Attachment Parenting International
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June 2007
API Links
A Monthly eNewsletter from
Attachment Parenting International
Our mission is to promote parenting practices that create strong, healthy emotional bonds between children and their parents.  We believe these practices nurture and fulfill a child's need for trust, empathy, and affection, providing a lifelong foundation for healthy, enduring relationships.

Read Our Eight Principles
In This Issue
Finding a Tribe
Project "Staying Power"
Fatigue and Social Isolation
Wise Words: Spending Time
Q&A: What About Baby Gadgets?
Wooden Train Recall
API Membership
On the API Website
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Enable us to continue supporting families and advocating for protection of the parent-child connection.

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Greetings!

On May 30th, Good Morning America aired a story, "Judge Develops Groundbreaking Experiment for Children," with the subheading, "Judge Uses the Science of a Baby's Brain to Change Lives."  The reporter explained that a baby learns to trust in the early years of his life.  When there is not a consistent, safe, and nurturing environment, for example when he is removed from his parents and put into the foster care system, the resulting stress can negatively impact his developing brain. Judge Cindy Lederman is using this information to redesign the family court system in Florida, ordering extensive parenting classes for neglectful and abusive parents. Mental health professionals observe the parents interacting with their children, and then guide the parents toward more effective styles of talking, playing, and being responsive. Read the full ABC story here.

The brain research referenced in the story has implications for every parent with young children. Parenting practices that create stress, such as "cry-it-out" sleep training methods and harsh discipline tactics, can have a profoundly negative impact on the developing brain. Conversely, Attachment Parenting practices, which minimize stress and help parents to provide a consistent, safe, and nurturing environment, allow children's brains to develop optimal pathways for emotional regulation.  The choices we make when our children are young have lasting developmental implications that will determine their ability to manage stressful situations, form meaningful relationships. and be empathetic members of society.

When we introduce parents and the professionals who serve them to Attachment Parenting, we truly do make a difference.  The children we affect now will, in turn, shape the societies and popular cultures of our future. We, at Attachment Parenting International, are overjoyed when stories in the media are supportive of our mission. Unfortunately, we have a lot of work ahead of us when it comes to affecting media messages and the decisions of family court systems. We look forward to each small step forward in achieving our mission, and we invite you to join our growing body of members, leaders, donors, and volunteers who contribute to our success.  Susan B. Anthony said, "The older I get, the greater power I seem to have to help the world; I am like a snowball-the further I am rolled the more I gain." API is like a snowball, and with each member, each gift, each volunteer effort we grow stronger.  Thank you.
Finding a Tribe
Meet API Member Deborah

DeborahDeborah discovered her local API support group when her son Broden was ten months old.  She describes herself at the time as frazzled and "an exact replica of the out-of-balance, burnt-out mom described in Dr. Sears' books." What's more, she was truly guilt-ridden about the rocky start she'd had with her son.  Her complicated birth ended in a c-section, her son was colicky and had a stubborn case of thrush, and her breastfeeding relationship ended early in Broden's life. She didn't have much of a support system for her parenting, and it added to her feelings of guilt when the people closest to her didn't agree with her choices.

Deborah discovered Attachment Parenting International through a contact at the Holistic Moms Network and began doing Internet research and reading books. The information she found resonated deeply with her, but she wasn't sure that she would be able to live up to the model.  "I found myself feeling like I was playing catch-up all the time", she says, "and in many ways I felt like it was 'too late' for me to practice Attachment Parenting."

She contacted her local API support group and mustered the courage to share her experiences and feelings. "I found nothing but words of support and encouragement," she says.  As she slowly began to meet people, she felt more comfortable and confident, finding that her struggles were not that much different than the other moms in the group and that "once in a while I might even have a suggestion for someone else!"

"I no longer feel the need to justify, defend, or explain my choices to anyone," Deborah says. "The group has encouraged me to follow my heart and use my intuition as my guide, making me an overall stronger mom -and person!  I guess you could say that I've found my tribe!"

Visit out our support group pages to find a group near you. If there isn't a group in your community, consider volunteering to start a new group. Your contribution makes a difference!
Project Staying Power
Your Goods and Services Can Make Us Stronger!

Our snowball is gaining momentum, and it is time to elevate our operations to the next level!  We've set an aggressive goal of raising $100,000 by the end of July, which will:
  • Fund API's 2007 General Operations Budget - Funding the remainder of our 2007 budget now will allow us to strengthen our organization and its efforts by fortifying our reputation and outreach, and will place API in a more secure financial position.

  • Renovate the API Web Site - Our strategic plan calls for a complete renovation of our Web site to make it the premier source of information on attachment-theory based parenting information for parents and professionals.

  • Develop the "Eight Principles of AP" Parent Education Curriculum - Our strategic plan calls for the development of a comprehensive parent education curriculum based on the Eight Principles of Attachment Parenting. This will allow API leaders and other professionals to be certified as API Parent Educators in their communities, further spreading the understanding of parenting practices grounded in attachment theory.

