Posts tagged ‘attachment parenting’

5 Things That Rocked Our Parenting World

I was washing the dishes the other day feeling thankful for a few things that have radically changed our lives in terms of parenting, and although I write about all aspects of my life I realized it isn’t usually in bullet point style but rather more prosaic and random. And then I thought that perhaps a direct description might be helpful, especially for newcomers to the blog that haven’t found themselves thumbing through the archives.

So here they are.


Sometimes, while walking the dog, I can get a little airy-fairy thinking about empathy. The more I think about it, the more I realize it is the key to everything. Finding the strength or ability to empathize with someone else drastically changes not only the terrain of the conversation or argument but the geology of the relationship itself. And when it comes to kids it is truly miraculous. Ancient struggles like tooth brushing, bedtime, and sibling squabbles literally melt away when any individual involved can feel empathy for another.

Using empathy while parenting means that as soon as feelings come up for your children you recognize them with words and spirit and then communicate this back. If done honestly, without even a trace of condescension, the effect is instantaneous. Once we realized the potential for using empathy we completely switched over, forgoing punishment, threats, time-outs, praise, bribes, rewards, stickers, and any imposed consequences. For more on this topic browse through the first two categories in the column to your right.

Attachment Parenting

All of our girls started life with the benefits of attachment parenting. Co-sleeping, baby wearing, and a strong connection with their parents, eased them all through babyhood, but we didn’t stop there. We continue to parent in a way that fosters connection. Each decision is made by weighing whether or not the action is one that will connect us to our children or move them, even slightly, away. The principles of attachment are our barometer. For more on this read Mothering Magazine, or visit Attachment Parenting International.

Law of Attraction

There is a theory that thoughts create reality and it makes sense to us. Most people apply this theory to manifest money or something else desirable but not yet acquired, but we realized it can also be applied to parenting. We are careful to use only language that describes what we want to happen instead of what we are afraid might happen.

Not: Careful honey! I don’t want you to fall and poke your eye out with that stick.

Instead: Honey, I want you to stay safe. Will you walk while holding that stick?

Children always hear the nouns and verbs of the sentence, instead of all the conjunctions. So in the first example they hear eye, stick, poke, which makes it far more likely that they will indeed stab themselves with the stick. In the second example they hear safe, walk, stick, which conjures an image of what the parent would prefer to see.

Alfie Kohn

When we were struggling with the uselessness of time-outs we stumbled upon Kohn’s book Unconditional Parenting and a whole world was opened to us that made a lot of sense. I love logic and the argument he makes for ditching both punishment and praise is undeniably convincing. The stance of unconditional parenting drastically changed the dynamics in our family and I am thankful for it every day. Look here and here for more of my thoughts on this topic and here to purchase your own copy of the book.


It sounds too good to be true but it turns out that disagreeable behaviors, like biting, pinching, contrariness, food cravings, or screaming, can be attributed to imbalances in health instead of personality types, childhood “stages”, or attitude problems. And, in addition, the imbalance can immediately be addressed with homeopathy.

Homeopathy follows the theory that like cures like. If a child is experiencing grumpiness, a snotty nose, cravings for sugar, and sleeping with his butt in the air, there is something (a plant, mineral, or toxin) in the world that, if ingested in quantity, would create this same set of symptoms. But when that same substance is diluted to an extreme degree, in the form of a sugar pellet remedy, and ingested, these same symptoms go away. When Echo is nursing more often that usual, overly obsessed with reading, hitting, and talking in her sleep, there is a remedy that matches this set of seemingly random symptoms and if she takes it the symptoms depart. So instead of looking for ways to parent her out of a state like this, or waiting for her to “grow out of it”, we can talk to our doctor  and drop a few pellets on her tongue instead. It feels like magic.

These are the biggies, the things I am thankful to have stumbled upon. I hope they help you too.

Oops. Also…

Sign Language. We used sign language with all three girls and thus avoided truckloads of crying and frustration. When they needed help, they signed for help. When they were hungry they signed for food. In short, NO GUESSING, which made for happy kids, and happy parents.

Modeling. Children emulate what they see. We want our kids to say “please” and “thank you’ and the best way we have found to create these “good manners” is to use “thank you” and “please” when we are talking. We have never prompted.

