Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What's Better than Farting by Sexy Man? Svelte Firefighter Thinking You're Fat

You thought, "The Day I farted in front of Sexy Man at the Park" was stellar. 
Now, I bring to you, "The Day a Svelte Firefighter Thought I was too Fat to Ride."
Yes, this wonderful moment is brought to you because my children saw a ladder ride at a local festival. Better yet, it was free. For the price of free, we could stand in line for what I quickly sized up to be about 50 minutes and get to ride on a firetruck ladder for about 90 seconds.
Enthused, my children ran at break neck speeds straight to the line while shrieking that they had to do this or their little lives would be disrupted and I'd have to add an additional bonus to their Future Therapy Funds.
As my children tried to lick the ground, stomp on bugs, bite each other and generally be a nuisance for 50 minutes in line, I couldn't help paying attention to the process of preparing for this ride. A firefighter living up to every woman's Harlequin Romance Fantasy was helping each family prepare by adjusting harnesses onto the children and large belts onto the adults, similar to what you'd wear while rock climbing or using heavy machinery.

Several moms in front of me, all of similar size and build, were instructed by Svelte Firefighter to wear a children's harness as the large adult belt wouldn't fit them.
Once it was our turn, I intended to reduce the level of soul-wrenching stress caused by 4 small children climbing into harnesses to beat a 90 second ride by jumping quickly into the harness like the other women.
This is when Svelte Firefighter became concerned. Scrunching up his gloriously handsome face, he turned to me and loudly said, "Ma'am. That harness is for children. I'm going to need you to wear this belt."
Now, this is fine. Besides the pressure of 4 piranhas vibrating like charged electrons behind me, I also am pretty satisfied w/ my round, amorphous blob of a body. So, to hurry up this awkward interaction, I quickly replied, "No, no! It's ok! I know!"
What I meant: I know, I'm fat. I'll gladly shove this large belt on if it means my demon spawn can get into this ride faster after standing here with an audience for almost a solid hour. Let's do this!
What Svelte Firefighter thought I meant: No, I'm not fat. I know it's ok for me to wear this children's harness. Go away so I can disobey you.
So in a louder voice, he goes, "Ma'am. You really cannot wear it. It is way too small for you."
At this point, I've already shed the harness and am over at the large, grey belt, wrapping it around my massive midsection. I pause, look up while one of my crotch fruits is head banging my butt, and quickly say, "It's ok! I know! I got this."
All these loud voices draw the attention of what appears to be Stocky Firefighter Leader. Puffing, he quickly runs over to resolve an argument that doesn't exist. He raises his hands at me and says, "Ma'am, don't worry. He knows what he's doing. Just listen to his instructions."
I smile at him, hoping to disarm this so I don't end up on national news. At this point, others in the line are making faces and chittering noises because everything is odd. I'm pretty sure another woman in the line calls out something like, "If she's fat, I'm Oprah Winfrey." But, hey, 4 kids, a ladder descending rapidly towards me, lots of harnesses, and sexy firefighters kind of reduced the blood flow to my brain at that moment so I can't be sure.
"I appreciate it. I'm totally fine and doing as he says. See? I have the grey belt on now."
Stocky Firefighter Leader walks over to inspect the belt around my midsection and says, "Let me loosen that for you. I don't think it fits you."
At this point, another woman in the crowd actually makes a disgusted sound. As if suddenly realizing he's surrounded by enough female apex predators to tear him limb by limb, he freezes, bent over towards genitals, hand frozen near my chest. It would've made an amazingly compromising viral meme. I burst out laughing. And then I made the mistake of the decade. Forgetting how it must be for Firefighters as Fine as Frog's Hair who have many outrageous girlfriends, I looked down at him and said, "It's totally fine, really! Everything is fine."
The Secret Girl Word uttered, both firefighters turned crimson red and started to hyperventilate. Every man w/ an unstable female partner or mother in his life was now staring at me in horror.
The ladder arrived. Muscle Firefighter, unaware of all that had transpired in roughly 90 seconds, shouted out to me, "Going up?"
I jumped on, not looking behind me. We quickly put some altitude between us and the Awkward First World Problem of the Decade. I turned to Muscle Firefighter and beamed at him. He beamed back at me and said, "You look pretty darn cute for a mom to 4 kids, did you know that?" All I could do was coldly stare at him for 90 uncomfortable seconds.
And so, the moral of the story is to never go on a ladder ride with your piranha demon spawn crotch fruit.

