Too attached?

by christina on July 9, 2009

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I’m thankful that my circumstances allow me to be a stay-at-home mom, and because Germany makes it quite easy, most of the mothers I know are in the same situation.  And apart from me, all of them put their children into day care several times a week to have time for themselves.

I do sometimes feel like I’d like some time for myself, but it’s not really a pressing need.  Many moms say it’s so their kids get socialized, but I don’t find my son lacking in social skills.  He’s a very friendly, very outgoing, almost 2 year old (a very typical Leo).  The other moms in my local mother-toddler group have given me the name and number of the woman who runs the local day care.  They tell me that it’s important that Oliver get contact with other kids, but he gets along fine with all the kids in the group and with all the children of my friends.  I’ve even been told it’s not healthy for us to be together so much, but I haven’t seen any signs of it.

Can we really be too attached?

I look at history, and think that for most of history, in most human groups, children stayed with their mother continuously through early childhood.  There was no day care, there wasn’t the idea that the child needed time apart from the parent.  I also look at myself and my child.  I don’t feel the need for time apart, so why do people want to pressure me into it?  Oliver, while independent, also prefers to have one-on-one time with his caretakers.  Something he won’t get in a day care situation.

My gut tells me I’m doing the right thing, and I’m a strong believer in listening to your instincts.  So what do I tell the naysayers?

Christina blogs about life at An American Expat in Deutschland and about parenting at Mamas Worldwide.

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christina (6 Posts)


{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

justine July 9, 2009 at 4:59 pm

For our family, it has been a priority for us to provide consistent and loving care to our little ones. My hubby and I arrange our schedules so that one or the other of us is able to be with our children full time for at least the first year…and most of the time far beyond that. I also feel that sometimes others have put the pressure on us to “spend some time away from the kids” and I just don’t feel a pressing need to do that. I have a few nights a week that I get out of the house for a class, or for a lecture at the library. My hubby has a few nights where he hikes with friends, or rides his bike. We spend plenty of time together as a couple while the kids are playing or sleeping, (or even while parenting our children together…we really enjoy our children and our time with them. why wouldn’t we?)

Frankly, I am not willing to deal with the endless parade of cold’s, flu’s and eye infections that seem to go hand-in-hand with having a small child in a group child care situation…staying up all night with a sick child would never make up for the hours I had “all to myself” earlier in the day! As for socialization, we are able to be much more selective about the ages and personalities of who we play with on day to day basis when we know the families and the children personally. Many of my friends have similarly aged children and we are able to get together regularly enough that the kids get plenty of “socialization” and the moms benefit from spending time together, too.

If you don’t feel that Oliver or you are ready to spend that time apart, then stick to your instincts and spend the time enjoying your little guy! Perhaps you will feel differently when he is closer to three, or four, or ten! When you both are ready, it will be the right age!

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sunnymama July 9, 2009 at 5:10 pm

Trust your gut instincts! Not sure what to tell the naysayers but my DS is now nearly 3yrs and has never been apart from me for more than half an hour or so. Interestingly we went to a new mums and childrens’ group last week where nobody had met us before and nearly all the mothers commented to me individually how independant and sociable DS is.

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desiree fawn July 9, 2009 at 9:48 pm

Tell them your gut is what you’re going with!
Tell them there’s no such thing as too much love.

At least this is how I go about it when my mother criticizes our bed sharing.

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Michele July 10, 2009 at 9:40 am

Hi!

My 3yo son has also never been away from me for more than a few hours. When I do run an errand without him he stays with either his dad or his grandmother. I have no plans for him to go to pre-school until he is 4 years old. And I may change my mind even then. My son is bright, well adjusted, and very independent. When people give me a hard time about him going to pre-school, I tell them that I did not go to pre-school when I was a kid and I am fine. I also tell them that I do not find the need to have someone else raise my child. That is mine and my husbands job to do. I get “me” time when my husband plays outside with our son on the weekends and I read or check e-mails and read blogs, that is enough for me. You are doing the right thing and in the end that is all that matters.

