Tag Archives: AP

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Update + Reflections on Attachment Parenting

UPDATE:
So it’s been a while for me. **Huge** thank you to Cassandra for keeping this little blog alive while I was homeschooling this year!!

I also want to extend my gratitude to all of you have remained loyal readers – we appreciate you.  It is good to know that there are others like us in the world, and that we are not alone on this journey.

Now that we are (almost) on summer break, I have plans. I will be sharing some of the things that we have been doing since the last time I posted in (gasp!) February.  My favorite project from our 2014-2015 school year has been planning our Preschool Playdates.  For the first time in a long time, I got to use my creativity instead of following a course outline from a homeschool curriculum publisher.  If you follow us on Instagram (@sweetpeafamilies), you will have seen the pictures.  As I have more time, I will be posting the pictures here, along with more details and links to the printables that I used.

Here are some random thoughts I want to share with you:

1. It has become painfully clear to me that I am not going to be a super-blogger anytime soon.  I had the opportunity to attend the Birth Without Fear conference in Austin (October 2014) – A.Ma.Zing.  Besides all the incredible information that I received that weekend, I also realized something else: super-bloggers bleed on their pages.  As a person today, I am too private to reveal that much of myself on the internet. I also have serious concerns about what my children and their friends will read about as it relates to our family, so you will continue to see helpful, informative posts that (hopefully) encourage and inspire you as you grow your family.

2.  I have accepted that I have a full-time job: homeschooling our four children.  It was so much less stressful on us this year when I wasn’t concerned about getting posts up two times a week, and then watching the ticker to see who was seeing what…besides the fact that I do not have the time or the interest to keep up with the paperwork that accompanies blogging for income.  For now, I will keep on having blog-envy when I see blogs with slick pages, lots of sponsors and popularity buttons, all while maintaining my sanity for the benefit of our whole family!

3. There are a lot of posts half-written in my mind: mothering, self-acceptance, and toddler tantrums are my top three.  I am looking forward to sharing them with you as our school year winds down and I can use some of that open time to type them in their completed form here.

REFLECTIONS ON ATTACHMENT PARENTING:
For today, I want to encourage you once again in attachment parenting.  We had the pleasure of attending a program at the library with The Singing Cowboy yesterday.  One of his messages to the children was to be kind to their animals, specifically to horses.  The audience was captivated by his horse, who performed amazing “tricks” to the delight of the children.  Some kiddos kept asking, “How do you train him?! How does he do that?”

His answer was that the horse was his friend.  He does not abuse him, hit him, or incite fear or pain – his philosophy is to just have fun with him.  Although it takes longer to train this way, he uses kindness and encouragement instead of pain and consequences.

It was exactly the message I needed to hear yesterday.  If a human being can take this much care with an animal, can we take as much care or more with our children? Aren’t they worthy of our very best efforts every time we interact with them?

The concept of attachment parenting where we honor our children as whole, completely functioning human beings really does take more time. I cannot see a way around that because it is intentional and purposeful; by definition it takes longer.  In some cases, it requires us to exercise self-control instead of instant behavior modication.  I propose that it is worthy and important because we are not training animals – we are raising up human beings, the future of our society.

I have been a little louder than I like to be these days – Peaceful Mama is struggling hard against turning into Crazy Mama.  The summer months are my nanny-free months, so I am not only wrapping up our school year, I am also the full-time cook, laundress and daily housekeeper (Thank goodness we have someone come once a week to help with the cleaning!!).  This year I have the additional task of preparing our beloved summer home for sale, plus the stress of packing or parting with everything we have accumlated here over the last seven years.

Yesterday was the poke at the heart that I needed.  My children are not my friends…they are more than that.  They are the big souls in little bodies that have been entrusted to ME. What an honor to love, nurture and cherish these amazing human beings. In spite of the added stress I am feeling, my Sweet Peas are still children: they have no idea about the stresses I carry or why I carry them.  And I don’t want to them to carry them with me – their lives will get complicated soon enough.