At least their Future Therapy Funds don't need an immediate balance transfer.

*It goes w/o saying, but since this is the internet, YES. This really happened. YES, the firefighters WERE that sexy. YES, it WAS pretty awkward. 


Friday, June 23, 2017

Move Over Folic Acid, Choline is Here! NMM

Move Over Folic Acid, Choline is Here!

If you live in the United States, you were taught that folic acid, also known as B9 or folate, is a necessary and important vitamin for pregnant women. You were probably told that studies show taking it during pregnancy reduces the risk of Neural Tube Defects (NTD).

Over time, we've since learned that synthetic, unconverted folic acid is detrimental for all people. It increases the risk of cancer, and it is harder for the body to absorb and utilize, resulting in what researchers call a pseudo deficiency. This is where the body is receiving tons and tons of folic acid, but cannot convert it or use it in the methylation cycle, so it remains deficient. This tends to cause high serum levels of folic acid on blood tests, so doctors reassure their clients that they are not deficient.

This caused educated people to begin avoiding folic acid, and all unconverted B vitamins. They moved to methylated vitamins, which are bioavailable and easier to use in the body. This is also important for all the mothers who might have MTHFR or related genetic polymorphisms, to make sure they get enough B vitamins even though their bodies find it harder to absorb and use them.

With all that being said, as the constant drum roll to take tons of folic acid continues and as the fight for methylated B vitamins marches on, what we all need to do is take a look at another nutrient called Choline.

What is Choline?

Choline is typically not considered a vitamin or mineral, but a water-soluble nutrient grouped in with B vitamins. And it's a huge piece of the puzzle that all pregnant and breastfeeding women need to know about right now.

Choline is an important part of the methylation process. So, just like folate, it's necessary to make hundreds of functions work properly in the body. Without choline, homocysteine cannot properly convert to methionine for mental health. Without choline, the liver cannot detox the body properly. Without choline, the brain cannot function or grow properly.

What evidence do we have about Choline's importance?

The importance of choline for pregnant and breastfeeding women is shown in the available medical literature. For example, this study
( found that MTHFR defects, folate deficiency, or choline deficiency caused organized cell death in the brain and short term memory deficits in offspring.

Another study ( found that not only does a low choline diet for the mother increase the risk of NTDs, it also alters the way the cerebral cortex grows. Even worse, the lead researcher noted that there appeared to be a "sensitive window of time" during neurological development and that even if exposed to adequate choline later down the road, the original damage does not change.

Researchers are also learning through this study ( that choline deficiency is connected to the mechanism of cancer development. These researchers observed that choline deficiency seems to alter the repair of DNA and increase the rate of genetic mutations, which is considered a pathway to cancers.

The evidence is piled up when it comes to this nutrient. But, the most important points for childbearing women include:

Choline is part of homocysteine conversion. High homocysteine levels are associated with increased risk of miscarriage and heart defects.
Choline is necessary to build neurological connections and to balance brain growth for the baby during pregnancy, and after birth in the breastfeeding infant. Choline deficiency is associated with memory problems, lower test scores, depression, and more. It is needed throughout the entire brain, so the problems that can happen here are staggering.
Choline is necessary to build a healthy midline through the brain and spinal cord. Choline deficiency is associated with increased risk of NTDs and midline defects.
Choline is necessary for neurochemical balance in the brain. Altered metabolism of this nutrient is implicated in things such as anxiety and depression. A study ( found that altered levels of it in certain parts of the brain are associated with pediatric depression, even when age and sex matched.
Choline is absolutely vital for healthy liver function, so a deficiency during pregnancy could be associated with several common complications such as pre-eclampsia, HELLP syndrome, and cholestasis.
Choline is excreted in the milk after birth, and continues to support healthy brain growth and methylation during childhood.

With all the focus on folic acid, our society forgot that nutrition is multi-faceted. What's worse is that researchers didn't show much interest in choline, and since it is present in a variety of foods, many health officials still believe that a regular diet is good enough to get ample choline during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

What they didn't realize is that just like the MTHFR genetic mutation, a large portion of women also have choline mutations. Surzenko, the lead researcher in the study short term memory problems from choline deficiency, laid out this problem succinctly when she said,

“Around 45 percent of women carry a polymorphism in the gene required to produce choline during pregnancy as a response to estrogen, which makes them vulnerable to choline deficiency. Without enough dietary choline, the developing fetuses in these mothers are at a risk for hindered brain development.”

