Mother: “Our son is 21 months old. Since he was five months old, he has been going to a ‘Tagesmutter’ (host mother) four days a week. We live in Germany. There are nine other children at the shelter, and two childminders. Until he was nine months old, I came every day to breastfeed, at least I had a moment of contact with him. Since this month I have a new job, where I work five days a week and my son goes to daycare full-time. I struggle with that. Will it harm our bond if he goes to daycare for five days? Will the bond between the Tagesmutter and him become stronger than ours? What does not help is that my son runs into the arms of the Tagesmutter after entering the shelter. If I’m lucky, I’ll get another kiss before his attention is elsewhere. Fortunately, he is very happy when my friend or I come to pick him up, and we have a good, close relationship with him, but it still stings.”
Carolina de Weerth: “From the child’s point of view, I don’t think much is going on here. The fact that he is running towards the host mother is a good indication that he is having a good time. The fact that he is then happy to see his parents is also a good sign.
“We know that young children can bond with more adults than just the parents, and that certainly doesn’t have to deteriorate the bond between you and them. In fact, it can boost a child’s development if they have several adults to learn from. In addition, there are other children at the shelter, which allows him to practice social skills such as waiting his turn.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this construction for him, but it might be for you, and that’s where the risk lies. If you become unhappy because of the lack, if you become jealous of the bond with the host and start competing with her, or if you overcompensate at home, your child will feel it. Children are like sponges.
“The best thing that can happen to a child is happy parents. So take a good look at whether working five days is also the best solution for you.”
Do not worry
Bass Delivery: “You don’t have to worry that your child will love the host mother more than you do. You remain the constant factor in the story, your son will really come back to you.
“And don’t be fooled by your child’s preferences: children will always have a parent or a grandfather or grandmother who they like better than the other. That can also change and they sometimes play that out a bit.
“At one time, childcare was mainly considered a problem because it was thought that a child could not bond with more than one adult. Today, very often in their young lives, children have to say goodbye to an adult by whom they know that they have been formed with great love. That is really sad. After you say goodbye, visit him again. At some point, the lack of that special person in a child’s life will disappear by itself.”