I also need to acknowledge that all the acting out I am seeing these days is a reflection of their own stress about selling our summer home. Three of them have known this place from the dawn of their memory.  I was pregnant with them here, so they have experienced these sounds since before they were born.  They learned to crawl on these floors.  All four of them have shared childhood adventures within these walls.  I am not alone in my anxiety about selling our haven of rest and relaxation.

What I realized yesterday is that we can all have more fun if I can slow down a minute to think about the big picture.  If I can have them help me, I don’t have to bear my burdens alone.  However, it’s not just about getting the chores done – it’s also about teaching them and treasuring our time as a family.

I had already started the week by creating “clean teams” – the two younger children help me with breakfast clean up, the two older children help me with lunch clean up, and then they take turns as “boy team” and “girl team” helping their father with the dinner dishes.  Now I want to add more fun – upbeat music as we clean up, maybe let them come up with team chants that we can use for encouragement and team-building.  I know there are also some laundry games we can play, and the older two can learn to use the clothes washer if I relax about controlling every aspect of doing the laundry.

Next on my list is finding a way to make the packing and parting meaningful to them.  If you have any ideas, please share them in the comment section.

We have the opportunity to create the lives we want for our families.  Let’s make the most of those every day.  While taking the time to add joy to mundane tasks may mean it takes longer, I am going to take it if it means more smiles for everyone involved.

Monday Musing: Within These Walls

WorkInTheHome

Image credit https://www.facebook.com/childrensmovementFL

We have been under a lot of pressure at The Bowman House lately…the same things that probably add stress in your life…lots to do and not enough time, planning our budget, growing pains, work commitments…both Bruss and I noticed that the volume has been going up again.  We both value a gentle, peaceful house, and we have been making a pointed effort to be gentle parents despite the pressures we feel.

We had a presentation on babywearing for our Peas & Pods group last Friday.  One of the benefits of babywearing is that you learn to read your Sweet Pea – you learn their cues, their body language, their facial expressions.  Conversely, your Sweet Pea learns to read you.

As I have been close to losing my cool lately, Otter (our 2yo) has been the first to say, “Mommy, take a deep breath.”  The first time she said it, it actually took my breath away and I asked Daddy Bruss if he had heard the same thing I had heard.  She had seen my face and could tell I was stressed.

The other thing that she does is help me to make a joke.  Before I lost my cool, one of my tricks is to ask the kiddos, “You don’t want to see my angry face, right?” To which they answer, “Yes we do, Mommy!”  Then, I proceed to make an angry, growly face with some sound effects and it diffuses the tension as we all burst into peals of laughter as everyone else starts making angry faces and growling.  Once we are in a good space, we can talk about what was happening and solve problems with Peaceful Mama.

Again, over the weekend, Otter was pre-empting me…she’d ask me, “Mommy, are you angry?”, or she would ask me to make my angry face, just as she could see that I was hitting a breaking point.

I think one of of my favorite things about attachment parenting is the give and take as your children come into their own.  As much as I love to teach and nurture our children, it is so amazing to learn from and be nurtured by them.

We can directly influence the tone within the walls of our home.  We can choose do the mental and emotional work it takes to be in a good space so that we can be gentle in spite of the pressures.  So while attachment parenting certainly takes more time than the cause-and-effect approach, it is proving to be SO SO worth it.

Wordless Wednesday: 5 Favorites

WE have had so many neat submissions on different topics that are important to creating a healthy family…here are five that demonstrate a different value we have:

Breastfeeding

BLOG WBW13 ww chandler1 spf

Babywearing

Babywearing on a hike

Babywearing on a hike

Co-sleepingBLOG SPF ww cosleep2

 

Green LivingBLOG ww140312 spf.7

 

Whole Food (and french fries!)

Night Owl eating out - nothing on the menu appealed to him, so he ordered his own smorgasbord for lunch!

Night Owl eating out – nothing on the menu appealed to him, so he ordered his own smorgasbord for lunch!

 

 

MM toddler nursing

Milestone Monday! I survived NIP…

…with a toddler!  As you can see from the picture…this kiddo is active, and clearly not a “baby”.  I think for the most part as a general public we are more comfortable with babies being nursed in public…toddlers…not so much.

