About Me


  • MoxieTopics
    Short PDF ebooks on specific parenting topics, in-depth and focused

Coaching and Workshops

Click through to Amazon.com

Moxie's reading

The 10-year-old's reading


  • MoxieTopics
    Short PDF ebooks on specific parenting topics, in-depth and focused

« Q&A: early rising | Main | Linky Lou »


A Reader

As someone who doesn't like to leave her child overnight--I can, and I have, but I don't like to--I am not so sure that if you get S. alone in your city that you'll be spending time with the person you want to spend time with. If S. is preoccupied about being away from her daughter, she's not going to be a whole lot of fun. If you're hoping to get her alone and hang out with the same girl you knew in college, I hate to tell you this but she probably doesn't exist anymore.

I'd like to relate a story to illustrate the point that even though you are her good friend, you may not know the entirety of her situation.

A friend was never allowed to spend the night at her father's parents' home. She and her sister could visit during the day, in the presence of her mother, but they were absolutely forbidden to stay overnight. She found out many years later, from a paternal aunt, that this was due to her grandfather molesting all of his daughters (they had a very large family, 10 children in all).

I'm certainly not trying to suggest that this is the case with your friend, but rather saying that you may not know the whole story about her options, regardless of how well you think you know her. Perhaps her parents refuse to babyproof, smoke around the daughter, or a million other things that S. isn't willing to compromise on.

And even though the subject of her husband's inability to handle her isn't one you're trying to address, it is possible that he becomes angry or frustrated easily, and it truly would not be possible for S. to leave him alone with her out of fear that he would snap. Another example of something that happens every day, unfortunately, and not something I'm trying to specifically pin on S.'s husband.

S.'s reality could have nothing at all to do with what I've just written, since those are extreme examples. It could be that she just doesn't want to leave her daughter, period, and that her feelings on the topic trump her friendships every time. That is definitely something that can happen when a person becomes a parent.

Cat, Galloping

I kind of think this falls under the category of MYOB. We can all speculate and make judgments about what is going on with this woman and her family, but we don't really know. You can't solve her problems by doing "tough love" and refusing to go to her city. If the timing doesn't work out for your personal reasons, that's one thing, but doing it out of a refusal to compromise seems a little mean. I'll bet she's sitting on the other side saying, they don't have kids, it's easier for them to travel, why can't they come to me?


Moxie, I really like this entry--I think you've put into words why the "AP Police" bug me so much, in a much more gentle and well-thought-out way than I've been able to. I also fall far more on the attachment side, but I have stayed "me" and need there to be a non-mother "me" in addition to the mom gig, which I love a lot.

Thaat being said, my parents have been pushing to take my 18-month-old for a night (she adores them and vice versa, and we live close by so they see her a least once a week) and I have just not been able to do it. By the time my nephew was this age, my brother and SIL, who are good parents, had been able to leave my nephew overnight at least once.

There's also a lot of judgement out there of mothers, period, no matter what they do. I have heard a lot of shitty comments directed at women who would leave their kids overnight, as if leaving a child with her grandparents or father is a terrible abandonment. It's a very outdated attirude IMO.


It's interesting that Cat and the first commenter thought I was reading the situation wrong. I wonder if I was bringing in my own feelings about mothering a preschooler into it and wondering why S wasn't feeling the same ability and desire to separate a little.

Amy, if you don't feel comfortable leaving, don't leave her. I have no beef with S not leaving her daughter with her parents (although 2 1/2 is way different from 18 months), but I am truly perplexed about the husband not being willing to be alone with the daughter and S not trusting him with her.


I'm going to throw my 2 cents in here as another way to look at it. I have a 5 year old daughter who has never been left overnight. She was very high maintenance as a baby (allergy issues made her scream and scream and scream for the first 6 months) and then we had food issues for about 6 months after that. So we never left her overnight when she was a baby because it was bad enough for a sitter during the afternoon, there was no way we were going to inflict that on some loved one in the middle of the night. Then for the next 4 years she didn't consistenly sleep thought the night, and we were all tired all the time. We didn't want to deal with her on no sleep and felt that it would be mean of us to leave her with grandparents who were used to a full nights sleep and would be exhausted just running after her durring the day.

Also, I know that my husband's parents would love to take my daughter over night (they have offered a number of times), but there is no way I would ever agree to that. My mother-in-law is overweight and has health issues that make it so she can't walk a lot and my father-in-law has had 3 heart attacks and a stroke, so he can't get around very well either. So I don't feel they would be able to care for her even though they really, really want to.

