Sunday, April 13, 2008

Attachment Parenting

I would just like to share with everybody what my friend, Betty P, e-mailed me about the importance of having one-on-one time with each of our kids. I remember attending a parenting seminar by Maribel Dionisio sponsored by B and R's pre-school early this year, where one-on-one time was also mentioned as vital to our relationship with our kids.. I did take her example to heart and encouraged C to do the same. We started incorporating that to our family routine, although not as often as the kids liked it to be.

Let me share with you what transpired on a recent one-on-one date between C and my eldest, J. They both left home after dinner to have dessert. This was J's reward for actively participating in a recently concluded soccer clinic sponsored by our church. As C shared with me, banter was light at first. They had fun talking about whose nose was bigger, archie trivia (did you know that Mr. Lodge's first name is Hiram?), and J fretting the fact that she got her dad's genes. She worried that her feet would grow so big and her height would shoot up making her the biggest girl in class - and that no one would like her because of this.

Then they moved on to more serious matters of the heart. J mentioned that mommy was grumpy a lot lately. And so, of course, C, being the good husband that he is, justified that i might just be pre-occupied and tired, and needed some personal time. That rationalization went well with her, but after thinking (i guess) about it, she wanted to know why couldn't I simply make my cup bigger? If I had a bigger cup, then it won't be filled right away, she reasoned. Yes, of course! Now, why didn't I think of that first? :)

Having shared that, I am grateful that my "grumpiness" has been called to my attention. Of course, I want to make life at home as pleasant for my family as possible, and a being grumpy mom is not the way to do it.

Here is the article, which I am attaching in full.

Keeping Attachment Strong

By Toni Schutta, Parent Coach for Unlimited Growth Potential and President of Families First Coaching

What makes a good mother?
"You don't need to be rich or
smart or talented or funny. You just have to be there." -Psychologist Robert Karen

friend, shared a wonderful story recently in a seminar on "Smart Parenting." She said that ever since her children were little, she's set aside special one-on-one time with each of her children. She made a commitment to do this once a week and put it on the calendar. As her children became teenagers, this became harder to do, but yet they persevered.

One time, my friend had an important work commitment that conflicted with the breakfast date she'd made with her 15-year-old son. When she told him that they'd have to postpone, he actually got tears in his eyes, even though they were just postponing the date until the next day.

Wouldn't we all love to have that type of bond with our children, at any age?

We talk a lot about "attachment" when our children are young, but then the conversation fades to other topics. I contend that we must work diligently to make sure our attachment with our children is ever-growing and ever deepening. In fact, I believe that keeping attachment strong
is our most critical task.

Attachment is the basis from which discipline, respect, communication and authority grow. When your attachment is firmly grounded, the other parenting duties are more likely to be effective.

Many factors contribute to keeping "attachment" alive as our children grow. Being emotionally available to our children, loving them unconditionally, meeting their basic needs, being consistent in our discipline, being responsive to their pain and maintaining open communication, to name a few. But I'd like to go out on a limb and say that one of the most concrete things that you can do to deepen attachment is to spend one-on-one "special time" each week with each child.

Why is this so important?

A child is far more likely to reveal intimate feelings to you when you're alone with them. It¹s highly unlikely that a child, who may be feeling vulnerable already, will reveal perceived weaknesses in front of a sibling. But, given time to let down their guard with a parent, they may let you in on struggles they wouldn't reveal at the dinner table.

By having your sole attention, the child will feel valued. You're making a huge statement to them that nothing else is more important to you.

Your child will treasure this time. Remember when your kids were little and they¹d say "Look at me!"? They still need us to look at them and let them know that they're #1.

In his book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families" Stephen Covey talks about an "Emotional Bank Account" that you can develop with other family members. He says
the Emotional Bank Account "is like a financial account that can make deposits by proactively doing things that build trust in the relationship, or you can make withdrawals by reactively doing things that decrease the level of trust."

Things like being kind, apologizing, not criticizing others, keeping promises, forgiving and providing unconditional love, all contribute to the bank account. I'd say that weekly
one-on-one time with each child would contribute a substantial deposit in the emotional bank account from which you could leverage things like compliance to your requests, respect, and honest communication.

Given that attachment is the base from which all other aspects of parenting flow, I hope you'll consider making this weekly "investment" that is guaranteed to bring you even closer to your child.

Here are some guidelines for getting started:

*Start small. You can commit to as little as 15 to 30 minutes a week.

*Put the special time on the calendar in ink! Try very hard to keep that commitment.

*Let the child choose how you spend your time together.

The child's inner needs will direct them to choose an activity that brings them joy. Let the child be the leader for a change! (Before you get started, feel free to set boundaries about the activities, such as the amount of time or the cost.)

Relax, and enjoy this special time with your child!


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