Lately I've needed lots of encouraging words. This has been a very challenging time in my life lately...so I've been trying to surround myself with people and words that are encouraging to my heart. The following is from a forum I belong to. Her email was very encouraging to me with regards to how we raise our kids. Especially when there are so very many outside opinions. I take heart when I find someone who understand where I am coming from...
Carmel, I have been intending to reply to this.
We have seven children, 20 to 4. I say that to let you know that a couple
of them are very young adults, and I have watched the "clingy child" grow up
several times. I do not suggest that anyone else with an opinion is wrong,
or that I am the ultimate arbiter of parenting decisions. I am sharing what
has worked in our family.
Carmel, I believe that a "clingy" child is one who is securely attached to
Mom. I think it is evidence that you are a caring and responsive mother.
In that sense, it is indeed your "fault" that she is "clingy", and I commend
you for being "to blame". You are "to blame" for raising a healthy child
who finds safety in your presence and feels securely loved!
I carried each of our children in a baby sling for as long as they desired
it (several years). If I had to go out, I would either take the child(ren)
along, or go out *briefly* without them, but leave them in the loving care
of a trusted person (you have your older daughter-- what a blessing you all
are to each other!). I spent at least a couple of hours each day giving
them "focused attention": playing with them, reading to them, listening to
them, and focusing exclusively on them, without being distracted by the
chores and other things which needed to be done. I continue this today with
the younger kids, but my method of staying close to them and giving focused
attention has changed for the older kids; for example, our twenty-year-old
son is a musician, so listening to his dreams, offering him support, and
showing up for his performances is the equivalent of reading stories and
building legos with him when he was younger.
As I have been observing children grow for the past twenty years, I see that
children who are raised in this way have a strong sense of confidence and
security. In the long run, this frees them to put their minds and hearts
into something other than seeking the comfort, security, and inner
confidence they need, because they already have all of that.
Several of my children used to hide under my skirt as preschoolers. I gave
them time to grow, and now, as older teenagers, those same "clingy" children
are musicians who perform at local festivals and act in Shakespeare plays.
They are kind, and they are the ones friends tend to turn to for
advice. Several have been on student council at school, and two are Eagle
Scouts. Their sense of confidence freed them to have the courage to look
beyond themselves. I am not trying to claim that my children are "better"
than anyone else's, or that I am the perfect mother. I mean to suggest that
if you look around at children you already know who are your older
daughter's age, you will probably find that the kids who are confident and
kind were raised just the way you are raising your little one (and probably
raised your older daugher). Perhaps you can find soem like minded moms and
support each other.
It is hard to take the long term view. People used to tell me that I was
not strict enough with my more exuberant, high energy children, or that I
should put the more reticent, "clingy" children in preschool. My
mother-in-law was most offended by this way of life, but she has recently
semi-apologized for having been so hard on me and said that she is glad I
raised them the way I did. She did not change her mind until the older ones
got into their late teens and she saw the results of many years of effort.
Looking back, I am really glad I ignored her advice. I tried at first to
actually discuss the issues with her, but when it became apparent that she
was uninterested in my reasoning or point of view, I reluctantly resorted to
polite one liners such as "Thank you, I'll consider that." When she, and
others, criticized me, I tried to keep in mind that my children would have
to pay the long term price for my decisions, so I tolerated the short term
difficulty of not doing what the critics wanted and enduring their
complaints. I tried to spend as much time as possible with supportive
people, and as little as possible with those who wanted only to criticize.
The cathmoms have been a tremendous help to me. Dr. William Sears is a
pediatrician and father of eight who advocates this way of raising children;
you can find advice from him at www.askdrsears.com. Several of his sons
have joined his medical practice, and at least one adult daughter is a
spokesperson for the baby sling he began promoting over twenty years
ago. His children appreciated being raised this way and are now imitating
their parents in raising their own children.
St. Francis de Sales said "Be who you are, and be that well." I believe
that when we support our children by offering them our presence in the way
that you do for your daughter, we allow them to be who they are, and be that
well. I say keep up the good work, Carmel!
Hoping for a blessed and joyful New Year, for myself and for you as well.