So, it may not be that S is all involved in her child and can't let go/be away from her; it may be that she doesn't wish to inflict the pain that is caring for her child on her parents.

But I do agree with Moxie on the question of why dad can't take the kid for the weekend. I went away on business for a few days when my daughter was around the same age and she was fine with her dad.

Carla Hinkle

I agree you can't really understand what is going on with S. If she won't do it, she won't do it, and you really won't ever know exactly while.

But that said, as a comporomise maybe the one-night-away suggestion is a good idea. If S. has never left her daughter over night then 2 or 3 is a lot to do all at once, especially if she is worried about the set up at home.

One suggestion you could make is for her parents and husband (or a babysitter for that matter) to tag-team the daughter while she's gone. I have left my daughter with my husband twice overnight, once at 9 months and once at 2 years, and I arranged to have the babysitter spell him for periods of time.

Anyway. I don't know what the likelihood of your being able to suggest any of these things but at the end of the day S. needs to feel comfortable to go or it just won't work.

Another Reader

My parents live 20 minutes away, we see them often, my daughter ADORES them. They are kind and caring, generous and thoughtful. But I would never leave my child with them overnight. Period. My father is a wonderful man but happens to be a high-functioning alcoholic, and my mother is an enabler who demonstrated to me repeatedly during my childhood that she doesn't know how to keep small children safe in questionable situations. I respect my parents enough that I don't need to air this dirty laundry to explain to anyone why I won't leave my daughter overnight there. To the outside world, they look like model grandparents (and in fact, they are: my father generally doesn't drink around my daughter at my request, but once 9pm rolls around, all bets are off.) I've had tons of people get in my face about why I can't just leave her with my parents for a weekend so my husband and I can have a "break." I just say things like, "We aren't comfortable leaving her," because I really don't feel like I need to share the details.

For the record, I have left my daughter overnight twice, once just before she turned 2 and once a few months later, to spend time with friends in a distant city. She stayed home with my husband during those extended weekend visits. We practice Attachment Parenting, not Attachment Mothering. If only more families did, AP wouldn't get such a bad rap.


Full disclosure: I'm a working mom, and travel on business, so I've left my kids (5 and 2) overnight with my husband plenty of times. I've also left them with various grandparents while my husband and I had some time to ourselves. And while I enjoy the time to myself, I always miss my kids terribly and am happy to get my hands back on them.

Now, about S -- if I were in her shoes, I'd obviously leave my kid and head down for the weekend, even if it was just for a day -- but I'm not her. What is obvious to me in this scenario is that, whatever her reasons for feeling this way, S is not excited about the idea of a weekend away from her daughter. I think as her friends, its incumbent on you and A to respect that message, regardless of its motivation and whether you agree with it.

One other thought is to use your friend's refusal to leave her daughter as a discussion point -- start by asking her why she feels unwilling to leave her daughter, and see if it opens up an issue that she wants to talk about. Perhaps there are issues in her marriage that she hasn't conveyed to you? And if all she says is, "no one but me can take care of her" you can just silently disapprove and make a mental note not to become all consumed by motherhood when its your turn. (Something, as Moxie aptly points out, that befalls many a new mom.)

I'm sorry that your weekend plans aren't turning out as you'd hoped. But unfortunately, I doubt there is little you can do to change your friend's mind.


This post and the comments are really interesting. I totally agree on the AP thing and I think ideally the father should be able to handle the child.

I also agree that no one can know from the outside, and the grandparent thing hits close to home. My parents look fine on the outside but there are reasons I wouldn't leave my son with them until he's much older.

But I have to say in my micro-culture of my family and my husband's family, it's unusual for parents to leave their young (under 7 yrs old) kids overnight. Either the whole family travels, or the parents stay/come home.

Going off for a girls or guys weekend just isn't that common or perceived as necessary. (Going out for an evening or a day though, totally is. As is both parents being able to "handle" the kids.)

I'm not sure how I feel about that yet but I thought it might be interesting that it's just not usual in my family for parents to leave their young kids overnight unless it's for an emergency or, rarely, work.


