Archives for Why Attachment Matters?

Attachment in the News

Better than a time machine

Your life experiences have made you who you are. They shaped you into the person you are today.

For some of us, this may not be a bad thing. Despite life’s challenges, we have overcome. And we are now free to share and inspire and support others on their journeys to hopefully do the same.

For others, if there was an option to go back in time and make a different choice at a critical point in...
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Differences, Not Disorders

How Our Childhood Affects Our Health as Adults

It has been awhile since I've written. I feel too young to be writing it, but I have been dealing with some serious health issues. After being ill for a long time, I stubbornly visited a new doctor who referred me on to a specialist and now I have a diagnosis for what's been ailing me for years and increasingly getting worse until this summer, when I was too sick and weak for many weeks to even sit at my home computer: an autoimmune condition called Sjogren's Syndrome, primary type.

The diagnosis is a relief in some ways: I now have an explanation for a collection of confusing symptoms and I have a starting place for learning how to manage those symptoms and work toward wellness -- well, at least more wellness than I've been having lately. But in other ways, it's a hard thing to swallow. I was hopeful for a diagnosis that included some sort of easy fix, like a diet or magic pill that took it all away. The treatment for Sjogren's is far from that.

My doctor feels that I may have had Sjogren's for much longer than I thought I did, that my recurrent kidney stones starting way back in college may have been my first sign of things to come. But knowing what I know from my journalistic connections through Attachment Parenting International, I wonder if there weren't tell-tale signs even earlier.

Last spring, I had the opportunity to talk with a fellow health journalist, Jane Ellen Stevens, editor of ACEs Too High, a news site that reports on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and our society. ACEs refer to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kaiser Permanente's Health Appraisal Clinic in San Diego, California, USA. The ACE Study investigated associations between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and well-being.
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General

What’s the Big Deal with Attachment Parenting?


I hear, from time to time, that Attachment Parenting is not the only way to form a secure attachment with your child.
“Attachment” is very literally the relationship style between parent and child, and “secure” or “insecure” describes the quality of that relationship style. Secure attachment develops out of an appropriate and sensitive responsiveness to a child by a consistent, loving caregiver. Consistency and sensitivity, especially in moments of distress, are key.

The hallmark of a secure parent-child attachment is trust but also includes affection and empathy. Children with insecure attachment are more likely to have difficulty with social skills, behavior and emotional self-regulation, language development and school readiness, as well as more likely to develop low self-esteem and obesity, to name a few. Adults with insecure attachment continue to struggle with relationships and stress-coping.
Often, the question above is being asked by someone referring to the stereotypical “attachment parenting” lifestyle—the vision coming to mind of a mother giving birth at home, wearing her baby in a sling, breastfeeding through toddlerhood and other child rearing techniques that constitute choices some parents make but are not what define Attachment Parenting.

Attachment Parenting is a term that covers any parenting philosophy with the goal of forming secure parent-child attachment. The attachment parenting lifestyle is included under the Attachment Parenting umbrella, but it’s far from the only option.
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General

Prepare for Parenting by Healing Your Childhood Wounds

We often hear the cornerstone of healthy parenting quoted as consistently “responding with sensitivity” to our infants’ and children’s emotional and physical needs in relation to their biological-developmental stage. And while I agree this overarching idea is at the core of healthy parenting, I do not feel that it is necessarily as instinctual as many authors and parenting experts claim.

Before parents can even fathom relying on their gut feelings in how to approach their parent-child relationships in a healthy, sensitive way, it is my firm belief that they must first address and heal from any childhood emotional wounds they may be carrying around, often without their realization until they bring a new child into the world, and even sometimes not even then.

Depending on life circumstances, our individual attachment quality, the patterns of our relationships from childhood on, communication style, coping skills picked up along the way and other factors, even the most balanced people among us can still have areas in their emotional life needing attention. And every one of us always has room to improve, just because we humans are like that—if we’re not intentionally moving forward, we’ll slide backwards.
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Attachment in the News

The Emotional Legacy of Our Family Trees

I’ve been helping my mom research our genealogy off and on over the last few years. Lately, she’s been hunting for tombstones. As I walk the oldest part of the cemeteries, reading the grave markers, I am continually taken aback by how many mark the burials of infants and young children.