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LaughingFamily July 10, 2009 at 2:37 pm

You are correct – daycare is a new idea. Children are meant to be with their families during their most formative years, building a solid foundation that will allow them to venture out into the world feeling secure, loved, and at ease. Too many of our peers force their children into daycare under the guise of “socialization.” From the sound of it, your son gets plenty of interaction with others. As long as you are meeting other children in some venue, that is all that is necessary. The idea that daycare is “school” is another one that irks me. If you need daycare (and my husband and I did for a 4 month period), then that is fine. However, don’t call it “school” just to make yourself feel better about it.

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Kayris July 10, 2009 at 8:42 pm

There are many ways to socialize a child, daycare isn’t the only way! And I agree with a previous poster who said she’s not willing to risk the colds and germs from so much exposure to other kids. I stayed home with my kids until the youngest was about a year, then went back to work part-time. My mom watches them one day a week while I’m working, and my husband is with them the other days. Both are very secure and social.

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Karen July 10, 2009 at 8:45 pm

I lost my father when I was young, and all I ever wanted was more time with him. When I look back on my life, I am going to wish I had more time with my child. There is no way that I am going to give that up because I need a few hours to clean my house alone, or run errands. If I can do it with my daughter and have fun, I am going to because I want her to remember that stuff when she is older. You can tell the naysayers that your child will only be little once, and you want to make sure you don’t miss a single minute of it.

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ennasnosrap July 11, 2009 at 3:39 pm

You might enjoy reading “Our Babies Ourselves: How Biology & Culture Shape the Way We Parent” by (Cornell anthropologist) Meredith Small. It helped me have the courage to stay true to my attachment-parenting instincts in the face of skepticism and even criticism, and my now 10-year-old extremely well-adjusted daughter thankfully proves me right. I read the book when I was pregnant (again thankfully) and was shocked to learn how many common parenting beliefs I’d assumed were simply “facts” were completely (U.S.) cultural and even flew in the face of our basic biology/evolution. I’m glad to see so many comments saying “trust your gut” – I do think perceptions on this subject are changing, if slowly. Hang in there!

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Kelley July 11, 2009 at 8:41 pm

We get this already, and our baby is only seven months old! “He needs to learn to adjust to being without you” is the usual attitude. Why? My job is to be here for him until he is ready developmentally to be without me! Honestly, my response to naysayers has moved from long explanations of my rational, researched, biological-anthropology-based parenting choices. Now it’s a simple sentence, delivered with a smile: “It’s working really well for us!” I let how healthy and happy my baby is speak volumes for me and AP – and save my breath ;).

I’m so glad that you are not letting the naysayers get to you too much and that you’re giving Oliver what you both need, even in the face of negativity. Brava, Mamma!

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Angela July 15, 2009 at 11:03 am

Hi.

We have seven kids, nineteen to three.

We bought a babysling before our eldest was born, and I devoured Dr. Dears’ books. I was grateful for some guidance that was consistent with my maternal instinct.

I’ll tell you first about my attachment experience with my oldest three, and then explain the results.

I received a lot of criticism and was told by well meaning people that I needed a “break” from my oldest child (and each one after that). People suggested YMCA “special time” (babysitting so moms can go out alone), babysitters, and later, preschool.

I wanted none of it.

I skipped all of it. I wore that baby in a sling, nursed him, sang him to sleep, read him stories, and played with him. Where I went, he went. if he could not sleep, I ignored the pediatrician;s advice to lock him in his room (!!!!!). I stayed until he could sleep.

I did the same for each of our other kids.

When it was “time” for preschool, I heard other moms talk about how the teachers helped them ease their kids through separation anxiety. I decided that separation anxiety was unnecessary. My son had wooden blocks, a make believe basket, art supplies, and several siblings at home, as well as a mom who loved him. I thought he could learn social skills more effectively surrounded by a loving family, especially since he is a very “spirited” person, and I did not want a teacher deciding he should be “unspirited”.

I did the same with all of the other kids. I noticed some interesting things when they went to high school. First, they had the combination of appropriate confidence, compassion, and humility I had hoped for. They were curious and eager to learn. They had already taught themselves to play the guitars we’d gotten for them. The oldest two started a bluegrass band, which has played at adult music festivals. They all wrote songs and helped one of the teachers start a coffee house at school. They were in Shakespeare plays, and leaders in class discussions. They had friends from all different social groups. My daughter became head of her cheer leading squad, and my son was on student council. The boys joined the comedy improv troupe. Both sons are Eagle Scouts. All three are kind and funny and everything else I ever hoped they would be.

