Marissa Jaret Winokur’s Blog: My Son’s Separation Anxiety

11/12/2010 at 11:00 AM ET

Thanks for welcoming Marissa Jaret Winokur! The actress, who co-hosts the new CBS daytime chat show, The Talk, is mom to 2-year-old Zev Isaac with her husband Judah Miller. Winokur, 37, was diagnosed with cervical cancer 10 years ago, had a hysterectomy and later welcomed her son with the help of a surrogate. Though her road to motherhood had a few twists and turns, she faces the same joys — and challenges — as any working mom. In her latest blog, Winokur laments her son’s recent problems with separation anxiety.

Zev and Mom – Courtesy Marissa Jaret Winokur


This week was insane. My son is obviously going through what they call separation anxiety whatever that is and whoever “they” are. I am not really sure if it’s because we went on our wonderful family vacation — we had so much family time with no work and no Internet that maybe it opened my son’s eyes to the good life. Or maybe it’s just that he is now 2 years and 3 months old and it’s normal. PLEASE TELL ME IT’S NORMAL.

The Good Old Days

When I leave for work now it’s no longer, “Bah-bye, Mom.” It’s a complete throw-down fight. He cries for what I’m told is 30-40 minutes! On Wednesday, I took him to the set with me and let him hang out because I seriously couldn’t get out the door, and my husband was like, “Let’s go with Mommy.” I felt so guilty I let him pick out the biggest donut covered with sprinkles! Judge away … If my co-hosts saw this, they would for sure!

I remember when my son was littler and we would go to the park — other big kids would refuse to share toys or scream at my baby when he would waddle over to them. I was always so frustrated with those kids and wondered what their parents were doing wrong.

Well, now my son is THAT big kid! My sweet little boy won’t share his toys and actually screamed, “NO BABY, NO BABY” when a little girl tried to sit next to him the other day. He put his hand out and then fell to the ground like he was in pain!

When we were at My Gym on Tuesday, I had to force him to do the seesaw with another child. I did it very calmly, but still he was so mad. He wants me to be right next to him at all times so much so that I needed a break on the weekend. I sent my husband off to the local zoo with Zev, while I went to a kid’s birthday party by myself! Yup, I went to a 3-year-old’s birthday party without my 2-year-old!

Before you cast your opinion, hear me out: Zev and Daddy needed a little alone-time. My nerves were totally fried and the birthday party was for a very old friend of mine who has twin daughters. I was going to see many friends I hadn’t seen in a while, and I really just wanted to sit and have some girl-talk and catch up!

Now, picking a kid’s birthday party to sit and catch up may not sound right on paper, but it was the best party I have ever been too! I really needed to regroup.

Judah and Zev – Courtesy Marissa Jaret Winokur


Calling Out In the Night

At night, Zev is really getting manipulative: Rather than crying in the middle of the night, he is now saying, “Mamma … Mamma where are you?” How can I not answer?! He isn’t calling for me he’s asking, “Where are you?” like maybe I am gone! So when I go to his room and say, “Mamma and Daddy are home, we are sleeping,” he now says, “Mamma cuddle,” or “Hold you, Mamma.” How can I say no?! He knows I can’t resist a good snuggle!

Seriously, this whole sleeping alone thing may not be where it’s at! Think about it. I don’t want to sleep alone. Why should he? I would so much rather have a good snuggle anytime! And as an adult, as much as I love my mom and dad, I would never want to snuggle with them a three-second hug is plenty! This may be the only time my son will want to just hug me all night long. And he does! He smushes his face on my face and then falls asleep. How can I leave him? In all honesty I don’t want to.

It breaks my heart to look at my son and think that the way I look at him and even when I need a break the amount of love I have for him, my parents have for me! I never really got it until now. My mom always has that crazy “love” look in her eye that totally annoyed me until I felt myself looking at my son the same way.

This does not take away from the fact that my son threw such a temper tantrum at his best friend Jack’s house that Jack’s aunt called it “The Exorcism of Studio City.” It was so bad that I actually had to leave with him. I was so helpless and lost that I put him in his car seat and slowly took the long route home to calm him down. It was all over a bubble machine that ran out of bubbles! But I kind of understood: Why did they have a bubble machine out with no bubbles! REALLY JACK, WHY?! 🙂

Zev and Jack – Courtesy Marissa Jaret Winokur


— Marissa Jaret Winokur

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Nicole on

Thank you for your “real” blog about life with a 2 year old and being a working Mom. My son just turned 2 last month does the calling in the middle of the night now. When I go in there it’s, “Momma rock, Momma rock,” and the reaching for the glider. I try to reason with him that it’s time for bed but I still cave and rock for at least a few minutes! How do you not? 😉

Mom of 2 on

I love this woman and her blog! She approaches motherhood with honesty and humor!

geo k. on

My son is 5 years old now but he went through that same thing at around the same age. I remember dropping him off at daycare and all of the sudden getting the “don’t go, momma” from him and having to leave him because I had to be at work. It was heartbreaking!!

And the bedtime thing… yep, we went through that too! The only I can tell you is that YES he will outgrow it. my pediatrician explained to my husband and I that separation anxiety at that age is normal because at that age they realize that they are being separated from their parent but eventually they learn that you always come back.

My best advice… just enjoy the cuddles. It’s nice to feel needed especially by your baby. :0)

Jill on

trying to walk away slowly and quietly…..but she granted permission to “judge away”……….

Tracy on

I totally understand! My son was two in July and he goes through phases like that. Sometimes when I drop him off at day care he runs off to his friends and doesn’t even look back. Other times, like yesterday, are more of a struggle. He’ll look at me and say, “Mommy up!” which is his way of asking me to pick him up.

