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“One of the best gifts you can give your toddler and yourself is to find time to join him where he is in that expectant openness, to slow down, to see what they see and hear what they hear, to let go of deadlines, plans, goals, wishes, to just be together.~ Kim Allsup, Children Growing

“One of the best gifts you can give your toddler and yourself is to…just be together.” Wow, doesn’t that just sum up Attachment Parenting, not only for the toddler years but for all ages and stages of our children, from in utero through adulthood?

dandelionKim of Children Growing brought her post, “Toddlers Blooming in the Garden: Finding Wonder (Part 2 of 4),” to my attention earlier this month. While APtly Said posts original material, Attachment Parenting International recognizes select blog posts and articles related to Attachment Parenting (AP) through API Links and occasionally through reprints in the Attached Family magazine. But I just had to share this one on APtly Said, and so we are beginning a new series called “Editor’s Pick,” where we recognize outstanding AP posts from bloggers beyond APtly Said. Anyone can request a review of their blog post.

After reading Kim’s post, I was very interested in learning more about her and inviting her to blog for APtly Said. I hope we get to see more from her soon!

Kim introduces Children Growing as “a teacher’s blog about the art of helping children grow–at home, at school and in the garden.” Kim is a classroom and gardening teacher at The Waldorf School of Cape Cod in Bourne, Massachusetts, USA. She has been growing children for 43 years, including 21 years as a teacher, and gardening for 40 years. She is passionate about helping parents to return to their own memories of their childhood in order to re-experience wonder of the natural world with their own children.

And so, without further ado, here is Kim’s post:

Toddlers Blooming in the Garden: Finding Wonder (Part 2 of 4)

“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.” ~ Rachel Carson

Wonder in the first years of life creates the roots of self-motivation. It is the foundation of a personal connection to the world, the nexus of the self. Wonder cannot be scripted. It arrives unbidden. And while we cannot call forth wonder just when we want it, we can be expectant. The best a person can do is to be always listening, always watching, open to the possibility that something amazing might come our way, aware that it is possible, or even likely, that the marvelous will arise out of the commonplace, amid the happenings of everyday life. This openness to wonder is a transcendent state we aspire to as adults, yet it is the natural state of young children.

One of the best gifts you can give your toddler and yourself is to find time to join him where he is in that expectant openness, to slow down, to see what they see and hear what they hear, to let go of deadlines, plans, goals, wishes, to just be together. There is no better place to do this than the garden. You might head to the garden with the intention of meandering with your child at her speed, following her interests. Or, you might be working in the garden with your little one nearby, sensitive to noticing a moment that calls you to put down your rake so you can kneel on the damp earth and let your toddler lead the way to the discovery of a blossom or a butterfly or a strawberry or the green spikes of the emerging corn he planted himself.

A toddler’s mood of wonder can be fragile. Protect it by moving slowly, by dwelling in the fullness of silence, by noticing your child’s focus, using only a few carefully chosen words. Above all, don’t direct, explain or praise. When you find your way to becoming a companion to your toddler in an experience of wonder, you will find that time seems to stop. You may enter this realm for only four or five moments, but if you truly connect, if you drink in your child’s amazement, you will return to a place you once knew, a place where you lived as a child, where you feel beckoned to return. It is ironic that grown ups seek distant gurus to guide them to a consciousness of expectant, awareness when focused attention with a toddler, perhaps in a garden, might satisfy our mysterious yearning, might lead us back to the forgotten mindset our own early years. For, wonder is our first home.

Toddlers and young children usually live in a sense of wonder that is not shared with adults. If you think back to your own early years, perhaps you can remember moments of fascination that you did not share, that you could not share, for you did not have the words. Once you re-enter a toddler’s world of wonder, you will be awed by the value of this consciousness. You will want to provide your child with undisturbed time in nature, in a forest, by the sea, in a garden. For many families, a garden is the most accessible natural area. It can be on a balcony, of a tall apartment building, or a single garden bed in a tiny back yard. For a child, it is a place to witness the magic of growth, to know the beauty of life, to find wonder.

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Hold on to Your Kids

by API Blog on August 26, 2014

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By Lysa Parker, cofounder of Attachment Parenting International and coauthor of Attached at the Heart

lysa parkerFor me, Attachment Parenting (AP) has been like a life preserver in a cultural sea that is constantly in turbulence and posing many dangers.

While AP provides us with tools for holding on to your kids, once they enter the world at large you hope your children will stay connected, but we’ve found it continues to take effort on our part as parents. The bottom line is that all relationships take work — even with our spouses.