Otter is pushing me much farther out of my comfort zone.  The oldest nursling I had breastfed in public was Charger…and I stopped nursing him in public right around his second birthday as my pregnancy with Otter was progressing.

She is now 29 months old, and this “baby” of ours will not take no for an answer.  She wants her “leche” and she wants it now!  So, I nursed her in front of a whole bunch of folks and horses at the gymkhana we went to yesterday afternoon…and it was no big deal!

Now, while I am working on setting boundaries and we are negotiating this NIP thing, it was a relief to be able to feed her and do so without any comments of negativity from bystanders.

What’s your share for Milestone Monday?

TT SPF

Thoughtful Thursday: Identity Crisis

We all know them – are them – have been them…the parents who post pictures of their children non-stop.  Here is an excerpt from one mama’s admission and explanation (emphasis mine):

 I share my pictures because, like every mother on the planet, I think my kids are adorable (no, but really mine *are* adorable). I share because, as pathetic as this sounds, the attention is validation of sorts. I can’t get A’s anymore — and forget about being recognized for my achievements (like getting my son to pee before leaving the house — why is this so hard?!) So what do I have? “Likes” and comments about how cute my kids are.

I share because my pictures tell stories about our daily lives and our adventures. I share because my pictures create a dialogue with other people.

And perhaps the biggest answer is that I share pictures of my kids because spending time with them is what I’m doing with my life.

Written by Jen Simon for Kveller.com – excerpt from The HuffPostBlog

While it’s a lovely and honest explanation for her behavior, I implore parents to remember who they are at their core. We owe it to ourselves, first and foremost, to preserve that identity so that we can care for others from a healthy place.

Whether you work at home or away from home, do you know who you are?  Do you know what your core values are?  Are you living them, and would your children (or anyone else) be able to name them based on your actions?

I invite all parents, whether you are at home or away during the day, to shake things up.  Who are you?  And then be honest: if you are living for your job or your children, think about changing that.  It has been my experience that remembering our “core” selves keeps us from making decisions that are harmful to our psyche.  Choices that are aligned with our values keep us from sabotaging our lives.  From here on out, I am going to continue with children as the main focus…feel free to replace that word with whatever is your major focus right now if it is not your child(ren).

Burying our value under or behind our children is at the very least, stifling, and it may only get more oppressive as time passes.  We submerge ourselves underneath our children.  We pretend that life is perfect.  We forget who we are as we talk ourselves into the idea that “this” is what we are doing with our lives.  What if “this” turns into living with regret, guilt, dwelling on lost opportunities?  These emotions may manifest themselves later, in emotions such as anger (rage), depression and other disorders.  Those things do not benefit us, or our children.  And so begins the crack in the dyke.  Unchecked, the tide of destructive behaviors ends up hurting the sweet little children we use as tools for validation from our peers.

HERE is honesty from a woman named Isabelle who was not true to herself.  This mom who “gave it all up” shares her legacy: she is not happy about her choice, and you hear regret about her life.  How many other parents feel that way?  I bet we can all think of someone.  What it is like to hear that raising children was not worthwhile, and that the lost time can’t be replaced?  They are loved, albeit in an interesting way, that is for sure.

I admire Isabelle’s commitment to raise the children she agreed to bring into the world.  She saw her role as personally giving them the best start.  That is a noble commitment, to parent out of a moral obligation to do well by them.  In addition to that, I strive to parent our children with love and respect.

As part of parenting them with love and respect, I want to honor them as their own people, separate from me.  I saw myself turning into “that” mom who over-shared.  I made a conscious choice that I had to have an identity outside of my children because I have worth apart from them, and they have worth apart from me.

While I treasure the time with our children, I have come to realize that spending time with them is not what I am doing with my life.  I am living to nurture children who can become compassionate, creative, critical thinkers.  My commitment is to create a learning environment for them, not being validated by them. My life is also fostering a setting that inspires me to be better, do more and grow so that I can be the best parent I can be for my children.  I want to meet them where they are.  I can only see with clarity if my own lens  isn’t being smudged or filtered with buried regrets or resentments of all the things I am not doing because I “have to” take care of them.