Elimination Communication. We were late to get on the gentle pottying train. We didn’t start until Echo came along and it wasn’t until after her first birthday that we truly began in earnest, but it was worth it. We tuned into her cycles and mannerisms and within six months she was wearing underwear. Read more here.


May 8, 2010 at 7:08 pm 2 comments

not enough arms

You know what’s difficult to do while parenting in an attachment style?  Moving.  Moving literally requires that you hold things in your arms and carry them somewhere else. And those things? Well if they are your children, then moving doesn’t actually happen. No, those things have to be other things.

Echo likes to be held. She likes to be nursed often. This is on an ordinary day, but lately she has been battling a beast of a cough and wanting to be nursed and held even more. If she had it her way a perfect day would be: nurse, read books, nurse some more, be carried in my arms while I do something, then nurse, then read… you get the idea. So you can tell just how much mama moving things instead really doesn’t work for her. (And just so that nobody thinks I didn’t think of using a backpack, I did. It seems that for this sick girl, riding on mom’s back just isn’t going to cut it.)

I was attachment parenting before I realized that was what it was called. It seemed like a no brainer to sleep with our kids, to carry them in slings and backpacks, and to be physically close to them as much as possible. Hello, who doesn’t want to snuggle a baby?But the thing about attachment parenting that I hadn’t thought about was the fact that it doesn’t end after the baby stage. A kid that is attached to her mama as a babe will still be attached to her mama as a three-year old.

You know what else is difficult to do while parenting in an attachment style?  Anything with a deadline.  We have the notion that we need to be completely moved out of the house by the end of this weekend so that the construction crew can rip the roof off and continue the remodel in earnest. That means that when Echo wants to nurse for the fifteenth time I don’t want to. I don’t want to stop clearing things out and sit. I want to be done and every nursing session prolongs the, what is beginning to feel like, agony.

I figured out this no deadline thing in other areas of our life pretty quickly. I know that parenting with empathy and connection are only possible if the list of things I absolutely have to do is kept really short. Really short. If we have people over for dinner I make sure that I only invite folks that wouldn’t be bothered by a loose structure, that wouldn’t be upset if, due to a clingy sick child, the meal didn’t make it to the table right at six. Or wouldn’t be mad at me if the expected home cooked meal was bagged completely in favor of burritos from the taqueria down the street. And/or I make things ahead of time, staying up late instead of turning down Echo’s request to be held.

In fact when parents say: Sorry honey this HAS to be done right now. What they really mean is: Darn honey. I don’t want to hold you right now. I really want to get this done. I am very attached to completing this project. If you get super technical about it, no one absolutely has to do anything. I find that simply exchanging have to, for, prefer to, loosens me up sufficiently to at least have a genuine interaction.

But alas, today I didn’t do that. At one point, so exasperated by Echo’s seeming inability to be self-sufficient for even a minute, and by the seemingly seven hundredth request to nurse, after the seemingly twentieth nursing episode, I actually said: I know you want to nurse, but THAT”S JUST NOT GOING TO HAPPEN! Arg.

It’s too bad because really, if we still have a few odds and ends at the house come Monday, the sky is not going to fall. But I didn’t remember that. My preference was so strong that I convinced myself it was imperative. And Echo was sad. And even if I make the case that I had nursed her so much already and had been holding her the entire day thus far, which is all true, what does that have to do with anything? Just because I am justified in turning her down doesn’t mean it felt good, to her or to me.

I redeemed myself a little while later. I actually sat down, nursed, and read Frog and Toad. I don’t think she was scarred by my earlier response, but at the end of each day when I look back, I can be so critical, wanting to only see responses that are text-book empathy and connection based. When I see something else, I get a little dull almond sized feeling of regret in my belly. I’m never sure what to do with that almond.

In any case, despite the aforementioned struggles, I think tomorrow might actually be the last moving day. And then I promise I will post about something else.

March 14, 2010 at 11:25 am 1 comment

law of attraction quote

Most people don’t think that new-born children could be the Creator of their own reality because they are not even talking, yet. But the Universe is not responding to your language, anyway. The Universe is responding to your vibration — and your vibration is about the way you feel.

December 14, 2008 at 8:27 pm Leave a comment

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