At every stage of our children’s lives, we hoped that we just could relax and enjoy the fruits of all the efforts we put into them in their early years, only to find out that the relaxing part comes in spurts.

Of course their successes, joys and triumphs become yours as well, but it can be so hard to watch them find their way in this world. Their struggles and pain become your struggles and pain. You know they have to go through the realities of life; they have to learn through their own experiences and decisions.

I wish we could just turn off our emotions and brush our hands and say, “We did our job as parents and now it’s up to them,” but you can’t — not when you are connected. As children grow into their teens and even adulthood, it takes a conscious effort to keep that connection…everyday!

There are so many temptations in our world, so many “wolves” just waiting to attack the hearts and minds of our children. We not only have to build their strength and confidence to face these challenges, but we have to do it for ourselves so that we can be there when they need us and be strong. That’s where having a strong AP community as your extended family can be a safety net.

Attachment Parenting International cofounder and Attached at the Heart coauthor Barbara Nicholson and I often talk about our sons, how we’ve raised sensitive young men who are creative and very independent. While these are wonderful qualities, some of our children are finding it very difficult to find their place in this world and it’s taking a lot longer than we thought. We have no doubt that they will, but it’s not as easy as it seems for others.

We can’t help ourselves from wondering, worrying about them finding the right person to share their life, to bear their children. Will they choose AP as their path or go the opposite way? Will they stay close to our family? Will they all be healthy and happy?

My husband will half-jokingly say that when he turned 18, his parents ran away from home. Our parents’ and grandparents’ generation thinks it is very odd for a child over the age of 18 to live at home. But more importantly, our high-touch, sensitive children require close connections at home to help them maintain their stability.

I recently listened to an interview with Dr. Robert Epstein who said, in reference to the turmoil and troubles many teens and young adults are having in our Western culture: “Any culture that severs the connection between young people and older people creates this problem.” He went on to say that no other teens in the world experience the problems with drug abuse and suicide like we see.

The point I want to make is that while we may make great improvements in our parenting from previous generations, the AP way of life will not always protect our children or prevent them from making mistakes in judgment. If there are generations of abuse or addictions in your family, changing that course will likely take more than one generation. Still, we can affirm to ourselves that we are on the right path to breaking the cycles of dysfunction that so many families have endured for generations.

Our job as parents is to maintain our connection to our children, to be there when they fall, to be their rock and their compass and bring them back home to a circle of security that will refresh and strengthen their hearts. Attachment Parenting gives us the strength, the wisdom and support to do just that.

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Seeking an Answer, Being the Answer

August 25, 2014
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A mother of a son, who was already married and had a family of his own, told me of the time he was much younger and in love with a young woman who rejected him. This happened during his army service, and he would call his mother night after night, sometimes at 2 or 3 […]

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Attachment Parenting and School Age Children

August 22, 2014
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Last week the second of my two children, my son, turned 6. I can hardly believe it, to be honest. Six! He’s not a baby anymore, or a toddler, or a preschooler. He’s not even a kindergartner. He’s looking forward to starting first grade in a couple of weeks. His big sister will be starting […]

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An Unexpected Evening Out with Our Son

August 19, 2014
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By Barbara Nicholson, cofounder of Attachment Parenting International and coauthor of Attached at the Heart You never know when a precious family memory will start out as a seeming disaster! Many years ago, my husband and I had been planning a special evening out with his boss. I bought a new dress and carefully arranged […]

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API-Inspired Leadership: An interview with Lauren Osborne

August 15, 2014
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In celebration of Attachment Parenting International’s 20th Anniversary, the four-part “API-Inspired Leadership” series honors the unique paths that inspired parents to pursue API Leadership. This series will run on Fridays. Here is the first part of the series: API’s Leadership program is an opportunity for passionate parents, like Lauren Osborne of Huntsville-Madison, Alabama, USA, to […]

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Choosing to Sit in the Dark

August 13, 2014
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Brené Brown is a researcher at the University of Houston whose work centers on shame, empathy and vulnerability. She has written several books and speaks all over the world on these important topics, which have a dramatic effect on the ways we live, work and raise our children. I just love this segment of one of […]

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API Reads: Parenting from the Inside Out starting this month

August 12, 2014
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The API Reads program is winding down a discussion of Attached at the Heart (2nd edition) by Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker. Join in on the last of the topics being discussed online at GoodReads: Principle 8: Strive for Balance in Your Personal and Family Life – Peace Within Creates Peace at Home Chapter 10: […]

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