We know on an intellectual level why it was difficult for our ancestors to make it through childhood, with disease and famine and lack of medical technology and effective medications. But can you imagine the absolute heartbreak of these early generations? A mother in 1852 can’t have felt any less emotional pain from the death of her son or daughter than I would. And then, try to imagine what emotional wounds these parents faced with this sadness, anger and possibly guilt passed down to their genetic line?

Epigenetics explains how certain genes responsible for diseases and mental illnesses can be turned off or on depending on the environment. In this documentary, “
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Differences, Not Disorders

On High-Reactive Temperaments and Secure Attachment

I attended a mother-and-tots group the other night. There were two babies in the corner, sitting in their car seats, one about two months old and the other closer to four months. The older baby was contently looking around, and the younger was sleeping, later waking to gaze out and only fussing when it was time to eat, afterwards being happy to lie on a blanket on the floor. I asked the mom of the younger baby how it was going at home, and she said that her baby is so quiet and calm that it’s sometimes easy to forget that there is a baby at home.

I can’t imagine. Each of my three children was impossible to forget as soon as they were delivered. Each craved touch and presence. Each protested loudly and violently at separation. Just riding around in the car was a trial, let alone sitting in a car seat at a community function. These were babies that refused to be put down.

I was tempted with my oldest child to “teach” independence by way of crying it out, but she sank into depression that took years to break through. With my younger two, I focused on creating and strengthening a secure attachment, and didn’t try to change them. I just loved them, and continue to love all three of them, as they are. And over time, they have conquered many of their fears and anxieties on their own and have blossomed into secure, confident, happy, competent children.
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Attachment in the News

Why Breastfeed? It’s More than Milk–It’s About Teaching Relationship Skills

The core of healthy parenting is responding to our children with sensitivity. On this last day of World Breastfeeding Week, which runs annually from August 1-7, I wanted to spotlight this choice in infant feeding that is often taken for granted in how critical the act can be in getting motherhood--and babyhood--off to the best start. And I'm not talking about the nutritional aspects, but rather the basis of the mother-child relationship and the relationship skills that child will carry into adulthood.
Breastfeeding can be difficult in our society. It is hard to do something different than our family and friends, our social network prior to becoming parents, and to find a new support system for our choices. It is hard to navigate new motherhood relatively alone, compared to other cultures where family rallies together to give the mother a baby moon, a time when mom and baby can bond uninterrupted while housework and caring for other children are taken up by others in her life. It is hard to make the choice to return to work and then try to integrate a child care provider into our alternative way of parenting. It is hard to pump while away from baby. And it is hard to continue to push through difficulties, whether it be a poor latch or milk supply issues or teething or night-waking, when so many others in our lives are trying to convince us to just give a bottle of formula.
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General

For the Health of Our Society: “Normal” Child Abuse Prevention

Many of the mothers and mothers-to-be that I talk to are young—teens and early 20s—a challenging group to promote healthy parenting practices to, as they are still growing and developing themselves. We know this anecdotally. We also know this scientifically. This 2010 UK study is among many that show that the brain doesn’t reach maturity as once theorized until people are at least age 30. Executive functioning, such as planning and decision-making, social awareness and behavior, empathy and other personality traits, are the last bits of cognitive functions to fully develop.

This is also why it’s most important to educate these young mothers’ personal support networks. Unlike older mothers and mothers-to-be who look more to professionals and evidence-based resources for guidance in their choices, overwhelmingly young mothers seek and follow advice from their peers, significant others, and family members regardless of whether they are “with the times.” These young mothers’ own mothers are especially influential. This is also a challenge in that the older generation raised children differently than what is now recommended.
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