These PEMT mutations could be in a majority of the population, meaning even if women are eating ample amounts of healthy, varied foods, they might not be absorbing enough choline. And for those women who avoid certain foods such as eggs and animal livers, their overall intake might already be severely restricted.

What could be worse?

So, this nutrient is necessary during pregnancy to protect the child from NTDs and to grow the child's brain adequately. It helps to run the methylation cycle, so it's connected to every major system in the body including the immune system, excretion (detox) system, and neurological health. It's vital for liver health and a deficiency can increase the risk of things such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and glucose imbalance (PCOS, diabetes, hypoglycemia, etc). A lot of women might have polymorphisms that make it harder for them to obtain this nutrient from food. What could be worse?

Choline is connected to gallbladder health!

How many women are feeling some puzzle pieces slamming together right now? Gallbladder attacks, stones, and pain are so common during pregnancy that it's almost considered a normal pregnancy scenario. Many women are constantly watching their diet to avoid painful attacks, and many more go on to surgically remove their gallbladder for relief. Why? Why would pregnancy seem to trigger a gallbladder to go insane? Choline deficiency starts to create a working picture here. As estrogen creation and usage is increased through things such as pregnancy, it increases the need for methylation to break down this hormone and excrete it from the body.

So conceiving, birthing, and breastfeeding can represent large burdens on the gallbladder and liver through the methylation system. As methylation is disrupted and the body begins to run out of necessary methyl donors such as folate and choline, it switches to a glucose system called glucoronidation. Sugar cravings and hormone swings, a liver that's dying and a finicky anything sounding familiar yet?

This sticky, substitute bile can't be excreted thoroughly, so it starts to stagnate inside the gallbladder. It basically reduces down until it crystallizes into gallbladder stones.

So, pregnant women who develop gallbladder stones are literally looking at a red flag that they are choline deficient, B vitamin deficient, and have a disrupted methylation cycle. This should be considered somewhat of an urgent crisis and a call for careful, bioavailable supplementation! Instead, women are told to restrict their diet and wait it out!

Choline does not have a well established RDA, as it's been fairly neglected in the medical world until recently. It does not have a very potent toxicity. Massive dosages such as 16,000mg daily are associated with vomiting, odor, and sweating. Various converted forms such as acetylcholine and phosphatidylcholine are now easily available online. It used to be that most companies only offered the precursor and only derived from soy, but these days people can purchase lecithin supplements derived from sunflower seeds.

It's time to spread the word on choline, how it functions in the body, and how it's absolutely vital during the childbearing years. When you hear women complain about joint pain during pregnancy, tell them about choline. When women are worried about pre-e, HELLP, and liver conditions, share a choline link. If you hear of a woman suffering from gallbladder issues, make sure she hears about choline. The doctors likely won't tell anyone about this, so it's up to us to use our tribe to share the information and to empower each other to restore our own health.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Touch of MIDAS: Discerning Venom and Poison in Relationships

Are you familiar with the way to determine what is poisonous and what is venomous? The ole rule of thumb goes:

If it attacks you, it's venomous
If you touch it/eat it, it's poisonous

Moved to human relationships, the difference between a venomous person and a poisonous person is that one person attacks you and one person is poisonous simply by being around them. (And both forms of toxicity are important to pay attention to and to protect yourself from regardless.)

Sometimes, it's difficult to discern when a person is struggling versus being passively poisonous, versus being aggressively venomous. I like to use the MIDAS system to help clarify the situation. You can apply the MIDAS system to any relationship or interaction in your life. It does not have to be hetero-romantic. Coworkers, friends, relatives, neighbors...any of them are applicable here.

MIDAS stands for:

Mistake: A rare event, often out of character and related to stress, sickness, loss, etc
Imperfection: A personality flaw, bad habit, or other ingrained deficit that isn't dangerous or violent
Dysfunction: Scripts and worldviews often related to childhood modeling, trauma, and miseducation
Abuse: Activated dysfunctional scripts
Sociopathy/Narcopathy: Sadism, torture, abuse simply for the sake of abusing others

The touch of MIDAS is all about determining how your life on every metaphysical plane (physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, financially, etc etc) is touched by other people. Whether passively poisoned, or actively injected with venom, how other people act in your relationships does leave an impression on you. Recognizing how and why can help you to build healthy boundaries and make choices that either repair the relationship to a functional level, or help you to escape the relationship.