Here's How You Can Help!
  • If everyone on this distribution list  donated $25, we would be well on our way to achieving our financial goal.  That's only about $2 a month, or $0.50 per week for one year.  For less than the cost of a weekly paper, you can help us reach out to parents worldwide with research based education and support. 
Please consider adding API to your annual charitable contributions at whatever amount you can afford, and send a donation during this important campaign. Remember, many employers will match charitable donations from their employees!
  • Contribute items to our innovative online auction today, and shop! shop! shop! beginning on June 29th!
If you have a product or service for sale or know someone who does, this is an exciting and worthwhile chance to support API while receiving valuable brand exposure. Popular auction donations include timeshare weeks, gift certificates to local restaurants, signed books, event tickets, meal preparation services, and gift baskets.  The possibilities are endless! Items can be made available nationwide or bidding can be restricted to geographical areas. Remember, donations are tax deductible!  For more information, visit our online auction today!

And don't forget to to bookmark the auction site and begin shopping on June 29th!

Thank you so much for contributing to the success of API Project Staying Power! Keep the snowball rolling...

The Corrosive Effects of Fatigue and Social Isolation, And What You Can Do
by Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D., IBCLC

Tired MomMany new mothers face challenges that were less common a generation ago. Two common problems are fatigue and social isolation. If not addressed, both can dramatically impact mothers' mental health. And should we really be surprised? Consider this: prisons use both sleep deprivation and social isolation to punish criminals.

Let's first consider fatigue. For more than 20 years, researchers have noted-with some alarm-that more and more Americans are sleep-deprived, and this can have a very bad effect on their health. Sleep deprivation is particularly common for women and there are a number of reasons we could cite. Baby's nighttime needs can impact sleep. This is especially true when mothers, for whatever reason, sleep apart from their babies. But even co-sleeping families may go through times when they are not sleeping well. Depression or psychological trauma can impair sleep and make mothers more tired during the day. Mothers may also be fatigued because they are anemic, have low levels of thyroid, or because their births were physically exhausting. In addition, mothers may feel compelled to keep up a full schedule, even with a new baby. Fatigue is often a distressing symptom for new mothers, who wonder if their lives will ever be the same.

Isolation is another issue that can be challenging for new mothers. Research on the topic of "social capital" has noted that many of the formal and informal networks that bound communities together have withered during the past 20 years. We are less involved in each others' lives than we were a generation ago. These social connections became casualties of busy lives, expanded work hours, long commutes, and non-stop scheduled activities. The unfortunate effect is isolation and loss of community that helped previous generations weather the storms of life. We are built to be in relationships with others. This starts in infancy and continues throughout our lives. Mothers who choose to be home with their children may find that they are the only ones in the neighborhood who are home during the day. The resulting social isolation can be highly stressful for both mother and baby, and may eventually impact their health.

The good news is that mothers do not need to succumb to these cultural forces. The first step is recognizing the potential problems. For tired moms, this can mean recognizing that their need for rest is legitimate and that it's OK for them to say no to some other activities in order to get the rest they need (e.g., no more using baby's nap time to "catch up" on chores). Mothers can also prevent social isolation by actively seeking out support. Find other mothers and connect with them. It may take a few tries before you find a group you like, but I'd encourage you to keep trying. Connecting with others will not only make it easier for you to manage day-to-day, you'll also have the resources to help you be the best mother you can be.

Kathleen Kendall-Tackett PhD, IBCLC is a health psychologist whose work involves helping people cope with the stresses and strains of everyday life.  A Research Associate Professor of Psychology at the Family Research Laboratory, University of New Hampshire, she is also a fellow of the American Psychological Association.  She is widely published in the fields of family violence, maternal depression, perinatal health, and disability. One of her works is The Hidden Feelings of Motherhood: Coping with Mothering Stress, Depression, and Burnout, available through the API Bookstore. API is honored to have her as a member of our Board of Directors.
Wise Words
from Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids by Hart and Hodson

"Many parents tell us they spend a lot of time with their kids.  However, when they take a closer look, they realize that most of that time is spent getting them ready for school or some other event, driving them to soccer practice or any number of other places kids want to be and parents feel obliged to take them, or trying to get them to do things they are supposed to do. ... When your children are still young, get in the habit of simply enjoying each other through playing games, singing, dancing, drawing, taking walks, talking about hopes and dreams, laughing and snuggling together."

Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids is one of many wonderful resources in the API Bibliography. To purchase this or other books about practicing positive discipline, visit the API Bookstore.
What About Baby Gadgets?
Question from a reader, response from the editor
 
Q:  What is API's stance on baby gadgets such as swings, jumpers, and bouncy chairs?  Can I practice Attachment Parenting and still use these convenient tools?

