of time. It’s a reminder to be a good listener, take the time to go a little deeper in our understanding of each other and truly bring some peace into the home.

Many communities now have NVC practice groups, and I encourage all API Support Groups to look into inviting an NVC-trained group leader to visit and perhaps lead a practice session at a meeting. It is a simple technique that we can use in every relationship, increasing our vocabularies at the same time! As Dr. Rosenberg states, this is a whole new language and essential to creating a more peaceful society. Of course, that — peace — is what we all want in our homes and communities.

API-Inspired Leadership: An interview with Kelly Shealer

API-Logo-20th-themeIn celebration of Attachment Parenting International’s 20th Anniversary, the four-part “API-Inspired Leadership” series honors the unique paths that inspired parents to pursue API Leadership. Read the first and second part of the series, recognizing Lauren Osborne of Alabama, USA, and Candice Garrison of Tennessee, USA. Following is the third part of the series:

There are many paths that lead parents to Attachment Parenting (AP). For many, like Kelly Shealer of Frederick, Maryland, USA, it was as natural as breathing but finding like-minded parent support isn’t always as easy. Kelly now serves as a leader of API of Frederick.

She also blogs for APtly Said and volunteers with the Attachment Parenting International (API) team creating the Tribute Presentation, to be narrated by Sir Richard Bowlby Bt (API Advisory Board member and son of John Bowlby, the “Father of Attachment Theory”) at API’s 2014 “Cherishing Families, Flourishing Children” Conference on September 26-28 at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana, USA.

RITA: Thank you, Kelly, for your time. Let’s start by learning how you discovered AP.

Kelly ShealerKELLY: I first learned about Attachment Parenting from reading an article by Dr. [William] Sears (API Advisory Board member) during my first pregnancy. The article talked about different ways to practice Attachment Parenting, and as I read it, everything seemed so obvious to me. I couldn’t imagine doing anything differently!

As my son got older, I learned about new aspects of AP, such as positive discipline, which fit with my beliefs and just seemed right for me.

RITA: It sounds like AP was an easy choice for you. Do you find any aspects of AP to be challenging?

KELLY: The biggest challenges I’ve encountered have to do with my belief in positive discipline as opposed to traditional discipline. It’s difficult at times to watch how family members who aren’t familiar with AP interact with my children and are quick to use threats and punishments.

Also, when my children and I attend non-API playgroups, I feel like there’s something different about my parenting style that sets me apart from other people. Reading a lot of books and articles that come from an AP perspective has helped me to feel confident enough in my parenting style that this doesn’t bother me so much anymore.

RITA: So how did you come to API?

KELLY: I first learned about API at a La Leche League (LLL) meeting from one of our leaders who was also an LLL leader. I became involved with the local API group after a negative experience at a non-API playgroup where I felt I didn’t fit in with the other mothers. At the time, I was fairly new to the area and didn’t have any friends who also had children. It was important for me to find other mothers who I felt that I could connect with. Through API, I was able to meet like-minded moms and have made some of my closest mom friends.

RITA: What inspired you to become an API Leader?

KELLY: My API group had been so meaningful and helpful to me when my first son was very young. I had a real need for the support and friendship I found within the group, and as my son got older, I really wanted to be able to be more involved with the group. When our leader mentioned that she was looking for others to co-lead, it really felt right for me to take on the role of API Leader. I’d been looking for a way to help other moms, and this felt like the perfect way for me to do that since our group and API’s Eight Principles of Parenting are so close to my heart.

RITA: How did you find the API Leadership process?

KELLY: I enjoyed going through the process, because it helped me to reflect on my parenting beliefs and experiences, especially when considering how the Eight Principles of Parenting applied to me.

It was also through this process that I found some of my favorite parenting books, including The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland and Alfie Kohn’s Unconditional Parenting, which have had a big impact on my parenting.

Editor’s Note: Follow the discussion on these and more books through the API Reads program

RITA: Has API Leadership been as fulfilling as you were hoping?