We bought drums and guitars and keyboards and created a “music room” for the teens. They “jam” there all the time. I make homemade pizzas for them, and my dh and I greatly enjoy their music. We give them space, but pop in now and then. They’re attached in a different way now, but still attached.

At times during the early teen years, some of the kids needed acceptance in deciding not to be so attached. We gave them space but kept loving them, and made it clear we were still there and not pulling away from them. They “came back”.

My oldest son will go to college in a few months. That’s hard for me! However, I am grateful to Dr. Sears and his wife for the baby sling and books they popularized. I have almost not regrets when I look back on his childhood. The same is true for all of my kids so far.

As I write, the three-year-old is squirming on my lap, finding a comfortable nursing position.

From the other end of parenting, watching my eldest take his first steps away from home, I am more than ever advocate for attachemtn parenting, as described by the Searses.

I’ll add that AP includes letting the children decide to change the attachment. My son is going to college; I cannot keep him around for my sake. If I am looking out for his true needs, I know when he needs independence, and will cheerfully give it.

That’s harder for me than the babysling years are, but just as necessary for my child. We are still attached, but in an ever changing, age-and-stage appropriate way.

The only problem I have ever seen with AP is that moms can sometimes leave husbands out without meaning to. I was guilty of this at times, but tried to listen and take it to heart when my husband told me so. So young moms, please do stay attached to your husbands, along with your children, during this journey.

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Jan Andrea July 17, 2009 at 5:34 pm

I am very attached to my three kids, but would like to add that while mothers were historically children’s primary caregivers, we often find that in so-called “primitive” societies, children are cared for by aunts, older siblings, grandparents, and other family members, as well as extended non-related families like neighbors with similarly-aged children. Nurslings would certainly have access to their mothers, but older children would also be looked after by women not their mothers while their own mothers did their work in the village. The idea that it’s one/many children with their own mother, 24/7, is really a modern idea; nothing would ever get done in small villages if that were the only way. While it’s not day care per se, there was still a fair amount of non-parental care going on throughout history.

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Will August 31, 2009 at 2:51 am

I think that your dedication to your children is admirable.

That being said, make sure that you work towards guiding your children to be completely independent of you when they are adults. If your 25 year old son still needs you, for anything, you’ve failed the final test of your parenting skills. This isn’t to say you should have no relationship with them when they are adults, far from it, but rather that a parent’s greatest joy should be to see their children grow into happy, healthy, well adjusted, and fully self contained individuals.

In my experience, many parents who do a great job with their children in adolescence tend put their emotional ties to their children in front of the “breaking apart” stage that accompanies young adulthood. This then can serve to retard their growth and undo all of the great parenting that took place for the first 18 years of their life.

Just my 2 cents.

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FC Mom December 28, 2009 at 7:34 am

Totally disagree with Will- it’s OK if a 25 year old needs you. I’m 34 and need my Mom sometimes! When my baby was sick she came to give me some rest… I think that’s pretty cool.

“Too attached?” I hear this sometimes and I think it might come from other people feeling left out- like my husband and friends. I really do dedicate a lot to this baby. I couldn’t live any other way. I’m like that with anything I commit to, especially when first starting out. I don’t need distance from this kid… maybe other people need me more, but they can find a better way of getting it than telling me to separate from the baby! I just think a mom and baby are a special pair. If you’re breastfeeding, you’re naturally tied to the kid, and that’s just what nature meant. I don’t think my friends know better than nature, so I’m going to let nature take its course and be there when my baby needs and wants me- I feel the same way about him. Like many commenters said, this time with them is so precious.

As with all things, it can be tough to find the right balance, and the amount of balance is different for each family. My husband and I do struggle with that right now. The baby is hard to get to sleep, and I often miss out on evening time with my husband. Nothing is perfect, and it’s something to work for.

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Father November 30, 2010 at 12:15 am

My wife has decided to do attachment parenting with our two-month old son. Thanks to this community, he has not been put down for 96 straight hours, THIS IS NOT EXAGERATION. If I attempt to put him down, he cries and his mother screams at me because the internet told her that our son will grow up metally disturbed if he cries for five minutes. She tells me he will also be sleeping with us for the next two years. So thanks again.