I would like to think that those of us who parent with good intentions want their children to be happy and successful.  For myself I wonder, how do I teach them to create their own happiness, value themselves, their autonomy, and their personhood if mine is non-existent?  I propose that we need to actually be happy, not just pretend to be happy in cropped and filtered social media snapshots of “perfection” that garner “likes”.

I encourage parents who find their identity and seek validation from their adorable children to take a minute to reflect.  Why is that important to you?  Can we find *you* on your social media, or just your children?  Aren’t you worth remembering?  Are you doing something to be proud of outside of your children?  If not, consider digging around to find out where you went.  If you want your children to be strong and independent, show them how to be autonomous.  If you want them growing up with a healthy respect for humanity, show them a human worth respecting for their individual value.

It is possible to be a good parent without losing yourself in your child.  It is possible to have social media accounts that are not covered with pictures of your child.  If you have an extended family stretched around the world, maybe you could consider a “secret” group (facebook) or a private blog or webpage that is password restricted.  That way you can keep a private online record for family to follow without compromising your child’s right to create their own persona.

Beyond that, you are worth it.  You deserve to find your passion and live life to the fullest, with children that make the living even more enjoyable because you have wonderful souls to share and journey with as you live.

A little postscript from the woman who decided to run a contest to increase submissions for wordless wednesday…feeling slightly hypocritical…still, food for thought:

I want my children to learn that they have a voice, and I want them to have the freedom to create their own identity.  I came to the realization that if I post pictures of them from the time they are born until the time when they are no longer living under our roof, I have created their public persona.

We are starting to hear that schools and employers ask for access to a potential employee’s social media accounts.  We know that technology can identify faces electronically.  That means that in the future, anyone can form an opinion about them based on my portrayal of their person.  That frightens me, and it is also sobering.  They deserve to define themselves.  It is their right, not mine.

Personally, I make every effort to only post pictures that are in side or back profile.  If there is one especially amazing photo that shows their full face, I ask permission before sharing.  And if they say, “NO!” or “no”, then I do not post them.  I have recently taken that position with the #wordlesswednesday submissions – if multiple photos are submitted, I will choose the images that demonstrate the theme and reveal the minimal amount of the child’s identity.  It will certainly make me think twice about the themes I choose going forward.  While I believe that images help normalize attachment parenting, the tricky part is that breastfeeding and AP necessarily involve a minor.  Hmmm.

Play with your baby - does this look like wrestling to you?

Attachment Parenting: Responding With Sensitivity

I was so glad to be able to attend another monthly meeting of the Attachment Parenting Support Group this month.  I always learn something, and there is usually an a-ha moment or two!

“Responding With Sensitivity” can be a way to prevent the need to discipline when behaviors are a result of acting out.  Remove the need to act out, and you remove the need to discipline for that instance.  It can also circumvent or redirect behavior if a child is already moving down the path to needing help to make kinder choices themselves.  Meeting them where they are at, at their level, listening to what they need, redirecting if necessary – those actions from the parent that honor the child can make all the difference in their world.

Here are the three behaviors shared with us in yesterday’s meeting by Amanda, our AP facilitator in the Phoenix area:

1.  Show interest in your child’s activities and participate enthusiastically in child-directed play.
This made so much sense.  We can spend the day telling our children what to do: go here, go there, do this, stop that…I can see how it gets to be too much.  It must be so rewarding as a child to feel like your word counts because for once, one of your favorite adults is happy to do what you want to do.

2.  Some children enjoy programs where parents are not included.
There are children who will thrive in a home environment, there are others that will enjoy a group environment.  If your child is one who craves groups, then we as parents need to gauge our child’s readiness to spend significant time away from us.  Our other responsibility is to learn about the type of support provided by the adult caregivers.  How do they run the classroom/group? What are their expectations?  How do they set boundaries?  Are those things (and more!) in line with your beliefs?  One thing that was not brought up in the meeting, but that comes up because of my own backstory is to ask if the care providers have been trained, screened, and/or cleared for child care.

3.  Babies’ brains are extremely immature – the more you soothe them, the more they learn about soothing themselves. 
This particular facet piqued my interest, especially after Tuesday’s post.  I am intrigued by the idea that the more they are comforted, the more skills they have at doing the comforting.

