Sam Cuming

SamCumingphotoMy parenting story …

Since my son was born in 2009, I have been very committed to learning and growing as a parent. From my son’s birth, I adopted what I will call a “Classical” Attachment Parenting approach, including breastfeeding on demand, baby wearing and co-sleeping. I loved the emphasis on the parent-child relationship, being responsive and offering plenty of closeness. When my son was almost 1 year old, I heard about Aware Parenting, a philosophy of parenting based on the work of Aletha Solter. By this time, he was having a really hard time with sleep, and had also started pinching and biting me! I was looking for something more, because Classical Attachment Parenting just wasn’t working for us anymore. As soon as I’d read Solter’s book, The Aware Baby, I started my transition to Aware Parenting.

Listening to feelings

At first, the aspect of Aware Parenting that most strongly resonated with me was listening to my child’s feelings. It made so much sense to me, that crying is a way of offloading feelings and healing, and that by stopping the crying (as I had been doing a lot of) we are not stopping the feelings, just their release. Oh, and I can report that supporting my son to offload stress and tension through supported crying helped him to fall asleep more easily and stay asleep longer, and stopped the pinching and biting! I see this style of parenting as a way of helping my son to grow up being comfortable with his feelings, neither needing to suppress them, nor feeling overwhelmed by them. I love that it offers him the experience of feeling safe to share his feelings, and to be deeply seen, heard, understood, accepted and supported. I believe this will equip him to make strong and authentic connections with others throughout his life.

Play

Later, I learned about Parenting by Connection from the organisation Hand in Hand Parenting, and I began to learn more about the ways in which playing with our children can support parenting. And as my son got older, I began to really value play element of these approaches (Attachment Play or Playlistening), and to be able to drop into playfulness more easily and skilfully in challenging moments. This has been particularly useful in inspiring cooperation with activities he doesn’t really enjoy, supporting him to work through his fears and responding to his sometimes aggressive behaviour. I also enjoy the effectiveness of sessions of child-led play (Child-Centred Non-Directive Play or Special Time), particularly to strengthen connection with my son before going into challenging situations and to reconnect with him after periods of disconnection.

Not just parenting

Basically, I have been immersing myself in this style of parenting since I first heard about it, and it has enriched my life so much! I have found a philosophy I just love to guide my parenting, which has also supported me to learn and grow so much in myself. It has provided a vehicle for developing greater awareness of my own feelings and patterns of distraction, understanding of my own needs and how to meet them, self-connection and presence in my interactions with others (especially my son and partner), and a growing sense of self-acceptance and self-compassion. I love that this approach to parenting helps me to have a deeply connected, respectful and fun (although still at times challenging!) relationship with my son. I have also adopted a way of relating to my husband that is based on the same principles, and we have enjoyed the outcomes of this too!

My qualifications and experience …

I have a consistent progression of study in the area of people and relationships, with a both Bachelor of Psychology (Hons) and Masters of Clinical Psychology, from Macquarie University in Sydney. I have worked as a psychologist and researcher in various settings.

I am a certified Aware Parenting Instructor with the Aware Parenting Institute, and have completed professional training in Parenting by Connection with Hand in Hand Parenting and Tuning into Kids developed by researchers at the University of Melbourne.

I have participated in many of Marion Rose’s (Australia’s level 2 Aware Parenting Instructor) transformative groups, workshops and courses, including her Aware Parenting Instructor Mentoring Course and Inner Loving Presence Process.

I also have training in Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent (or Compassionate) Communication (NVC), which remains a big influence in my life and work. I love it as a framework for developing self-awareness, understanding, acceptance and compassion.

And I have also recently become a certified Laughter Yoga Leader!

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