Parenting for Secure Attachment, Consultation with Margaret Howard
I offer counseling and consultation on parenting for secure attachment. Evidence shows that secure attachment lays a strong foundation for later independence, when that becomes developmentally appropriate. Neuroscience and anthropological evidence are showing that certain practices which are largely "natural" and instinctive to humans and other mammals support the baby's and children's best possible brain and nervous system development. It's amazing! Whether you need support for your choices, information about development, or counseling to work through the struggles that we all can find to be part of the parenthood package, I can help.
Or maybe you didn't start knowing about how important attachment is but are interested in making the switch or just learning more.
I also offer sessions for grandparents and others to understand the reasons why their children have chosen to raise the grandchildren in the attachment parenting style. It can be hard, being a grandparent. You have wisdom. People don't always want it. I'm here to help you understand, and to figure out why your kids are raising their kids differently than you may have.
I raised two children in mostly an "attachment" style, before it was even called that. They are both now raising their own children this way. I guess I did something right!
Young babies are welcome in sessions. :)
Parenting for Secure Attachment Supports These Things (and more):
Trauma-informed labor and birth
Skin-to-skin contact with newborn
Attachment-oriented bottle feeding
Safe co-sleeping and arms-reach sleeping
Responding to baby's distress promptly and reliably
Leaving all baby's genitals intact, boys and girls
A note about parenting consultation:
I can provide parenting consultation that is not psychotherapy. Consultation is educational and informational, more problem solving in nature, while psychotherapy is designed to be, well, therapeutic. While per my license I can only provide psychotherapy in Missouri, I can provide consultation and education elsewhere as well. If at any point we determine that psychotherapy is needed I will provide you with referrals to practitioners in your area, when possible.
I am a mandated reporter of child abuse and neglect.
You don't have to choose all of the attachment-style parenting options to use the methods and support your baby's emotional and neurological development. I support parents in doing the best they can with the choices they have!
What Practices Currently En Vogue Does Parenting for Secure Attachment NOT Support?
Please note: While the following are recommended against because of the trauma and resulting neurobiological harms they can induce, it is also true that we can heal from trauma. If you engaged in any of these practices with your child, it is most likely you did so without knowing about the biology of trauma and how these practices induce trauma responses in children. It is far better to focus on getting help to heal your baby or child. I have found that once people understand how the human body works in infancy they chose to care for their little ones in the best way they can.
"Crying it out" -- Why? Because the very young child has no way to know you are coming back. She is biologically designed to be in close contact with her primary human and to have her distress responded to, consistently. Severe interruptions of this need can result in neurological damage and trauma. Leaving a child to cry alone and untended is such an interruption.
Sleep Training -- Research shows that babies are not designed to sleep all night long, that frequent waking is actually the biological norm. If left alone to "cry it out" some babies will, in fact, become quiet after a while, but not because they have "learned" the rules. They become quiet because they have gone into a dorsal vagal collapse, a trauma response of the autonomic nervous system that kicks in when fight or flight don't work. The crying is the fight. They can't run away. The only response left to what they feel as abandonment (and therefore threat to life) is to dissociate into collapse. This is a state that can cause neurobiological damage and severely effect development. For more information on this research and for safe sleeping information you may visit the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame, here.
Circumcision -- Male and female circumcision or genital mutilation is traumatizing. In the US, boys are strapped down and a very painful procedure is performed which is in no way as "quick" as popular myth claims. We know that medical procedures, even when needed and life-saving, can cause trauma, and that treatment for the resulting trauma is necessary. In the case of circumcision, it is very, very rarely necessary. While I don't recommend that anyone watch any of the many videos available online that have recorded infant circumcision procedures in the US because watching these could in itself cause trauma, many parents have said that if they had seen these before consenting to infant circumcision they would not have had it done. For more information on this subject, one resource is Doctors Opposing Circumcision, here.