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My Overly Affectionate Son

Question and answer details
Eva
2010/01/19
My 6 year old son is very attached to me (being his mother). He tells me often that he loves me, he hugs me a lot, and when he's tired he wants to lie next to me until he falls asleep. I am grateful of course for this – al hamdu Lillah - but I'm worried that maybe he's too attached to me, and if I should try to put an end to this. He doesn't want to sleep in his own room and thus sleeps in my bed (my husband falls asleep in front of the TV and sleeps on the sofa all night). He [my son] says that there are monsters in his room, and I don't want to force him to sleep there.  We haven't lived in this place for long, we moved here a couple of months ago, and in our former apartment, which was much smaller, he didn't even have a room of his own. He's always been a careful person, a bit shy, and was clingy as a baby as well. So I've always thought that the best I could do is to give him lots of love and attention to boost his self-confidence - but I don't want him to became a "nerd" because he might be bullied at school. Also, when I was a child I was very clingy to my father and I loved him so much. When he passed away due to cancer when I was only 17 I was devastated, and I don't want this to happen to my son. I was bullied at school too... I'm also scared that he might become feminine (he's always been very boyish though). I just want him to grow into a strong and confident person! Another thing that worries me is that I feel very lonely. I have no friends and the relationship with my family and in-laws is not good. I often feel depressed which makes it even harder for me to be sociable. I'm afraid that my son may sense that I'm sad, and that he tries to comfort me. I don't want that, I want to be a perfect Mum to him! My husband is very fond of him too of course, but it's always been me who takes on most of the responsibility. I guess what I want to know is if my son is a normal 6-year old or am I parenting him in a wrong way? Maybe I should give it a little time and see if he becomes more independent!?
Mohamed Wadeed Gouda
Answer
My dear sister,

  

As a matter of fact your detailed question is very significant because it sheds lights on several misconceptions that I believe some parents have in mind.

 

Some parents become overly cautious during their journey of parenting because they have been through an unpleasant experience, therefore, they try to help their children to avoid going through the same experience(s) even if there is no symptoms or indications to the possibility that their child is about to face what is such a hypothetical issue.

  

This is one of the issues we need to avoid when we raise our children because they are not us, and we are not them, which will make it harder on us and on our kids as well. Furthermore, it will probably prevent us from seeing some other actual problems that are facing our children. Or we may underestimate those other issues because we did not have hard times dealing with them when we were young. In both cases we are still using our own lenses in the upbringing of our children!! I strongly believe that we need to start to know more about the real world of our children and let their actual issue to concern us.

  

In your case you were worried about what happened to you when your beloved father passed away, and you are trying to protect your child from going through the same dilemma if he is not with you for any reason to the extent that you wonder if you have to put an end his attachment to you.

  

Of course, you should not be thinking about putting an end to this beautiful relationship that you and your son are enjoying together; yet, you should add more ingredients to make it such a fruitful one.  You should always, make sure he is independent, and able to survive in wilderness without ever compromising this attachment. As a matter of fact this attachment will be a great asset you can utilize to secure that your son deals with the world with the confidence that you are there for him, and that you will never let him down.

  

The circumstances of your former home explain a lot of those fears that your son has towards his room, and finding that he has to sleep all by himself in there. As you said the former home was smaller, and he did not even have a room. Obviously, he will be afraid to be all by himself in a room. It is not his room yet, as he does not use it, so let’s I help him to make it his room first.

  

I would like you to spend most of your time with him in his room, trying to get him used to it. Actually, sleep with him for couple of nights on his bed, and gradually start to explain to him that you will be sleeping with dad in the master bedroom, “Mom and Dad are always there for you, if you need anything, just call us and we will come right to you”. So in case, he does not feel secure in his room in the beginning – which is very likely to happen- do not let him come to join your bedroom. Make him feel secure in his own room by making yourself accessible to him, and by doing things together in his room.

 

Furthermore, having siblings will help your child to be more social, and to be attached to other parties in his life. So that is something you may want to consider.

 

Another misconception may occur in the journey of parenting is when we intentionally or unintentionally communicate to our children some unreal messages in an attempt to seek perfection.

 

We do this when we communicate to them that perfect moms/dads are so strong and they do not need to be comforted, or when we communicate to them that good people do not make mistakes.

 

Communicating such unreal messages will make our children very confused, and it will put them through unneeded mental/emotional conflicts. On the one hand they would like to meet their parents’ expectations, but on the other hand they cannot because it is inapplicable. So, instead of teaching them how to repent after doing the mistake, they end up feeling entrapped at the stage of blaming themselves after each mistake, and they do not know where to go from there.

 

In some cases, the child may try to avoid admitting their mistakes and they become argumentative just for the sake of being good, because we taught them that good people do not make mistakes.

 

In your case, I do not believe that you should prevent yourself from enjoying your child comforting you when he feels from you the need. His comforting you is going to teach him that relationships are about give and take, and where he cares for whom he is attached to. It will never make you imperfect by any means.

 

Finally, I would like to emphasize the importance of Dads being very much involved in most of the details of the journey of parenting. They cannot just be very fond of their children, though they may be not as involved. One sentence really caught my attention in your question when you said “… my husband falls asleep in front of the TV and sleeps on the sofa all night” I  strongly believe that both of you should be together even if your child is sleeping with you in the same bed. Together you should find solutions for your own issues.

 

In the end, as far as your question tells me about your child, I can tell you that you are have an adorable child. May God bless him.

 

For further guidance, please try the following link(s):

The Family Bed in Islam

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