Sometimes mom just doesn't want to leave her kid. I probably would not have left my son as much as I have had it not been for an emergency appendectomy. I would have left him at home with his father during that except that Dad had pneumonia, so he went off to his paternal grandparents' house. I would not have left him with my mother overnight. I would have gone home and waited for my husband to recover or my appendix to rupture. I just don't trust her to keep him from falling down the stairs or getting trampled by their un-disciplined dog (and don't try to tell her about this because she'll just say I'm being "over-protective"). I would not have left him with my father and his wife either even though they have small kids at home. I don't think they are willing or able to follow instructions (yes, car seat every time). My in-laws, however, did a great job with my son and their dog behaves well. They even followed instructions that they do not personally believe (yes, put him in the port-a-crib while he's completely awake...he'll fall asleep jabbering to himself in 5 minutes).

Since you have volunteered to buy her ticket, maybe you can arrange a long day trip. I often fly out in the morning for work and make it home in time to fall into bed at night. Sometimes, I was even home early enough to nurse my son to sleep most nights (back before the whole laying down awake thing). So, a decent morning flight can have her there mid-morning. Shopping, fancy lunch, high tea, spa day, early dinner, cocktails, home for the night. It could be fun and it might be completely worth it. I doubt she'll go for it (since you say she won't even leave the house when you're in her city), but at least you gave her options and she turned you down of her own accord.


I agree that a one night compromise or a day trip would be a good alternative. I left my daughter at 18 months for one night and it was very difficult for both of us. At that time we were still co-sleeping and I was still nursing. I woke up in the middle of the night about to explode and had to hand pump into a hotel glass! lol! My daughter had a hard time sleeping that night, my mom reported, but we both survived. At 2 1/2, we had just weaned and getting her to sleep on her own. It was a big adjustment period that I would not have wanted to leave her for several nights. As other commenters have said, there could be many reasons S feels the way that she does. And, I too would feel like my husband couldn't "handle" her. Not because he is incapable, but because the way we fill roles as parents to her is kind of compartmentalized just because of our personalities and the way she relates to each of us. At 2 1/2, the "nurturing" from mama was at the forefront for my daughter. Now at 4, she's so independent, I could probably be gone for a week! Very soon, she's going to have to be at home without me for a couple of nights because I'll be at the hospital delivering our next little girl. But I'm not worried.


I wonder if A and S and the letter writer have a history of girls getaways? Like did they do this before S had her daughter? If they offered to pay S's plane ticket, is S a little cash strapped? To flip the situation around, if money were tight and my husband wanted to jaunt off on a getaway weekend, even if someone else paid the plane ticket, I'd be unhappy, because all those fun things cost money. Will they be mad if S doesn't want to hit the spa because it costs the earth? Or if she worries about the cost of drinks and dinners at fab restaurants?

I just wonder if there are more dynamics to the story than S's attachment to her child and motherhood. I think I have used the kids as an excuse to not do things that cost more than we could afford or didn't sound fun.

We've left my kids overnight with my parents many times. About once a week lately, now that they are 2 and 4.

But I don't like the solo parenting thing. My husband has had to travel for work more than he ever did before (too many times in May). And so I do have sympathy for the husband feeling overwhelmed by having his daughter alone for 3 nights. I am overwhelmed to have mine alone and ask my mom to help a lot. My husband gets along famously with my mom, but I doubt he could ask her for help the way I do. (I am open to begging :)

What a thought provoking question. I love how the way we see this letter provides a little view into our own heads. A mini personality test. Sorry to ramble on.

Nikki aka the advice seeker

It's great to see everyone's comments about this - I'm glad I decided to "ask Moxie" before calling S. I agree that there are a lot of issues that might be going on in the background. A and I have decided that for whatever reason, S just won't come - We called her and suggested that she bring her daughter along. S said my city "wasn't a safe place to bring a child" (I live in an area hit by hurricane katrina - things aren't quite back to normal but it's just as safe as it ever was). So it looks like she's just searching for excuses at this point.


