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.

Epic Meltdown

crying
flickr/dangermain

Have you been there?  I hope so, simply for my sake as I am in need of some mommy comforting.  We had a meltdown of epic proportions this week, at the tire store, in public, with everyone watching.  No, seriously, if only I could have harnessed that kind of energetic passion (to put it nicely) I would convert it to electricity and power my house for a year.

The story goes that I ran out of diapers for the 3-year old.  I think, ‘great time to encourage her potty-training ready signs and just get out the pull ups.’  She refuses to use the pull-ups and doesn’t like the panties but has had 100% potty success today. The warning lights in my car for the past week can no longer be put on the back burner, and so the necessary tire appointment is approaching fast.  Let me take you through it.  Picture the tire store, quiet yet busy in the mid-week, mid-afternoon.  In walks me with 3 young ladies ages 7,5, and 3.  I am schlepping purse, snacks, books, drinks, toys, coloring crayons and coloring books, stickers, suckers, change of clothes, pull ups and smartphone (everything but the kitchen sink) in hand, in 3 huge bags, and we go in for new tires. It looks like we are moving into the lobby but we have one and half hours wait, not too bad.

I must have looked like a chicken with no head.  I was hopping around there like flubber that was set free.  Getting up to fix the chair, find the book, do the math, read the sign, go to the potty, kiss the boo-boo, fix the hair -it was exhausting.  I look around the room in desperation, hoping that someone with throw me a bone, by that I mean a ‘its okay, I’ve been there, done that’ smile, but no takers.  I laugh aloud as I see I have even thought to bring myself a book that I couldn’t possible read in this environment.  My children are exhausting me but at least they are appropriately quiet.

The blissful moments of ‘appropriately quiet’ didn’t last long due to my three-year-old.  Long story short, I almost left my dear, sweet youngest child at the tire store (kidding…. I think). Meltdown one happened after I asked her to pick up something off the floor.  As three-year-olds do she made a mountain from a molehill, put her hands on hips and screams, “NO, I’m not going to do what you say!” It escalated fast.  Tantrums 2 and 3 I am a little fuzzy about now, but number four I remember well.  The random thoughts running through my head: (from another AP blogger) ‘how brave of her to express her feelings,’ how embarrassed I am that MY kid would act this way – mean I am an API leader, that tantrums are normal and actually healthy for the brain, if she pees on this carpet how will I clean it up?, why is my 5 year-old licking her hand?, when will the car get done? Do I have tequila at home for a margarita later? It IS five o’clock somewhere, how much is this costing me?, ’ just to name a few.  I survived the day, WITH new tires on the car.  *Whew!* Mission accomplished.

In relaying the grueling details to my husband that night he just swooped down into the conversation and gave me his benevolent perspective about why our darling youngest daughter was having these major meltdowns, “Maybe she is not ready for potty training…”

I looked at him with my bug eyes, “Oh, gee, ….”

We are back to diapers.  Apparently people in the trenches can’t often see the whole battlefield, or remember the path to the goal.  She is not ready for potty training and I will respect that.  Period.  I wish I had recognized it earlier but I am not perfect and the supermom cape really doesn’t exist.

As the day wrapped up and I looked at her in my arms, with a happy tear this time in my eye and saw a sweet, precious, sleeping face I was reminded of several parenting lessons:

  1. How grateful I am and how necessary my husband is in child-rearing.  After we left the tire place, I took her straight to dad’s office and got a breather, the both of us were able to calm down.
  2. That no matter how good of a mother you are, this WILL happen to you eventually.   Attachment parent or not.
  3. Although I did have tears in my own eyes during this whole fiasco, I was proud I didn’t lose my cool or scream.  I stuck with my philosophy of discipline, despite how it looked to the strangers there.
  4. It is good to come home to a hubby and a glass of wine after a long day and be reminded that I really am a good mother, despite one bad experience.
  5. I lived another day.  They lived another day.  It is a good day.

Okay, so number five did NOT occur to me at the time, but I am glad that one day is over.  I am grateful I have some perspective and that I can now smile and really sit with my parenting education I was just given by my youngest child.  I survived an epic meltdown and lived to mother another day.

National Spank Out Day – Positive Discipline Resources

April 30th is National Spank Out Day, which was established to promote non-violent discipline of children.

Today, we aim to raise awareness about physical punishment for children, as well as educate parents about effective discipline practices that do not involve hitting and spanking.

Here, we’ve listed some of API’s resources on positive discipline, as well as information from other trusted sources. These can serve as a starting point on the path to implementing positive discipline in the home, or those familiar with positive discipline may find new tools to deepen the understanding between the parent and child.

We offer these resources to let parents know that there are alternatives to spanking that work.

From Attachment Parenting International:

“What is Misbehavior?” API Speaks

“Toddler Ten Commandments” API Speaks

“Tips to Dealing With Acting Out Behavior” The Attached Family

“The Man in the Yellow Hat Exemplifies Positive Discipline” API Speaks

Attachment Parenting International’s Effective Discipline page

The Truth About Spanking: What Parents Must Know About Physical Discipline [Teleseminar]

From Other Sources:

10 Reasons Not to Hit Your Child Ask Dr. Sears

“How to Use Positive Parenting” Aha Parenting

“The Power of Touch” San Diego Family

“Connection is Key” Parenting from Scratch

Alternatives to Spanking” Positive Parents

“No More Timeouts, No More Tiger Moms” Tips on Life and Love

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