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Showing posts with label psychoneurobiology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label psychoneurobiology. Show all posts

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I HEART Snuggling!

Something you need to know about me:  I’m a big fan of snuggling! Anything to put-off getting out of bed and delay the morning rush-to-school routine, especially on rainy mornings. Snuggling is one of the most important ways I have bonded with my children. And a secure parent-child bond you now know is highly correlated with being well-adjusted and being less likely to engage in risky behaviors.  Even more importantly, securely attached kids are more likely to possess emotional and social courage

Of course as my kids have grown, snuggling can now be as rare and special as spotting a shooting star across the night sky.  Hugging my now 5' 10" thirteen-year old is sometimes as awkward as hugging a wall.  And my fifth grade daughter announced to me after her first day of school, as I tucked her into bed: “Mom, you need to know that as a fifth grader I will not be snuggling with you much anymore.  Fifth graders just don’t do that.”

Which got me thinking: How do we continue to nurture the parent-child bond, and thus the courage necessary to love another human being, when snuggling ends? 

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Chemical Soup Called LOVE

Whether or not your first days as a parent were spent breastfeeding on the couch watching Oprah, like me or not,  psychologists now understand that the bonding between a parent and child (or caregiver and child) occurs in a myriad of ways.  The important thing is that bonding happens!  Without developing the ability to care about ourselves and each other…we rarely possess the kind of heroic heart we need to thrive in life.   

Good news from psychoneurobiology research:  the underlying processes associated with bonding now reassures parents that skin-to-skin contact is also one of the primary triggers for oxytocin’s release. Oxytocin being the stock for the chemical soup that is parental love.  Simply holding our child triggers a release of love-inducing chemicals (opiods, for example—those pleasure-giving, rewarding neurochemicals that calm us, relieve pain, and generally reward life-sustaining behaviors).

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Let's Start at the Beginning...Childbirth

What does our child’s birth have to do with courage?  Birth triggers similar neurological mechanisms and the release of many of the same neurochemicals associated with courage.  If you don’t think it takes courage to give birth, to adopt a child, or unconditionally love another human being then stop reading right now!

Let’s start at the beginning.  I didn’t have the “perfect birth” with either of my kids.  READ: quick, soothing music, no emergency interventions and/or numbing chemical infusions, surrounded by family/friends/a birthing coach/midwife/massage therapist all focused on giving me exactly what I needed when I needed it, maybe even at home!  The kind of birth I’d read about in some of the baby and childbirth books I'd found.  The kind of birth other expectant moms and I proudly and excitedly whispered to each other about having in our childbirth education class or whilst we stretched our swollen limbs together in prenatal yoga class. Or the “natural births” other moms bragged to me about at baby showers or in grocery store lineups where I was, yet again, buying the weirdest combinations of food to stave off my pregnancy cravings and nausea whilst ensuring a hefty weight gain. Well, maybe they weren't bragging, but as a slightly competitive person myself (note the understatement) I definitely heard the brag.  Honestly, I even skipped over the Cesearean sections in all the baby books.  I figured: not going to happen to me, don't need to read it!  Boy, was I humbled and deeply grateful that an OB/GYN I trusted happened to be on-call.

That all said, when my kids ask about the day they were born, I fluff up my fur (a.k.a. my crazy curly hair) with pride, wrap them inside my protective lion mama arms, and whisper how I fell in love with them on the day they were born.  I tell them how brave they were (in their own specific ways) and how their cries could be heard far and wide awakening the world to their arrival.  How their dad and I wept with joy when we first saw them and heard their cry.  But most of all, how grateful we are to know them, to witness them grow every day, and to be their parents. Turns out it's the most “natural thing” in the world to love your child!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mental Pathways of Courage

Courage doesn't always roar.  Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow. 
~Mary Anne Radmacher
I’ve defined the word courage with a dictionary, and with the help of my kids, so now I ask myself: “What does courage mean to me?”  “Do I have courage?” “When have I been courageous in my life?”

I read Jennifer’s retelling of The Lion’s Whiskers, and reflect on the times when I’ve had to approach my own inner and outer lions to gain the necessary whiskers, or qualities, to develop the love and respect for myself, my children, my husband, and all who cross my path.  Whiskers I cling to for balance and guidance, qualities that help me to be brave during times of fear, pain, or uncertainty.  I think of the times I’ve succeeded, and the times I’ve failed, in attaining the kind of intellectual, social, physical, spiritual, emotional and moral strength necessary to be deemed “courageous”.