You know you've been touched by MIDAS when you feel:

Cycles of hope and disappointment
A sensation of being used
Anger coming out in odd or misdirected ways
A lack of purpose or direction in life
Impatience and irritability when others need you (touched out)

Going off a previous conversation I had with SAHMs (Stay At Home Moms) I will use the example of a hetero-romantic relationship where the male partner tosses his dirty laundry on the ground next to the hamper. Notice that this is a fairly minor, non-violent incident. Toxicity doesn't have to be outrageous to still represent dysfunction, abuse, or sociopathy. That's why it's important to look at all the pieces of a relationship instead of trying to gauge health by seriousness alone.

Is it a Mistake? Perhaps he was late for work, not feeling well, distracted by the dog?
Is it an Imperfection? Perhaps he just isn't a good housekeeper, is easily distracted, has choline mutations, ADHD and despite being a great guy, will just never be good at laundry?
Is it Dysfunction? Was he raised to believe the other partner is supposed to do it? Does he think that's lowly work and he's above it?
Is it Abuse? Will he come home angry if you didn't clean up after him? If you complain, will he verbally lash out, give you the cold shoulder, punch the wall?
Is it Sociopathy? Is he playing mindgames, gaslighting you in sneaky ways that others can't see, denying it, making you doubt reality? Do you feel as if you're trapped, drowning, lost, but if you mention anything to others, they think you're unstable or complaining?

In each scenario, the issue was the same, but the toxicity was incredibly different. Recognizing these differences is important to avoid codependency, enmeshment, or other harmful issues from long term exposure to toxicity. Using the same laundry example, how might a person respond differently in each scenario? You're still trying to maintain a long term, loving relationship with mercy and forgiveness, but you don't want to fall into being a doormat or ignoring consistent boundary issues.

If it's a Mistake, it might be a great opportunity to practice love as a verb. To pick up that laundry, to let complaints slide. To text an extra I love you and make sure he's okay. We all have bad days. Now's the chance to show that support to a loved one.

Maybe it's a noted Imperfection, a constant struggle in the household, and even an annoying habit that quietly eats away at relationship balance. In that case, it's time to clarify boundaries and voice frustrations. In such a situation, maybe both people will agree that it's ok to just chill about laundry on the floor, provided he is the one who takes responsibility and cleans it up on designated laundry day. Notice how it involves two people compromising, but still sticking to boundaries. It's his responsibility to clean up after himself just as it's her responsibility to release expectations that might not matter overall. An imperfection tends to be resolved when both people clarify boundaries and grow as individuals.

When it comes to Dysfunction, the most charitable thing to do is to call it out. Being loving in the face of dysfunction is refusing to accept those unhealthy scripts. A case of dysfunction means it's time to involve third parties for mediation and monitoring (such as doctors and therapists.) It's possible for people to carry dysfunctional scripts but not act directly abusive, and that is exactly the right time to begin counseling to see if the relationship can be salvaged.

In cases of Abuse, the most common pitfall is wrongly identifying abuse as an imperfection. This is especially easy to do when comorbid issues are involved, such as substance abuse and mental illness. It can be tempting to dismiss abuse as the person having a hard time, or suffering. If you're aware of your partner's background, you might feel sympathy. "He was raised by an abusive mom, of course this is triggering for him." "He's battling depression and lost his job, his temper is just on edge right now." Imperfection is passive and not related to dysfunction. Violence, including non-physical violence such as emotional and verbal attacks, are Abuse, not imperfection. Working individually with a therapist can help you to discern this clearly so that you can leave the relationship.

Sociopathy seems to be the easiest of all of them, yet it can often be the most difficult to recognize and the hardest by far to resolve. Narcissists, psychopaths, and sociopaths are often quite clever and very obsessed, weaving webs for their victims that can take years to untangle. Always involve third parties (therapists and doctors) individually, for you. Beware of the sociopath's ability to triangulate (use therapists, family members, and doctors against you). Building a personal community away from the sociopath is important to escape.

