One of our favorite teachers, ‘B’, is leaving our daycare. Next week, my youngest daughter will have a new teacher in her room. We are all extremely sad about this. My youngest daughter had a more difficult time adjusting to drop offs, and only when she formed a strong bond with ‘B’ did things get easier. My youngest still occasionally has a hard time at drop off, and is usually comforted when she is scooped up and snuggled by ‘B’.  It is hard to prepare a nineteen month old for change. I have tried explaining to her that she is going to have a new teacher, but the concept is not sticking, and she probably will not understand it until she has to endure several drop offs without her ‘B’. Lucky for us, the second classroom teacher is wonderful, snuggly, and provides lots of love to our daughter. As sad as we are, we are happy for ‘B’, as she is leaving to go back to school to pursue a different career.

As my family is about to embark upon change at our daycare, I think about how fortunate we are to have such wonderful ladies helping to take care of us. We love our daycare. The classroom teachers have been supportive, caring, and loving. Everyday when my daughter leaves, her teacher says goodbye and tells her, “I love you!” The teachers make a genuine attempt to bond with the children, and to be a stable and loving presence in their lives. Our providers have been attentive to our needs; have helped us to address both health and developmental issues, and have made my daughters feel both safe and loved.

As a working mother, having a daycare provider that you feel comfortable and secure with makes life easier. I do not have angst about how my children are being cared for. When I was first pregnant, and was questioned about my desire to return to work, I often encountered this famous stay-at-home-mother comment, “Don’t you feel weird about paying someone else to raise your child, you will miss out on all the milestones!” This comment would infuriate me! Yes, I have to pay the daycare because I don’t expect these wonderful and talented teachers to do it for free, and for the record, I have yet to miss out on a single milestone either one of my daughters have achieved. In retrospect, what I would have missed out on, should I have opted not to continue my career, are the irreplaceable bonds that my daughters have developed with other caring adults. Secondary attachment relationships, which are defined as supporting relationships with other caring adults, that are not parental in nature, are essential to childhood development.

A child psychology specialist and researcher recently stated, “Secondary attachment relations are a great asset. Children who develop three or more secondary attachment bonds (not counting parents) are usually more resilient, have higher self-esteem, and fewer mental health problems than children with fewer secondary bonds. Having close bonds with a supportive group of committed people is very reassuring and has real practical value in times of difficulty.” 

For many working moms I would imagine that daycare teachers and providers (who ever they may be) are some of the most important secondary attachment relationships for their children. I know this is the case for my family.

If you are lucky enough to have someone wonderful helping to take care of your children, helping to make your career work, and helping to make your life run more smoothly, take the time to thank them for all that they do. A nice card, thoughtful message, or small gift always makes a big impression. Or, in ‘B’s’ case…a pair of fair trade silver earrings and a sugary buttercream cake with rainbow sprinkles.

As far as my family goes, wish us luck with the big transition. We will miss ‘B’ and will always be appreciative of how much love she gave to our family. Lets hope those fabulous secondary attachment bonds that my daughter has developed helps her to be more resilient and keep her chin up during the next few weeks.

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