Category Archives: Good Parenting

The ins and outs of attachment parenting

Child's attachment to parents
Victoria Steiner, a licensed clinical professional counselor and parent

My latest series of posts, which began last night, is a vital part of the first days, weeks, and months, of a child’s healthy development.

In Our search for the “right” knowledge and resources, that best fit with Our Circle’s beliefs, values, and codes by which we live and pass down to Our Children, as they have been passed down from generation to generation, something happened which couldn’t be ignored.

With the realization that to be the force necessary to affect change in the world for every child, came the discovery of mountains of resources that would have to be approved by Our Circle.

What should have been apparent was the fact that the job had already been started, but wasn’t realized until we came very close to losing what means most to us.

This is what caused the problem, or should I say a part of the problem, something none of us had ever heard.  We now know few people know very little of this subject, if any at all, for we have baited conversation.  Although from this point on, that will not be the case.

http://www.tennessean.com/story/life/2015/02/17/ins-outs-attachment-parenting/23498919/

Parenting is a journey filled with many ups and downs, challenges and celebrations, joy and love.

I remember the day I found out that I was expecting. We were not planning to get pregnant and it was not an ideal time for me career-wise, but nevertheless, I was over the moon with excitement. My boyfriend and I had been together for seven years and we became overjoyed at the thought of starting a family together.

The day of our first appointment was life-changing. We watched the monitor and saw a tiny speck flicker on the screen; a heartbeat. So many emotions coursed through us but most pronounced was love, love for this tiny little bean that was growing each day inside of me.

Throughout my pregnancy I read constantly about fetus development, pregnancy and birth. I watched television shows about birth and babies. I received parenting advice and became as educated as I could, and when the day came to meet our baby, I was ready.

I had an easy pregnancy and accomplished my goal of having a non-medicated birth. It was not easy but we had a wonderful doula to guide us through. In an instant, we became parents to a baby girl.

As a licensed counselor specializing in child and family therapy, I am no stranger to parenting practices. I have seen great parents and not-so-great ones. I have seen parents who were willing to make changes to fit the needs of their children as well as those who were not.

I knew what kind of parent I wanted to be long before my daughter was ever conceived. I knew I wanted to be loving, responsive, empathetic and a good role model. As a counselor, I knew of the importance that attachment has in the development of a child. I used Attachment Theory with my clients and, as time passed, I slowly learned that the type of parenting I used with my baby had a name, Attachment Parenting.

Dr. William Sears coined the term Attachment Parenting (AP), which places emphasis on the natural, biological instincts of mothers and fathers and is a style of parenting that focuses on the attachment between parent and child. It promotes the use of responsive, nurturing and empathetic parenting methods as a means to create strong emotional bonds that have long-lasting benefits to child and parent alike.

The organization Attachment Parenting International has outlined eight guiding principles for this style of parenting. Some of those principles include Feeding with Love and Respect, Responding with Sensitivity, Using Nurturing Touch, and Practicing Positive Discipline.

So what does Attachment Parenting look like in practice? The answer to that question is different for each family.

For me, it means educating myself as much as possible about pregnancy, birth and parenting. It includes breastfeeding, babywearing, and co-sleeping (baby sleeps in the same room as the parent). It means not leaving my daughter to “cry it out” in her crib.

Rather than saying “no” all of the time, I use preventive measures and redirection. I will never hit my child and I respect and empathize with her feelings.

It does not mean that I give in to her every whim or that I coddle her, and it does not mean that she will not be disciplined as she continues to grow and explore and learn as some people associate with AP. It simply means that I use a gentle, calm and understanding style of parenting in which I prefer to be her guide through life, not her dictator.

And there is a large community of like-minded parents in Nashville, you just need to know how to find them.

One avenue is through the API Nashville support group. There are breastfeeding support groups, babywearing groups and many more. And for those parents looking to learn more about Attachment Parenting, there also is now a class being held at Nashville Birth and Babies in Brentwood.

Visit http://www.nashvillebirthandbabies.com/attachment-parenting.html for class information and schedule.

Victoria Steiner is a licensed clinical professional counselor specializing in child and family therapy and a parent educator at Nashville Birth and Babies in Brentwood. She has used Attachment Theory and AP principles in her work with clients as well as with her 1-year-old daughter.

Stress Relief in the Moment

Stress Relief
Stress Relief in the Moment

We are, as Our Circle should know by now, looking for more effective ways of reaching-out and attracting young parents to Our Circle. While hoping, and dreaming, this would be the beginning of the end of Child Abuse, just knowing we made a difference in one Childs life would be reason enough for Our Circle to celebrate. To change one Child’s life would begin to change this world for the better.

In preparing to meet the needs of young parents, or soon to be parents, we quickly realized this subject was not unlike the study of an iceberg. The more material we studied, the more we found, to the point where the tera-byte of our resources once was, now became or soon would be at least 2 tera-bytes of resources. But then, the worst unforseen thing happened, Robert began triggering more and more. Finally, through Frank, we believe we know why, and only time will tell. So for now, this is where we will begin Our new series of posts.

