I Want to be My Children’s Compass Point

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I was listening to a CBC segment a few weeks ago, with a writer who shared her philosophy on this whole ‘parenting’ movement. While she too wrote a book about it, she wonders if we are doing ourselves a disservice with all this pressure and industry around parenting.

There are a lot of books, workshops, and ‘experts’ that are available to us these days. Each is designed to help you be the best parent you can, and also to find solutions for places that you are stuck. While i guess we fall under this category a bit, i prefer to see our practice as an extra support to you as you guide yourself to the best parenting path. That said, we can be overwhelmed when other parents or even just the regular folk who are waiting in line at the grocery store, ask you if you are an ‘attachment parent’, ‘free range parent,’ or a ‘peaceful parent’ or even a ‘helicopter parent.’ There is just so much pressure and pull to be defined as ____ parent: I just want to be the best parent i can for my children.

So i hope this doesn’t sound too contradictory to that writers point: i really love reading books and finding ones that speak to what i hold dear to me, and what our family’s values are.

As someone who really values being attached to my children, my partner, and to the people closest to me, i relish the chance to integrate this bond in any way i can. Having read Hold On to Your Kids by Dr. Gordon Neufeld and Dr. Gabor Mate, i wish all new parents can read this book. In it, they describe how attachment can play out between our children and ourselves, to the better of our relationship and also for our communities.

Neufeld goes on further to explain that attachment is not just about the practices – things we do like wear our babies in carriers, co-sleep, stay with our babies all the time, and exclusively breastfeed. Rather, it is a relationship between the child and parent. This relationship gives a context to how the child is raised in the family and grows up in the world. I so love the idea that we are to be our child’s compass point, and that it actually puts them at a disadvantage when we hurry them to stop being dependent on us. There is a dance of attachment that we go through with our children, and in order to keep that bond alive, it is our job to remain the alpha in their lives. It may sound daunting in this day of technology, and peer orientation, but i also really hope that my children come to me No Matter What when they are in their teen years. The work i’m doing now fosters that future attachment.

What that in mind, I’m really excited that Dr. Neufeld is coming to Toronto at the end of November, to flush out this theory of attachment and development. He is giving two talks – one is a two-hour discussion on how play can help build attachment, and the other is a full day workshop on resiliency and attachment. If you want to learn more about this theory, why don’t you come check it out!

Giving Thanks

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This weekend is about being thankful, about taking a moment to take notice of the things you are grateful for. It can be hard to acknowledge these things as most of us get too busy with the daily grind of life. It’s hard to s l o w d o w n and say thanks.

Of course, it doesn’t help that our kids and partners may not take a moment to say thanks to us. I hear myself saying out loud ‘thanks mom’ whenever I do something kind for my kids. Sure I’m saying it with a bit of sarcasm, but I’m also doing it to hear it said AND to model for my children that it feels good to hear it.

We have a tradition in our home to do a weekly entry in a Gratitude Jar. It’s a time that we put aside after our Sunday dinner, to reflect on the week and the things that we liked about it – or rather were thankful for. We do this weekly, and then at the end of the year – during our New Year’s Eve meal for instance – we take entries from each month and share them again. It helps keep the gratitude flowing, and it enables us to hold on to the things that were dear and meaningful and positive for us. Here’s a helpful article to make one yourself – they’re really easy to make!

I appreciate this intention – to purposefully gather together and share moments in our week that we hold special. It can be as simple as being grateful for your new toy truck, or sharing a coffee with an old friend, or being excited to be asked to be part of a new team at work. It gives us space to relish this feeling even more, giving us more time to be thankful and happy.It helps guide is to be more mindful of what is important to us, and to hold on to it.

My daughter made this poster at school this week – she shared that she is ‘thankful for my mom’s food.’ I have to say that it came perfectly time on a day that she devoured her dinner and also barely ate a morsel of food at lunch. Seeing this sweet painting sure filled me with gratitude – to her for doing this activity and also for her teacher for making a point to show the students what being thankful really is about.

How do you show your gratitude with your family? And more importantly, how do you show to yourself what you are grateful for? This weekend will be a perfect time to set aside a moment and have the intention to write 3 things you are grateful for, or go for a walk in a forest and take notice of the changing leaves – and take that time to reflect on things you are thankful for from this past month or year.
The more we practice being grateful, the more readily this practice comes. Setting this intention will enable you to take notice of it more quickly and therefore fill your being with more love and kindness.