Cling a little…

I have been told that my 3 year-old daughter is ‘clingy‘ with me and, really, I took it as a compliment. What may have been intended to be criticism was received, by me, as the opposite. I guess when I send my daughter or my son off to college and they still need me to tuck them in, cut up their food, sit on my lap, accompany them in all of the activities of daily living, or wipe their bottoms…well, then we could all conclude that my children are ‘clingy’. For now, though, I am going to take comfort in knowing that it is me they cling to in order to feel the safety and security they need at this stage in both of their lives.

My job as a parent is to prepare both of my children to become the adults they will eventually be. I am not raising babies here, I am raising people in their own right. My husband and I are laying a foundation for them to stand on and there are extremely important developmental stages happening in early childhood; trust vs. mistrust, autonomy vs. shame, and initiative vs. guilt. The virtues developed in early childhood are hope, will, and industry. Anyone who has taken enough psychology in college or ever experienced a pediatric psychiatry rotation automatically recognizes these stages from Erikson’s model of developmental theory. When combined with Biblical principles, there is a map and guide that unfolds to offer more insight and understanding into what our children truly need from us.

I come from a fractured family and that fracture began before I could walk or talk. The fracture grew over the years and, combined with some tragedies and traumas, I entered adulthood carrying a massive amount of mistrust, shame, doubt, and guilt. It took a lot of meditation on scripture, exploring my own college textbooks, working it out in therapy, and contemplative soul-searching to peel back those layers of mistrust, shame, doubt, and guilt in order to lay out a more solid foundation built on faith in God.

Today, I cling to God with all of my might. I am not independent of Him, rather I am dependent on Him. My mindset today is one that strives toward positive thinking, hope, trust, joy, peace, faith, love, and kindness in spite of the adversities. I experienced attachment wounds that left me searching constantly in an attempt to relieveΒ the aches.

Over the years I would find myself clinging to people, places, or things in order to meet the needs of the safety and security I had been so desperately in need of for much of my life. Those endeavors were fruitless and brought me to a state of lifelessness. I don’t want my children to enter adulthood carrying the burden of mistrust, shame, doubt, and guilt, so I my intent is to provide the stability and sense of security that I myself once lacked.

My husband and I genuinely enjoy spending time with each other and our children. We read books together, have playtime together, have giant family hugs, and engage in projects together. We genuinely experience intimacy together as a family of four and it fills my heart up with a sense of contentment like nothing else ever has.

When you consider the state our society is in today, we probably do seem rather clingy by comparison. My husband and I are not perfect, this marriage is not perfect, and our parenting is not perfect. But, in the grand scheme of things, I think we are doing okay.

Our preschooler is at an age where she is able to take on tasks in order to feel a sense of accomplishment. Today, I let her be in charge of story time. And, well, this was the result…

Not pictured is the clean-up process as we sang the clean-up song together and talked about how we treat our belongings and put things back where they belong.

Yes, I spend a lot of time with my children. Yes, my children cling to me often. But, I am also encouraging them to share in experiences with each other, other things, and other people under my watchful eyes.

Safety and security is a basic human need that extends beyond food, shelter, and clothing. We need emotional security in order to navigate the rough terrain in the world today. I place my emotional security in God and I am going to be the one who teaches my children to do the same.

I do not smother my children with my presence, but there is truly no greater feeling in the world than when they come to me freely and want to be in my arms. I imagine God might feel the same way about us.

If that is ‘clingy’, I will take it and treasure it up in my heart.

Psalm 63:7-8
Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.

56 thoughts on “Cling a little…

  1. They also give such bad advice as “let the baby cry herself to sleep” and ” don’t you think 2 is a little old to breast feed?” Cherish knowing your child comes to you for safety and to recharge before she runs out to play. Often, well loved kids trigger not well loved adults’ own unmet needs and the adults deal with that by shaming others.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes!! You put that so well! Any unmet needs from childhood will follow us around and become that which hinders us. And, yes, all too often it triggers others to shame, blame, criticize, judge, etc. Really, it is those attachments wounds speaking (been there myself!). I like my children scanning the room to see if my eyes are on them or when they come over to me for a hug before they scoot off to play. Warm fuzzies!! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 2 people

      • Oh, yes, that is the truth. We have had speech issues with my daughter (which can come with choking incidents starting in infancy), so we were slow with solid food and used formula a while longer than the norm. I have had to do the Heimlich more times than I care to recount because of choking incidents and that has been terrifying on its own. The bottle was the safe option more often than not. Someone told me off one day and called me the laziest mother; someone who knew only my child’s age upon asking (15 months old) and saw she had a bottle. I only smiled politely and got myself to the car before I broke down and sobbed. I was a first-time mom, already questioning everything I did, and struggling with postpartum issues. People just really need to shut it and think before they speak. Words are more destructive than we realize.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ohh, don’t listen to stupid people with their own ideas of how to raise YOUR child! YOU know her better than anyone else, and the issues and remedies for them. Kuddos to you for your solutions. I don’t know why some people can be rude like that…do they ever think before they speak….no filters. Anyway, first time moms over think anything and everything. The second child is easier…hahaa.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Isn’t that a beautiful paradox? The more we cling to God, the more freedom we enjoy. And oh I wish my older daughter would be more clingy towards me, but since we’re together all day, she’s a total daddy’s girl and practically ignores me when he’s home. How do you like staying at home with the kids, JD? Have you written a post on it?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think we wrote about having similar backgrounds ‘fractured’ as you put it so well. I too wanted to be sure and give our children a sense of security. I was certainly loved by my mother, but there was that feeling of being insecure… which did cause me issues later in life…..
    I loved the pictures.. and your daughter seems to have found a book/books she enjoyed!
    Diane

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It is funny how some of us who come from less than ideal upbringings determine that we will not do the same thing to our children. I was not in any way a stellar father, but I did what I knew to do and gave my kids more than what I had in my father.
    My wife and I also knew that we were not raising children, but individuals. We embraced each stage, knowing it was prep for the next one. Now, three of our kids are parents, starting their own adventures in parenthood.
    Clinging to the Lord…the reason we can call Him Abba.
    The greatest gift we can give Him is us…with all our humanness, our issues, our struggles, our stupidities, our shortcomings, our doubts and our sins, along with our praises, victories and joyful times.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There really is something about having the drive to prevent and protect your child from your own struggles in childhood. Yes, they will have struggles of their own, because that is part of life. But, as a parent, you hope to cushion the blows and hold them off as long as humanly possible.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Love this! My youngest was also “clingy” when she was young. I didn’t push her to change, and I am so glad I didn’t. Now she is 12 and puberty is rough for her. I miss those snuggly times and, too, am clinging to God and trusting Him to bring us all through

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This reminds me of the time I was at a doctor’s appointment with my toddler, and they wouldn’t even help me or test me for anything. They said all ofmy problems were the result of a heavy, clingy toddler. *eye roll* My babies are so clingy too, and I don’t suppose it is a bad thing at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know, I have been having some of those freak-outs myself (trying to talk myself out of one right now today). Your fever, not feeling well, and a combination may have intensified it. I was worried about you and even wondered if that is how you were feeling. I think everyone on that list can relate to those raw feelings of exposure. I am so happy to see your name pop up, because I have been checking the blog daily just in case it opened up again. I am just glad to know you are here and kicking. Keep pushing! Because you are an inspiration to many yourself. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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