As much as I dislike having to tell you this, I would much rather you hear it from me now, than realize it on your own at some point later in life. There are NO Super Parents, only human parents; Good Parents and Less-than Good Parents. I believe in recognizing stress within yourself, and identifying your bodies stress response, relieving stress will not only make you feel better, but take you one step closer to being the Super Good Parent.

Using Your Senses to Quickly Change Your Response to Stress

Everybody has the power to reduce the impact of stress as it’s happening in the moment. With practice, you can learn to spot stressors and stay in control when the pressure builds. Learning quick stress relief won’t happen overnight. Like any skill, it takes time, self-exploration and above all, practice. But think of it as an education with a huge payoff.

Learn to recognize stress

Recognizing stress is the first step in lessening its impact. Many of us spend so much time in a stressed state, we have forgotten what it feels like to be fully relaxed and alert. Being stressed out feels normal.

What does it feel like to be calm and stress-free? You can see that “just right” inner balance in the smile of a happy baby—a face so full of joy it reminds adults of the balanced emotional state that most of us have misplaced. In adulthood, being balanced means maintaining a calm state of energy, alertness, and focus. Calmness is more than just feeling relaxed; being alert is an equally important aspect of finding the balance needed to withstand stress.

If you don’t feel calm, alert, productive, and focused most of the time in your daily life, then too much stress may be a problem for you.

Tips for recognizing when you’re stressed

Hush the voice that’s telling you, ‘Oh, I’m fine.” Notice how you’re breathing has changed. Are your muscles tense? Awareness of your physical response to stress will help regulate the tension when it occurs.

When you’re tired, your eyes feel heavy and you might rest your head on your hand. When you’re happy, you laugh easily. And when you are stressed, your body lets you know that too. Try to get in the habit of paying attention to your body’s clues.

  • Observe your muscles and insides. Are your muscles tight/sore? Is your stomach tight or sore? Are your hands clenched?
  • Observe your breath. Is your breath shallow? Place one hand on your belly, the other on your chest. Watch your hands rise and fall with each breath. Notice when you breathe fully or when you “forget” to breathe.

Identify your body’s stress response

Internally, we all respond to stress the same: blood pressure rises, the heart pumps faster, and muscles constrict. When stressed, our bodies work hard and drain our immune system. Externally, however, people tend to respond to stress in three different ways: some become angry and agitated, others space out or withdraw, and still others freeze up.

The best way to quickly relieve stress may relate to your specific stress response.

How do you act when stressed?

When it comes to managing and reducing stress quickly in the middle of a heated situation, it’s important to be familiar with your specific stress response.

  • Over-excited stress response – If you tend to become angry, agitated, or keyed up under stress, you will respond best to stress relief activities that quiet you down.
  • Under-excited stress response – If you tend to become depressed, withdrawn, or spaced out under stress, you will respond best to stress relief activities that are stimulating and that energize your nervous system.
  • Frozen stress response (both over-excited and under-excited) – If you tend to freeze—speeding up in some ways while slowing down in others—your challenge is to identify stress relief activities that provide both safety and stimulation to help you “reboot” your system.

Our next Post in this series of Good parenting will be “The Basics of Quick Stress Relief”

Breaking the cycle of child abuse

If you have a history of child abuse, having your own children can trigger strong memories and feelings that you may have repressed. This may happen when a child is born, or at later ages when you remember specific abuse to you. You may be shocked and overwhelmed by your anger, and feel like you can’t control it. But you can learn new ways to manage your emotions and break your old patterns.

Remember, you are the most important person in your child’s world. It’s worth the effort to make a change, and you don’t have to go it alone. Help and support are available.

Tips for changing your reactions

  • Learn what is age appropriate and what is not. Having realistic expectations of what children can handle at certain ages will help you avoid frustration and anger at normal child behavior. For example, newborns are not going to sleep through the night without a peep, and toddlers are not going to be able to sit quietly for extended periods of time.
  • Develop new parenting skills. While learning to control your emotions is critical, you also need a game plan of what you are going to do instead. Start by learning appropriate discipline techniques and how to set clear boundaries for your children. Parenting classes, books, and seminars are a way to get this information. You can also turn to other parents for tips and advice.
  • Take care of yourself. If you are not getting enough rest and support or you’re feeling overwhelmed, you are much more likely to succumb to anger. Sleep deprivation, common in parents of young children, adds to moodiness and irritability—exactly what you are trying to avoid.
  • Get professional help. Breaking the cycle of abuse can be very difficult if the patterns are strongly entrenched. If you can’t seem to stop yourself no matter how hard you try, it’s time to get help, be it therapy, parenting classes, or other interventions. Your children will thank you for it.
  • Learn how you can get your emotions under control. The first step to getting your emotions under control is realizing that they are there. If you were abused as a child, you may have an especially difficult time getting in touch with your range of emotions. You may have had to deny or repress them as a child, and now they spill out without your control.

