Many children go through a stage when they strongly prefer one parent to every other person in the world. One common pattern is for them to noticeably prefer their mothers during the later part of the first year. The greatest intensity of this typically lasts approximately one month (up to several months.)
During this normal, but very taxing period, you may want to consider ways that your family can adjust their life style:
- Adjust your expectations for how much mom can get done during the periods she is alone with her child. Use this time to build an even stronger relationship between mother and child.
- If necessary adjust the family dinnertime so the family can work together to prepare the meal and care for baby.
- Give mom some time each day without baby so she can recharge and she can have a little time to do the things she needs and wants to do.
- Decline invitations to events that don’t fit your family’s current needs. If you really want or need to go to the event, consider hiring a babysitter for the evening. As long as parents are spending focused time with their baby, it’s okay to get a sitter occasionally in the evening, even if their child is in childcare during the day.
- It’s okay to let baby cry some. Mothers can trust their maternal instincts. If mom would rather adjust what she is doing and pick her baby up, its fine to do so. At those other moments when a mother’s deep desire is to get something accomplished, it’s okay to let baby cry. When a mother listens to her deepest desires, and acts accordingly, she will learn that she loves her child intensely and that other people have needs too.
- When your baby starts to cry, breathe deeply, remind yourself that this is only a phase, and think about the parts of being a mother that you enjoy the most!
Often after children outgrow this stage, they will prefer their fathers to everyone else on the face of the earth. Of course, this brings another round of joys and challenges!
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