What's YOUR Role?
There also may be times when you find yourself questioning your special place in your child's life. You might, for example, find that when you arrive at childcare at the end of the day, your daughter refuses to look at you or clings to her caregiver while communicating through her actions or words, "I want to stay here!"
While this may feel awful, it doesn't mean your daughter loves her caregiver more than you. More likely, your kid is trying to tell you, "I'm having such a good time here. I need a little time to get used to the idea that I have to go, and I need some help saying goodbye."
The Pros of Care Providers
Keep in mind there are wonderful aspects of sharing the care of your child with others. She learns new and different things from developing close relationships with others. These bonding experiences also help prepare her for a future time when she will have to trust and cooperate with other adults, such as teachers.
Plus, childcare providers also can be wonderful parenting partners. They know a lot about your child. Rather than being threatened by their knowledge, try to see it as a valuable gift. You can share the different ways you each have developed to soothe her; what her likes and dislikes are; how she gets along with the other children, and so forth.
My own child's caregiver offered wisdom from her 20 years of working with infants to help me as I struggled to establish a nap schedule for my 6-month-old daughter. She also offered much-appreciated support and empathy when we both shared stories of what an iron will my daughter displayed in her determination not to nap.
In the end, that strong relationship with my daughter's childcare provider enhanced my relationship with my daughter. Your childcare experience can do the same for you.
Claire Lerner, LCSW, is a child development specialist at Zero to Three, a national nonprofit promoting the healthy development of babies and toddlers (zerotothree.org).
Originally published in American Baby magazine, September 2005.