KELLY: We live in a somewhat transient area, and a lot of the moms who find our group are rather new to the area and don’t know many other moms. I like providing an opportunity to help these new moms get to know others with similar parenting styles. I like that, through meetings and online support, being an API Leader allows me to help new parents with some of the more challenging parts of babyhood and early childhood.

At a recent meeting, one member talked about how good it felt to be around parents with similar viewpoints. I was really struck by her saying, “It’s been really hard constantly defending myself to others.” But at our meeting and with our group, she felt comfortable, normal and accepted. I’m so glad that our group can provide that sort of comfort and support to parents who may not have much support from their friends or family.

API-Inspired Leadership: An interview with Candice Garrison

In celebration of Attachment Parenting International’s 20th Anniversary, the four-part “API-Inspired Leadership” series honors the unique paths that inspired parents to pursue API Leadership. Read the first part of the series, recognizing Lauren Osborne of Alabama, USA, here. Following is the second part of the series:

API-Logo-20th-themeI can relate to so much to what Candice Garrison of Knoxville, Tennessee, USA, has to say about stumbling upon Attachment Parenting (AP), finding local parent support and discovering Attachment Parenting International (API). Candice now serves as the leader of API of Knoxville. API is grateful to all of our API Leaders working on the “front lines” of the Attachment Parenting movement, providing attachment-minded education and support to families in their local communities.

RITA: Thank you, Candice, for your time. Let’s start by learning how you discovered AP.

Candice GarrisonCANDICE: Prior to having children, I was full of ideas about what kids needed and how I would parent. Once I actually became pregnant, the sheer amount of overwhelming love I felt towards my unborn child radically shifted my entire world. My perspective on parenting and children was altered in a way I could not have foreseen prior to my son’s arrival. I realized that all of my ideas were the result of societal influence and the way that I was parented. Once I had this realization, I knew that I wanted something different for my children. I approached my new shift on parenting with three foundations:

  1. Love
  2. Intuition
  3. Science.

These foundations ultimately led me to Attachment Parenting.

RITA: That sounds a lot like my journey to AP and, like you, giving birth to my first child turned everything upside-down. Have you found any aspects of Attachment Parenting to be challenging?

CANDICE: I was not raised in an AP environment, and changing behaviors ingrained since my own infancy has proved, at times, to be quite challenging. The advice that you are given from well-meaning family and friends is often a direct counter to the AP approach. The number of times that I heard I was spoiling my son or was asked when would we wean, what daycare were we choosing, did he sleep through the night yet and so on was immense. During this time, when I shared openly my own research and countered much of what I was told, I found that my choices were often met with a surprising amount of aggression. I found that people took my choices as a personal challenge to their own decisions. This was, and sometimes still is, ultimately the biggest challenge of parenting in a non-mainstream way.

RITA: When did you find API?

CANDICE: When I decided to stay at home, I left my eight-year career with the same company and quickly lost my social circle. My work friends who had children and chose to stay home weren’t always comfortable with my parenting decisions, and vice versa, leading to awkward play dates and social interactions. Most of my other friends didn’t have children at all, and I wasn’t up for ladies’ night out anymore. My own family isn’t close enough to be a part of our daily lives, and I was starting to feel surprisingly lonely despite never being alone. This is when I reached out to my local API group and found a sense of community for the first time since leaving my job.

RITA: What inspired you to become an API Leader?

CANDICE: Less than a year after I joined API, the existing group’s leadership retired and there was a hiatus while a new leader applicant began the API Leadership process. During that time, I reached out to some mainstream mommy groups and was uncomfortable participating in their activities. There was a near constant level of disrespect toward children in the forms of yelling, ignoring and even openly spanking that I couldn’t tolerate and was very uncomfortable for my young son.

Once I left my second mommy group, I decided to undertake API Leadership myself. My son and I needed a community, and I was ready to help create it if needed. I met with several other ladies who were still considering the process, and we started our group.

RITA: How did you find the API Leader Applicant process?

CANDICE: I was quite nervous to undertake it. Ultimately while long and sometimes intense, it was a great process. I learned a vast amount about parenting and communication, and it was incredibly beneficial in my personal family life.

