Archive for the ‘Empathetic Parenting’ Category

Why Parenting Support is So Critical

apilogoI read the Attachment Parenting International blog tonight, API Speaks, and the post really shook me up. I encourage you to check it out.

The author writes: “Parents and caregivers are not passive guardians of children in the earliest years; we’re active participants in building their learning foundations and we need support, not blame, in this extraordinarily important role.  In the most simplistic view, spending on education can only be as successful as its antecedent:  early care.”

He draws attention to the tragic recent child abuse case of Lydia Schatz, 7, and her 11 year old sister Zariah, who suffered at the hands of their adopted parents. Lydia died from her beatings.

The article from this family’s local newspaper reported:

“Both girls were allegedly whipped by the their adoptive parents with a quarter-inch plumbing supply line – the instrument suggested by Michael and Debi Pearl, founders of No Greater Joy Ministries and authors of the controversial religious parenting book ‘How to Train Up a Child.'”

I was reminded of a fellow AP Mama in Austin who shared a story a few months ago. She said a repair man came to her home and following his visit sent her a letter admonishing her for the permissive parenting style he observed while in her house.  He went on to highly recommend that she and her husband read this same book.  He claimed he parented 8 or 10 kids….can’t remember exactly….and that he and his wife knew what it took to raise respectful children.

THIS BOOK FLAT OUT RECOMMENDS CHILD ABUSE.  According to reviews that I’ve read, there is a page that actually recommends whipping infants.  Are you kidding me?! (more…)

Posted in Attachment Parenting, Empathetic Parenting | 8 Comments

Practicing Non-Attachment with Attachment Parenting

Daily OM Image

Daily OM Image

Seems like a strange topic and title choice for on article on Attachment, right?  It does feel quite paradoxical! Yet, I believe there’s a distinction in the semantics of “attachment” at play here.

The essence of Attachment Parenting, according to the Attachment Parenting International site is: “…forming and nurturing strong connections between parents and their children.”

Non-Attachment, traditionally associated with Buddhism, isn’t about severing these precious bonds with our children. And, in my opinion, it’s not about being Buddhist. It’s a nondenominational practice of letting go and a practice that I personally find extremely challenging as a parent.

I know that my best-intention desire to protect, to fix, to guide, and ultimately provide the best possible life I can for my girls puts me in a silly position of believing it’s up to me to do so. I mean really, this is pure illusion on my part as I dream up an idyllic life and attempt to impose that definition onto my children, sweet souls here to experience their own unique life journey.

My friend Lois Goodman, an amazing, loving human being and incredibly gifted Intuitive, has said to me a number of times over the last year or so, “Monica, you’ve got to let go of trying so hard to create the perfect life for your daughters. It’s not healthy and it’s not fair to them.”

In recent months I’ve been tuning in more and more to what this means, discovering how to redefine love and attentive care with non-attachment — and remain Attachment Mama.  I can support my girls to live their own lives, choose their own path and feel empowered to solve their own problems without relinquishing my care and our fabulous bond. And to be clear, in moving toward more awareness around what it means to guide my children toward solving their own problems, I’m not endorsing the idea of teaching babies to “self-soothe” with Cry-It-Out.  Each to their own — but sleep training in this way is not for our family.

The idea of parenting in such a way that you foster independent problem-solving becomes more relevant when the child is a bit older, say two or three years old and you can coach her to resolve conflict on her own with other toddlers.

“When Johnny takes a toy from you that you were enjoying playing with, what can you do?  You can work together to take turns; You can choose something else and come back to that toy later….”  Or “When Sally hits you, what can you do?  You can tell her how it makes you feel; You can protect yourself by walking away; You can let her know you like it when friends give hugs.”  After several conversations and real-life practice, when she comes crying to you down the road about one of these scenarios, you can empower her by asking her what she intends to do to solve the problem.

For me, getting into practicing non-attachment as an AP mama is about getting more comfortable with being uncomfortable. Two paradoxes in one sentence???! Holy Moses, this article is getting out of hand. But seriously, figuring out how to solve your own problems in life ain’t pretty. It’s a rough road! I know from experience as a mother and a daughter that the parental rescue swoop can relieve a lot of discomfort for both parent and child in the moment. Long term? Not so great.

The Daily OM — which I have loved receiving for several years now — appeared to be written for me today.  The title of today’s inspiration was: “Practicing Non-Attachment: Allowing Our Children To Be“.

“Truly loving our children requires us to set them free and practice nonattachment. Trust and allow.

Posted in Empathetic Parenting, Over Parenting | 2 Comments

Excellent Tools for Maintaining Consistent Respect for Our Children in Blackard’s “Say What You See”

“When we demonstrate love and respect, that’s what we get back(pg 5).


You know what’s so cool about this book? It IS a nutshell. It’s a little 50 page handbook that you can read in a half hour. I discovered the book at my daughter’s Montessori preschool.  They were hosting a Language of Listening: Say What You See workshop for parents and had a stack of books available for purchase.  I missed the workshop but was happy to purchase this $8 quick read that had the school’s recommendation.

Sandra Blackard put together her “Say What You See®” handbook and seminars based on communication concepts and techniques that she gleaned from play therapist, Dr. Garry L. Landreth, the author of Play Therapy: The Art of the Relationship.