Keep in mind that even when it comes to Mistakes and Imperfections, they can passively poison you. Depending on the situation and seriousness, these incidents might require healing and counseling. A one time Mistake might be entirely innocent, but can still cause a lot of hurt. In healthy, functioning relationships, Mistakes and Imperfections aren't excused, but resolved openly with both sides working together. If you notice a consistent history of one person constantly having a mistake, or attributing things to imperfection, along with a lack of apology and change, you've moved into sneaky Abuse. 

I hope to add more to this concept with later writings. Thanks for reading!

©Guggie Daly

Monday, November 7, 2016

Laughing Gas Arrived for Birthing Women: It's NO Laughing Matter

We all want more options and more autonomy for women during birth. That doesn't even need to be said, but I'll say it anyways to make sure we're all on the same page here.

Nitrous oxide (NO2), or laughing gas as many people call it, is on the way to the U.S. as a lower intervention to manage discomfort and anxiety for birthing mothers. And while this might be less risky than other interventions or cascades of interventions, it is not risk-free. Worse, perhaps, is that we all know providers will not be taking the time to offer women real, evidence-based data to achieve informed consent. And when it comes to Nitrous oxide, informed consent could be the difference between a simmering cascade of problems versus an empowered approach to continued health after birth.

What is the problem with this intervention? For many people who are familiar with things such as epidurals, they might be confused or irritated that I have an issue with offering NO2 to women during labor.

The problem has to do with methylation. Our understanding of methylation and how important it is for whole body health is still in the baby stage. Researchers are still struggling to pin down all the ways impaired methylation damages our body, creates disease, and also leads to congenital defects and neurological damage in our offspring.

Over and over again, as more research continues, we learn that impairing the methylation cycle such as by experiencing B vitamin depletion has numerous health consequences. Particularly for childbearing women, impaired methylation can play a part in many of the common pitfalls after birth such as post partum depression, anxiety, psychosis, thyroid and adrenal conditions, fertility conditions, breastfeeding discomfort or issues, low libido, and autoimmune conditions. Methylation is necessary to keep the brain neurochemically balanced. Clogged or impaired methylation, to put it simply, leads to mental illness in the brain and inflammation/pain in the body.

Here's the shining moment: Nitrous oxide impairs methylation. It degrades your B12 stores and basically causes a train wreck in your body. (Basic study to give you a research starting point here.)

Does that mean we should all run screaming from it? Does that mean a woman should never, ever consider it as part of her birth plan? No. With proper education and resources, this kind of damage can be mitigated and/or healed. And for some women, when they are empowered with all of the facts, they might want to retain the right to run away screaming. And that is their right.

But again. What is easily the main problem in our birth industry? Informed consent.

How many women are going to be encouraged to use NO2? How many women will be assured that it is safe, easy, and cheap? How many times will doctors fail to remind women that NO2 impairs methylation, depletes B12, and that this combined with her genetic background, lifestyle, and current health status could trigger cascades that develop into chronic pain, illnesses, and mental health issues?

How many do you think? Let's be real here. Is zero real enough? Maybe one woman out there? Maybe if she already knows about MTHFR, methylation, and depletion, she might demand that the doctor divulge the risks.

But not many women will know. Not most. The majority of women are going to look at NO2 as a safe, easy, and cheap alternative to other interventions during birth. And they aren't going to be equipped with the basic knowledge and tools to overcome the damage of NO2 exposure depleting their B12 stores even more after pregnancy already depleting them, and with breastfeeding about to happen to create an even more demanding burden.

What can you do?
Start talking about methylation to your friends. Start talking about B vitamins and cofactors. Start talking about the issues with synthetic or bio-unavailable supplements. Share articles, talk about it until other women consider it normal and basic information. Spread the word now, because the new cascade of interventions is on the way and it's going to be a doozy.

If you're curious to see a bigger, spinning picture, check out my article on birth control. Childbearing women are experiencing multiple sources of methylation burden and impairment. It's time to break the silence on this topic. It starts with you.

With our family history, when my son broke his elbow, I knew
it was vital to avoid the routine NO2 given to children before surgery. We worked with his
doctor to create an alternative plan and I also provided him with a bioavailable protocol afterwards.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Shutterfly: FREE Personalized Stocking TODAY ONLY

Shutterfly released code STUFFED through November 4th to highlight their selection of personalized Christmas stockings!

Create your stocking and then enter the promo code during checkout to receive a FREE one. As is normal for Shutterfly deals, you still have to pay taxes and shipping. So you will be paying $9.99 shipping out of pocket.

