Archive for the ‘Attachment Parenting’ Category

We have a little time

November 9, 2011

“We have a little time,” said my son, sitting at the kitchen island, alert by an extra hour “saved” by changing the clocks around.

So we talked about fear, about movies and about how things that we know are not “real” scare us nonetheless.  I tried to explain the brain, our mythos, our culture of fear, but only because I love my boy.  Yet we all love all the world, don’t we?

It was time to go, so we continued to talk in the car.  He said, “I’m not scared when I’m not alone.”


Don’t Sniff Don’t Smell: When Kids Hate On Parents

October 26, 2011

How might thinking about Gaddafi’s lurid death help us to be better parents?

Collective rage and murder wrought upon a crazed dictator pulled from a sewage drain wearing gold pants and packing a solid gold gun, while bizarre on the one hand, also illustrates an important dynamic in human consciousness:  idealization and devaluation.

Whether plotting a coup or parenting a toddler or a teen, the relationship between idealization and devaluation is infallible:  idealization masks secret devaluation; devaluation masks secret idealization.

Teens, for example, often exhibit know-it-all contempt and pseudo-independence (if they are safe enough to swagger), but they eventually tame it down and transition from rebel-with-an-allowance to worker bee in the collective hive, that is if we have a hive worth working for.

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August 31, 2011

Greetings.  Now that we’re in that back to school time of year, I thought we might take a moment to consider the concept of courage, especially as it relates to parenting.

In a sense, courage is the antidote to fear, or at least the opposite of succumbing to fear, and thus it is a “virtue” we want to cultivate in the service of better parenting (and lives more richly lived).

Courage is defined as, “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.”

I might expand this definition to suggest that “the quality of mind and spirit” that does the trick is love; thus courage is love in the face of fear.

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Panic in Piddle Park: Self and Self-Esteem

June 29, 2011

A recent Atlantic article by Lori Gottlieb, “How to Land Your Kid in Therapy,” goes by a different hook on the magazine’s cover:  “How the Cult of Self-Esteem is Ruining our Kids.”

It’s summer so I’ll keep it brief:  fear-driven pitches sell books and magazines but do little to help parents do better with children.  The end.


But… if you’ve got a couple of extra minutes we can drill a little deeper.  Gottlieb traces the ever-swinging parenting-styles pendulum that proves about as helpful as an Edgar Allen Poe accompaniment to the pit.

The experts tell us that we’re messing up our kids, and then we embrace this year’s new-new panacea.  We’re giving too many choices.  We’re telling kids they are special when they are not.  We are failing to say no and set limits.  We are failing to give our kids space to separate from us and learn from a little adversity.

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Waiting for the End of the World… on the couch

June 1, 2011

We’ve made it well past May’s doomsday prognostications and mercifully into June.  Recent Rapturous predictions of the world’s end have, once again, proven to be greatly exaggerated.  So, now that we’ve dodged yet another kooky bullet, is there anything beyond mirth, snarkiness or the need to invent a new-new-Armageddon math to be learned from this age-old trope?

The freaky guy with an “End is Near” sign is, arguably, an archetype.  If so, Jung’s thinking would suggest that a doomsday figure (Grim Reaper, for example) coils embedded in our individual and collective memories, in our bones or at least in our more esoteric metaphysical collective unconscious.  The power of this archetype (think Darth Vader) is one way to make sense of how much media coverage an unlikely, and now failed, prediction was able to generate; even for a hundred million bucks (what Harold Camping spent) it would be hard for most multinational corporations to get so many of us to be aware of the same thing, even if it was to collectively joke about the same joke.

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Quantum Parenting

May 25, 2011

There was a recent piece in The New Yorker, “Dream Machine:  The mind-expanding world of quantum computing,” by Rivka Galchen in which she meets with David Deutsch who she dubs the founding father of quantum computing.

Yet when it comes to quantum anything, I want to know not who’s my daddy, but rather who’s my mommy?

