Create the family you want to have

Parent Affirmation Monday- playful- 10/22/2012

Silly Furry Saturday!

Silly Furry Saturday! (Photo credit: Buntekuh)

Written by, Kate Oliver, MSW, LCSW-C

Last week, I wrote about the PLACE Parenting attitude, as taught by Dr. Dan Hughes. For the next few weeks, I want to focus on each of the different parts of the PLACE attitude.

Our first attribute of this attitude is playful. I have to admit that as a parent, this is actually the most difficult part for me, which is actually pretty funny considering I started my career as a therapist as a “play therapist.” However, while my husband is pretty good at finding a silly answer to my children when they are grumbling about something, I’m too busy trying to figure out how to “fix” what I think is going wrong. Well, last week, I had a little breakthrough and I thought I might share it with you to show you what I mean about being playful.

My oldest daughter likes shopping for clothes almost as much as she liked getting a root canal last year. Actually, I heard less grumbling during the root canal. I’ve bought enough clothes that have disappeared into her drawers never to be seen again, or just to be outright rejected to know that I’m not spending money on clothes she has not picked. As a result, she and I have had a building issue about clothes shopping such that I myself have imagined the welcome relief of giving a cat a bath rather than taking her shopping. Long story short, what we were doing was not working despite my trying to process each interaction that went poorly when it came to clothes shopping. Recently, I decided to get playful.

If you haven’t heard of the gangnam style of dancing, you might want to check it out on Youtube (the dance starts around 30 seconds in). Let me give a brief descriptor: the gangnam dance is a sort of galloping style where sometimes you put one hand over your head like you are going to rope cattle at a rodeo. I downloaded the song on itunes and put it on my cell phone. Before leaving to go get winter pants with my darling eldest, I pulled her aside and said to her that I wanted things to go well. I put my arm around her and smiled while I told her that I had a plan for what to do if she got snippy or sassy with me. I proceeded to turn on the song and, to her horror, starting dancing/galloping around the living room. We both laughed pretty hard, but I ended by suggesting that if she found it so funny, she might like to see it in public as well.

And so it happened. Right there in JCPenny’s, going up the escalator my normally sweet, but now snarly girl said something  about me being fat- I’ve already forgotten what it was but it wasn’t nice. I took a breath, asked her in a serious tone if she knew what I had to do now, then, again, to her horror, I turned on that song. Right. There. In. JCPenny. (So sorry if you were there and happened to see that! It was necessary.) We both ended up laughing- I probably laughed hardest. And, we moved on. I didn’t hiss at her in the dressing room to get back at her. I didn’t feel the need to “make her pay” further. She apologized, sincerely almost as soon as the words came out of her mouth, but you know I still had to dance anyway.

When you can, if you can, be playful with your children. Find a way to make them, or at least yourself, smile. Show them how to rise above a nasty comment with a laugh and a grin. Show them how we, as adults, are able to stop taking ourselves so darn seriously all the time! With that being said, here is the affirmation this week:

I find ways to be funny and playful with my children. I welcome moments of unexpected silliness.

October 22, 2012 Posted by | affirmations, help for parents, parent support/ self improvement, Parenting | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

An Attachment Therapist on Attachment Parenting

At the Baby Loves Disco party Sunday afternoon.

At the Baby Loves Disco party Sunday afternoon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maybe it’s just because I’ve been a bit more attuned to the media’s interpretation of parents recently but I’ve noticed that there seem to be a lot of people talking about attachment parenting being the newest thing.  I’ve known about attachment parenting for years now.  Just like with any other parenting style, the media reports tend to focus on extremes where in order to say you are an attachment parent you must rigidly follow the tenants of wearing your baby everywhere, co-sleeping, and breast-feeding past the societal norms for the United States.  Attachment parenting becomes just like “tiger moms,” “helicopter parents,” and “back-stage parents,” so that you either you are or you are or are not with no in-between.

I would like to suggest that we all take a breath for a moment.  Put your hand on your heart.  While you are at it, breathe a few times slowly, in and out.  Ask yourself this question.  “Is this true?”  Is it true that so many people subscribe to rigid parenting styles?  Or are we all just trying to get along the best way we know how with the information we have?

I would like us all to dial it down a notch.  Here are the things I care about as an attachment therapist– meaning that I am a therapist that looks at the attachment styles between parents and children and helps to guide children with insecure attachment styles toward a more secure attachment:

Do you have a genuine, loving relationship with your child?

If not, are you working to make your relationship genuine and loving?

Do you care more about your relationship with your child than you care about being right or dominating your child?

Are you playful and loving with your child when you can be?

Do you set appropriate limits?

Does your child look to you for comfort and protection and do they have faith that you will care for them?

Are you empathic toward and accepting of your child’s feelings, even if they are different from yours?

Do you have insight into the parts of parenting that are hard for you and do you work to change the parenting moments or actions you are not proud of?

These are the foundations of parents that form secure attachments with their children.  Dan Hughes, author of several books, including one of my favorites, “Building the Bonds of Attachment,” (you can purchase this book by following the link “Amazon widgets” at the top right of this page*)calls this way of parenting PLACE parenting.  PLACE stands for Playful, Loving, Accepting, Curious, Empathic.  I find using this way of parenting builds a strong bond between parent and child and is especially useful for the children I see with attachment disturbance.

I do my best to use it with my children as well, but, guess what?  I’m human.  Sometimes, like when I take my oldest clothes shopping and she refuses to try on a single item of clothing even though she complains several times a week that she has nothing to wear, I lose it.  If you were in Target with us last Tuesday, I apologize.  Seriously.  But, just like when our children make mistakes, so do we need to gather ourselves together and learn from those things we do that we wish we could take back and move on.  It is my strong belief that the best parenting style for any parent is the one that works best for them!  The style that most truly matches your internal desire and ability to parent, and which models a life you would like your child most to emulate.  I imagine that would be a life in which: they are free to love themselves without being narcissistic, they care for others so that they might experience loving relationships, and they explore their own interests and build on their own talents and abilities, among other things.

What do you think creates a strong foundation in a parent/child relationship?

*see disclaimer page

May 23, 2012 Posted by | attachment, help for parents, parent support/ self improvement | , , , , , | 4 Comments


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