She presents the concepts and techniques in a simple, easy-to-retain way that every sleep-deprived, toddler-challenged parent will appreciate.

The premise of the book is centered around the idea that loving, respectful relationships flourish when we see the good in our children regardless of their behavior — a great reminder and often difficult to put in practice. When we focus on the healthy need every behavior demonstrates rather than the behavior itself, we can build a new level of understanding and a deeper connection with our children.

“Say What You See” is broken down into six basic communication concepts that allow us to redirect our impulse to judge or express anger and instead see the good in our children in all circumstances.

1) “Responding to the Good in Children”.  According to Blackard, when you say what you see, love and respect are automatic.

2)  “Listening to Understand”.  Everything children do and say is their way of communicating and they must continue to do so until they feel understood. You can listen to understand your child’s perspective by saying what you see and your understanding works like a fire extinguisher for their upset.

3)  “Demonstrating Understanding”. You can do this by giving children your full attention at their eye level and matching the child’s mood with words, actions and facial expressions.

4)  “Saying What You See.”   Making observational statements about what you see as they relate to what the child is doing, saying, feeling and thinking.

5) “Adding Strength”.  To acknowledge your child, Blackard suggests refraining from generic “good job” praise which only leads a child to develop a dependency on parental approval and instead help build your child’s sense of self by adding statements about your child’s strengths after you say what you see.

6) When setting boundaries or rules, you can encourage self-control and creative problem solving by adding what your child can do after you say what you see.


Posted in AP Book Snapshots, Empathetic Parenting, Say What You See | 4 Comments

Ideas for Quitting the Binky — And Preparing for Withdrawal

binkyOh my, this year has kicked off with the mighty roar of a lion at our house!  My husband and I have a new, fierce resolve to rise above all the challenges that nailed us in ’09.  And with this intense, “let’s make it happen” energy, there’s been a trickle-down impact on our sweet 3 year-old who was perfectly content with the status quo.

You see, one of the things we determined simply wasn’t working for us anymore was The Binky. We officially reached our limit in supporting and enabling the addiction and decided New Year’s Eve was the night to crack it and start the new year out “fresh.”

Ha ha ha.

Can’t really call the morning of January 1 particularly fresh after the crying, screaming, thrashing, begging anger that dominating the entire night. My husband described it as feeling like a scene from Trainspotting or Basketball Diaries.

And yet my intent all along was to discover a way to gently guide my daughter to choose giving up binkies herself and avoid a traumatic experience! (more…)

Posted in Binky Weaning, Empathetic Parenting | 8 Comments

Top 5 Gifts for Parents of Babies and Toddlers

There are so many material things that are more than wonderful to receive when you’re starting or growing a family:  baby clothes, socks, booties, hats, toys, blankets, baby carriers, diaper bags, books, picture frames, bibs, diaper cloths, baby monitors, etc.  I’m enormously grateful for having received most of the above through baby showers and hand-me-downs from my sister-in-law.  All of these wonderful gifts have enabled us to keep our angels dressed in every season, entertained, and read to from an early age.

Here’s some other gift ideas that are more about the parents, but the relief these gifts provide for Mommy and Daddy will ultimately mean more emotional capacity to provide loving, patient care of their little ones around the clock.

1)  A FOOD TREE. For parents following the birth of a child — organizing a Food Tree is a wonderful gift.  A Food Tree is essentially a group of friends and family members gathering together to take turns bringing meals to a family in need of support. This was an amazing experience for us following the birth of our second baby. We were so overwhelmed with appreciation for the lovely dinners that were brought to us from our friends that we threw a Gratitude party for them five months later. I recommend setting up an online calendar system.  This makes coordinating the different dates easy, and everyone can see the types of meals being delivered to avoid duplications.  Care Calendar is great.  Mama True offers some great additional tips on  how to go about setting up a food tree that include questions to ask the recipients that can be shared with their community of friends.

2) GIFT CERTIFICATE FOR ERRAND-RUNNING SERVICE.  This might be the next greatest gift after a Food Tree.  My local favorite:  PunchList.  I’m sure most cities have one that you can find on Google.  Getting into the car with babies and toddlers isn’t generally a relaxing experience.  To be able to call someone to pick up something you need while you tend to the tots in the comfort of your home.  WOW.

3) GIFT CERTIFICATE FOR MAID SERVICE. I can’t think of a single mom with small children that wouldn’t be filled with appreciation for this gift. Looking at my dirty floors right now I might cry tears of joy and gratitude for this one.

4) BABYSITTING. Just an hour or two out of the house can do wonders for over-stretched parents needing to recharge their batteries. And when you don’t have to worry about a dinner and movie date costing $100 with baby-sitting, you might be more inclined to get out.

5) GIFT CERTIFICATE FOR RESTAURANTS THAT DELIVER. You can opt to find one restaurant that delivers and get a certificate directly from them, or find a delivery service that will provides your friend or family member with options.  Austin Service is Dine on Demand.

santa_sleighOK, so with the exception of the Food Tree, I think I just wrote down my Wish List for Santa.  Less than a week until Christmas and I’m still conflicted how to present this mythical dude to my toddler.  Apparently there’s part of me that still wants to believe in him myself!  Santa? Santa? Are you there?

Anyone seen the Santa tracking web site?  Adorable.

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Posted in AP & Self Care, Empathetic Parenting, Holiday | No Comments


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