Reading Nonviolent Communication [by Marshall Rosenberg] was an amazingly therapeutic experience for me. I grew up in an environment where almost all communication was violent at some level, and I didn’t realize how much of that carried into my adult life and interactions. I wish that book was required reading at a public education level, because I think it has the potential to change our society in such a positive way.

RITA: So many parents who go through the API Leadership process say that it helped them grow as a person and a parent as much as a parent support leader, myself included. I’m glad you found it beneficial. So, now as an API Leader, what do you enjoy about providing local parent support?

CANDICE: I love everything about it. I didn’t think I would enjoy it quite as much as I do, being an introvert with social anxiety, but if anything, it’s given my social life a purpose that helps to calm my nerves. I feel like I am making a difference and have found purpose, something lacking at a personal level in my previous job as an accountant.

RITA: Do you have any stories you can share?

CANDICE: Just yesterday I came full circle in my API experience, from member to leader.

At the very first meeting I attended, I was anxiously waiting for Q&A time at the end. I asked about my son’s sleep habits, hoping for some words of wisdom that would fix what I perceived as our problem. I was having to stay with my 10 month old at all times while he was sleeping. If I tried to get up after he fell asleep, he woke up and we had a hard time getting him back to sleep. So I was anxiously anticipating some instruction on how I could sneak away and what I got were a lot of “Oh, I’ve been there” and “Don’t worry, it will pass.”

These weren’t the answers I anticipated, but it was exactly what I needed. Since no one in my family had a family bed and I had no references for normal sleep behaviors without crying-it-out, I felt like I must be doing something wrong. All I needed was someone to say “Me, too” and “I’ve been there,” and I got the validation I was needing to keep meeting my son’s needs.

So last night, while my now 3-year-old son was asleep beside me but not yet asleep enough for me to leave his side, I gave a first-time mom the same advice I’d been given at my first meeting. I assured her that there was nothing wrong with her 9 month old needing her constant presence, that I had been there, too, and that this would pass all too quickly.

RITA: Have you encountered any challenges to being an API Leader?

CANDICE: As of now, I am mostly a solo leader. Our group took off and grew quickly and has taken on a lot of activity at a very young age. If I’m not careful, I can get caught up in my desire to do more than I am capable of balancing.

I also feel that I struggle to lead a formal study of topics during our support group meetings. I was assured during training that this is something that gets better with practice, and it has, but I am excited to add some more leaders to our group and find people who can help balance that.

RITA: Have you found any API resources helpful?

CANDICE: We have a very active Facebook group, and I link back to the API website quite often.

I also fall back quite a lot on the training process I went through and particularly NVC (Nonviolent Communication). It’s incredibly useful to go through the NVC process when giving advice and helping someone in their parenting journey. All too often, people have reached a high level of frustration before they reach out for help. Recognizing that and giving a sense of validation with that acknowledgement of someone’s feelings has proven to be incredibly important in opening up people to API’s Eight Principles of Parenting.

RITA: Thank you, Candice, for your insights. A final question: Has API Leadership inspired any other projects in your life to raise AP awareness?

CANDICE: I certainly hope it does in the future! I am very new in my position as a leader with API, so as of now, I am just enjoying the experience of taking on this role and working with my group. I am hopeful that once my family is complete and my children are older, I can use this experience to take on a career with AP or pursue something that will utilize all of the skills I am excited to build.

API-Inspired Leadership: An interview with Lauren Osborne

In celebration of Attachment Parenting International’s 20th Anniversary, the four-part “API-Inspired Leadership” series honors the unique paths that inspired parents to pursue API Leadership. This series will run on Fridays. Here is the first part of the series:

API-Logo-20th-themeAPI’s Leadership program is an opportunity for passionate parents, like Lauren Osborne of Huntsville-Madison, Alabama, USA, to “pay it forward” by providing attachment-minded education and support to families in their local communities. Lauren is serving as Attachment Parenting International‘s Communications Team Coordinator and volunteers with API of Huntsville-Madison. API is grateful to all of our API Leaders working on the “front lines” the Attachment Parenting movement, as well as the API Leader Applicants working to join them, including Lauren.