I can't say what's going on with S, and nor can anyone who's not S - I understand the point Moxie makes, but I also think that it is not necessarily a sign of the Martyr Mommy syndrome if a mom does not want to leave her 2 1/2 year old for a night. Some kids really are just not ready. I don't have a 2 1/2 year old myself but I do know some well-adjusted adults (I am thinking in particular of a cousin of mine) who as children were incredibly reluctant to do sleepovers, even at grandma's house, and whose parents 'indulged' this at a lot older than 2 1/2. That was just what they needed IMO and they are not strange or clingy as an adult. I also know kids who were pushed to do sleepovers or go away to church camp younger than they were ready and it wasn't empowering, it was traumatizing. As far as the parents' side: S really may be uncomfortable leaving her daughter with her DH or the grandparents, for reasons that her friends aren't privy to. And I just have to say, from my perspective, I don't come from a family where one parent leaving the kids with the other parent overnight is at all normal. I am racking my brains to think if my mother EVER went away overnight, leaving us with our dad...she did, now that I think of it, but we were 12 and 8! We stayed with our grandparents for weeks at a time in the summer, but again, not until we were elementary-school aged. We did not stay overnight at 2 1/2. I'm also thinking in regards to S's friends that it is pretty presumptuous of them to decide FOR her that she "needs" a vacation. She might, she might not. But that is not for them to decide. Honestly, I'm a little surprised at how Moxie answered the question. Moxie, I know you're in NYC, and it seems to me (from my online interactions with NYC parents) that the ethos there is that kids should not be 'coddled' and that parents need to spend time away from them, that parents need time with their friends, without kids around. And AP is seen as as a really oppositional parenting philosophy to this general ethos and it tends to get people's backs up. But while I think AP can be criticized, and you are definitely right that AP (like anything else) can be used as a convenient shield against going outside one's personal comfort zone, I don't think that means that S is at all unreasonable, or that an overnight trip with her friends is objectively worth breaching her comfort zone for - I don't think it's a universal idea that people always "need" time alone without their children and spouse, although for many individuals it might be a real need. I hope I'm making some slight amount of sense here. I have no idea whether when my dd is 2 1/2 (she's 1 now) I will feel comfortable leaving her alone for a night while I go somewhere with friends, but I suspect not - and I'd really not like to think that this is because of any psychological weakness on my part. I have never actually gone on an overnight trip with my friends as a married adult, actually. So maybe this just seems odd to me because it is not on my radar and seems like an odd thing to "need" to do. On the other hand IF S were comfortable leaving her child for the night, I'm sure they would be fine. But it seems to me that S knows her kid and her situation best and without knowing her I certainly wouldn't conclude that there is something wrong with her for not wanting to do that. Just my opinion of course.

Num Num

I think what the advice seeker is feeling is the separation of friends from one another when their lives take different turns. This is a painful time for the three of you, but it's important, if you want to maintain your friendship at any level, to acknowledge that you have different priorities than you did when it was you three together, no husbands, no kids, perhaps even no jobs in the way.

Also, as a relatively new grandmother, I truly believe with all my heart that decisions about leaving a child with grandparents, especially if you live close, is entirely up to the parents, just as I was convinced that it was up to me when I had that responsibility. It doesn't matter if you're right or wrong by some objective standard, it's your call.


I don't think AP parenting is any more prone to leading mothers towards inappropriate self-identity issues than any other form of parenting, whether it bears a label or not.

And I think that when someone starts saying that a particular city isn't safe for her daughter, we might want to stop analyzing her mothering issues and start wondering whether there's something up with the friendship. While the mothering aspect seems reasonable based on the original information, I now wonder whether we're seeing zebras where horses graze.


Oh, also, I doubt that anyone who uses paid childcare for 3-4 days a week is especially far out on the radical fringe of AP parenting. So while I think it's interesting to consider the ways that AP parenting might enable someone to trend a particular way, it seems to me that those sorts of issues are tengential to the actual issue at hand.

Also, for parents who do fall into the profile outlined by Moxie, I would suggest that they were predisposed toward that particular set of issues from the beginning. I tend to believe that most of us seize upon the particular parenting style or book that most fits our preconceived ideas, and that the number of us who balance all the different styles and make a logical conclusion about what works best (setting aside the fact that different kids require different parenting), is small. We pick the style or set of ideas that reinforces the instincts we already had. So the woman who ends up as obsessed with "The Good Mommy" probably does pick up on AP ideas and carry them far past common sense, especially in New York City, because AP in her environment signals itself as the method likely to enable the underlying needs/impulses she unconsciously already has. But in another time and in another place (say, Minnesota in the early 1980s), it might theoretically be possible that there were women giving themselves over entirely to the concept of "The Good Mommy" (as defined here by Moxie) who practiced Ferber sleep techniques and used mild forms of corporal punishment.

