Attachment Parenting International
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August 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
Expressions of Gratitude
A World of Support
The Butterfly
Wise Words: Everyday Blessings
New Connections
Q&A: Being Responsive Through Routines?
Our Growing Team
API Membership
On the API Website
Subscribe to APILinks!

A few days ago my dog urinated on the carpet. This was not entirely unpredictable; she is an old and feeble dog and I hadn't taken her outside recently. Still, my first reaction was anger. I was frustrated that she hadn't  signaled her elimination need to me, even though I was sitting right beside her.

Deep breath.

My next feeling was anxiety and dread. Just two weeks ago this had happened, and my husband was not happy. He's not a fan of the dog. She was mine before our marriage, and honestly she's often difficult for even a dog-lover to love. We had agreed that I would take the dog outside every two hours whether she asked to go or not. How long had it been since she'd been outside? I wasn't sure. We had just made this agreement, and I had already failed. How was he going to react this time? I briefly considered lying. I could clean it up, he would never know.

Deep breath.

The DogI looked over at my daughter, who was comforting the dog and doing her best to explain why people need to know when dogs' bladders are full so that we can let them go outside. So sweet. What did I want her to learn from this experience? What would I want her to do if she felt she had failed at something I had asked her to do?

Deep breath.

So we did some emergency clean up and went to tell my husband. I was braced for the worst. But he simply hung his head, closed his eyes, and took a few deep breaths of his own. It felt horrible to know I had disappointed him, but I was relieved that he was remaining calm. After a few minutes of silence, he was able to communicate in a loving way why this event was so upsetting to him. I offered a sincere apology. Together we worked out a plan to help me remember to take the dog out more frequently. Our daughter agreed to help, too. We all felt very connected, and I had a renewed and deeper commitment to our agreement. I'm sure there would have been a much different outcome if my husband had yelled, or lectured, or walked away leaving me feeling rejected.

Deep, cleansing breath.

There were many lessons learned through this experience, and most of them by me. I am thankful to everyone at API who has helped me work through parenting challenges, because it has clearly made me not only a better mother but also a better person. I am committed to ensuring that everyone reading this message is able to find similar support and strength at API. I am also thankful to my husband and daughter, who are the absolute best teachers of all, if only I trust them enough to listen.
Expressions of Gratitude
Project Staying Power

We would like to thank everyone that participated in our Project Staying Power fundraising campaign. We are thrilled to announce that over 100 new members joined our organization during our membership drive, and generous donors and bidders helped API raise over $12,000 through our online auction.  We appreciate the time and effort that everyone spent supporting this campaign, and look forward to continuing our work Protecting the Parent-Child Connection.

If you're missing the action from all of the auction bidding, there are currently three items listed on eBay to benefit API:

These auctions close on August 26th. Happy Bidding!
A World of Support
Meet API Leader Sara Cole

Sara ColeWhen Sara joined API of Seattle six years ago, her son was six months old. She says the group helped her and her husband find their solid footing in who they are and how they parent. "We had the books", she said, "but to see real parents, parenting for real, and to see their children, it was so valuable."

When the previous Leaders needed to step back, Sara wanted to make sure that the group remained intact for other parents. She has filled the Leadership role with gusto, seeking to build a strong sense of community and a safe place to share experiences.  "I talk to people in the community who already know that Positive Discipline is the right thing to do" she says, "but they don't know how to do it. API allows them to get together with a group of people and have an intimate enough relationship to share problems and ask for help."

Building a community is no small task. API of Seattle hosts monthly meetings, pot-lucks, and breastfeeding cafes, two weekly playgroups, annual education events, and numerous enrichment meetings. This year, the group continued their busy schedule over the summer for the first time. "Members realize that when we don't connect for a period of time they miss the empathy from the group that gives them a sense of peace and centerness about what they are doing," explains Sara, "that they wanted to keep going speaks tons to their desire to be a community that you don't just check out of for the summer, but that is an ongoing system of support and friendship."

But it isn't all work for Sara. "While I'm trying to create a community and a world of support for other people, I get a ton of it for myself", she says. "I've got a huge number of people sharing with me, and I get lots of ideas about how to work with my children and their different personalities.  I get an increased level of support and connection, and I get the fun of using some of the skills I used to use before I had kids.  It's fun for me." 

