Dear Dr. Norquist:
I am a 19 year-old mother with a three-month-old daughter. I have yet to go without her since she was born because I am nursing. My mother and sister and my friends have started telling me that staying with her all the time is not healthy for either my daughter or for me. But I do not feel any need or desire to leave her. I will be starting college in the winter and I’m sure I will have a hard time leaving her. I do trust my babysitter so I don’t think that leaving her to go to classes will be overwhelming.
Is it really unhealthy to stay with my daughter all day?
Dr. Norquist responds:
From the moment our children are born, they embark upon a journey of separation. It is the nature of the life force that drives us all to be continuously evolving. The first few months after birth can be incredibly fulfilling – just having this other being who completes you. Winnicott, a British psychiatrist, used to say that there is no such thing as a baby; there is only the mother-baby unit. It is natural to want to be with your baby all the time. Recognize however, that this must gradually change. She will need – for her own emotional health – to feel comfortable in the world when you are not with her, just as you need to learn to separate from her and feel whole again on your own. Help her to experience the world as a safe place, even if you are gone for a few hours. If you feel comfortable leaving her for a few hours, she will learn to feel the same. You will grow immensely from the experience of being her mother. Enjoy!
Dear Dr. Norquist:
I have been married for four years. My husband and I still argue about a lot of things, especially money. Both of us work outside the house but my husband earns twice as much as I do. When we were first married, my husband used to pay all our bills, while my salary went to our savings account, after I paid my personal bills. Recently he has been demanding that I pay half of all our bills. I do think that it is important in a marriage for both parties to help out with expenses, but my husband doesn’t tell me where his money is going. I don’t know anything about his finances. How can I help resolve this?
Dr. Norquist responds:
It is reasonable for you to ask for an explanation as to why your husband wishes to change the way the two of you handle the finances in the relationship. His actions suggest that he is not acting as a "team member" in the marriage (at least in this situation). He appears to be solely considering his own needs. You are husband and wife, not roommates. Together you need to work out a financial plan that will move you forward toward your joint goals and dreams. He is withholding information from you. I do not see any reason to agree to this change unless the two of you sit down and talk about it and decide together to make this change, because it appears to be the best thing for the relationship. He needs to come forward with more information explaining the reason for his request.
(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling and Stress Management Center, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.)
Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling and Stress Management Center, 51 Newark St., Suite 205, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanya.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax at (201) 656-4700. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding and treating physical symptoms and health-related concerns. Practitioners of the following techniques are available to answer your questions: psychology, acupuncture, therapeutic and neuromuscular massage, yoga, meditation, spiritual & transpersonal psychology, Art Therapy, reflexology, Reiki, Cranial Sacral Therapy, Alexander Technique, and Jin Shin Do. Ó 2000 Chaitanya Counseling and Stress Management Center