Smothering not Mothering!

I’m convinced some mums secretly enjoy their children being clingy. *runs for cover*

On the weekend I took my daughter to a children’s production.  It was a lovely story of a dad, with a wild imagination who got up to all kinds of mischief.

At the beginning of the play, the father is asleep on the floor, all the children were sitting on cushions up front and the actress who was playing the daughter, tried to get some of the children to come up and help wake him up.  He was snoring the house down.

I was stunned, not one single child, except my own, would go up and join in.  What the hell were they scared of and why were they so timid, their parents were within a metre of them and it was a safe, fun environment.  Sadly, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this!

This is not an opportunity for me to boast about how confident my daughter is, as this has many challenges in itself and according to research ‘kids who are so “independent” are far more likely to use drugs or alcohol, be sexually active, and have other problems’.  So I’m screwed either way really.

I’ve never been good at articulating this (maybe I shouldn’t blog) and I’ve tried to have this conversation with friends before but it didn’t go down very well, one of those lead balloon moments, maybe it was a bit too close to home.  I often see mums peeling their children off them at the school gate.  The mum’s do seem stressed, but I also get the sneaking suspicion that they like it and have a need to be needed.

Is this another result of overprotective parenting?  If so, how and why does this happen: Do mums now base their own self worth on their children’s deeds, so if the child fails they feel they have, were they insecure as a child/adult themselves, were their own parents overprotective or do they worry that if they don’t others will judge them as bad parents?  Seriously tell me why!!!

Obviously, like any parent we want to protect our children from harm but I really don’t think we’re doing our children any favours by passing on our own insecurities.  This isn’t mothering it’s smothering!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  Am I way off the mark? If you have a clingy child can you see anything that you did early on that may have caused it?  If you could do it again would you do it differently?  Do you prefer your child to be more cautious?







Author: mediocremum

A slightly older mum of one, who drinks far too much red wine and has an unhealthy obsession with her slow cooker. During the day she's an ICT Trainer, Social Media/Online Marketing consultant and does a bit of public speaking. Full Profile on Google+

15 thoughts on “Smothering not Mothering!”

  1. I’m not a helicopter parent, I find the whole concept of some parenting ideass where we literally seem to have gone mad with the mollycoddling and protecting our kids a bit bizarre. My Dad was a diplomat, posted all round the world, so from an early age (8) I was flying “unaccompanied” very happily, to places like Thailand, from school and back, so the idea that I need to be 2 feet behind my 5 year old, watching her every move etc, in the park baffles me, and I’m convinced that this new trend is making our kids insecure and clingy. I’ve seen parents, literally hovering over their kids, in the park, (aged 5+) when I’m sitting on a bench, watching from a distance, letting my kids play, only getting invloved if asked (ie to push a swing, rescue my 2 year old from a spot he’s got totally stuck in, or to toss a snack at them, apparently, according to some, I’m a neglectful! ;)
    My 5 year old would have been up there on the stage, in a shot. She talks to people, goes happily to new places, playdates, school and whilst occasionally she has a moment of “Mum, stay with me”, which is normal, for the most part, she’s independent, confident, and happy. I don’t hover, I don’t mollycoddle and she’s not clingy.
    My 2 year old has massive seperation anxiety, at the moment, which I’m finding very hard to handle, not being used to a clingy child, but we’re dealing with it, hopefully it will pass.
    I worry we’re going to have generations of kids who are scared to do anything, or go anywhere, and parents who are so anxious about their kids, it can’t be healthy?

    1. See, that is very interesting, you’re obviously not a helicopter parent, but why do you think the second is a bit more clingy. Obviously, not pointing at anything you may have done, I’m just curious. Do you think it’s possibly just her nature or just a normal developmental stage? I remember when my daughter was little other mums talked about separation anxiety about 10 months.

  2. From my experience, I think it’s to do with the child’s personality. My eldest was the shyest child ever, wouldn’t settle in play group and when he started school he was in such a state, he was trying escape that teacher had him like superman holding his waist while he was trying open the door to get out, he eventually resigned himself that he’d got to go school but then I had the school telling me he had special needs, where as I knew he was just stubborn and had decided, you can bring me here everyday but you can’t make me do anything, which after we moved and he changed schools he was much happier and eventually left school with a mix of A & B’s in his gcse’s. Where as my youngest walked in nursery didn’t even take off his coat and was off playing with the other children and is always talking to people in town.