The community has become such a part of their lives that Sara and her group members sometimes forget that it isn't the norm. "The summer season gives people an opportunity to travel, and sometimes we forget how nice people are here," she says. "Other places we don't always get as warm of a reception." We at API envision the day when connected communities with strong relationships like those at API of Seattle are available to every parent who seeks them.

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!
The Butterfly
A New Direction for API

butterflyDespite the success of our membership drive and auction initiatives, we fell short of our fundraising goals for this summer. API is dealing with the chronic funding challenges faced by many member-based, support organizations that lean on the people they serve to fund general operations. This structure fails, in part, because those we serve consist largely of young, often single-income families whose commitment to parenting prohibits significant donations to non-profit organizations, no matter how important the cause. Consequently, API's Board of Directors met on July 20th in Chicago to determine API's future. They approved a revolutionary strategy proposed by our management team and co-founders Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker which was designed to seize opportunities afforded by a more financially solid organization. The Board agreed that in order to achieve our vision, we must take control of our destiny and redefine Attachment Parenting International.

While many of the details are still being finalized, the following items will serve as a solid foundation for the new API: 
  • A world-class curriculum with a proven record of success based on the Eight Principles of Attachment Parenting
  • An expansion of API's already successful network of parent support groups.
  • A network of Parent Educators offering a variety of classes and workshops based on the curriculum to local communities worldwide.
  • A network of referring professionals (physicians, clinicians, hospitals, lawyers, judges, mediators, health departments)
  • A Journal bringing the science and research of parenting to parents,  professionals, and the public
  • Electronic publications offering ongoing support and encouragement
  • A dynamic, innovative web site with message forums, live chats, multi-media educational events, online conferences with expert speakers, and continuing education opportunities
The new API will generate revenue through the training of parent educators, sale of curriculum materials, Journal subscriptions, advertising, and fees for online educational offerings. Membership fees will further strengthen the organization. Grants and donations will be sought to fund scholarships for high-risk and low-income families. We will also seek funding to expand distribution of API publications, launch new projects, and develop new materials.

butterflyLike the caterpillar that grows strong on leaves, we will now enter a period of metamorphosis, funneling all of our momentum and energies into creating the transformation. From the outside we may appear to become somewhat dormant, but this will be far from the truth! We will soon emerge a new organization, more beautiful and agile, and with greater ability to attract attention and inspire change.

API's Board of Directors, Co-founders, and staff want to extend our sincere appreciation for your support of API and your commitment to Attachment Parenting. We are thrilled to begin this transformation, and look forward to emerging as a strong, healthy organization capable of affecting enormous change in communities around the world!

We will continue to deliver APILinks during our transition and beyond.
Wise Words
from Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Myla & Jon Kabat-Zinn

Every child is special, and every child has special needs.  Each sees in an entirely unique way.  Hold an image of each child in your heart. Drink in their being, wishing them well.

New Connections
API at the Le Leche League International Conference

Thank you to everyone who stopped by the API booth at the Le Leche League International Conference in Chicago to meet our Executive Director, Christy Farr, to eveyone who stopped by our video booth to share your personal parenting experiences and expertise, and to everyone who attended the "Parenting as a Spiritual Journey" session presented by API Co-Founders, Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker. We were able to connect with hundreds of parents, members, and supporters of Attachment Parenting. We hope you enjoyed your free copy of Attachment Parenting: The Journal of API, and appreciate the support of all of our wonderful new advertisers.

We would like to thank our generous sponsors for supporting API and making our presence at the LLL conference possible: 
Being Responsive Through Routines?
Question from a reader, response from the editor
Q: In the July issue of APILinks, in response to a question about whether it was possible to do "too much" Attachment Parenting, you described a "smother" parent as one who imposes his own will, and a responsive parent as one who follows the lead of the child. Is there a medium between following a child's lead and providing boundaries? And does following a routine make a parent a "smother" parent?

It is understandable why last month's Q&A may have caused confusion.
The answer said that it is not possible to "overdo" AP, yet Martha Sears has been interviewed and has stated that parents can, in a sense, overdo AP because they aren't necessarily aware that they are emeshed or indulgent, and may believe they are practicing Attachment Parenting. The terms "smother", "emeshed", "indulgent" and "responsive" were originally described with the help of Liz Baldwin, an advocate for Attachment Parenting who has unfortunately passed on. 