Go here to begin building!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

It's Time to Embrace Holiday Traditions and Join Your Community

Before everyone begins hating on the Holiday-Christmas-Kwanzaa et al season, can I broach a thinking thinky here?

Although it's true that a large part of the promotion in our society is obviously to maximize profits, the act of anticipating and celebrating seasons has been around FOWEVER, Folks.

For those of us who aren't insane, and do NOT appreciate the end of life (aka sunshine, happiness, warmth, survival, etc), the oncoming season of darkness can be horrible. Back in the wonderful olden days, it literally did represent the harbinger of death, as many people became ill or starved through the winter. Once the harvest celebrating was complete, the townspeople needed to do a quick calculation: did they have enough food stored away to save everyone? Were their homes weather proof enough? Who was going to make it, and who was going to lose out in the game of life?

This age old process of creating festival after festival, holiday after holiday, entire seasons such as Advent season leading up to Christmas, then the Christmas season going on until's all about keeping people together as a community, keeping them fed, encouraging people to be generous (e.g. to share food with their starving neighbors), and making sure everyone gets through the season. Together. In an uplifting way.

Look at Diwali. It literally translates to festival of lamps, or festival of lights. People gather together to celebrate the triumph of good over evil by lighting up the darkness, shooting off fireworks, and wearing new clothes. They pass out gifts and treats to their family and friends.

Look at the traditional Germanic Yule holiday. The emphasis is on feasting together, massive feasting. Look at Saturnalia, the celebration of the return of light midway through the winter solstice. During that time, again, everyone feasted together and it was one of the rare occasions where slaves were permitted to feast like their masters. A famous poet, Catullus, called it the "best of days."

The symbolism is clear.

Maybe the reality is no longer true in the strictest sense of the word for most of us in a developed country. Most of aren't going to die from starvation or lack of clean water, or minor infections. Most of us have enough money to heat our homes and buy gifts for our family and friends.

Not everyone, though. And these celebrations help us move forward, together. These holidays help us to stay connected with others. Whether for physical reasons, such as sharing resources, or mental reasons, which might be more applicable in the modern age. They give us a context and a reason to stay positive, happy, and relaxed. They give us a designated time to turn off our electronics, to visit another person in their home, to make human contact. Even on the darkest night of the year.

So when you want to start bashing the decorations and complaining about holiday music on the radio, maybe it's time to pause for a thinky. Maybe instead of calling human customs stupid, you can send a card to that friend you hardly see around because she's been struggling with anxiety lately. Maybe instead of saying these celebrations are a money grab, you can bake some cookies and walk them down the street to the elderly husband and wife who never have visitors. Or maybe you can just swallow your overall hatred and put up some decorations so people driving by on their zombie-commute to a dead end job can feel a little brighter for the day.

No, you don't have to wear an ugly sweater and drink eggnog if you hate those ideas. No, you don't have to buy slave-made decorations or put up a lead-filled, artificial tree if you want to stay true to your principles. You can still make conscious changes to embrace this winter season, to integrate into your community, and to embark on an ancient journey through the darkness just as millions did before us, though.

And for those who are recovering from Cluster Parenting Abuse, sometimes what people call narcissistic or disordered family abuse, it's actually vital to find a new way to embrace these seasons, with new traditions that are positive in your own family. It's important to reach out, to search around for a new and healthy community. Toxic people love to use the weapon of isolation, so that's how most survivors are when they finally leave (or escape). They are isolated, alone. Outside of the rhythms and support of the human ecosystem. Finding a way back in, re-growing a healthy support network, is another healing step on this journey, and it will take you out of the metaphysical darkness just as surely as these festivals of light remind us that the darkness is coming to an end.

 Just a thinky thought.

It turns out our little family loves to celebrate Krampus and St. Nick's.
(We do not lie to our children about these characters, and can all still have a good time.)

Related Resources

Holidays and the Narcissistic Grudge Read this one!
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The Narc's Devalue and Discard

Why Narcissistic People Love to Ruin Holidays

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Attachment Parenting Begins in the Partnership: The Trickle Down Effect of Violence and Why You Need to Model a Respectful, Peaceful Relationship for Your Children

Attachment Parenting is all the rage these days, despite harsh debate over what it constitutes and how to do it right. Parents everywhere are educating themselves on the benefits of healthy, strong attachment in early childhood through responsive parenting techniques.