    1. My mum and I often joke about 1st born children, you’d have to meet my older sister to understand. But do you think we tend to be more nervous with our first children? I see huge differences in my friends kids and can’t help thinking it’s because they are more relaxed with the second?

      1. Yes and I also think the second child already has another child there to learn from whereas first children tend to be surrounded by adults.

  3. My second was also very clingy until 18 months and I’ll admit I secretly enjoyed it a little bit as my 1st was anybodys! One theory is that it was because I carried her everywhere in a sling as it was easier. she obviously got v attached to it cos she still sleeps with it now aged 5. The transformation from clingy to independent was so lovely to watch though,she’s now incredibly out going!

    1. Bless her. That’s not much different than a blankie. Glad to hear she’s developed into an independent little soul. Thanks for your honesty.

  4. My 2nd is a boy, and we think it’s more a personality thing with him, because he’s confident in many areas, and goes happpily to a childminder, but is clingy to me, when he’s with me, and will only let me do things for him, when hubby is around etc. From what I gather is a normal thing for boys, particularly, and he’ll grow out of it. I don’t do anything differently, and gently try to encourage him to cope, just seems to be him. He also is an appalling sleeper and also is quite emotionally charged, whereas my daughter is more laid back. Kids are so different.

    1. My sister and I are like chalk and cheese. I find it fascinating how different offspring can be. Must be an argument for nature. :-)

  5. I have a four yr old whos not the least bit clingy,he always pushes himself up the front, I’ve never had a problem with nursery/school drop off or leaving him at party’s, but a lot if his friends are a nightmare, there mums literally don’t ever leave them at a party and always have tears etc at drop offs, I’m glad he’s not a cling on child I love that he’s indepedant.

    On the other hand I have an 18month who is a clingy/wingy baby, I’m trying my best for him not to be, because it does them no favours I don’t think, he’s started s crèche 1hr a time 3 days a week, and my god the difference, he started with the tears and I just used to go wait outside and he would literally be fine after a few mins,
    I do think my friends who have the cling on kids do kinda like the fact that they are needed constantly by there children x

  6. I don’t think it’s that simple. I am overprotective in terms of stranger danger, but GG is over confident in almost everything and I’ve never had problems with her in leaving her at school and nursery. But she did go through a phase of not wanting to join in, because she was unsure of herself in peer group situations.
    Now the Bug is the opposite, we did have a clingy phase, and I smiled, hugged, and walked away every morning – hard as it was – until it stopped.
    Both of them would be happy to go on stage – in fact GG courts that kind of attention – but they are very different characters, and I think most children will go through phases of insecurity about where they fit in new situations, and it just takes time for them to find their feet.

  7. Mine are confident and very good at being left with other people (that they know) mostly because they have been in childcare since around 3 months when I went back to work… is it a good thing, well yes and no but at least they get to go and join in with things rather than cling to my legs at parties

  8. Hmm this is a difficult topic – I know because I’ve tried to broach it with my friends before. We hired a professional photographer to take some pictures of all the NCT kids the other week and most of them refused to have their picture taken without their mum. It was pathetic. And I agree – the mums were loving it…

  9. Well my 2 are 20 and 18 now, but would say they were always able to separate from me without issues. My daughter did once try it on when I left her at nursery after she had seen how much attention the clingy, whingey children were getting, but as I knew she was in a safe environment, I just left her with the teacher and then caught a quick glimse of her – perfectly happy – through the window as I went.

    I do think a lot of parents do like to feel “needed” and almost encourage their children’s behaviour. I was a stay at home mum, but took my children to parent and toddler groups from the time they were babies, so they were confident in a variety of places and with other people around. When the time came for them to stay at playgroup without me, they just took it in their stride.

    When I worked in playgroups myself, some parents would “prolong the agony” of leaving their children, or stand outside the building where their children could see them and then get upset if the child wasn’t settling or, in some cases when they were settling!!

    Strangely, I think I felt more anxious watching my daughter walk to secondary school on her own for the first time, than I did leaving her at
    playgroup, but as parents we are supposed to prepare our children for eventual independence and we have to do it in many small steps from the time they are babies really.

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