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Why do we want our young kids to be so "independent"???

51 replies

mamadadawahwah · 12/03/2005 09:00

Was reading another thread about breastfeeding being questioned as making babies clingy. We all know this is a myth, but got to thinking, "why do some of us, and society place so much value on our kids being independent, self sufficient and self reliant. I want my son to have self esteem, but I see people who are worried about toddlers being too "attached", etc.

What do we gain by fostering early independence? I dont want my son to be independent, he's only two and I hope not to start thinking about that until he leaves home! Now he is only a baby, and he needs his mommy and daddy.

I just think if we worry about this issue too early we might inadvertently transfer neurosis onto our kids and threaten the attachment they have to us.

Remember the AbFab series, the one where the friend comes to visit with the baby in tow, and uses flash cards on the baby, saying "momma"? Why do we want our kids to grow up and leave us so early? There is already enough out there in society, i think, to take our kids away from us, without our input.

I dont want a "milk toast" for a son, and i do want him to be self sufficient when he grows up, he has to be in this world. But, worrying about it at toddlers age is ludicrous. Feeling safe and secure at home and knowing parents are always there is the best road to start on in becoming independent imho.

OP posts:
lockets · 12/03/2005 09:05

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mamadadawahwah · 12/03/2005 09:08

There is a great surprise in store for her at the moment locket. Hats off to you for having another one at this time. YOu must be supermum. Hope you have lots of help!!

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lockets · 12/03/2005 09:13

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oneofeach · 12/03/2005 09:26

I was thinking exactly this yesterday. My DD is 16 months and refuses to let go of my leg at the moment. I have heard a lot of 'isn't she clingy' etc, and I just think, 'Of course she is - she is a baby'. It really winds me up!

mamadadawahwah · 12/03/2005 09:47

I didnt start school till i was 6 and half years. Today, kids are entering the school "system" at age 1! Nurseries, mother toddler groups, playgroups, etc etc. for working mothers, the day care centres take care of all the childs "needs", bar one. Motherly love. Mum can only share a hustled goodbye in the morning and 8 hours later, returns to a grouchy tired child. The child is fed by strangers, is spending time with carers who may not share the same values as the family, et etc, and grows truly "independent" of the family.

This isnt having a go at working mums. All i am saying is that life today for kids can lessen the family ties between mum and child. IMHO, I think every attempt should be made to foster "clinginess" and to overcome the "separateness" which our kids may be facing, from the family, particularly those whose parents work.

Then our kids go to school and the battle for our kids' minds really starts. The professionals take over. As a parent, i know i wont be able to help my son with "new" math or all the changes in schooling methods which have occurred since i went to school. So where does he go? A tutor, a teacher, etc. He again becomes independent of mommy. someone else takes over. Then he grows up and goes to a college 300 miles away (cause its gauche to go to a college in your own hometown right?) Then he marries, hads kids then i die.

Well, maybe not, but i want these early years to be the most loving, clingy times imaginable for me and my son. Independence is not the remit of a 1,2, or 3 year old, or even a five year old. What does "independence" really mean anyway. Is it about independence from the family?? from family values? I dont know. without his family, my son has nothing. His life is in my hands.
rant over

OP posts:
PuffTheMagicDragon · 12/03/2005 09:54

My understanding is that strong, loving, secure bonds of attachment between babies/young children and their primary carers are more likely to lead to those babies/children becoming secure, independent adults.

mamadadawahwah · 12/03/2005 10:00

I agree 100% If a child feels insecure or confused at home, what will happen in the future.

I believe there is a "chemical" bond between mother and child too. That bond needs to be updated constantly with positive energy. I have seen kids who i would describe as "unloved". Dry hair, bags under the eyes from lack of sleep and hyper. basically they are neglected. They certainly arent independent. question is where do you draw a line if you go down this road with little ones.

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Cam · 12/03/2005 10:07

You seem to feel very strongly about this issue mmddww, and I know what you are trying to say, but IME children strike out constantly for inedependence themselves. Even at the age of two children realise that they are a separate being and have strong determination to do things their way. I think you may be slightly confusing the issues of safety and independence. Instincts to keep our children safe are xetremely strong but I feel have to be balanced with letting go in tiny amounts when the child wants it.

mamadadawahwah · 12/03/2005 10:09

Of course, and I didnt say to "thwart" this in children, just not to inculcate "independence" on purpose with young children. Yes i do feel strongly about it, ??

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colditzmum · 12/03/2005 10:15

I too hate to see people pushing small children and babies into independance. I know a women who refused to hold her baby's bottle after 5 months old.

"You're a big boy, you can do it yourself"

No he can't, love, he really can't, I know you're tired, but that doesn't mean he should be doing things like that himself!

Socci · 12/03/2005 10:18

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TwinSetAndPearls · 12/03/2005 19:04

I am in no hurry for my dd to be independent - although I would like to be able to go the toilet on my own, don't think I have managed it during daylight hours for three years now!

It struck me from birth with my daughter how mothers are pressured (often from health and childcare professionals) to push their children into independence. I was criticised by health professionals for carrying my daughter in a sling while I got on with chores rather than leaving her in a crib or a chair. I was warned she woud grow too dependenet upon me - how can a baby of a few weeks be too independent???

If mothers are happy and can cope with supposedly "clingy" children or they enjoy carrying babies around what is the problem?