RITA: Thank you, Lauren, for your time. Let’s start by learning how you discovered Attachment Parenting (AP).

lauren osborneLAUREN: AP actually just happened to us.

We had never heard of AP before having our first child. Our doula gave us a copy of Attached at the Heart [by API cofounders Lysa Parker and Barbara Nicholson] as part of our gift basket. A few days after bringing our son home, my husband began reading it and said he thought I’d enjoy it.

It just made so much sense! We began cosleeping after coming home from the hospital, because we felt more comfortable having our baby near us and it made breastfeeding—and getting sleep—easier. As we read the book, we realized so much of what we felt was biologically normal. It was wonderful.

RITA: I’m glad that Attached at the Heart was validating for you and your husband. For all parents, some aspects of AP come easier than others. What have you found to be challenging about AP?

LAUREN: With what we faced with family when they heard we let the baby sleep in our room and breastfeeding past six months. People make comments, but we learned quickly to just let it go because our babies are happy and doing well and we’re confident in our parenting.

RITA: So how did you come to Attachment Parenting International (API)?

LAUREN: Lysa Parker spoke at one of our new moms’ groups, and I was instantly interested in learning about this organization.

RITA: And what inspired you to become an API Leader?

LAUREN: I just felt like giving back, in a sense. I am so glad I discovered AP and API with my first baby, and feel like I need to do my best at informing and helping other parents and caregivers. I’m passionate in things I truly believe in.

RITA: You are currently going through the API Leader Applicant process. How have you found it so far?

LAUREN: It has taken me too long. I’ve been through a lot the past two years: husband lost his job, we moved, and then I got pregnant and had a newborn. Otherwise, it’s great. You really do have to read and study and truly know what AP is and how to help others.

RITA: Thank you, Lauren, for your insights. As you have found, true to API’s Eighth Principle of Parenting—Strive for Personal and Family Balance—API allows plenty of flexibility for busy parents going through the API Leader Applicant process. Is there anything else you’d like to share?

LAUREN: I’ve been helping a mother with her two year old. The mother is just now learning about positive discipline and wanting to implement new tools in responding to her child. Thankfully she’s seeing her daughter in a better light and seeing where the daughter is responding positively.

I enjoy spreading the good news of API! I like helping others see a different way other than what their family and friends may be pushing on them. I really just want the best for children and families. I feel like API is just a wonderful resource and help for families.

Thank you, Courtney!

blue flowersIn the past 20 years since Attachment Parenting International was cofounded by Lysa Parker and Barbara Nicholson, the nonprofit organization has been a way for parents to join together as volunteers to give a voice to and further the Attachment Parenting movement. API has been blessed with amazingly dedicated volunteers — mothers and fathers and grandparents who have given of their time, talents and skills to the cause. Today, Attachment Parenting has become a household name and, even if not always attributed by name, API’s Eight Principles of Parenting are now incorporated into much of mainstream parenting and childcare trends. We are making a difference!

Courtney Sperlazza, a mother with a big heart and a passion for blogging, is one of these mothers who, for the last couple of years, has given of her free moments to serving as the Editor of APtly Said, the blog of Attachment Parenting International. APtly Said offers an opportunity to any parent who is practicing Attachment Parenting to write about their everyday experiences. The blog provides a place, along with all of API’s publications, to nurture writers, beginning or experienced, not only in furthering their parenting philosophies with the AP approach but also in furthering their writing ability. APtly Said is more than a storytelling platform; it’s a community, and API welcomes comments, which are moderated so that we can give additional support to commenters as needed.

Courtney has been there every step of the way. As Editor, she has coached writers, she has helped parents put their thoughts and feelings into words and work through some of life’s tough moments on paper (or should we say, computer screen), and she has guided commenters onto to other API resources when their questions and needs warranted. Attachment Parenting International is so grateful to her for her time, and we wish her well on her transition to her next life adventure.

So we are looking for APtly Said‘s next Editor. If interested in learning more, please contact Christy Sensenig, API’s Volunteer Coordinator, or Rita Brhel, API’s Publications Coordinator. Please have on hand your resume/CV, two writing samples specific to Attachment Parenting and a strategy for managing the APtly Said blog.

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