Welcome to February edition of the Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, hosted by Authentic Parenting and Mudpiemama. This month, participants have looked into the topic of “Fostering Healthy Attachment”. Please scroll down to the end of this post to find a list of links to the entries of the other participants. Enjoy!
Homeschooling is making me into a better parent. The longer we homeschool (which is more unschooling in our home), the more comfortable I am in letting them decide what to learn. And, more importantly, the greater their interest is in learning.
I can lean into the trust I have in my kids whenever I am worried we’re not being rigorous enough in our study plan. And they inevitably come up with more creative and fun ways to learn than I could. They learn more when they take the lead because their brains work differently than mine. They learn the way that is best for them as individuals.
So, why am I writing about homeschooling in a carnival about fostering attachment?
Because I am taking the lessons I learn in homeschooling and applying them directly to parenting. We are a crunchy household. There’s little we do that wouldn’t make most mainstream parents shudder in horror or at least roll their eyes. But, it’s not those things that most people focus on that matter to our family. Those things (breastfeeding, babywearing, organic, whole, raw foods, careful environmental practices, etc) are incidental. They are the outward shows of our core family philosophy of unconditional love and genuine respect.
Unconditional love and respect in a family means, for the scope of this post, taking everyone’s needs into account. To break it down further, this means seeing each person individually, valuing where they are, and balancing their needs against each other person’s position. For example, my need to arrive to our family Spanish lesson on time must be weighed against the 5yo’s sudden need for food, the 3yo’s urgent need to find a particular lost toy to bring with us, and the 19mo’s need for control over his time to linger on the potty. These are often instant needs that crop up when we’re going somewhere. Can an acceptable snack be eaten in the car? Can we substitute for the lost toy? Can potty time happen at Spanish? Can we be a little late? How much bend do we have? How can we work together?
There’s lots of bend and opportunity to work together because, above all else, each person feels heard and valued. And there is precedent in the past that if they compromise in some way, their needs will be met, perhaps delayed, but not forgotten. Having the history of being listened to and valued, gives a sense of trust. It brings elasticity to our bond. That resiliency makes our relationship stronger because it can withstand the times when one of us misses and fails to meet needs.
One of the hardest things I find is to meet my children where they are instead of where I wish they would be. I compare one with another or think one should have more maturity than they do. Or I flat out find their opinion inconvenient and want to override them because “I know better.” It can be difficult to appreciate the unique being that is my child when they’re adamant or even angry about feelings of being treated unfairly. For example, when my 3yo is crying because no other toy will do than the green dragon, which has somehow ceased to exist on the earth, I try not to wish he had the coping skills of his older brother or the distractibility of his younger brother. I would prefer that he be compliant to my wish that the purple dragon is an acceptable substitute.
But, I want to meet him where he is. I don’t want to raise convenient children. I want to raise adults who have opinions without the worry that holding those opinions will be cause to assail their character. I want to help him cope with the upset and gently assist him in deciding for himself whether to calm or stay upset. I meet him where he is unconditionally so that he is in control of how he will cope. He can lean into my support knowing that he won’t be overwhelmed by his feelings alone and that his feelings are accepted and acknowledged-valued even.
Just like in homeschool, they always come up with more creative, more satisfying solutions than I could ever come up with. They learn far more with me lending my support than they do with me pushing them to “get over it” or “be the way I want it to be.” Sometimes, although not often, this means we don’t make it to Spanish or we go on time and spend the session learning to express feelings of frustration in Spanish.
So, here’s the kicker that keeps me going even though it’s hard, when I give them the reins, we share more. We connect more and love more gently when they have the freedom to explore. They go just as far as they feel safe by themselves and then come back on their own to ask for a hug or help. They know I’m right there to support them when they need it.
They see trust and support modeled to them and they give it back a thousand times over. They look out for one another. They treat their siblings and other children with respect. They shower affection on the people they love because they receive it unconditionally. That’s fostering the knowledge of how to create strong bonds of love that they can take with them long after they’re out on their own.
(I will share one caveat, my mother’s heart would prefer to keep them close to me and spare them from any difficulty or harm. It seems hard to meet each individual where they are, but the truly hard part for me is not wrapping them in bubble wrap and keeping them protected from the world-If it wouldn’t do them such a great disservice.)
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- “Keep Them Close and Let Them Go: Fostering Healthy Attachment As They Grow” — Helen at Zen Mummy wonders how to maintain a healthy attachment as our children become more independent.
- “Honesty (With Your Children) is the Best Policy” — Mandy at Living Peacefully With Children shares how honesty with her children is helping to build an authentic relationship which will last through the teen years and beyond.
- “Fostering Healthy Attachment?” — Momma Jorje discusses how she is building a foundation of attachment with her children and how she hopes it serves them in their lives as they grow into adults.
- Beyond Bookend Parenting — Marisa at Deliberate Parenting describes their efforts to maintain their toddler’s attachment to her working parent through play and routines throughout the day.
- Have You “Huggled” Today? — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how “huggles” work like magic in her home.
- Your Childhood=Your Child’s Childhood? — Amy at A Secure Base examines the research about how our attachment experience can shape our attachment with our children.
- List-Making Activities to Celebrate Family Connections — Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares some family list-making activities that will help you reflect on what you love about your family and can spark ideas for future family fun.
- How To Keep in Touch With Distant Grandparents — Lauren at Hobo Mama offers several tips to foster connection with relatives who live far away.
- Beyond Bonding: The Power of Positioning in Babywearing — Steffany, a babywearing educator, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, explains how optimal positioning in quality carriers can help babies’ physical growth, brain development, and overall attachment.
- Playing Follow the Leader — Zoie at TouchstoneZ has learned that the more she meets her children where they are rather than where she would like them to be, the greater the elasticity of their bonds are.
- The Evolution of Attachment: Parenting Without a Roadmap — Sheila at A Living Family reflects on her family’s recent generation of mothers and shares how she is working to make an evolutionary leap towards forming healthy attachment.
- Facilitating Sibling Connection — Laura at Authentic Parenting gives a set of pointers on how to facilitate sibling bonding.
- The Farm in my Bed — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses fostering children’s healthy attachment to “lovies” and comfort objects..