Removing the Static Cling of Separation

by on January 7th, 2015
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Quite often, my wife and I long for the baby days when our son never wanted to be away from us for even the shortest time. Very soon, our son will enter his teen years, a time in which many kids seem as if want to get away from their parents. We pray that he will still want us around him and his friends. This coming time reminds us of the difficulty that we originally had when we had to drop him off at daycare when he became old enough (soon after his first birthday) to notice that we were leaving him behind. Even though I was on the same campus the entire day, to him it seemed as if we were both a million miles away.

The daycare workers’ prediction

The daycare workers told us that most babies cling to their parents at this age. They cannot let Mommy and Daddy drop them off and leave. They would physically cling to their parents’ legs and give the saddest tear-filled looks. Surely, though, our son would not cling; he knew that Daddy was still nearby and could come instantly when needed. Therefore, he would gallantly salute me knowing very well that Daddy would return to bring him home to his palace at the end of the day.

The static cling

It did not work out the way I had hoped. Our son became as clingy as any other child did, maybe even more so. He would grab my leg and actually try to climb back up into my arms. He would cry as if demanding that I take him back. I admit that as a new father, I felt heartbreak at first. I did not know how to handle this separation anxiety that some had told me that I would see. I did not want to put my son through the emotional torment each day, but I had to get to my classroom. I fought it hard and ended up just having to give him to the worker and make my escape even though he sometimes screamed in protest.

How we overcame the static cling

At home, my wife had noticed that when she needed to put our son down, he would have similar emotions but on a smaller scale. At least at home, our son could still see us and come to us at will. To get him to stay where we needed him, we would put down a few of his favorite toys. That way, he could play and we could complete our household chores. Of course, we would each interact with him as not to leave him alone for too long.

We began to think of how we could do something similar when I dropped him off at daycare. We decided to ask the workers to allow me to walk in with him just enough so that he could still me. I would say my goodbye to him and let the worker take him. The worker would then find a few of his favorite toys in the room and begin to play with them. This worked out so well the first few days that we kept doing it every day with the same success.

Wisdom to use as he grows
Eventually, our son grew old enough to understand that we had to go to work and that we definitely would pick him up at the end of the day. He had the other kids to play with, which he liked. He also understood that I was on campus and could get to him easily whenever necessary. That type of emergency never has happened, but the knowledge gave our son reassurance once he could understand it. As with most other parenting qualities, getting our son over the static cling of separation took time, effort, and wisdom. We will continue to use that same type of wisdom as he approaches and grows through his teenage years.

More from this contributor:

2012 Parenting Resolutions

Learning from Parenting Mistakes

Teaching Our Son Contentment with What He Has


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