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kids at duck pond 2016As a birthday present, I took my 5-year-old son for a one-on-one date to the museum today. I surprised him with a 3D viewing of a film on the smallest creatures in the ocean.

We were the only people in the giant-screen theater, surrounded by amazing views of sea snails and clams and zooplankton. The end of the film made an appeal for viewers to care about the ocean, citing the accidental release of the lion fish coinciding with overfishing in the Caribbean for how we humans can cause great problems with what we see as minor mistakes.

It hearkened back to a series my children and I watched on National Geographic several months ago, “Racing Extinction,” during which we saw stunning evidence of humankind’s inadvertent effects on our natural world, such as how even a slight change in average sea temperature can decimate entire coral reefs.

I have long had great respect and admiration for nature, made even deeper through my Attachment Parenting (AP) journey. After more than a decade of AP, this way of relating to my children has become my way of relating overall — to other people and to the natural world. I can’t help but want to share that peace beyond my home, and a definite way I try to do this is to nurture my children’s innate curiosity and awe of the natural world.

My oldest daughter has, from the time she could talk, decided she wants to be an entomologist, to find better ways to save endangered pollinator species. My middle daughter has forever wanted to be a wildlife rescuer. And my youngest, my son, wants to save endangered species of birds. I’m excited that my children have the potential to be part of the next generation of problem-solvers in this way.

Naturally, I want to cultivate this interest. We spend a lot of time outdoors. We take the children to nature camps and on hikes in wildlife preserves. We expose them as much as we can to the people who are doing now what the kids want to do when they grow up. They have helped entomologists capture rare insects on disappearing virgin prairie, taken part in a skit on the whooping crane’s perilous migration, learned to identify invasive weeds choking sensitive waterways, done surveys on native bee numbers, and signed petitions to pass laws to better conserve monarch butterfly habitat.

Not that this can’t happen with other childhood interests, but I am a firm believer that being connected with the natural world has far-reaching benefits beyond an appreciation of nature. In this API post from Earth Day, Effie Morchi explains the myriad benefits to healthy child development.

Effie has such a passion for reconnecting children with nature. She recently brought my attention to a great opportunity: All 4th-grade students and their families can get in any U.S. national park for free through the Every Kid in a Park initiative.

I hope as many families can take advantage of this opportunity this year as possible. It’s a way to see our nation’s wildest places and help expand our children’s instinctive desire to connect — and eventually protect — our natural world.

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Parenting for peace

by Rita Brhel on September 21, 2016

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“But peace is about much more than putting weapons aside. It is about building a global society in which people live free from poverty and share the benefits of prosperity. It is about growing together and supporting each other as a universal family.” ~ Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General

There seems to be barely a day when we don’t hear of a tragedy somewhere on the globe — an act of violence, a casualty of war, a community in mourning, a home shattered by abuse. Where is peace?

Peace in our world, our nations, our communities, our homes, ourselves — we all want it, but it can seem unattainable in the societies where we live. Or is it?

On this International Day of Peace — today, September 21 — Attachment Parenting International (API) is excited to announce the theme of this year’s Attachment Parenting (AP) Month beginning October 1:

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Each day of October, API will delve into how parenting is critical for striving toward peace and world harmony. We will renew our support for the ultimate peacemakers — you, the parent.

This October:

  1. Follow us here on APtly Said for 31 days of Peace and Harmony through Daily Parenting Tips and inspirational posts from peacemakers around the world.
  2. Add your family to our Wall of Harmony.
  3. Submit a post, however short or long, on what “parenting for peace” means to you to be published on APtly Said during AP Month.
  4. Donate items to our online auction, running October 18-31.
  5. Keep in touch and share AP Month with friends on Facebook.
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AP Month Photo Contest 2016

September 20, 2016
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We’ve got a big idea for AP Month this year, but it depends on a collaboration with you – and all AP families! Let’s build a photographic image-base of “harmony” together  – and share with the world! The AP Month theme this year is “Nurturing Peace for World Harmony” because we’re working toward building an antidote to the levels of global unrest, […]

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Bedtime together, beautiful and attached

September 14, 2016
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My daughter and I stopped bedsharing a few months ago, just before her 2nd birthday. She was excited to move out of the daybed we shared in her room and into her own toddler bed. Even though we’ve shifted away from bedsharing, bedtime still remains for us a wonderful time of connection. Sometimes I hold […]

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The growing trend of grandfamilies

September 11, 2016
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Editor’s Note: Today, in observance of Grandparents’ Day, we acknowledge and honor grandparents for their love, dedication, and contributions to their evolving families and future generations. As we celebrate grandparents, we spotlight the growing trend in the U.S. of grandparents raising their grandchildren. A few months ago, a third-grade boy in my sons’ school unexpectedly […]

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From the family bed to the Peace Corps… Attachment Parenting is worth it in the end

September 8, 2016
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This past week was an emotional one for us. Our 22-year old son departed for Namibia, a country in southwestern Africa. After several months of language and cultural training, he will spend 2 years as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching mathematics to young people, living in a village with a native family, and having little […]

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Staying centered despite your child’s public meltdown

September 2, 2016
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You can tell a lot about a person by their shopping cart — and also how they deal with their toddler’s tantrum in the middle of the store. Clean-up needed in Aisle 9 — 3 year old having a meltdown after being in the store for 2 hours while Mom is looking for gravy packets. […]

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A mother’s reflections on her decision to honor her child’s spirit

August 31, 2016
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I dropped off my 10-year-old daughter at the art museum for another fun, creative day of summer camp. I hovered by the Admissions Desk, watching the kids get settled in.  As part of their morning warm-up, the kids hang out in the museum’s atrium, and while they wait for their peers to arrive, they engage […]

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