a mother’s kiss…

This post is part of the 2010 API Principles of Parenting blog carnival, a series of monthly parenting blog carnivals, hosted by API Speaks. Learn more about attachment parenting by visiting the API website.

When we were expecting our first child, I bought the requisite newborn hats. Afterall, every new baby needed hats to keep their little head warm. When our son was born, instinct kicked in. As I brought him to my chest to snuggle him close, my head automatically dipped, taking in his new baby smell and kissing the top of his wet little head. Later we tried putting one of the little hats on him. It didn’t last long. I found that the hat blocked his smell. My instinct was to kiss and smell his little head and I couldn’t do that as well with the confounded hat on him. The hats were packed away for future children, who never were forced to wear the hats even once.

As mammals, we are ingrained to sniff and kiss our little ones at birth. It aids in bonding and helps us to connect with our children. It helps us to recognize our children. At the same time, it places our new babies at our chests: a source of nourishment and comfort. Just as mothers can identify their newborns by smell, infants, too, can recognize their mothers by scent.

I have yet to stop kissing my children’s heads. I kiss my toddler and baby on their heads as they nurse or snuggle close. My 5 1/2 year old hugs me tight as I kiss the top of her head, particularly soothing for us in times of conflicts. My oldest child is 7 1/2, and I still find myself ruffling his hair and giving him a kiss on top of his head when he passes me or comes to sit next to me.   The day will come when he’ll have to bend down so I can give him kisses, but I doubt I will stop even then.

focusing on our children…

This post is part of the 2010 API Principles of Parenting blog carnival, a series of monthly parenting blog carnivals, hosted by API Speaks. Learn more about attachment parenting by visiting the API website.

My husband’s grandmother was visiting last January. She had been staying with my in-laws, and my children and I drove 45 minutes to pick her up so that we could spend the day with her and so that she could stay overnight with us. My children were really looking forward to having her stay with us. The morning we were to pick her up, I woke up to snow, with more coming down. We went ahead with our plans, though the drive took us longer than usual with the weather.

When we arrived, we went inside to visit with her before getting back on the road. My in-laws’ house isn’t the most kid friendly home. It’s covered in knick-knacks that no one is supposed to touch. There are children’s books, games and toys left-over from when my husband and his brothers were kids, but with few exceptions, those are also verboten. Needless to say, by the time we were getting ready to leave, my 2 1/2 year old was more than a little bored from just chatting with his great-grandmother.

As I had everyone rounded up at the door in order to get shoes and coats on, my younger son spied where my mother-in-law had stashed the old Fisher Price barn – one of the few items allowed to be played with. He insisted that he wanted to play with it and I could tell that he wasn’t going to change his mind. Eyeing my grandmother-in-law zipping up her coat, I took a breath and told him we could spare a couple of minutes for him to play.

I’m certain my husband’s grandmother didn’t approve. While she is one of the few (only?) relatives on that side of the family who supports us in our choices, she is still from a generation who believes that children should do as they are told without question. I imagined what she could be thinking during those minutes. I took another breath and smiled at my children, reminding myself that it didn’t matter what she thought. I was determined to do what was best for my children, and my relationship with my son was more important than what she might possibly think.

After a couple of minutes, I asked my son if he could make the animals walk into the barn. He cheerfully walked each animal into the barn, one at a time. Then I asked if the vehicles could drive into the barn, to which I heard a resounding, “No!” This was quickly followed by, “The people need to drive them in.” He then proceeded to have the people drive the animals into the barn, packed up the barn, and neatly put it away before asking for help with his shoes.

Had I insisted that we needed to leave right that second, the result would have been a power struggle between the two of us. By focusing on my child’s needs instead of what my grandmother-in-law might have been thinking, I not only avoided any power struggle, but I once again cemented trust by showing my son that I cared about his needs and feelings.