This is the second in a series of interviews that feature babywearing-related charities. You might also be interested in reading about No Mother Left Behind.
Recently, I had the chance to speak with Lysa Parker, co-founder of Attachment Parenting International. Actually, she is so eloquent, informative, and interesting (and so is her fellow founder, Barbara Nicholson), that I feel compelled to split this interview into two parts. This interview will focus on Attachment Parenting International (API), and what the organization stands for. Tomorrow, I will post Lysa’s account of how API was formed. Please enjoy the following interview. I hope it inspires and informes you as much as it did me!
Lysa: Attachment Parenting is based on a psychological theory called “attachment theory” that was proposed by Dr. John Bowlby back in the 1940’s (read about in our book) stating that babies are born with a biological drive to form a strong emotional attachment to a primary giver- ideally the mother. In order to do that the baby elicits what they call “attachment promoting” behaviors that also play into the baby’s survival needs too such as clinging, crying, sucking etc.
We believe so many parents are turning to this style of parenting because they see that current popular beliefs about childrearing aren’t working, that children’s emotional needs aren’t being met causing a host of mental and societal problems; they finally feel validated that their instincts are correct and they can nurture their child the way the feel best and they see the payoff in their connection with their children that they may not have felt with their own parents. There are many reasons and we feel so inspired that so many families are adopting this way of parenting. We know this because we are now receiving over a million hits a month on our website. Parents are seeking answers and we hope they are finding it on our website.
Andrea: What does Attachment Parenting International offer?
Lysa: API offers parents and professionals validation and hope; it offers education, advocacy and support that can’t be found anywhere else. API appeals to parents seeking information about parenting as well as supporting/validating those who already embrace AP. We hear from so many parents who say they feel like they are the only ones in their area that believes the way they do about nurturing their children; they feel unsupported and invalidated by their community and culture. If nothing else our website provides a lifeline to these parents but we really want to empower parents to be active in their community, join a local API support group or become a leader and start their own group. It’s parent-to-parent support that keeps our momentum going. We love the fact that so many fathers have gotten involved attending the meeting and even becoming support group leaders. Too often only mothers benefit from a social network and reading parenting books but we find that many fathers want to get involved too. API is a clearinghouse as well for parents and professionals, offering materials, research, referrals as needed.
Lysa: People should know that AP gives parents the knowledge and tools to help them provide a loving home environment for the optimal development of their children; that by doing so they will build a strong connection with their children that will last a lifetime and carry over into their adult relationships and grandchildren; finally that they can help change the world by the way they consciously raise their children. Children who learn empathy and trust from their relationship with their parents become adults who are better able to empathize and feel compassion toward others. The world needs these children! It’s important for people to know that API is a grassroots organization that started with an idea and operates on a shoestring budget- solely funded by memberships and donations. Most of our staff is paid very little and they put in many more hours they are paid for because they are passionate about what they are doing. They have experienced the benefits of AP in their own lives and want to give that to current and future parents.
Lysa: Barbara and I just participated in the first Webinar hosted by Mothering Magazine last Friday, Aug. 22 with Dr. James McKenna and Dr. Paul Fleiss. We are in the planning stages of scheduling our own Webinars and teleseminars for this fall, likely beginning in late Sept. and throughout October. October will be a big month for us because API will launch our second annual AP month in collaboration with Dr. Bill and Martha Sears. Local groups will join API in hosting special events throughout the month. Of course we are all very excited about the release of our book, slated for October as well. Initially it will be available for purchase off the publisher’s website at www.iuniverse.com/bookstore .
Lysa: The ultimate goal of API is make AP mainstream- nothing short of a complete cultural paradigm shift in the way we perceive and treat children. We want to raise parents’ consciousness about the importance of their relationship with their children. We want to make sure every parent is given the information they need to give their child the best start possible. No one really feels prepared to be a parent- so until we know more and our consciousness is raised, we will default to parenting the way we were parented. That is the key problem in perpetuating the intergenerational cycles of abuse & neglect. In ten years, API will be a strong force in advocating for children and families helping to change government policies and making family issues a priority. We want to empower parents to be their child’s best advocate and make informed decisions rather than giving that power to others. Many AP parents have a long range vision and want to change the world from one of violence to one of peace. They know it can be done but first peace must begin in the home. We’re all just trying to do our little part.
Thank you, Lysa and Barbara, for caring enough to create such a wonderful organization, and for taking the time to answer my questions.
If you’d like to know more about Attachment Parenting International, visit their website.