Thursday, September 7, 2017

On "Clingy" Children

It's funny that the more I have written on raising babies and toddlers and little children, the more I realize the answer is "know thy child" and "trust your mother heart".  It's almost always the answer-which is such a blessing to realize because it means there is little use for experts in this equation-we are the experts in most cases, about our own children.  If I wracked my brain I could give 1,000 really good examples of me finding this out in real life through my own experiences.

Janey was the clingiest baby and toddler to me-one could say it was (is, because she still is sometimes) a part of her personality.  I could also contribute it to her birth order-being the last of six, and seeing everyone walk in and out of the door so many times a day, with friends visiting also, and then not understanding why some siblings were gone for weeks and months at college, and then came home only to leave again.  Imagine that in a little one's head!  Most likely it is a combination of both.

But it is what it is-she was velcro to me day and night.  I sometimes wondered if this was 'healthy', but I didn't wonder much-because of my experiences and also because I had bigger fish to fry, like laundry and meals, to "wonder" much about something so little.

Today there is SO much advice on this I feel-and pressure!  Preschools now offer programs that begin at 18 months, and I've been told by the young mom crowd that this can feel very competitive to them-what if all these kids have a head up on learning and their child "falls behind"?  (I felt the same as a new mom and when I look back I regret early preschool that I enrolled my oldest in so much-it was so traumatic for something so completely unnecessary, as few times as it happened.) Moms feel forced into it, and although some little ones are just fine, there is a lot of tears and fears in others that are just supposed to be ignored as the child "gets used to it".  Independence is stressed so much, along with socialization (for babies!?) and "getting used" to being away from mom.

I think though, security is the rock of real independence and babies and toddlers need that rock to come back to, some more often than others.  Trust is so important.  And most important all of these little people we are talking about are so different.  And rushing them and pushing them and wishing they were someone else (comparisons!) is not good for them or healthy for us. Sometimes it is just purely heartbreaking for all involved.  And yes, we all "get used" to things in life, but that does not mean these things are the right things to get used to, or don't create more problems that come out in other ways.  It is good and healthy for little ones to be home with mom-they aren't missing a thing that can't be replicated at home.

My friend told me a story about her sister's little girl who sounded so much like Janey, even more so! Never left her side well past preschool age, and was just always "right there" were ever the mom turned.  The term "velcro baby" would be used correctly here and it took her a long long time to grow out of it.  People would offer advice mainly about how to get her "away" and on her own as quickly as possible.  Her mother just let her be-let her be who she was and enjoyed the time she knew would end one day (as she is a mom of many and very wise).  And this velcro baby, toddler and child is now a young adult, living and traveling all over the WORLD on her own.  If that isn't true independence I don't know what is.

Janey has grown so much this past year-waiting a year for preschool after a rough start last year has worked so well for her-she is so confident and happy about it every day.  I can see her independence in all things grow as she makes sense of the world and what her siblings are doing and where everyone is and truly can now understand it all.  I see her trying new things, and sometimes deciding not to do so just yet, but just to hold back and observe.  As the youngest she gets the benefit of me knowing how fast these years go and that there should be NO RUSH in those years, but just deep appreciation for who she is and what stage of development she is as she becomes a lovely person-exactly who God meant her to be.

18 comments :

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I feel the same...I feel like those early years at home are what anchor my children, and they need that to keep grounded in a world that can be so crazy hard to understand and navigate.

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  3. Oh, I love this too. My heart aches these days, mourning when my children were still young enough to be home all day with me. I loved when they were little. Neither my husband or I can ever understand when other parents rejoice when fall comes which means that their children return to school. My eldest is a college sophomore in a close enough to drive to city but still lives away from home. My middle child is next out the door as a high school senior. My baby, oh I how I wish he was still Janey's age, is in 6th grade. As the adage says, "The days are long but the years are short." Beautiful post today. Thank you.

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  4. Thank you Sarah! This post was so needed today and brought tears to my eyes. You should write a book on motherhood!