Although the medical literature is clear that violent parenting damages a child's developing brain and impairs systems from emotional intelligence to verbal ability, one area many parents overlook is the connection to violence displayed in the home between adults.

The dynamics of the adult relationship directly intersects with the parent-child relationship, not only due to skill set, but also due to expectations of behavior based on a worldview of either respect and harmony or control and punishment.

Put succinctly, no matter how gently and attached a person is as a parent, if a woman's partnership is filled with disrespect, toxic shaming, verbal abuse, or even physical abuse, the foundation of the home can still cause intense trauma and impair skill development despite her attempts to be a gentle parent.

October is Attachment Parenting month. This year, let's bring awareness to the bigger connections by breaking the silence on the taboo topic of violence and dysfunction in parental relationships and how it influences children.

We can already put together how a hot and cold home environment might still create opportunities for trauma, including compounded issues. For example, a recent study looked at parents who physically discipline their children and then attempt to be loving afterwards. What they found is that not only does the loving behavior afterwards fail to heal the wound from the physical punishment, but the change in behavior actually creates symptoms of anxiety in the children. And that's not surprising. Small children, unsure of adult context and intent, watch a loving caregiver go hurting them to loving them over minor issues such as not obeying or not eating vegetables for dinner.

Those familiar with domestic abuse and violence can quickly see the connections. One of the classic themes of violence in adult relationships is the way it flip flops quickly from good to bad. At the a moment's notice and for the smallest infraction, your partner might go from happy and loving to upset and punishing. And then after the incident is over, the person tends to become overly loving and attached, trying to say sorry, give a gift, and even pushing for physical love. This leaves the victim feeling confused, unsteady, and hypervigilant. It's not hard to imagine how this impacts small children.

As a parent educator who has promoted non-violent parenting for about a decade now, one of the most common situations I see is a family model where one parent is imbuing disrespect and violence into the home while the other parent attempts to act as a buffer, or otherwise tries to compensate and "clean up" the damage. This might even feel instinctual, to try to jump in to fix things and smooth things over, but it can't overcome a foundation of violence, and frequently leads to confused, unsteady, hypervigilant children trying to desperately guess what will come next. Love or pain?

Parents might be surprised to realize that this family dynamic is an established cycle, often connected to related issues such as personality disorders and substance abuse. Typically, one parent hurts the other parent and the child. Then the other parent goes behind him, cleaning up the broken glass, comforting the children, and lying or maintaining an image to outsiders. Her intentions are good, and her efforts are courageous, but unfortunately, the kindness afterwards does not overcome the violence. It instead creates a synergistic effect that breeds more anxiety.

Going back to that study on spanking with love, the lead researcher confirms: "If you believe that you can shake your children or slap them across the face and them smooth things over gradually by smothering them with love, you are mistaken." It's not a huge leap to go from the parent to the partner, and back again when it comes to surveying the damage of emotional, verbal, and physical violence.

Just as the damage from spanking children has been clearly and consistently shown in the medical literature, so has the damage from witnessing adults fighting and hurting each other. So much evidence is available, in fact, that it would make this article needlessly long if I tried to stuff them all in here. For more information outside the scope of this article, be sure to check out this website entirely dedicated to children who witness violence in the home.

The evidence is clear that whether children witness violence between their parents or are the target of violence from their parents, they experience a variety of negative outcomes, including anxiety and depression, lowered IQ scores, lowered vocabulary scores, increased risk of learning disabilities, increased incidence of high-risk behavior such as substance abuse, and even physical manifestation through chronic adult diseases.

Violence in the home is pretty much the one area where we have the most evidence of harm, and the most evidence of how ineffective it is as raising healthy and functioning people, yet many people are still strongly attached to violent and disrespectful methods in their parnterships and parenting.

At this point, some readers might be experiencing a rising sensation of panic and hopelessness. If you're in a home with episodes of rage, disrespect, shaming, threats and intimidation, physical punishment, etc, you might have sought out resources on attachment parenting specifically to buffer your children. You most likely have pushed yourself to human limits in your attempt to create a small, safe space in an unsafe home. And now you're reading that this isn't working and in fact can create additional problems.

So now what?

