I recently celebrated my only child’s first birthday. I made it through one year of parenting, and it has been a transformation for me, my son, my relationship with my spouse and my life as a whole. You know how growing up you would hear your parents (let’s face it, dozens of parents) make commentary about kids not coming with an instruction manual? I so wish babies came with an instruction manual. I definitely had desperate moments where I just wanted someone to explain, step by step, how to get through some of the aspects that come with parenting. I would think to myself, “Someone, anyone…just tell me what to do and I will do it! I just don’t know what to do! I’ve never done this before so why am I expected to make this up as I go?” Despite my desperation, I steered clear of the plethora of parenting classes advertised in the various media outlets that daily crossed my path. I didn’t want to pay for something I wasn’t sure would work. There were too many choices out there and how was I supposed to know which one would be helpful for my specific situation?
As I progressed into some of the most difficult months of the first year of my son’s life, we–at Coalescence Health–began planning a Circle of Security Parenting (COSP) class to commence in the late summer/early fall. As an employee of Coalescence Health, and daughter of the instructor, I had the opportunity–and privilege–to be a part of the class. It was life changing. It’s not “just some parenting class” only relevant to a few people out there. This class is relevant to anyone and everyone in an attached relationship with someone, whether they are your child, partner, family member, or close friend. This class could go by another name–”Circle of Security and Attached Relationships”.
Alas, I didn’t get the step by step manual I was kind of wishing for. I was instead given permission to trust myself, my instincts, and to also trust my child. Even though he doesn’t have a complete vocabulary yet, he’s communicating with me constantly. He cues when he’s feeling anxious, insecure, curious, excited, frustrated, sad, content, bored, etc., through body language, sound, facial expressions, and physical movement. I can now recognize these behaviors and the more I practice, the better I get at reading his cues and responding appropriately.
Furthermore, the information from this class isn’t presented as “tips and tricks” that you can whip out when you need them for a certain situation; rather, the practices from COSP are meant to integrate into one’s life as a way of being. While this way of being is more or less constant, it is not meant to be perfect. In fact, rupture and repair is an essential part of developing a secure relationship bound by trust and held with vulnerability. Being a “perfect parent” doesn’t exist anywhere. Ever. Period. And if it did, the relationship that “perfect” person would have with their child wouldn’t be perfect because children aren’t perfect. Kids need to learn from someone who can model and provide opportunities for resilience, creativity, problem solving, working together, and many other things that are irrelevant to “perfect” people. The concept of not pursuing perfection is really challenging for some of us, myself included. It’s something I’m glad to be made aware of because now I can do a better job of watching out for moments when I try to cover up a mistake with a mask. Even as we were diving deep into exploring this idea in the COSP class, I found myself making “valid” excuses as to why I let my child watch TV. I was embarrassed to admit that, yes, sometimes we watch TV. Actually we watch TV pretty much every day. I know it’s frowned upon because some studies out there indicate negative repercussions for kids who have X amount of screen time a day, but I still do it. Hey, what can I say, I’m a desperate parent and that’s okay. I’m doing the best I can right now, and as long as I can maintain “good enough” parenting–which is being an ideal parent at least 30% of the time–then that’s enough for my child to turn out okay. It’s enough for him to grow up with a secure attachment to me and to have the ability to form secure attachments with others.
I learned so many valuable things not only from the course curriculum and the instructor and her own unique outlook, but also from the other parents and caregivers that participated in the class. They taught me things I hadn’t considered before. They helped me view myself as a parent with more confidence. Their vulnerability was refreshing and relatable.
There are free resources out there that can get you started on integrating COSP into your own life*. I personally can attest to the value in taking the 10 part course with fellow parents and caregivers. Taking the time for reflection and having open dialog with parents of different backgrounds was something that can’t be captured on an expedited website course. We, at Coalescence Health, will offer a course annually.
*Click Here to access the cirlce of security international website