My son seems to re­ject me when I col­lect him

Irish Independent - Health & Living - - PARENTING -

?Ihavean 18-month-old baby boy, whom Iadore.Iam thrilled with him,an­di­tis great­towatch him grow. When I was go­ing back to work, I asked my older cousin to care for my son. Long story

IT doesn’t sound to me like you have got any­thing wrong. Far from it. You have recog­nised that you need to work out­side the home and so you have man­aged to find him a warm and lov­ing carer.

In fact, from what you de­scribe, the bond be­tween his carer and him­self is so good that he finds the tran­si­tion hard when he has to say good­bye to her. It may be that he ex­pe­ri­ences the equiv­a­lent to sep­a­ra­tion anx­i­ety in re­verse.

He feels so se­cure with and con­nected to his carer that he gets a lit­tle wob­ble when he has to leave her. As I see it, this is not so much a re­jec­tion of you as an in­di­ca­tion of the pos­i­tiv­ity of his re­la­tion­ship with your cousin.

What we know from all of the lit­er­a­ture on at­tach­ment is that chil­dren feel se­curely at­tached when they get con­sis­tent, lov­ing and re­li­able care, typ­i­cally from one main carer. In the months after your son’s birth, you were that carer.

You have al­ready sown the seeds for the se­cu­rity of his at­tach­ment through his early ex­pe­ri­ence with you. If he is able to re­late to your cousin with such suc­cess, then it short, they are both mad about each other, to the point that he doesn’t want to come home with me in the evenings. I do ev­ery­thing with himintheeveningsan­dat week­ends. Our re­la­tion­ship is good. I am just find­ing it a bit hurt­ful that he does not want to come home with me. Have I got some­thing wrong? will be be­cause he al­ready had the sense of se­cu­rity from his re­la­tion­ship with you that he was in­stinc­tively able to trust her.

You must have pro­vided that sta­bil­ity, con­sis­tency, re­spon­sive­ness and warmth for him to de­velop his sense of trust in other adults. You can be rightly proud of what you have achieved when you see how eas­ily he set­tled with a new carer.

Nat­u­rally, from what you de­scribe, your cousin has re­sponded to his trust in her by be­ing trust­wor­thy, warm, con­sis­tent and lov­ing. This just strength­ens his over­all se­cu­rity of at­tach­ment as he has this ex­pe­ri­ence of an­other lov­ing and re­li­able carer.

I can imag­ine that he is a very set­tled tod­dler once he has re­turned to your care in the evenings and at the week­ends? Does his dis­tress or protest at leav­ing your cousin ex­tend be­yond a short while each day?

If it does, then there may be more of an is­sue. But if he set­tles quickly with you — al­low­ing him­self to be soothed by you and then be­ing his usual good-na­tured self for the rest of the evening and through the week­end — then you have noth­ing to worry about.

It may be hard for you not to ex­pe­ri­ence his re­luc­tance to leave your cousin’s house as a re­jec­tion, but I do think you are mis­read­ing his sig­nals. He isn’t com­plain­ing that it is you who will be mind­ing him; he is just com­plain­ing that some­thing lovely and nice is com­ing to an end.

The key to help­ing him through this tran­si­tion ev­ery day is to be pre­pared. You can ex­pect that he will be grumpy at leav­ing. You can ex­pect that he might protest.

If you can re­spond to his protest with em­pa­thy and ac­knowl­edge that it is hard for him to say good­bye to your cousin, then I think this will go a long way to eas­ing things for him.

So, even if you do feel hurt by his protest that you are col­lect­ing him, you need to reg­u­late your own feel­ings such that you can think about things from his per­spec­tive.

You know he loves you and you know that you have es­tab­lished all the right con­di­tions for him to feel se­curely at­tached. You have done as good a job as any mother could in your sit­u­a­tion.

So, be proud of what you have achieved, and that might free you up to be warm and un­der­stand­ing with him that it is hard to say good­bye to his carer.

The love of a child is not a com­pet­i­tive thing. It doesn’t mat­ter who they love ‘most’ or who they want to spend ‘most’ time with, as long as the peo­ple they are with are warm, lov­ing, firm and con­sis­tent. I think you have de­liv­ered that for your son.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.