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Alison Sweeney: Why It’s Important to Say Goodbye

04/17/2010 at 02:00 PM ET
Courtesy Working Mother

Parting used to be such sweet sorrow for Alison Sweeney and 5-year-old son Benjamin Edward.

“There was a period when he didn’t want me to leave,” the Days of Our Lives star and Biggest Loser host tells Working Mother.

Like many others, Sweeney,  33, says she initially made “the mistake of sneaking out,” but a pediatrician alerted her to the error of her ways.

“[He] said I should say goodbye,” she explains. “He reassured me that children behave that way even if you’re a stay-at-home mom going to the grocery store.”

Instead, Sweeney says she now recognizes the importance of allowing her son to experience separation “and to see that I always come back.”

“We have a routine where we blow kisses,” she continues. “He grabs one kiss and eats it and saves one in his pocket for later.”

That’s not to say that the separation is easy for Sweeney, however. Also mom to 15-month-old Megan Hope with husband Dave Sanov, she admits she struggles with working mom guilt.

“There’s no easy answer, but if you’ve made the choice to work, accept it and allow yourself to reevaluate from time to time,” she advises others. “It’s the choice you’re making right now — it doesn’t have to be the choice you’re making for the rest of your life.”

Be honest with yourself, and don’t be afraid to the tough questions, Sweeney says — like how your children are handling your choices. “Parents who dwell in guilt often end up being too lenient,” she opines. “And remember that being home all the time isn’t all lollipops either.”

“Kids can sense if you’re stifling some part of yourself. I teach my kids to deal with their feelings and find their voice — but the same thing applies for moms. I really believe that taking great care of yourself allows you to take better care of your kids.”

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Showing 9 comments

Chris on

Sneaking out on your children seems so cruel. I never understood that.

mom of 3 on

she is such a busy person. But she seems to have it all together. Her family is adorable.

CelebBabyLover on

At first I thought that poor Ben was crying in the cover photo, but then I realized that Megan is tickling her big brother’s nose with a flower, which is why he’s making that expression. How cute is that?!

Stephany on

Me neither, Chris. I work at a preschool and I have to admit, I have a greater respect for those parents who tell their children good-bye, give them a kiss, and say they’ll see them later than those parents who try to sneak out when their kid isn’t looking.

Alison is one of my favorite mom’s and I love how she said: “It’s the choice you’re making right now — it doesn’t have to be the choice you’re making for the rest of your life.” That’s so true!

mazzie on

i hate being served advice by sanctimonious celebrities like this. it always seems to presuppose my own despair and failure at being just a part of the ordinary, unintelligent masses.
really angers me quite a bit.

Allie on

Geez, mazzie, you could just ignore it. There is no need to make such a big deal out of it or to be angry about it. I doubt she thinks she’s better than you, and she’s just trying to offer some advice, and it is pretty good advice. No one said you had to take her advice.

Jessicad on

It’s not like she was sneaking out to hurt him, and it’s not cruel, calm down. She probably felt terrible when she left because he was upset and thought it might be better for him if she didn’t say goodbye.

Maddie on

In my experience as a Preschool teacher, it is way easier on the child if they say goodbye to the parent and see them leave, rather than have the parent sneak out (although i totally understand that this is easier for the parent and am not judging, after all who wants to see their child upset? That would be your lasting impression of them for the work day).
Young children are way more upset when you just sneak out because they have no idea where you’ve gone. At least if they’ve seen you leave they know where you are and that you’re coming back. It’s even worse if I don’t see the parents leave either, so can’t explain to the child where their mommy or daddy went.
Even though it is hard on both the parent and the child it is so important to say goodbye. I always offer to ring the parent to update them on how the child is doing (he/she is happy and settled now, playing with the blocks etc) or that they can ring us if they need to.
It takes an enormous amount of trust to leave your child with people you don’t know very well (if they are in preschool). Wow, sorry, didn’t mean to turn that into such an essay, lol. Just stating my opinion.
Alison sounds like a great mom, and her kids are so cute!

andrea on

re: the comment about parents being cruel by “sneaking out” – i wasn’t sure about how to handle leaving when i returned to work and asked my dr. if it was easier fon my son for me to sneak out while he’s playing and let him continue to enjoy himself or to say goodbye and have him get upset but get over it. she advised me that it was better to say goodbye. i wanted to do what was best for him and was not trying to be “cruel” by sneaking out. sometimes it’s just hard to know what to do at first and then afterwards, it seems like common sense when you’re told the right answer. no one’s perfect and i’m sometimes surprised at the negative posts.

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