Parenting

Are You Training Your Baby to Push You Away Later in Life?

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Although few things are sweeter than seeing a toddler carry his favorite blanket and teddy bear, have you ever considered that by transferring his “security” to an object, you could be damaging your future relationship with him?

Before you dismiss the notion, look a little closer at some of the parenting traditions we have adopted without considering what is actually taking place.

The sheer neediness of a newborn is overwhelming — I get it. Fathers play a big role in this attachment process, but let’s look at how mothers in particular have viewed the needs of their babies. Without realizing it, we may have made some trade-offs we didn’t bargain for.

Babies are born to attach. When you think about it, newborns are more fetus-like than infants. These tiny creatures enter the world depending entirely upon their mothers.

A being as complex as the human infant needs far more than proper nourishment. Each human baby is born to connect. He needs the warmth of a mother’s skin, the rhythms of her chest, and the sound of her voice. The nurturing a mother provides establishes the foundation for a child’s emotional, moral, and mental stability for the rest of his life.

Sounds like a lot to put on the shoulders of one woman, right? Our culture of “me” often sees this need as unfair, views it as a guilt trip, or dismisses it altogether. Nevertheless, the long-term impact of a mother’s care of her infant is a scientific fact.

See the next page for two tools that may do more harm than good.

We inadvertently start training our children to detach emotionally from us—almost from birth—with tools like pacifiers and security blankets. Most of us have used one or more of these seemingly innocuous helpers without a second thought. It may not make us bad mothers, but it does give way to issues down the road that we didn’t see coming.

1. Pacifiers

The need to suckle is a matter of survival for a baby. Pacifiers do just that: they pacify a need within an infant and set the mother free for a short time. A baby pacifying at the breast, rather than gulping milk, seems like a waste of time, but it serves an important purpose. A newborn needs more than nourishment, and suckling provides emotional security. Science is just beginning to understand the secret dance that takes place between the body of the mother and her infant.

2. Security Blankets

A newborn’s primary need is to attach. However, this need can be shifted to an object when not met by a parent. While it seems to allow the baby some comfort at a time when he is afraid to be separated from his parents, the object ends up making that separation so much easier. He has transferred his need for physical closeness to his mom or dad into an unhealthy attachment to a mere object for comfort and security.

When a baby’s social and emotional needs are met, he learns empathy, trust, and intimacy through his early communication with his parents. If you don’t want your adolescent to push you away later in life, why transfer his emotional stability to something else when he is an infant?