Q: My baby is eight months old and although I enjoy being at home with her, she is very clingy and I feel trapped most days. I get very little done and am frustrated with my life. I miss working and being able to talk to other adults. I would like to go back to work on a part-time basis and am thinking of putting her in day care. Some people say that it will be good for my baby to play with other children and that she will become more independent. What is your opinion?
A: Being a parent is not easy and feeling trapped is a common experience.
Our society does not give much credit for raising children. There is no “owner’s manual” and yet, raising a child is one of the most responsible things you can ever undertake. To give a child security and love and equip them with the resilience they will need to thrive in our competitive society is one of the greatest things to which you can devote your life.
Babies do best when they are consistently with the same caregiver. There is great pressure on young women to go back to work. But if you can stay home with your child untill she is three years old, you will have laid a solid foundation for her physical, emotional and spiritual development.
Your baby is strongly attached to you—as she should be—for you are her source of food, comfort and information about this strange place in which she now finds herself. Forcing separation on her now will jeopardise her sense of security and will make her even clingier when she does have you with her. Some little ones adjust better than others but some are left with a separation anxiety that colours the rest of their lives.
In the first two years of life one of the most basic things your baby will learn is that the world is either a safe or a dangerous place. A child who is nurtured and loved will develop trust in others, feel secure, be more emotionally resilient and learn to approach life with optimism. A baby that is often left to cry, is exposed to a multitude of caregivers and is expected to “grow up” before her time is likely to be insecure and lack basic trust.
This time with your little one is precious.
Savour it. Too soon she will be ready to leave you and explore the world.
She has been entrusted to your care for a short period of time.
Find other mums with babies of similar ages and get together to encourage one another, not so much for your children’s sake but for your own. You may even want to read through a book on child development. You have an opportunity to watch a living person grow and develop: enjoy it!