Deutsch, who lives eccentrically on the outskirts of Oxford, applies quantum mechanics to computing; the point being to create computers much more powerful than we have now, and with much less hardware.  The magic turns on creating quantum “bits” which are the basic placeholders for computing—a spot that can either be a one or a zero.  Based on this simple, yes/no or positive/not-positive, construct, one can do all the “magical” things we do with computers (and none of the truly magical things that make life most worth living).  In fact, if they crack the quantum code of computing, they will be able to crack the toughest, nearly impossible, math-questions that create so-called “security.”  Then those with the power will know all the money and weapons secrets, I suppose, but they still won’t have a clue about how to truly live and love.

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Playing’s the Thing

March 2, 2011

When kids first start to play, say around one to two years old, if they are playing “with” another child they are really not playing together so much as playing next to each other.  They may watch what each other does, and they may imitate, but they don’t mingle their play.  Psychologists call this “parallel play.”

When kids get a little older, provided they are secure and wired up for it, they start to play with each other.  Your kid’s doll or truck starts to interact with the other kid’s toy.  Voila:  the birth of cooperative play.

In this three to five time of life, kids start to build cooperative play in their imaginations.  The toys may be props, but the play’s the thing.  Group play emerges.  Kids playing house, or dinosaurs, or doctor are creating a fragile world that hovers between them—just like grown-ups on a stage or doing improvisational comedy: it is a world of “yes and.”

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The Lizard Brain is a Lonely Hunter

January 19, 2011

Goal:  facilitating calm and ameliorating fear, which I hold to be at the scene of every crime of every magnitude—from the cold shoulder to ghastly violence.  Hurt people hurt people; scared people scare people.

Today’s particular focus:  loneliness.  From modern alienation (intellectualized isolation) to primitive dread of annihilation (unconscious fear of disintegration—think panic attacks) we are wired to attach, and thus we are wired to feel our hearts come into our mouths and our guts drop horribly at anything that triggers us to feel cast out from the mother, which is akin, later, to being outside of the group.

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Soft Brown Shirt

December 29, 2010

In a recent post on attachment parenting I offered the notion of “containment parenting,” as a middle ground, at least in terms of verbiage, between “attachment” (which perhaps, to some, sounds a bit too involved, fussy or enmeshed) and some abstract opposite, such as “non-attachment” (which might sound good if you’re hanging with Thich Nhat Hahn, but not with an infant).  A reader inquired if I could say more about “containment parenting,” and while I could suggest an old post on the colander and the bowl, a poem made its way into my head.  At least it’s easier reading than my typical post 🙂 …


I fell in love with a

Brown-eyed girl

Who had a brown shirt

In New York city


I saw that same shirt

In a Soho shop,

Soft brown cotton on Sullivan

Street.  It was dear indeed


But I wanted to be just

Like her.  Cotton as soft

As her lover’s touch,

And I wore it until


It fell apart.  And we were

Left to love without shirts

On our backs until children

Held on tight:  monkey arms,

Piggy rides and broken banks


Parenting soft like that brown

Shirt.  Softly holding until

A butterfly drifts up and away

From your sun-warmed hands

Off to explore the garden

And back again for snacks


Her eyes sparkled brown except

When enraged.  Then they flashed

Green at the bars of her cage

Until they were mirrors

And the world and the stage

And we all loved each other

so much that we sometimes wept


And on that note I close 2010—wishing all those who happen across these words Brightness, Good Cheer, freedom from fear, the realization that true desires are already fulfilled, All Good Wishes and, most of all, Love.

Namaste, BD

Attachment in the lab, implications on the couch (and in the brain)

December 15, 2010

In bare bones and admittedly simplified terms, I wish to share some emerging understandings from the cutting edge of attachment research and interpersonal neurobiology.

I am quite fortunate to have UCLA in my hood, and have just returned from a weekend conference there where the world’s foremost experts in attachment research, Mary Hain and Erik Hesse, were down from Berkley and having a highly illuminating love-fest with their former student/spiritual son, and true brainiac, Dan Siegel.

While my inner nerd was thrilled to soak up the technical details of nuances in attachment and to refine my understanding of the hippocampus, insula and dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex, I thought a cool challenge to myself might be to put it all in plain speak and see what it looks like—in the hopes that it might spread the word on what helps and what hurts, what heals and what direction a parent (and our wider culture) might head, with regard to security, insecurity and attachment.

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