All partnerships need work. Whether it's a case of disrespectful shaming and door slamming or a case of physical attacks and stalking, both cases are still a spectrum of the same foundation of disrespect. If you're trying to be responsive to the needs of your children through attachment parenting, it's imperative that you extend this way of living and thinking to your own adult relationship. Some might recognize this as the adage of "fill your cup so you can give to others." It is viscerally applicable here. If you are filled with anxiety and resentment, that will impair your ability to be present and calm for your children. If you have your boundaries violated or mocked by an adult, then your children cannot believe you when you tell them their boundaries are important or valuable.

Attachment partnering and parenting go hand in hand, neither can be successful without the other. If any person is being hurt in the home, then all people are being hurt in some way. So even if you're sure you aren't experiencing severe domestic violence, this concept is still an important one for all of us to learn about and to spend time working on in our lifetimes. Just as we are always working to improve our parenting skills, we need to be working on our partnerships.

TherapyTherapy is obviously a common sense step for any situation. The common scenario I hear is that the other partner refuses to attend therapy. If that's the case, then go alone. Bring your children to therapists. If at all possible, look for a therapist specifically experienced in "dysfunctional family dynamics" as not all therapists have the same level of training and might waste your time and money. Go consistently, encourage your partner to go consistently, and create an action plan with measurable progress so you can develop a sense of direction for the situation.

DBT, which stands for Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, is a vastly underutilized tool that can help anyone in any relationship, at any age and stage. That includes children! DBT is a multi-faceted therapeutic approach focused on mindfulness and emotional integration. The beauty of this technique is that you can learn about it privately and work on it in your own home. You can even find DBT parenting books, which should be a must read for any parents struggling with behavioral disorders in their children.

For those relationships mired in disrespect that are not tipped into the domestic violence category, a simple approach can turn your ship around quickly. Sit down together for a family meeting and lay out clear standards of respect for all family members. Holding yourself and your partner accountable can have a dramatic influence on your children, and develop a strong sense of trust and respect. Discuss together how arguments can be resolved without hurting others. Establish a code phrase that any member can use to diffuse a situation. For example, "I'm taking the dog for a walk" lets the other person know things need a cool down phase without resorting to withdrawal or rejection techniques. Some families designate the bathroom as a safe space, meaning if someone enters the bathroom, they are not to be bothered or chased down.

Connect the dotsLook for opportunities to model non-violent, healthy interactions to your children. When you and your partner have a disagreement, provide observational statements to your children. Don't hide your situation or lie to your children. "Your dad is upset about the schedule change. He let me know in a respectful way, didn't he? I really appreciate that. Sometimes people make mistakes, including me. When we say things honestly but kindly, we can talk about our issues without hurting each other." One of the frequent ways I connect the dots is when my young sons act violently. "She took your toy, so you hit her. But, hitting hurts the other person and doesn't get your toy back. You know that Mommy and Daddy don't hit you, and we don't hit each other. Let's try a different way."

Appeal to the partnerIn many of the cases shared with me, the partnerships have strongly defined roles. One person is clearly the feeler, and the other person is clearly the thinker. This can cause conflict because one person intuitively feels that disrespect is wrong. But the other person wants proof. Just as you might have had to provide all of the medical literature on spanking to show that spanking is wrong for the child, you can also provide medical literature on the detriments of witnessing disrespect in the adult relationship. Using a therapist as a third party mediator is often helpful in this situation, too. It's important to research issues such as gaslighting and projection because you might need to distinguish between a reasonable request for information versus an abusive tactic to control the situation.

When all else failsIf looking at attachment parenting through the lens of attachment partnering is a catalyst for you, don't shy away from the difficult path ahead. Sometimes, our fierce attempts as mothers to protect our children might also serve as a way to distract us and keep our minds busy. If you begin to see that your home is not safe and cannot be healed right now, then it's time to be responsive to your children on a deeper level by moving them to safety and taking a new path.

Whatever your situation, if you've been interested in or practicing attachment parenting, now is a great time to expand the concept and connect the dots with your adult relationships. And ultimately, all relationships. Feeling safe, secure, and stable in a relationship is vital for human health and happiness. From the inside out, and from the outside in, the more we see the connections, the more we can promote a consistent way of living out our values for our children.

*Please note, the pronouns in this article are set to the largest audience of my blog. Violence in families can and does happen no matter the gender or sex. Also, all of the hyperlinked articles open in a new page so you can access them easily. I encourage you to read every one of them!

Related on the blog:

Relationship books for gentle partnering