Interesting SAH vs WOH observation ...

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-10-2009
Interesting SAH vs WOH observation ...
Sun, 08-15-2010 - 7:20pm

I have several friends that are very attached to their kids, in almost a *needy* way.


iVillage Member
Registered: 08-22-2009
Sun, 08-15-2010 - 7:43pm

Maybe a bit of both.

I used to post at an empty nester forum. About once a week or so someone would post about how lonely they were now that their kids have have left home, their kids were their life.

While there were more SAHMs than WOHMs making such posts it was not overwhelmingly so. The % was maybe 60/40.

I think that making someones children their life can happen to both SAHM and WOHM. There are those in both courts whose only social life is directly related to their children, so without those children they feel they have no life.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2000
Sun, 08-15-2010 - 8:06pm
ITA. I don't think it has as much to do with one's work status as it does someone choosing to have a life outside of her kids. Honestly, I think it's a personality thing.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-2009
Sun, 08-15-2010 - 9:35pm

Coincidence, I think

My kids all had parties, sleepovers, camps, this week. I was without children for 72 straight hours. DH was in England on business. I missed them all desperately for about 24 hours. Then the sun came out and I realized there were thousands of things that I love to do without them. I still missed them, but I had fun without them.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-24-2009
Sun, 08-15-2010 - 10:33pm

When one chooses to stay home, a possible risk might be loneliness, boredom, they might become hyper focused on their children, anything is possible. It's up to the individual to be aware of their needs as well as their children's need and balance the two.

I stayed home, worked at home and outside of the home. Each brought on a different challenge I needed to overcome. I would say there's a connection, but it's one a person can overcome if they choose to overcome it.

I want to add, that when I am separated from my children (or husband), I miss them and look forward to them being home. I look forward to them leaving and I am thrilled when they return.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-22-2004
Sun, 08-15-2010 - 11:01pm

I think it is more of an individual person thing.

Everyone is different and handles things different.

I think everyone needs to find a balance in their life that makes them happy.

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Avatar for mom34101
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Mon, 08-16-2010 - 12:11am

It's bad to focus on anything to the exclusion of everything else. This is similar to what I've seen with people who are overly obsessed with their jobs. They aren't well-suited to retirement because they don't have other friends or interests outside of work, whereas their spouses (often sahps) have those things in place.

I've also seen families where you'd think it would be the sahp who would have a hard time adjusting to the empty nest, but it turned out that it was the wohp who had a hard time letting go (because the wohp worked a lot and felt he/she had missed out).

I would never feel that I had "no life" without my kids, but I know I'll miss them when they're gone. I'm not one of those people who can hardly wait until the kids move out.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-05-2000
Mon, 08-16-2010 - 1:13am

I think that it's more a case of personality made worse by narrowly focusing on only one aspect of being a sahm.


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Avatar for rollmops2009
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2009
Mon, 08-16-2010 - 7:28am
I think it is unhealthy to be overly attached to your kids, but I have observed it among both SAHPs and WOHPs. As others have said it is a personality thing.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 08-22-2009
Mon, 08-16-2010 - 8:02am

In my reply to the question of connection or coincidence I replied both but I did not elaborate.

I think that one who has a tendency to be overly attached to their children would be more likely make the choice to be a SAHM if possible.

As I stated in my OP on the empty nest forum that I used to participate in the % was about 60/40 (SAH/WOH), for those that posted that they did not know what they would do without their kids, their kids were their life. The ones who worked stated things along the line of "Yeah I worked but that was just a job, my kids were my life", or "I worked because I had to, my kids were my life. If some of them had the opportunity they they would probably have been SAHM.

So I do think that their can be a connection between that personality and the want to SAH but not everyone has the option to SAH.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-24-2008
Mon, 08-16-2010 - 8:25am

I don't think they are like that because they SAH, though they might SAH because they are like that. For that reason you might find more SAHM acting that way than WOHMs, but like others have said I am certain a WOHM can be like that too.

I do not believe it is a personality thing. It's called emotional fusion or enmeshment. It comes from a lack of a fully developed sense of self, and needing something from others in order to define who one is. People can be enmeshed with their children, enmeshed with their spouse or SO, or enmeshed with their parent. Think about someone who is an awful marriage that is obviously miserable and harmful, and they want to have the power to leave but they just cannot find it. That's enmeshment. Think about the new wife ready to explode because her husband does everything his mother says, he can't go against his mother's wishes and the marriage takes whatever turn the MIL dictates. That's enmeshment. It has also been called co-dependency.

In a relationship with emotional fusion or enmeshment there is a lack of boundaries. Consequently, you see people being very fed up and frustrated in that relationship because they can't step away. If they step away they loose their identity because their identity is dependent on the person they are enmeshed with. When the person they are enmeshed with isn't there for a while, they feel "lost" because they are lost, they have lost who they are.

People who can't get close to others are in the same boat. They can't get close because they know they will lose their identity. The only way they can hold onto their identity is by staying totally separate and independent from others. So in this group you see commitment phobias, confirmed bachelors, workaholics, drug addicts and alcoholics, and couples who are "growing apart."

Emotional intimacy is found in those people who can be very close to others without loosing their sense of self. People who are experiencing emotional fusion may feel at times like they have emotional intimacy with their spouse, or their children, but in fact they are experiencing extreme closeness, and are using that closeness to get a sense of self-worth, rather than really knowing, caring and understanding the other person.

Dr. David Schnarch, therapist and author, describes fusion like this, and btw if you actually try it's very interesting. Stand face to face with your spouse (could be anyone), and hug tightly. You are very close and it feels good. But see how long you can maintain this stance. Pretty soon, you are doing all kinds of balance checks and it gets very tiring, and frustrating, and difficult to maintain. What started off as feeling nice and comfortable, soon because very uncomfortable. This is what you are seeing among those SAHMs you mentioned. Now try standing there but very far apart, so only your fingertips are touching. This feels more stable, you are responsible for your own balance. However, it's impossible to feel close to the other person this way.

Now step closer again but not too close. So that your feet are just inches apart and hold each others arms. This is closeness, while still being yourself. You can actually feel closer to the person than when you are hugging, because you can see their face, and talk to them openly. But you are not dependent on them for keeping you in a standing position, you are standing on your own two feet. Healthy relationships look like this. The other word for this process is called differentiation. Well differentiated people can stand on their own, and maintain close, intimate relationships at the same time. Not well differentiated people are either too close and have lost their sense of self, or are too distant from others because it's the only way they can maintain a sense of self. It has many implications for healthy relationships, be it romantic relationships or other family relationships.

This definitely isn't personality, it's identity development, relationship experience, how one was raised and what one's experiences are in adulthood. Personality generally does not change much over time, whereas emotional fusion can change if the person becomes aware of what is going on, and wants to create more of a stable, well defined sense of self. You can see this happening when a person was enmeshed but then there is a break up or divorce, the SAHM suddenly thrust into a college environment or the workforce, or the workaholic who cuts back hours at work, and they have to begin developing a better sense of who they are. Psychotherapy can also very helpful in this regard. This is one of those reasons why people say to live on your own a while before living with someone or marrying, and why parents sometimes don't want their teenagers in one, single long-term committed relationship. It helps develop the self. For the man enmeshed with his mother to the dismay of his wife, we'd call this growing a pair. We are all capable of interpersonal growth, given the right conditions.

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