My daughter now swings from very independent "let me do it myself" is a favourite phrase, she quite happily toddles along to pre school but other times needs lots of cuddles, or someone to cuddle up to in bed. i feel this is right.

megandsoph · 12/03/2005 19:29

I completely agree,
An old friend I used to have would alwys compare her child to mine which used to upset me from things like learning to walk, eat on their own etc I felt pressured to keep up with her and was absolutley gutted when at 18 mth DD1 didn't seem interested in me I used to actually think she didn't like me So when DD2 came along and old friend was no longer around I just cherished all the cooing and sitting (Not yet crawling)stages as much as possible and managed as DD1 got older to get into her feelings more and now she won't let mummy go. I'm a working single mum and it kills leaving but a better income is need but yup totally agree.

fisil · 12/03/2005 19:44

I like it when ds goes off and is independent, mainly because he is such a quiet toddler. He has never run away and had to be chased like many crawlers/toddlers do, and he likes to sit with me & friends & chat rather than running around being boysterous like the other toddlers. If he develops into a little boy who is "quiet but confident" I will be happy. Because he can be quiet, though, I do worry that he will be shy or picked on etc. - so the independence is important to me. But I don't like the idea of "pushing it", like making a baby hold their own bottle, etc. - I hope I'm not like that (better keep an eye on myself!)

samwifewithkid · 12/03/2005 20:03

I agree with you mmddww. I think that its the parents that aren't really a fan of having dependant babies tied to their legs that are the worst. All they seem to want to do is palm the kids off and go back to work, then they want to get them into school and out from under their feet. If you don't want children, then you shouldn't have them in the first place! I am holding my dd back from preschool until she is 3 as I have a new dd coming along and it is bad timing to send her off. I am now really glad I am, as I sat in on a session and realised how young they really are at 2 yrs 9 mths to be starting in the whole school system. We can just spend the whole summer enjoying ourselves with the new baby and she can go for some fun in September when it is getting cold and boring again.

WestCountryLass · 12/03/2005 21:16

Mamadadawahwah, I am of the attachment parenting mindset so I am with you on this one

ionesmum · 12/03/2005 21:27

Great thread!

My dd1 was very 'clingy' or, as I prefer to put it, attached. I spent hours and hours at all times of the night holding her because if I left her she'd go ballistic. The professional advice was to let her cry, but I knew that was wrong fo rher. Now she's three and is very independent entirely of her own choosing. She does go to pre-school for two mornings a week and literally doesn't look back at me; lots of other children there cry and their mums dash out of the door to the gym or wherever with barely a backward glance. They are small for such a short time, if dd was unhappy I'd have her back home like a shot.

I now have dd2 who is more independent at night but needs me more by day, so they're all different.

I want our dds to start school at five but their school wants them in at four. I want to hold back but dh is worried they'll miss out on making friends. They won't even be able to do half days. I'd home-ed if dh would agree.

In the Next catalogue they have jeans with 'Angel' written across the bum for three year olds The end product of all this pushing tinies to grow up to soon is the nine-year-olds wearing thongs and the twelve year-olds getting pregnant.

nightowl · 12/03/2005 21:40

not joining this thread to start a fight at all but i disagree with swwk. i am one of those mums who next week will be palming my baby off on nursery and going back to work part time. i think its going to differ with every situation but i dont see anything wrong with a certain level of independance. my daughter is very clingy. for the first year of her life she has spent all day, every day in the house with me. i am a single parent and the extent of my contact with adults is chatting here on mn. i can go days without seeing a soul. ive had depression and i feel i need to go back to work for my own sanity if nothing else. i know this will work out better for us. if im happier then my kids will be happier, i will appreciate them more. if dd stops being so clingy (which i hope nursery will help), then i will be able to spend time with her brother too and not just be tied to her every second. since she was born hes felt pushed out, which i try so hard not to do but his sister is so demanding ive had no choice. they will also have a cleaner house to live in when i can actually get to do some housework without a child on my leg. theres many reasons why i think this will be better for us. at present i dont think our situation is healthy for any of us. i love my children more than anything but i need something else in my life to be able to function properly. i would never push them into doing anything "too early" but i dont feel guilty about going back to work, not at all.

flashingnose · 12/03/2005 21:44

There's a difference between pushing and encouraging contact with others though, wouldn't you say? I don't think me wanting my children to be friendly to other people and not permanently attached to my leg means I want to see them in a thong at 9??

Great post nightowl, BTW.

coppertop · 12/03/2005 21:49

I don't agree that leaving a child with responsible adults is trying to make them independent at an early age. Personally I was really pleased when I discovered that ds1 had realised that he could also approach other adults if he needed help. I don't feel that this "threatened his attachment" to me in any way. I also love the fact that he has a good relationship at school with his teacher, his LSA and the other members of staff that he sees regularly.

FWIW my ds2 fits the description of having very little sleep and being pretty hyper. The pro's who see him all agree that he is far from neglected.

ionesmum · 12/03/2005 22:04

flashingnose, that's not what I'm saying! It's one thing to foster independence (which is healthy - as I said I do leave my dd with other adults) and quite another to force children into situations that are not right for their age or temperament. Why should a child have to be a 'big' boy or girl before they are ready?

flashingnose · 12/03/2005 22:05


ionesmum · 12/03/2005 22:06
flashingnose · 12/03/2005 22:08
ionesmum · 12/03/2005 22:15

Don't worry, I guess it does sound a bit barking . I know the point I'm trying to make but it isn't coming out very well!

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