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by Rita Brhel on Mar 28, 2024

I remember when the first edition of the book, Attached at the Heart, was released in 2009 – Nurturings’ 15th anniversary since its founding by the book’s coauthors, Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker.

Attached at the Heart was an absolute labor of love, and all of Nurturings’ volunteer staff, Board members, and local parent group leaders around the world were ecstatic to share in Barbara and Lysa’s celebration of their book. Here’s what the coauthors had to say about their book at the time:

LYSA: The book, Attached at the Heart, is a culmination of the last 20 or more years since we had our first conversations about wanting to help children and parents. In our book, we paint the big picture and give the reader the reasons why parenting is important, as well as the Eight Principles of Parenting and the research to support those reasons. We want to give parents the researched information and empower them to make their own informed decisions.

BARBARA: The other important message of the book is the title: Attached at the Heart. We wanted to have something about nurturing or connection in the title to capture all of these philosophical concepts we've been talking about.

This year, Nurturings celebrates its 30th anniversary with the release of Attached at the Heart’s third edition. I’ve spent much time reflecting on the past 15 years since this book was first published. I am excited to share with you what Barbara and Lysa have to say about this third edition:

Q: What has changed in Attached at the Heart since the last edition of the book?

BARBARA: Our Eight Principles of Parenting have remained the same, but new and exciting research comes out every year! We strive to gather the most pertinent information and synthesize it in a user-friendly format that is helpful not only to parents but to parent educators, such as childbirth educators, doulas, lactation specialists, and mental health professionals. Here's just a taste of some of the new and exciting information in this third edition:

  • Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs) buffer and reduce the harms from inevitable Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Recent research has shown that positive childhood experiences and relational buffers can mitigate the impact on physical and psychological health of adverse childhood experiences.
    Parents are modeling and guiding their child’s emotional responses. Babies cannot regulate intense emotions on their own. Parents deserve effective coping tools to help them help their babies learn to recover from stress. This book offers strategies to help parents effectively manage stresses and tensions.
  • Resilience arises from children receiving nurturing care. Resilience isn’t about tough love but rather guiding and teaching children strategies to navigate life’s stressors with a safety net of connection.
  • Gentle alternatives to sleep training are now more mainstream. Our book offers gentle strategies to help babies sleep without resorting to cry-it-out approaches. These tried-and-true methods have helped many exhausted parents get more sleep while still meeting their babies’ needs.

Q: What has changed in the parenting world since your 1st and 2nd editions of Attached the Heart?

BARBARA: For one thing, Nurturings has truly gone "International!" Because of professionals around the world finding us online, our book is now translated into Greek, Turkish, and soon to be Spanish. It has been adapted to a parenting curriculum, and parents can attend parenting classes on Zoom.

It seems there's always two sides to every story, and it's no different in the parenting world. On the positive side, we have so much more information on infant brain development, research in healthy relationships between parent and child, and optimum infant nutrition and care. Parents can more easily find information and support online at the touch of their fingertips, 24 hours a day. Things like Zoom meetings and webinars were not available to parents when we first published the book in 2009, yet now it's a part of our everyday lives.

The downside could be seen in all these aspects, too, because it's hard for parents to investigate everything they read or see online...how accurate is the information? Is it backed by sound child development research and practices? What if my pediatrician is saying something different than what I've read or heard? We know that mental health issues are being diagnosed at younger and younger ages, with medications being prescribed even for toddlers.

Our hope is that as we normalize nurturing, and focus on Positive Childhood Experiences, we all play a role in providing the resources that parents, families, and children require for flourishing. It’s important that we continue to prioritize resources for each new generation of healthy parenting, providing support and strategies for giving parents and their children the precious time they need in the early years and as their children grow.

Q: What has been the impact of Attached the Heart since it was first published?

LYSA: The impact of Attached the Heart since it was first published is difficult to measure, but anecdotally parents have told us over the years how much our book meant to them. We know that healthy parenting has become mainstream due to the efforts of many other people, such as Dr. Bill and Martha Sears (who have written many like-minded parenting books), and our book has been a part of that evolution.

In Attached the Heart, we dive deeper into the Eight Principles of Parenting that provide a framework to give parents daily practical strategies and tools that support their nurturing capabilities. We recognized that parents value the information and the research that supports the principles, so they can share it with their family, friends and even their pediatricians.

In 2010, we began working on a curriculum based on our book, and from that, we have offered numerous training sessions for professionals with the intent of preparing them to teach parenting classes in their own communities. This effort has led to several international trainings, and there is continued interest.

We find it interesting and telling about our culture that this information is more readily accepted in some other cultures than in the United States. We know that modern times bring modern stresses. We know that today there is a mental health crisis and that parents are burnt out from the COVID pandemic. Through Nurturings, our goal has always been to make research-based information and support available to more parents. Our trained professionals and volunteer staff are also parents. We have lived experience, and we know how hard it is to find trusted information.

Q: What's the one thing that parents today must know about raising children that you address in this 3rd edition of Attached the Heart?

LYSA: The one thing that parents today must know about raising children is that becoming more informed and active participants in pregnancy, birth, and parenting is more important than it’s ever been. We encourage parents to question deeply, to probe beyond anything that doesn’t feel like the right fit for their family. What we want to do as an organization is help parents learn how to identify what is truly effective and helpful to them for their family. When we are willing to do that, we change ourselves and change the world.

by AHPP Team on Mar 28, 2024

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Nurture Rings:
by Amber Strocel on Sep 27, 2023

I have found myself heavily pregnant, running after my 3-year-old daughter as she bolted away from me in a busy parking lot. 

I have stood beside a screaming toddler while bouncing a crying baby in a checkout line at the store.

I have nursed my 2-year-old son in the park and felt like all eyes were on me.

I want to meet my child's needs in the way that feels right to me. I believe that doing this has strengthened our relationship and helped my kids to feel safe and nurtured. I am satisfied with my parenting approach, yet I admit that some part of me does care about the opinions of others.

There are certain situations where my resolve is tested. Almost invariably, these situations arise in public settings. My kids seem to become tense and unruly in public. I feel a heightened fear for my child's safety as we deal with parking lots and crowded shopping centers. I feel the judgment of strangers and the disapproving glances. It is as if all of my parenting buttons are pressed when we're out in the view of others.

How have I handled my fears? How have I let go of my need for approval, my desire to please, so that I can get on with the business of parenting?

It has helped me to find like-minded parents who provide me with support and insight when I am looking for ideas of how to handle a possible situation before it happens. Sometimes, I can’t foresee the situations that arise.

A couple reminders that help me when I am parenting in public:

  1. Tell myself that I will likely never see these people again, which is often the truth. 
  2. Allow myself to accept help when it is offered, and to ask for help when I need it, such as holding my things while I run after a child or carrying my groceries to the car.

What helps you when parenting in public?

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