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Misty February 4, 2013 at 4:04 am

I cannot begin to tell you how often I get criticized for my attachment to my child! I am a young Mom, and a young wife, and the world seems to just be waiting for us to fail! (we’ve been married for 4 years now and we have a 3 year old) I am very fortunate to be a stay at home Mom, so I get to spend all my time with my awesome kid. But I’m looked at as delusional, ignorant and annoying since I’m nothing like my other friends with kids. They want time to themselves, a weekend to go out, other ambitions and things that might not even be bad, but I don’t want or need any of it. I don’t need “me time” I had 20 years of that! Its my son’s time now. Our second child will be born in 3 months, and I have no intention of changing my parenting. No daycare, no pre-school, no babysitting, though grandparents don’t count and they can have time with my kids whenever they want! People tell me constantly how I’ll regret it, I’ll be so tired, I’ll have a breakdown, it’s bad for my marriage, all minds of selfish, negative stuff! But I’m happy and fine! I love my son and can’t get enough of him! He is a grouchy, turd of a toddler and I’m loving it! He is also funny and smart and loving. I look forward to the years to come with my 2 kids, and hopefully more. Attached parenting to me is just called being a parent! Love your kids and enjoy them, you’re not guaranteed a tomorrow and they grow up fast. Be the Mom you know you should be, don’t cave in to the naysayers!

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Mama March 15, 2013 at 10:03 am

I say, go for it with the attachment parenting. I have not read these books that are spoken of above, but agree wholeheartedly with the idea. Children grow up way too fast! The father of my daughter was absent (hobbies were more important than family) for most of her childhood – she is 14 now, it was always just me and her, our attachment to one another was inevitable. Unfortunately, I am now divorced and am faced with sharing placement of my daughter. When she is not with me, a part of me is missing, the time drags until I get her back. I fill my time, stay busy, but I miss her like crazy! This was not the life I wanted for my daughter, or myself, but we cannot control the decisions and actions of others that my have an impact on our lives. Spend every moment you can with your child because no one knows what the future holds. People tell me I may be too attached to my child…I’m her MOM of course I am! There is no greater bond!! People tell me I need to get out more. No I don’t. What I signed on for was to be a mom 24/7/365 until my daughter goes off to start a life of her own. I see no man in my future, not even on my radar…I have a job to do and I will focus my attention on my darling daughter for the next 4 1/2 years (and will be there when she needs me after that). It is very hard that I am no longer a “full-time” mom, it is, at times, devastating! Hold them, breathe them in, spend every moment enjoying your time with your children!

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Stuart May 30, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Agreed. This is for women who upon giving birth become “mothers only,” no longer persons in their own right, and expect their husbands to be effectively without a real-person wife. Assuming the man stays, the marriage is then about parenting only. If all the woman’s social, intellectual, emotional needs are met by the child/children and her caring for the child/children 100% of the time then in my view there’s something emotionally wrong with the woman. Can’t be good for the kids, either, who never get to experience the world or their own selves in it without the mother’s involvement.

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Elizabeth September 13, 2013 at 12:29 am

Disagree with the above comment. Its not just for women. Its for dads too. It was my husband who insisted our son sleep in between us as soon as it was safe to do so. And I love it. Both of us lie on either side and watch him sleep and it brings us peace and happiness to know he is with us. He never cries long. He is not left to cry. He is a beautiful gentle little toddler and we both attachment parent and wouldnt have it any other way. I love my husband even more knowing he is so attached to our son. If he moaned and groaned about me not having enough time with him it would turn me away. He is a grown man. My baby is just beginning. Of course sometimes we do need time alone so we plan something to do together when bubs is asleep. How can you be jealous of someone pouring time and love into your own flesh and blood! My husband and I love each other all the more because we understand our kids are first. I am a very lucky woman by the sound of it.

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Maricruz September 15, 2013 at 8:43 pm

Just inherited a ergo carrier and its amazing when it
comes to small babies! One problem you will encounter is
transferring the baby into and out of this carrier, this can be
difficult if you are in a rush.

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