The simplicity of this principle really struck me, and confirmed once again, that AP can work because you are respecting your child as a whole person who has needs, however they are able (or unable) to communicate them.  It is our role as parents to slow down, listen with our hearts as well as our ears, and meet that child where they are.

When I think of, “Responding With Sensitivity”, it means that we are intentional about nurturing, comforting, and being kind to our children.  Not just when we can see them start heading to a melt down – all the time.  To me, it means I want to learn to move through the day with the mindset that we are meant to nurture, comfort and be kind *always*.

I know whenever I hear our child crying or whining, my first thought, especially when I am tired, is typically to think, “What now?”  AP teaches that any behaviors out of their ordinary usually indicate that they have a need that isn’t being filled.  I am training myself to learn to ask, “Which need is not being met?”  I know that they are not setting out to ruin or manipulate when I am rested…I want to remember that when I am tired, too.

With an infant, the needs are pretty easy to identify after four kiddos…wet, hungry, tired, in need of more/less touch?  I am having a harder time – maybe you have a suggestion to help me formulate a toddler list when they are not always able to use words.  So far my checklist includes: hungry, tired, eye contact and attention…what else should I add to my list?

Our older kids are “easy” to decipher thanks to spoken language and body language .  Now I am waiting for the hormones to kick in and make me learn AP skills for tweens and teens…

I am still pondering the sleep statement.  I wonder if that is why some babies rock when they are tired?  And it brings up the never-ending debate of nature versus nurture.  Can I teach my “high-needs” child to soothe themselves?  Can we nurture them out of their nature?  Do we want to?

So for now, sleep will continue to be something I am just happy to “roll” with (pardon the pun!).  If it works for our family, we will go with it.  If it doesn’t, we will try other ideas, until we find the next something that works “for now”.

The big a-ha moment from yesterday:  AP takes time.  A Lot Of Time.  Time I don’t always want to take because our “demand change now tape” from my reflexes takes over.  I worked so hard to never bark out orders at my adult staff and co-workers – why would I treat my children with any less respect?  Unfortunately, my reality is that it is SO much faster to bark a directive than it is to breathe, reflect, and get down on our child’s eye level and nurture them.  However, seeing the moments when an older child remembers to breathe instead of react, the time when they look a sibling in the eye to ask, “are you okay”…those are the rays of promise that efficiency *is not* everything.  Nurturing with love and respect is worth it every time.

So I will continue to try to erase the “fast” tape and replace it with the “intention” tape.  I can see it’s worth it, and I want to allow our children the space to know that they are worth my time.

I will close with this video that I ran across today.  It was put together by Rachel Rainbolt, M.A., and it offers more insight on the biology of infant sleep:

Sleep-Bonding

Do you want to keep up with information about the Attachment Parenting of Phoenix group?  It is facilitated by Amanda Santana, and meetings are held the 3rd Thursday of the month.  You can find her at Nurtured Beginnings on Facebook HERE

P.S. We are having a great opportunity to try out Responding With Sensitivity today.  We have one Sweet Pea with a fever that hasn’t broken, two tired parents, and three other Sweet Peas who want and need attention…definitely time to breathe, speak with kindness, and parent with the intention of meeting everyone individually and respond to that particular child’s needs.

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Tuesday Tips: Positive Discipline

Just in time for Tuesday Tips are my notes from last week’s Attachment Parenting playgroup.  We talked about the idea of “Positive Discipline”.  There was a mom at the meeting who has started a couple of AP groups here in Phoenix – once I can get the links to the internet groups she started, I will post them.

So what is “Positive Discipline”?  I think that some folks think that Attachment Parents are “absent parents” in this area since we make a conscious choice not to use physical discipline with our children.  Why are we opposed to spanking and hitting?  The core belief is that we respect our children as whole, complete individuals.  It is a criminal offense to hit another adult, and we take the view that even more so a defenseless child.  The goal is to raise self-directed individuals who make healthy choices because they want to and they know how to, not because they are afraid of us or the consequences that we mete out.

