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A Bliss Blog

Insights on my Parenting Journey

Attachment Parenting a Teenager

These days when I think of my 16-year-old son, I am filled with gratitude and affirmation. He is a living testimonial to a parenting style that I have been so dedicated to since the day he was born. From the womb to the world, I have consciously nurtured a bond between us that has been tested and prevailed as the years passed.

 

In modern times, we parents often feel like we are navigating uncharted waters. We find ourselves in a world filled with social media that focuses on the superficial, video games that act as social clubs for the youth, on-demand shows that promote binging, free online porn that twist intimacy, manipulative marketing, gender and sexual fluidity, protests that escalate to riots, and even a pandemic that has dramatically reshaped our world’s economies. Our elders experienced a very different world, so we often seek advice from other parents who are also trying to figure it all out. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed and disheartened.

 

I have learned that in order to traverse these wavy waters, I must keep my attention on my breath. I visualize the waves coming in, redundantly crashing against the shore.  These waves are made by my emotions, rippling out from events in my life. I am in the water with a surfboard. My board is made of my attention, it gives me the ability to ride the waves with ease and joy. The glorious rush of catching a wave and riding it to the beach is exhilarating. But sometimes when I’m riding a wave, I make a mistake, or my attention falters and I fall. I am tumbled by the mighty wave, eating sand and saltwater as I am spun underwater and lost in my emotions. I regain presence, swim to the surface and take a breath. That breath is the leash that attaches me to my surfboard.  I breathe deeply and calm my anxious body. With each breath, I pull the board of my attention back to me. I readjust my board and paddle back out past the break, where I can either catch another wave, or rest until I am ready to ride again.

 

This metaphor has helped me in every aspect of my life. Whether it was redirecting a troublesome toddler, debating consequences with a headstrong child, or considering how to handle the repercussions of a teenager who threw a house party while we were out town. When I am present with my attention, I can remember that my child’s self-confidence is extremely important to me and that I want to nurture the bond between us at every challenging time. Does this mean that I don’t make mistakes, no. I have raged on my kids and felt like a horrible mother afterwards. I have harbored deep resentment towards my child and even wished that that child was not born. Then I have condemned myself for those thoughts and feelings. I am in no way perfect; I am human after all. However, it is in this humanity that I remain humbled and loving.

 

When I can be prepared for the waves of life, I can keep a level head as I am triggered. I breathe into my uncomfortable feelings and ground into my values. I have been blessed to be able to have learned about attachment parenting while I was pregnant with my first child. I cuddled with my baby every night as we fell asleep in our family bed. I have worn each child in a sling and reflected empowering images to them so that they would shape their perception of themselves around realistic, descriptive, and positive feedback. I have apologized when I lost my temper and sought their forgiveness. I have forgiven myself. I have expanded and contracted boundaries when they needed it, so they would feel safe in the world. We have discussed consequences for behavior that needed to be corrected or redirected. By using Democratic Discipline, my children feel heard and honored. They feel important and a part of the greater whole of our family. This style of parenting nurtures leaders, free thinkers, and self-confident individuals. 

 

I have come to a point now, where I feel obligated to share my journey with other parents. I have also learned that it is never too late to cultivate a deepening bond with our children. The road of repair is long, but well worth it. I hope to inspire and empower parents who are seeking guidance or are new to this incredible and challenging journey of parenthood. I also hope to connect more profoundly with the community of parents who are walking with me towards a regenerative future, where our children can thrive physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. A future that is not extracting the fertility of this world but building it. This blog is me sharing myself with the world. My children have taught me that I am on the right path and it is my responsibility to share that path with those who seek it.

 

Thank you so much for reading this. May your adventure as a parent be deeply fulfilling and more rewarding than you can even imagine.

 

Alana Bliss

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