API's Principle of "Use Nurturing Touch" explains our belief that one of a baby's primary needs is that of human closeness and interaction. These needs must be nurtured in order to allow for the baby's optimum growth and development. Nurturing touch stimulates growth-promoting hormones, improves intellectual and motor development, and helps to regulate a baby's temperature, heart rate, and sleep-wake patterns.  Carrying or babywearing using a soft carrier may allow a parent or caregiver to complete other tasks while also meeting a baby's needs for physical contact, comfort, security, stimulation, and movement.

Unfortunately for our children, most of today's households do not include extended family members to help with the caregiving, and our society does not provide a village of helpers for parents of young children. Many parents spend much of their time as the sole caregiver, and it is unrealistic for many of these families to think that a baby can be held all of the time he would prefer. Some babies will play contently and independently for short periods of time in convenience gadgets such as swings, jumpers, and bouncy chairs, giving the parent a much needed respite to tend to other needs that cannot be managed while carrying a baby. It is appropriate for a family practicing Attachment Parenting to use these items sparingly when those needs arise. 

Realize, however, that the more you rely on baby "gadgets," the less time you actually hold and interact with your baby. The key is to use them sparingly and to avoid using them when your baby really wants you. When you are holding or carrying your baby, you are providing more than just elevation.  Your physical presence and interaction is vital for your baby's development.

Of course, periodically playing with your child while using these gadgets, while not necessary to his development, does help meet his need for interaction and exploration. These use of the gadgets as toys to be enjoyed together, rather than to encourage independent play, can be fun for everyone involved!


If you have questions about Attachment Parenting, please ask the editor! Your questions will be considered for APILinks, for the Frequently Asked Questions section of the API Web site (currently under revision!), or for the "Ask the Founders" section of Attachment Parenting: The Journal of API.
Wooden Train Recall
Lead Paint on Specific Thomas & Friends™ Wooden Vehicles and Trains

In cooperation with the CPSC, RC2 has issued a voluntary recall of various Thomas & Friends™ Wooden Railway vehicles and wooden train set components sold at toy stores and various retailers nationwide from January 2005 through June 2007.

The recall involves only the specific wooden vehicles, buildings and other train set components for young children listed on the recall website. Photographs of affected items are also available at that site. RC2 has determined that the surface paints on the recalled products contain lead. Lead is toxic if ingested by young children and can cause adverse health effects. At this time, there have been no reports of illness or injury as a result of this issue.

Consumers should take the recalled toys away from young children immediately and return the affected products to RC2 Corporation for a replacement product. Postage will be reimbursed.
API Membership
Join Today!

By becoming a member of API, you help reach other parents and professionals through education, support, advocacy, and research. Our efforts touch the lives of parents worldwide through local support groups, our quarterly publication, Attachment Parenting: The Journal of API, this newsletter, and national advocacy efforts. In addition, your membership donation contributes to innovative projects such as the creation of a comprehensive Attachment Parenting curriculum, the formation of strategic alliances with like-minded organizations, the expansion of our network of AP-Friendly Professionals, and the upgrade of our Web site to become the premier Attachment Parenting online community.

Benefits of Individual / Family Membership, which is $35 per year, include:
  •  Four issues of Attachment Parenting: The Journal of API
  •  Membership in local parent support group (mention your local group when you join and $15 of your membership will be retained for use in your local community)
  • Discounts and early registration for API conferences and other select events
  • A chance to share your passion; opportunity to become an API leader, start a new support group, or donate your skills to the API Headquarters Team
Professional Membership, which is $75 per year, is recommended for individuals who promote Attachment Parenting through their professional endeavors.  This level of membership is open to anyone whose job impacts the physical, psychological, or emotional health of children and families.  Benefits include:
  • All the benefits of Individual / Family Membership
  • Two extra outreach copies each quarter of Attachment Parenting: The Journal of API
  • Opportunity to purchase 25 additional copies of each issue of The Journal of API (100 total copies) for only $100 per year
  • Special invitation to professional events hosted by API and our partners
  • Access to professional brochures and materials as they become available
  • Invitation to join an online discussion forum of professionals who support Attachment Parenting

The mission of Attachment Parenting International (API) is to promote parenting practices that create strong, healthy emotional bonds between children and their parents. These practices nurture and fulfill a child's need for trust, empathy, and affection, providing a lifelong foundation for healthy, enduring relationships. 

Through education, support, advocacy, and research, API seeks to strengthen families and increase awareness of the importance of secure attachment, ultimately helping to reduce or prevent child abuse, behavioral disorders, criminal acts, and other serious social problems.
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I hope you enjoyed this issue of APILinks!  If you have questions, comments, or suggestions about this eNewsletter, please contact me.

Warmly,

Pam Stone, Editor

Attachment Parenting International
web: http://www.attachmentparenting.org