“Is Joyful Parenting Possible?” Babywearing Dance and Joyful Mindfulness
Dr. Aslıhan Onaran (Ph.D.)
JOIMOVE Parenting Consultant & Founder, Attachment Parenting International, Turkey
Is Joyful Parenting ever possible? Say, you did have a mindful moment with your baby, how is `that` feeling sustainable? With day-to-day challenges such as extended sleep deprivation, errands to run, anxieties that come with being new or even seasoned parents and very likely the stress due to the changing roles in our family, joyful parenting does sound more like an oxymoron or a utopia at best, doesn’t it?
Joy, mindfulness and parenting may, indeed, coexist and even support each other for the long term…this is a presence of balance, not one that approaches parenting as a project with the unreachable goal of spotless perfection or an ongoing challenge but one that views parenting as a human way of mutual bonding through our day-to-day experiences, through connecting with our baby and with ourselves. Such joyful mindfulness is possible from the moment of birth. One daily practice that does enhance this mutual bond is babywearing. In fact, babywearing nurtures not just the baby but also the wearing parent/caretaker. The more attached the parent-baby duo feels, the more independent each will feel down the road. The more the perceived independence, the more real joy becomes. When a parent tries babywearing and dance, what we often see is joyful parenting with no room for parental anxieties as the parent is immersed in the moment. This is an existential getaway, one that puts a smile on your face (and your baby’s) even on your most sleep-deprived day. Let us briefly explore how.
Touch is a basic human need, one that feeds both the body and the soul. It is, in fact, often viewed as the mother of all senses. For a newborn and her family, touch offers a fundamental means to communicate, to enhance attachment and thus security. It is now a scientific fact that babies of all ages (including premature babies and those with special needs) benefit from touch with recorded outcomes such as enhanced immunity, better health and faster recovery. One of the earliest scientific proofs of this correlation comes from a 1938 case of skin-to-skin contact and ‘mothering’at the Paediatric Ward of Belleuve Hospital in New York. Records indicate that after the medical staff had been instructed to pick up crying babies and carry them around, the death rate fell from 35 percent to less than ten percent. This then became widespread practice, especially in NICU units in the United States where mothers were also allowed to nurse the preemies or simulate nursing behaviour with skin-to-skin contact with their newborn in the NICUS to enhance parent-baby attachment.
Attachment Parenting, a non-generic intuitive style of parenting drawing on the key role of attachment and compassionate communication for a nonviolent society, also highlights the fundamental role of touch and babywearing. In fact, the practice of babywearing dance with the added benefit of bringing in joyful mindfulness, meets at least three of the eight guiding principles of Attachment Parenting, namely babywearing, offering nurturing touch and striving for balance in our personal and family roles. In this piece, we have focused on babywearing dance as a practice in line with attachment parenting, enhancing and maintaining our joyful coexistence with our baby.
When we carry our baby in our arms or in a safe, approved baby carrier, or, even better, when we wear our baby and dance with other parents and babies as in the global JOIMOVE movement, we not only support our attachment and our baby’s overall well-being, with physical touch and eye contact, music and joy, but we also begin to feel balance, with a smile on our face, despite sleep deprivation, because we are now part of a nonjudgmental community and have done something great both for the baby and for ourselves.
Dear amazing parents out there, all I allude to in a nutshell is: Wear your baby and get outside to share life together. Wear her and put a kiss on her face. Wear her and nurse her. Wear her and dance! Wear her, get attached and mindfully free…
Dr. Aslıhan Onaran (Ph.D.)
JOIMOVE Parenting Consultant &Founder, Attachment Parenting API Turkey
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We take safety seriously and share our knowledge with you through our Joimove International School’s consultants team and programs on how to make dancing with your baby a beautiful and wonderful experience. We are proud to creating a positive impact on the world through dance and safe babywearing.
Ashley Montagu. Touching. New York: Harper and Row, 1986: 97-99. For more on attachment theory research covering more than sixty years of scientific findings, you may see: Ainsworth, M., & Bell, S. M. (1970). “Attachment, exploration, and separation.” Child Development, 49-67. Bowlby, J. (1958). The nature of the child’s ties to his mother. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 350-371. Cassidy, J. Jones, Shaver. “Contributions of Attachment Theory and Research: A Framework for Future Research, Translation and Policy.” Development and Psychopathology 402 (2013): 1415-1434. Perry, B., & Dobson, C. (2010). The role of healthy relational interactions in buffering the impact of childhood trauma. E. Gil,Working with Children to Heal Interpersonal Trauma: The Power of Play. New York: Guilford Press. Siegel, D. (2012). The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are. New York: The Guilford Press.