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  5. I love every word you write. I could write a novel about how helpful and reassuring your wisdom has been. I have read your blog for many years, most of them before becoming a mother myself. I am now a stay at home mom to a 2.5 yo with one on the way. When approaching a new phase with my daughter I often go back in your archives to soak up your wisdom. My daughter is the only toddler I know who isn't in some sort of preschool at this age or younger. She is very much a "clingy" child and I know she just isn't ready to be away from me but it is easy to second guess myself when everyone else is doing it. Thank you for sharing your preschool story about Janey. It is so reassuring that there are other like-minded mothers out there and that I am making the right decision to keep her home all the time for now while she needs that one-on-one with me. Much love to you and thank you again for the impact you have had on my parenting.

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  6. The older my boys get, the happier and more thankful I am that we skipped preschool and that I kept them home with me when they were little. I had a clinger, too, my oldest - and now he is a confident, successful, hard working 14 year old and I am surprised by him every day. Know your child is the BEST advice to give to any young mother, and maybe even more so to mothers heading into the teen years. xo

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  7. Another great post Sarah. Each child is different and our children will be ready, when they are ready. Just like potty training!
    The years go be so fast, hold on to those little hands tightly for as long as you can. :)

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  8. Yes, it is so good to be reminded by you Sarah, to:

    Trust your instinct
    and
    Always act in the way of love (I see this more clearly as I add children and appreciate their loveliness more, especially in the little years)

    Those are 2 pieces of advice I wanted to give a pregnant lady who served me yesterday in a store, weeks away from her first!

    But, she will learn these truths her own way, as I did- as we all do.

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  9. My youngest is 12 and still loves to be around me. I think some part of it is due to me being deployed for part of his life, but everyone in my family is telling me to make him stop. I don't think it is harming anyone and I enjoy it. We have great talks and all of my kids have an open line of communication with me as well. I think each child is different and we should embrace that.

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  10. Yes!! Sarah, you've hit the nail on the head again. I think moms should pray for ourselves and each other: Dear God, please spare us from the curse of making our children fit the ever-changing "best" that the world has to offer. Help us to trust You and to treasure the time we have being the caretakers of these precious young souls You have entrusted to us. We all need your help, Lord. Amen.

    And you've also nailed it that the ugliness of comparison shows up in this way, just as it does in so many areas of our lives. Would you believe that I'm writing a book about breaking free from comparison? It's been a lifelong struggle for me, but at 54 I feel as though I'm finally learning better!

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  11. I was looking for some confirmation that I'm doing the right thing letting my 3yo (youngest of 6) be a preschool dropout this year.

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  12. Thank you for this. We moved from California to Virginia last year with our, at the time, 3 month old. Now 13 months and he is starting to become less clingy. I have worried so much about him based off of others opinions when in my heart I was okay with it. We moved away from all our friends and family and my husband has demanding work hours. I am the only consistent thing in my son's life - of course he is clingy! But in our unique situation, not everyone can understand. I'm grateful for your wisdom and insight. As so many others said, it is so good to have confirmation from others that we are not alone in our thoughts. Thank you!

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  13. An empty house for a few hours! Does this mean you'll be blogging more? I hope...?

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  14. Absolutely!!! thank you so much for sharing your wisdom again and again! My twin boys (my third and fourth kiddos) loved to be right next to me everywhere we went until they reached about 3 1/2 years old. I ignored any comments and just enjoyed the closeness. Now they are 12 years old and have cruised around the neighborhood for years, playing with friends and enjoying life. They have been very confident and comfortable in social situations. It just took them some time to venture away from me. I don't regret a single minute they spent by my side! Thank you so much for sharing your insights with the world

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  15. Thank you! All of this resonated with me.

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  16. From another mom to many....amen!

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  17. Thank you... just thank you! I have loved your blog for many years and been raising babies all those years and I'm being completely honest when I say that yours is the ONLY blog I still read. Your voice has been the motherly influence I have needed for many years. My mother wasn't able to be the mother she wanted to be in the years she had on this earth so I have sought motherly advice from the Lord and from places like here. I have always told myself that I would never regret a moment of holding my babies but I would regret not doing it when I could. Thankfully I still have time to hold them! I wish I could thank you in person but thank you again!

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