Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Daughter Becoming Less Attached?

The Question:

Hi Jane

I'm glad I came across your blog and I read it all up immediately. It was reassuring to know that what I feel is completely normal and I also got loads of information and much needed advice.

A little about me - I live in India and I have a 3 year old daughter whom I love to death. I am a full time working mom (work from 7AM to 7PM), feel terribly guilty everyday when I leave home to work.My Husband and I live with my parents, so my parents look after my girl while I am out. I am so lucky, they take care of her better than I do and I dont have to worry a bit about her :)

I resumed work after she turned 1 and we both went through difficult times adjusting and getting used to being without each other.Slowly it became a routine and she was fine when I was at work. The time that I spent at home (Evenings and weekends), she would cling onto me, want me to do everything for her, play with her, she would cry if i went out without her...I just loved it. Everything was so perfect. I mean, a working mother's biggest fear is that her child will not need her anymore. But that was not the case with me and my other friends who worked quite envied me.

Of late ( last 3 weeks to be precise), my daughter does not need me as much as used to. She is ok with anyone handling her (feeding, taking her to the bathroom, changing clothes etc). there are times she runs to my mother for things that earlier she wanted only me to do. No matter what she always wanted me to sleep with at night. But now she snuggles up to her dad while I lay down alone wishing for her. I HATE the fact that she does not need me anymore. Its not that she wants to be independent or something, its just that earlier whatever she wanted only me to do, she is now Ok with anyone doing it. She is a sweet little girl, she is lucky to have both sets of grandparents around who absolutely adore her. This time when we went for the weekly visit to my in-Laws place, she wanted my MIL to do everything for her. I am sad and feel like any other member in the house. I used to feel so special when she wanted me always and now it does not matter whether I am around. She is just happy with who ever is there. I feel so terrible, but i cannot think of quitting my job as I cannot afford it right now.

There have been such phases earlier but did not last for more than 2 days.I am so low and sad. I want my daughter to need and want me..

The Answer:
Dear friend,

I really feel your sadness and I’m so sorry for your situation.  I’m guessing that your daughter is pulling away for two reasons.  First, she is getting a bit older and more independent in general, and second, she is accepting the truth of her life.  You are a person that she sees for only a few hours each day.   I believe that children always have a special bond with their mother and a longing to be near them.  I think she misses you a great deal.  But she has learned to accept her life and she is very blessed to be surrounded by so many people who love her.  When you think about it, you wouldn’t want your daughter to be so devoted to you that her everyday life was continually sad and miserable.

 Is there any hope of changing your situation?  These years with you are precious and passing quickly.  If not, you’ll have to accept the fact that your daughter needs to divide her affection.  If she senses that her love for others hurts you, it will be unfair and confusing.  She’s just a wonderful little girl—functioning in the life she’s been given.

I really feel your love for your daughter and that you don’t like your situation.  I hope it can change and you can be with her more of the time.

With Love,



  1. I went back to work when my daughter was 2 weeks old, and was barely able to quit when she was 6. Up until that point, she never knew anything other than daycare during the day and mom in the evening. I went through the same thing with her, and I have a bit of advice.

    First, try to find some joy in the fact that she can adjust so well. Her life is going to be so much easier as she gets older while she tries to adjust to moves, new schools, and new friends. I know it feels like she's forgotten about you, but she is learning a valuable life lesson right now.

    Second, remember how many people she has in her life right now who love her. Sometimes it's hard for a 3-year-old to spread their love that far, so it goes to the ones they see the most. It's hard to deal with some days, but it's part of life.

    Know that as an adult, she will recognize that you did whatever you had to in order to make sure that her needs were met, even though it's hard for you.

    I tried to find something that I could do with her, just mom and daughter time, every day. Those few hours you have with her are precious, so try to take advantage of it. Even if you're not meeting her obvious needs because everyone else is already taking care of it, there are so many things you can still do.

    When I didn't work until later in the day, I would get her up before I got my son up, and we would eat breakfast together and just visit. I would spend an extra long time doing her hair in the mornings. I made sure that I was the one to read her a book before bed every night. She always helped me bake cookies on the weekend. And on my days off, I would just shut my phone off and focus on the kids for the day.

    Making this effort helps them to know how important they still are to you, and it makes it easier for them to show their affection back.

    Good luck... I promise things get easier as they get older.

  2. I am a working mom too. Its hard. You feel guilty. Just remember you love your daughter. You will do anything you can to help her. My daughter has had times where she has been super close to her grandmothers and I have felt totally left out. She started calling one of them "MA" and it almost broke my heart. What I did was had her call her abuela in Spanish (B/C my husband is Nicaraguan)She now calls her grandma and it is getting better. Cherish the time you get to spend with her. Love her and don't spend the time you get to be with her feeling guilty. I know how hard this is as a mom who feels horrible about leaving to go to work. Enjoy your job. Its what you need to do right now. It wont always be that way. Enjoy your child. She loves you. She knows you. As you get older she will realize that you did what you had to do to help your family. I have really had to pray for strength and understanding to be able to be a working mom. Honestly it is hard. Don't discount the things you do for your daughter. Plus also kids gain independence as they get older and it isn't always a bad thing. She still needs you she just needs a chance to test boundaries and explore her own abilities too.

  3. I don't know if this will make you feel better, but my daughter does this and I'm a stay-at-home mom. I think it might be part of the age. If there is ANYONE available besides me, she'd rather sit on their lap, have them read her a story, have them hold her hand when we go for a walk. Then she cries hysterically when they leave. This makes it sound like I'm a terrible mom she just wants to get away from. ;) But honestly, I think she just gets tired of me being the only person around.


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