More recently, Barbara Colorso has described three types of parenting styles that correlate with research.  She describes the "brick wall" parent, the "backbone" parent and the "jellyfish" parent. The "backbone" parent most closely correlates with Attachment Parenting, although this isn't a term that we at API would choose. "Backbone" parents raise their children with love, form strong connections, and establish appropriate boundaries. 

Ideally, the AP parent who is attuned learns to establish boundaries in a developmentally appropriate way. For instance, a necessary boundary is not running toward a street.  With a  toddler heading for the street, the parent might continuously divert and distract the child, or might repetitively talk to the child and explain the danger.  With a five-year-old heading for the street, the parent might establish a more firm boundary, such as "There are cars driving on that street that would hurt you if they hit you, so you may play in the yard but do not go near the street", and they might restrict outside play to the back yard if the boundary isn't followed.

Establishing routines, such as for naps and mealtimes, can also be consistent with Attachment Parenting, and many children thrive on them.
If a young child needs the routine of regular naptimes and doesn't sleep well anywhere other than at home, it may necessitate the parent adapting their schedule to be home at the same time every day.  This isn't being indulgent, it is being responsive. Other children can sleep well anywhere, or aren't bothered by irregular nap patterns, and the parents' schedules can be more variable.

A routine is different than a schedule in that there is some flexibility, and it tends to flow from a child's natural rhythms. If a child typically gets tired around 8 pm, then 7 pm may become the start time for the bedtime routine.  But if the child took an unusual nap  he may stay up later, or if she had a particularly active day she may go to bed a little earlier. Needs may change during different developmental stages, so that the parent must stay attuned with the child and adjust the routine as needed. A responsive parent follows a routine because it helps her to meet the needs of the family, not to impose her will. 

For example, a responsive parent may insist that the bedtime routine starts at 7 pm because she is attuned with her child and recognizes that he is becoming tired, because she knows that it takes him about an hour to wind down for sleep, and because she understands that if he goes to sleep much later than 8 his individual needs for sleep will not be met.  A 'smother' parent may also insist that the bedtime routine starts at 7 pm, but because the parent thinks the child should be tired (even if he clearly isn't), or because it's precisely 7 pm and that's time for bed (regardless of whether the child is tired or not).

Family meals are an important connection point for many families. While infants and toddlers should always be fed on-cue, an older child can be expected to learn the social routine of mealtime. However, they also need to continue to listen to their bodily cues so that they eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. Wholesome snacks can preserve the family mealtime routine while also ensuring that hunger needs are met.
The key is to stay attuned and responsive, and to consider a child's needs and developmental stage.

As explained by Lysa Parker, Co-Founder of API, "As children grow we learn that they don't need us to respond as quickly or frequently. We should always try to be empathic and sensitive to their feelings and needs, but we begin to use those times as opportunities to help them problem solve and learn empathy toward others. During these times they also learn to be a cooperative member of the family, where everyone has needs that must be considered rather than the child being the total focal point of their parents."

Boundaries and routines are important components of Attachment Parenting.  How they are implemented depends on the unique circumstances of the family and the individual needs of the family members.  These circumstances and needs will change over time, and it is important that parents educate themselves about what is developmentally appropriate at different ages and phases of growth.

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.
Our Growing Team
Welcome New API Leaders and Support Groups

API would like to welcome our newest Leaders to our team, and to thank them for their dedication to Attachment Parenting and API.  Their efforts truly make a difference in the communities they serve.

The following new API Leaders formed new support groups:
  • API The Woodlands, Texas, New Leader Nici Hinkel
  • API of Greater Chattanooga, Tennessee, New Leader Amy Scott
  • API of Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, New Leader Kara Carden
The following veteran API Leaders formed new support groups:
  • API of Minot, North Dakota, Christine and John Mehl
  • API of Tallahassee, Florida, Julie Biro
The following established API Support Groups welcomed new Leaders:
  • Ivana Lombardo, API of Northern Virginia
  • Nicole Leonard, Cherished Children API of the Boulder & St. Vrain Valleys, Colorado
  • Naomi Dwyer, API of Frederick, Maryland
  • Bonnie Maize, API of Topeka, Kansas
For information on becoming an API Leader or starting a new API Support Group, please visit our website.
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.


Pam Stone, Editor

Attachment Parenting International