Am I a "Velcro daughter?"

Sunday we celebrated my dad’s 90th birthday with a big party in San Jose (You can read about it at my Unleashed in Oregon blog.) As usual, I sat with my father and my brother. Unlike most of the guests, I brought neither significant other nor children. The room was full of people I hadn’t seen in ages, and I had a great time–and the chocolate cake was fabulous–but I did notice that I was different. I was the only “Lick” in the room. And I wondered how I would behave if I had brought a husband and children. I know I would not have felt as free to wander around the room visiting relatives my marriage family would not know very well; I’d be concerned about their needs. But I worry that I might be a little bit like my dog, who is what some dog owners call a “Velcro dog.” She attaches herself to me whenever possible, doesn’t seem to be happy unless she is touching me. Have I, because I don’t have a marriage family of husband and kids, Velcroed myself to my original family, still hanging with my father and little brother? Is this weird? Or is it sweet? There’s a chapter in my soon-to-be-released book about whether childless women ever grow up.

What do you think? If you don’t have kids, are you less likely to let go of your parents and siblings? Do we ever grow up?

Is “Aunt Sue” nuts? Wait, don’t answer that. Have a great Monday.

I look forward to showing you the book cover on Thursday. The artist is tweaking it today. Childless by Marriage the ebook is coming!

2 thoughts on “Am I a "Velcro daughter?"

  1. Sue, this is a little tangential, but have you seen the Times Magazine article, “Are You Mom Enough?” It's about the “attachment parenting” craze, which is relatively new-school, and has women breastfeeding their children well past toddler age and sleeping in the same bed with them well through their elementary school years. Lots of mothers are jumping on board, claiming that it “brings them closer” to their children and curbs their “mommy guilt” when they have to be apart. As someone who has never had children, I can't speak with any authority on infant care in this respect. But I've watched my stepkids' mom practice this, and I can say for sure that it has done nothing to improve her relationship with her kids – in fact, it helped lead to the destruction of her marriage, to social problems for her children, and to some heavy resentments in her children toward her and toward their siblings.

    I guess I'm bringing this up because what I've learned is that the true hard work of parenting is facing the guilt and sadness of separation, and encouraging children to reach outwards toward others – to “feel free to wander around the room.” Just as your puppy wants to velcro herself to you, children want to velcro themselves to their parents. For puppies, that's perfectly ok. 🙂 But parents must go against their own emotional needs to help their children reach out to others. In that respect, no, I don't think you're a “velcro daughter” at all, because you do such a beautiful job of reaching out to others. Your connection to your “original family” is natural, but (from what I read in your blogs) it seems to come less out of need and more out of love and community. And in a world of “attachment parenting,” I think the childless among us play an important part in reaching out to those who have been kept tethered to their biology, to show that the world isn't so scary, and being in a room full of people who don't share our last name might in fact be comforting, too.


  2. Professor, I didn't see the article, but I did see something about it on TV. I agree with you that this uber-closeness doesn't seem like a good thing. I know adult children whose parents are still clinging to them, and frankly they're messed up, completely unable to tackle the world on their own. My parents were the opposite of Velcro parents. Their attitude was “figure it out yourself,” whether it was how to spell a word or how to find a job. It was hard, but I think it helped us become stronger adults.
    Yes, I think we childless can be helpful to those trying to swim on their own, and I'm glad to be able to do that.
    Thank you for this wise and thoughtful comment.


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