QUESTION: When my 4-year-old child is sleepy or hurt or hungry, he cries for the nanny he loves – even when I’m right in front of him. I’m worried my child loves the nanny more than he loves me. How do I maintain my emotional bond with my child?
BBB: Ouch! I sure can see how a child crying for his nanny and not his mommy hurts. All parents adore their kids and want to be top on the child’s hit parade. This is not a new issue for moms who work outside of the home, however. And, truth be told, it’s kind of good news-bad news.
Remember how it was when you first went back to work? It was awful and so painful to leave your baby with a caregiver, someone who was not you. How could she ever do the job, take good enough care, keep him perfectly safe and happy and love your child as much as you do? Well, it looks like she did it. The exact thing you wanted actually happened. Your child and your nanny are bonded. That is the good news. But, boy does it sting.
I want to reassure you that your child loves you with a capital L. He has known your smell, your voice, your noises and the sound of your car on the street since he was a tiny infant. There is just no one like you to him. There is no other Mommy.
I will bet you that on Sunday evenings you and he are attached at the hip. He only wants you. But by the time Friday rolls around, his nanny who has been with him all week long, helping him through the business of his daily life, is his safety. The reality is that sometimes with young children the caregiver who is there giving the lion’s share is the one to whom the young child automatically gravitates.
If you have been spending more time at the office than at home, if you are getting home only in enough time to tuck in your little guy, if mornings with you are spent rushing to get out the door to school and work, then it makes sense that it is the nanny to whom he runs.
I suggest doing everything you can to squeeze out more time with your 4-year-old during your work week. It should be time when you can enter his world and not be rushing to accomplish other household tasks. No rushing. No agenda. Just play. Just be with him.
But rest assured, your child knows that you are MOM. And while he loves his nanny, you are attached by an invisible string of love, always and forever.
Betsy Brown Braun, M.A. is a Child Development and Behavior Specialist (infants to teens), a Parent Educator, and Multiple Birth Parenting Specialist. Betsy consults with parents privately, runs parenting groups, seminars and workshops for parents, teachers, and other professionals. She is the award-winning author of the bestselling, “Just Tell Me What to Say” and “You’re Not the Boss of Me.” Betsy has been featured on the Today Show, The Early Show and Good Morning America and has been cited in Parents Magazine, Twins Magazine, Family Circle and many more. Betsy and Ray Braun, Palisades residents for 38 years, are the parents of adult triplets and have three grandchildren, so far.