By Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker

Our Parenting Journey

We founded Attachment Parenting International (API) in 1994, to help parents in forming deep connections with their children and create a worldwide community through support groups, education and advocacy.  We realized through our own parenting journey, that not having extended family near by to help guide and nurture us through the early years of parenthood, made it extremely challenging to raise our children from a place of conscious awareness. We needed the support and mentorship from more experienced and wiser parents and so we sought out those parents in our local La Leche League group that eventually served as the model for the API support groups.

The beauty of finding our own “tribe” is that we all shared the same values in childrearing. We knew we were going against the tide of parenting dogma and advice that continues to permeate our culture. We were beginning to realize that we were part of a new revolution of childrearing, and part of a growing movement of parents who were not afraid to love their children whole-heartedly.

This parenting journey has been a natural extension of our own spiritual beliefs and we will share some of the insights we’ve gained over the years on the relationship between mindfulness and attachment parenting.

What We’ve Learned: Insights Into Attachment

Seemingly paradoxical and in some ways innocuous, the term attachment parenting has garnered a lot of attention, criticism and praise.

Doesn’t the concept of attachment negate the spiritual principle of detachment to our material world?

Does emotional attachment in infancy and childhood create emotional weakness or is it a prerequisite to developing the capacity for empathy?

Joseph Chilton Pearce explained in his book Magical Child, that meeting our children’s dependency needs in early childhood would free them to become less attached to the material world and seek meaning from their own inner life’s journey. To detach from all that detracts from our ability to be in present moment requires capacities for inner reflection and the ability to feel a loving and empathic connection to all of life.

Recognizing that the very nature of life mandates a sense of expression, order, direction and reciprocity, human beings are born with instincts and drives that must be fulfilled or we spend our adult lives trying to fill those deep and insatiable voids in unhealthy ways. When we speak of attachment parenting we are really speaking about tapping into those instincts and learning to trust them.

We are also learning how to respond to the intrinsic and reciprocal nature of our baby’s instinctual drives. For most of us it takes an ever-increasing and ever-evolving effort in reflection and practicing mindfulness to allow us to recognize and utilize our instincts.

The practice of mindfulness is in itself a spiritual practice because it nourishes and nurtures us in ways we often cannot express. It helps us find balance, inner and outer peace, and the understanding that we are all connected and a reflection of God’s love. Even those who do not believe in a traditional conception of God can agree that the concept of Love, a universal human emotion, expands in new and often deeper ways in the parent/child relationship, reflective of a spiritual connection.

Mindfulness and the Practical, Applied Insights of Attachment

With the input of many parents and professionals and after years of gathering research, the Eight Principles of Parenting were created.  In our book, Attached at the Heart: Eight Proven Parenting Principles for Raising Connected and Compassionate Children, we go into depth about these eight principles that we believe are critical for creating secure attachment and healthy emotional development:

  1. Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting
  2. Feed with Love and Respect
  3. Respond with Sensitivity
  4. Use Nurturing Touch
  5. Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
  6. Provide Consistent and Loving Care
  7. Practice Positive Discipline
  8. Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life

These Mindful Parenting exercises, in the book,  will allow us the opportunity to go deeper into these principles and discuss how mindfulness is a key component in all of them. Mindfulness profoundly changes our understanding of how to “be in the world but not of the world!”

What a gift it is to be able to give ourselves and our children the ability to practice mindfulness, to create a sense of calm and centeredness in an ever-increasing chaotic world.


Mindful Parenting: The Spiritual Essence of Attachment

An Interview With Lysa and Barbara

Nicholson and Parker talk with Kindred’s editor, Lisa Reagan, about mindful parenting as the spiritual essence of attachment science. Enjoy the audio download below as well as the edited transcript of this interview here.

Mindful Parenting: The Spiritual Essence of Attachment

meet lysa parker and barbara nicholson

Lysa Parker, MS, CFLE, CEIM

Lysa has dedicated her life to improving the way children are treated and is a recognized authority on parenting. She is the coauthor of the book titled Attached at the Heart: Eight Proven Parenting Principles for Raising Connected and Compassionate Children (HCI, 2013) and the co-developer of a new curriculum based on her book. The first edition of Attached at the Heart won the 2009 Book of the Year Gold award from Foreword Magazine. She is a frequent guest on national, international, and local radio and TV programs. Currently Lysa is a writer, speaker and parenting consultant in private practice at She is the mother of two grown sons, a stepdaughter and is the grandmother of three grandchildren and lives with her husband in the Huntsville, Alabama area.

With a bachelor’s degree in Education, specializing in special education, she taught in California, Tennessee, and Alabama during her 20-year career, working with children with multiple handicaps and/or learning disabilities. Other experience includes several years of volunteer work with La Leche League International, a nonprofit organization that provides breastfeeding education and support, and as an API Support Group Leader.

She is the mother of two adult sons and an adult stepdaughter and grandmother to twin grandsons. She lives with her husband in Madison, Alabama. Lysa Parker is available for private consultations, personal parent coaching sessions, workshops, and speaking engagements. Visit her web site to learn more!

Barbara Nicholson, M.Ed., CEIM

Barbara Nicholson received a Masters degree in Education from Stephen F. Austin State University and professionally she taught children with Learning Disabilities grades 1-6. In 1981 she became a La Leche League breastfeeding support group facilitator, and in 1994 co-founded Attachment Parenting International, a non-profit parent education organization where she served as President of the Board of Directors for 15 years. She is the co-author of Attached at the Heart, 8 Proven Parenting Principles for Raising Compassionate and Connected Children (2013, HCI Publishing). She is the co-author of a parenting curriculum based on the book and is conducting trainings all over the U.S. and soon internationally for parent educators. Her passion is to educate and support parents in creating secure, loving attachments with their children.

  • She is a Certified Educator of Infant Massage through Infant Massage USA.
  • In 2003 she received the La Leche League International Alumnae Award
  • In 2012 she received Vanderbilt University’s Maternal Health Outreach Workers Mentoring award.

Barbara has four adult sons and lives with her husband in Nashville, TN.

Lysa Parker and Barbara Nicholson, founders of Attachment Parenting International

Lysa Parker and Barbara Nicholson, founders of Attachment Parenting International