I have been married for three years and have a son who will soon be one…. Before we had him, my plan was always to stay home with him full time, but unfortunately it hasn’t worked out that way. I work eight hours a day and then am with my baby three and a half hours. I try to spend the time playing with him, but unfortunately he is more attached to my mom and cries because he wants to stay with her.

This hurts me so much that at times I have thought about quitting my job to stay home with my son. But recently we applied for a loan to buy a house for ourselves…. I don’t know what to do, whether to dedicate myself to my home or leave the job I’ve had for the past ten years. I would like to hear your opinion.

Dear Friend,

Many women identify with the conflict that you are feeling. What makes it so controversial and difficult is that there is no moral issue involved. There is no absolute right or wrong that applies to every situation.

Obviously, many single mothers have to work outside the home to survive. They don’t have a choice, so there is nothing to decide. However, if you speak to any one of them, you will most often find that she wishes that she could be home caring for her children. So she feels conflicted even though she has no other option.

Unfortunately, many married women also have no choice. Their husbands cannot earn enough money to adequately support their family. So they as wives must work to help provide for their children. Most of these women also feel conflicted, and wish that they could have a more significant part in the day-to-day lives of their small children.

But how much income is enough? At what point is a mother working for “wants” and not “needs”? Only the mother and father can decide. They must weigh what’s good for their children against how much income is necessary.

Most child development experts agree that, to be emotionally healthy, children must form bonds with significant others in the first months and years of life. Many of these experts believe that the bond must be with the child’s mother, but recent research has not always supported this belief. Other experts believe that the child’s father, grandmother, aunt or other close relative can fulfill that need for bonding.

Even though you are distressed because your baby cries for your mother, we believe that your mother has provided your baby with the bonding experience that he has needed. It is natural that he cries for her; she is the one who has been with him the most and who has given him the most opportunity for bonding. Your child is far better off than a child who has been put in some kind of child care where there is no specific person to bond with. But would he be better off if you were with him all day long every day? Of course!

Only you and your husband can make that choice,

Linda and Charles