I sometimes wonder whether the association of AP with wacky lunacy on many of the blogs I read has to do with the fact that few of the blog writers I read know much about the Pearls (let alone know parents who practice their ideas), or gather together often with folks who take Dodson-inspired church parenting courses on long weekends. Lunacy can be enabled by all sorts of ideas, is all I'm saying.



Did this post really come across as associating "parenting lunacy" with AP style parenting?

If so, I really needed to go back and edit.

As I stated, I myself fall on the AP side of things. If I were going to do a review of things I think are crazy and harmful in parenting, things that are considered AP wouldn't even crack the top 10.

The only reason I mentioned AP in the first place is that the only women I know who feel that their partners can't handle their children overnight are AP. And at least half the women who do AP that I know also work outside the home and use paid caregivers, so I don't necessarily think that using paid caregivers precludes using AP style parenting. I never said she was on the radical fringe. I said I think she may be using it to justify her own issues. There's a big difference.

I would hope that the reason you don't read much about the Pearls and Dobson and Ezzo is that their influence is waning, but I'd be more likely to believe that it's because the things you read are based on a more thoughtful type of parenting that rejects those influences as harmful. I try not to mention them here because I don't want to give them any more energy in the universe than they already have. I thought it was fair to mention AP because it's a group that I'm familiar with, and because it seemed to apply to the situation. If the reader had written in about someone who refused to go anywhere at a certain time of day, for example, I would have discussed rigid scheduling as a parenting problem. If someone wrote in about a friend who used punishment on an infant, I'd discuss that.

Don't put words in my mouth, please. This was not an AP-bashing entry.


Moxie, I'm sorry that those posts are so uppity. Does it help to know that my mom just left town last night? Can we say, defensive about my parenting choices much?

I didn't mean to put words in your mouth. I do think your points about AP are in keeping with many, many posts about AP parenting in most of the mainstream mommy blogs. I was writing with that mainstream evaluation in mind, not your words in particular. I needed to make that more clear.

There's a whole trend toward "I'm not an AP parent" that strikes me as very much in keeping with the "I"m not a feminist" as a way of distancing one's self from fringe behaviors. I confess, both of those moves push my buttons. They seem to define AP and feminism in terms of their fringe problems rather than their beneficial agendas, however inadvertently.

But I really, REALLY didn't want to put words in your mouth. I'm sorry.

You haven't followed enough of Selkie's homeschooling links if you think people aren't writing in defense of Ezzo and Dobson and Pearl. Not that they ALL are: Selkie has written passionately against Pearl herself. But that's precisely because he's out there in her world. And I'm not convinced in the slightest that any of their influences is waning. Babywise is a major, HUGE influence on the Triplet Connection. People regularly praise Babywise concepts as THE single best piece of advice they got when their multiples were born. Seriously.

Anyway, here's my main point: I DO know Ezzo/Pearl/Dobson mothers who don't trust the fathers enough to leave their kids with Dad. Either Dad doesn't follow the schedule/rules properly or Dad is too slack with the discipline or Dad is wrong in a hundred million other ways. There's a whole mindset out there that says Mom rules the household and Dad's an incompetent buffoon when it comes to kids, or conversely, Dad's too high and mighty to be dumped with the childcare. Sure, there are a million contradictions in those positions, but there are huge contradictions in the ideas of AP parents who won't leave their toddlers with Daddy, too.

So what's I'd want to preserve from my overly-hostile mother-issue-inflected posts is: absolutely, "the only women [you] know who feel that their partners can't handle their children overnight are AP." So you read this story and wrote some interesting stuff about AP parenting and its potential pitfalls. But that says as much about your (and my) day-to-day millieu as it does about how S may or may not mother her child. Because we just don't have the faintest idea why she won't leave her kid.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Search Ask Moxie

Sign Up For My Email Newsletter

Blah blah blah

  • My expertise is in helping people be who they want to be, with a specialty in how being a parent fits into everything else. I like people. I like parents. I think you're doing a fantastic job. The nitty-gritty of what you do with your kids is up to you, although I'm happy to post questions here to get data points of how you could try approaching different stages, because, let's face it, this shit is hard. As for me, I have two kids who sleep through the night and can tie their own shoes. I've been a married SAHM, a married freelance WAHM, a divorcing WOHM, a divorced WOHM, and now a WAHM again. I'm not buying the Mommy Wars and I'll come sit next to you no matter how you're feeding your kid. When in doubt, follow the money trail. And don't believe the hype.
Blog powered by Typepad