Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The Gentle Removal of Blankies, Pacifiers, Cuddle Toys and Special Bears


On a mother's Q&A forum recently I wrote:

I am confused at the people who give children a comfort object to avoid needing a person to comfort the child, only to take the object away when the parent decides it's inappropriate.

If you know you're going to take it away, why give it in the first place? Just wonderin'...

While I comfort myself with the thought that I can influence the whole world so much that I can stop parents from ever compelling a child to attach to an object--any object--instead of a person, I do live in the real world. Lots of people have already got kids attached to things. Avoid it if it is still possible, but if you are already here, recriminations are pointless and now parents only have the power to fix it, not undo it. As Terry Prachett quips: what has happened tends to stay happened.

I have a friend who is still angry, confused and bitter about a stuffed bear her dad discarded. This may seem frivolous --why would a grown woman hold onto such a trivial issue? Well, I think the primary reason is what the object meant.

The bear (pillow, blanket, stuffy, cuddle toy, pacifier) was this woman's mother-substitute. The bear was there when mother wasn't, reliable and consistent, available and held together from the long-ago magic of childhood and desperate need.

Dad, to the still-three-year-old part of this woman's existence, threw out her mother.

I say this in the hopes that parents will understand what they're asking their children to give up and perhaps pause before acting out of impatience, a sense of incompetence, or the unfairness of the child getting to keep the mother-substitute for longer than they were allowed as children.

If the object is truly a problem for the parent, the solution is not to eliminate the object but the child's need for the object. The simplest way to do this, of course, is to put a person in its place. Yes, yes, I know -- I did say 'simple', not 'easy.'
Photo used with permission, Creative Commons, attributed, non-derivative, photo: A Mother's Kiss by Edwin Dalorzo


2 comments:

  1. I got to keep my runny babbit until I was at least 30 and possibly even older. LOL!

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  2. I'm loving reading through your blog, what you say makes so much sense. I need to figure out how to deal with the guilt though of constantly thinking "Why didn't I know and see this when my kids were actually little". Gotta keep trusting that keeping on doing my best with my current knowing is going to be enough....

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