What does the research say?  As with many things, you can find studies that support your view.  One of our students who is a researcher at ASU shared some studies with me that support spanking, and other research that supports not spanking.  She shared these sage words: there are bad parents that don’t spank, and there are good parents that do spank.  So does spanking make a difference?

When I asked a friend of mine why she didn’t spank, her answer changed my view on the meaning of discipline forever: A big person spanking or hitting a small person is never acceptable – it is always violence and an abuse of power.

There are a couple of things positive discipline is not:

  • It is not manipulation or bribing.  Manipulating statements tend to sound like this, “If you____, then I _____.”  Having preconditions on behavior sets up a precedence for incentive based behavior.  These kinds of interactions are missing trust.  The other thing you don’t want to instill is fear: what happens if I don’t take the bait?
  • It is not ignoring the behavior and never addressing the child’s actions.  While it is sometimes prudent to ignore a naughty word choice just in case your child is doing it for attention or the thrill factor, ignoring behaviors that hurt or injure others is not being AP.  It would be neglectful and disrespectful of the other people being hurt by your child’s choices.

The three main components of AP discipline are Prevention, Distraction and Substitution:

  • Letting your child explore safely letting them explore, be close, do their own thing
  • Use time in vs. time out
  • Empower and respect
  • Understand the unmet need
  • Work out a solution together – be proactive
  • Have a “yes” environment
  • Discipline through play – act out the better choices with dolls or puppets
  • Change things up – “Change your state” by changing your environment
  • State facts rather than making demands
  • Avoid labeling
  • Make requests in the affirmative
  • Allow natural consequences that are age appropriate
  • Use care when offering praise
  • Offer your child choices
  • Be sensitive to strong emotions – what else is going on?
  • Consider carefully before imposing will
  • Use logical consequences sparingly and with compassion
  • Understand the difference between acting out and developmentally appropriate behaviors
  • Give loving guidance to needs and the temperament of each child

What are your child’s developmental milestones?  Here are a couple of sites that I use:

  • Find good info at Zero to Three (Their sleep info isn’t what we follow, however, developmental info is pretty good.)
  • Another great resource that is generally spot-on with our parenting choices is Aha! Parenting by Dr. Laura Markham.  Her website has developmental milestones and resources for parents from birth through the teen years.  I have a feeling I am going to be wearing a “virtual” beaten path to her site as our family grows :)

What does AP discipline look like in action?  AP parents want to connect with their children, so we use words to direct behavior.  The example was a child who is learning to use scissors and wants to cut everything besides paper.

  1. Tell your reason:  “I can’t let you cut the carpet because…”
  2. Ask them to tell you why they shouldn’t be doing something, or tell them why if they are too young to use words.
  3. Ask them to tell you what is an appropriate choice, or offer one if they are too young to act out or verbalize an appropriate choice: ” If you do not want to cut paper right now, I can let you cut the grass – should we go try using scissors outside?”

The “biggie” in any family or playgroup is hitting.  How does an AP parent want to handle that?

  1. Talk to your child before intervening: “I can see that you are getting frustrated.  Can you think of some words to use with your sibling/friend?  Or maybe you want to try playing something else (or: by yourself, come sit with me for a minute)?”  Hopefully that is enough to get them to make a different choice and avoid a physical expression.  If it isn’t…
  2. Comfort hurt child first: “I am so sorry (s)he hit you – (s)he didn’t use their words – are you okay?”
  3. Don’t force an apology: “When you are ready, I would like you to say you are sorry for hurting them.”  Having it be their choice usually gives yields an immediate, or at least timely, apology.  You want it to be their choice, instead of adding to their frustration by having another interaction in which they feel a loss of control. 

What if you mess up?  Apologize – Reconnect – Rebond
You can read about one of my very worst days this summer HERE. Although it was painful as it happened, and very embarrassing to write about, I shared it in the hopes that it will give you courage to forgive yourself if it happens to you.

I will close with an on-line resource that I also like to read over to remind myself of the positive discipline “tools” in my “toolbox”.  Head on over to Positive Parenting Connection and see what you think.

What are your go-to positive discipline tools?