Child Abuse-Recognizing abusive behavior in yourself

Do you see yourself in some of these descriptions, painful as it may be? Do you feel angry and frustrated and don’t know where to turn? Raising children is one of life’s greatest challenges and can trigger anger and frustration in the most even-tempered. If you grew up in a household where screaming and shouting or violence was the norm, you may not know any other way to raise your kids.

Recognizing that you have a problem is the biggest step to getting help. If you yourself were raised in an abusive situation, that can be extremely difficult. Children experience their world as normal. It may have been normal in your family to be slapped or pushed for little to no reason, or that mother was too drunk to cook dinner. It may have been normal for your parents to call you stupid, clumsy, or worthless. Or it may have been normal to watch your mother get beaten up by your father.

It is only as adults that we have the perspective to step back and take a hard look at what is normal and what is abusive. Read the above sections on the types of abuse and warning signs. Do any of those ring a bell for you now? Or from when you were a child? The following is a list of warning signs that you may be crossing the line into abuse:

How do you know when you’ve crossed the line?

  • You can’t stop the anger. What starts as a swat on the backside may turn into multiple hits getting harder and harder. You may shake your child harder and harder and finally throw him or her down. You find yourself screaming louder and louder and can’t stop yourself.
  • You feel emotionally disconnected from your child. You may feel so overwhelmed that you don’t want anything to do with your child. Day after day, you just want to be left alone and for your child to be quiet.
  • Meeting the daily needs of your child seems impossible. While everyone struggles with balancing dressing, feeding, and getting kids to school or other activities, if you continually can’t manage to do it, it’s a sign that something might be wrong.
  • Other people have expressed concern. It may be easy to bristle at other people expressing concern. However, consider carefully what they have to say. Are the words coming from someone you normally respect and trust? Denial is not an uncommon reaction.

How can Truth be anything less????

Good Father
The Best Man I Ever Knew, Me and Frank’s Dad

I can’t do anything other than be myself….  WHY????  Because I refuse to be any less than what this world  no,  the world back then made.

A lot of people will laugh when I say, “before I started this site, I wasn’t this way”, but it IS true, at least in a way it’s true.  After starting this site, and I do mean within 1 hour, I encountered something which I didn’t understand, and that was INDIFFERENCE toward Child Maltreatment.  I haven’t gotten past it either;  no matter how I tried to rationalize the “reasoning” in the possible answers those closest to me gave(in an attempt to avoid JUDGING) as reasons these “uninterested” and “unconcerned” individuals might be “Indifferent”.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines TRUTH as:  the truth : the real facts about something : the things that are true: the quality or state of being true: a statement or idea that is true or accepted as true.

I do not play where Our Children’s welfare and well-being is concerned, and I am in fact very serious.  When someone decides to educate me in this subject, I KNOW why, and that’s what is wrong with my attitude.  When someone is serious, and PREPARED, about educating anyone, they don’t NEGLECT to teach you the last BIG CHAPTER in the subject.

Any of you can ask 2 of my former students, Aliana and Our Editor Aida, about the above paragraph, or just the word “prepared”, and I guarantee you will learn a great deal about me.

OK, I’ll explain a little of the above:  to attempt to lessen, or even imply that I don’t know what I KNOW TO BE TRUE FIRST HAND, is not a smart thing to do, especially when trying to convince me and a good friend, who just happens to be one of my Advisers here, that a certain type of person has gotten a “bad rap” or is stereo-typed totally wrong.  But to be totally PREPARED, and “APPEAR” Genuine, you don’t leave out the disclaimer!!!!

I have something I want to bring to your attention, The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention has updated it’s site, and their 2012 publication.  Have ANY OF YOU EVER KNOWN OF CDC DOUBTING GOVERNMENT NUMBERS, AT LEAST PUBLICLY????

http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/childmaltreatment-facts-at-a-glance.pdf

CPS reports of child maltreatment may underestimate the true occurrence.  A non-CPS study estimated that 1 in 4 U.S. children experience some form of child maltreatment in their lifetimes.

Under the first heading “Child Maltreatment”, you will see one(1) paragraph, followed by a “non-ordered list” which is called a bulleted statement, after two(2) bulleted statements, you will see the second(2nd) paragraph, which is the above paragraph.

Earlier I neglected to finish what I wanted Our Circle to KNOW.  What someone chose to leave out is a small thing most times, the thing I called the disclaimer,  Which in this case it represents OUR CHILDREN that are victims of Child Maltreatment.  The disclaimer is always below, or purposely written smaller, and says:  IT IS ESTIMATED THAT ONLY ¼ OF THE ABUSE CASES ARE REPORTED.