It’s difficult and frustrating. I feel frazzled and guilty.

I think we all cave at some point – for them and for us (I know I’ve snuggled with my son partly because he’s not going to want to do that forever). It’s OK. This is a tough age for kids… and for parents.

And as for needing a break, I actually took a vacation day today and still sent my son to day care. I’m sure that sounds odd, but my gosh do I need some time for myself. I felt guilty at first, but I think we (moms and dads) need that time away to regroup and be better parents. We don’t parent as well when we’re stressed and frazzled.

Sky on

Well, regarding him crying when you leave, have you ever seen Supernanny? Personally, my children haven’t had this issue (but they have had their sleeping-in-my-own-bed issues) but I’ve seen how Supernanny handles it. She always tells parents never to lie or sneak out because that just creates an anxious child. Then the parents tell the children how long they’ll be gone for/where they’re going. The other parent/caregiver creates a distraction (not a huge one, just something little) to help them find something to get their mind off of the fact that you’ve left! The kids seem to adjust better, but it IS television, so who knows!

Steph on

I just love your blog and reading about your baby boy….I understand you are a first-time mommy and things like him wanting you to sleep with him is normal at this age…..I still want my babies to sleep with me….night time snuggles are good at any age….Hang in there…I loved your blog about locking him in the car last week, I’ve done that one before too….only with my infant nephew….As he gets older things will get better but he does needs that one-on-one with daddy too….

Enjoy him…when you look around he will be 16

Lilianne on

It is completely and totally normal for children to suffer from separation anxiety and for it to also surface sporadically, especially if the child is very young. I run a small daycare in my home and see this behavior quite frequently. I have seen a child who never cried about being left start doing just that and continuing it for weeks. Usually it does surface after an extended family vacation or long weekend or holiday.

I can tell you from experience that how the parent handles the leaving part can impact how upset the child gets and how long the crying lasts. Parents who linger and cuddle and try to console because they feel so bad about leaving can add to the problem. Even though I totally understand how hard it is to leave with your child upset I can assure you that they will probably not calm down until you are gone. It is best to just be calm and matter of fact…”Mom/Dad is leaving, I love you, I will be back soon.” And then…zip..out the door you go.

The caregiver can also impact how long the fit lasts and its severity by not trying to distract the child about the parent leaving or by being too sympathetic or not sympathetic enough! You have to try and strike just the right balance of cuddles and being matter of fact with that distraught child. Most little ones really only cry for a little bit and then they are off to the next thing. The parent is the one who suffers the most usually! I try to call or text the parent to say…”he/she is doing fine now and playing happily”. Hang in there! It does get better, I promise.

Karra on

Marissa you seriously crack me up! THANK YOU!!!! My daughter is 15 months old and is such a daddy’s girl! If he is around I might as well not exist!!! Bed time is MY time with her. I still give her a bottle before bed (her only bottle!). The doc said I should get rid of it, and I know she doesn’t need it, but that is our special time when she is all mine. I love being the last person she sees before she goes to sleep. So I say do what feels right to you. Working moms have to get our love whenever we can right?!?! : )

Romy on

kids can go through the separation anxiety stage at any age, and it is hard. I would try to be predictable about it, so he knows what to expect. He should expect that he gets a great hug and kiss from you and that you will come back for him at the expected time. It toys with him to not give him stability, so it is harder if some days you linger, some days you completely give in, then some days you stay strict. Kids like routine and predictablity. Some kids are still doing this in my daughter’s preschool class at age 4, but they get over it quickly. It’s harder on the parents it seems. The teachers are great about redirecting and being kind and loving.

As for sleep, whatever works for you I guess. I think it’s normal for a 2yo to sleep alone but get great cuddles before sleep and in the morning. I think it’s normal for mom and dad to sleep in the adult bed. but that’s me, and that’s what works for us. the kids don’t cry because they are now happy in their beds and don’t expect to have one of us sleep with them. They like their beds and rooms now and feel safe and stable in them.

Tina on

I thank you for being so honest and matter-of-fact about things that other mothers criticize each other so much for. If I had a nickel for every time someone said, “oh no, you must let them cry it out!” or “if you start answering in the middle of the night they will NEVER stop calling for you” or, my favorite, “oh, my kids would NEVER get away with THAT!”

Really? Well guess what? Working mothers deal with guilt all the time…and if answering their kids’ call in the middle of the night makes them feel better because they aren’t there during the day then guess what, I ASSURE YOU, the child will grow up well-adjusted and happy DESPITE the drama of a midnight snuggle!!

Nicole on

You are so great…just to let you know 🙂

Lisa on

It is great to hear stories from other working moms. I actually laughed at some of her comments because I feel the EXACT same way and thought I was the only one experiencing it.

Parenting seems to be such a mix of extreme heart break/guilt but it is all weighted out with the extreme joy you also experience. My daughter is only 16 months old so I am trying to learn how to adjust to the rollercoaster that I now call my life.

Alameda on

You are so not alone! My son was born in June 08 and I second guess everything! He did the same screaming when mommy left for work after he stayed home all summer with is dad who’s a teacher. Sad to say it just now got back to “bye mommy” in the last couple of weeks and my husband has been back to work for 4 months!

I do love how dramatic they are right now though, how everything is the end of the world. And I will always answer when he says “Mommy where are you?” even if it means no sleep, because I want him to know I will always be there!

starkravingmadmommy on

Oh, the separation anxiety breaks my heart, too. Charmingly, I recently had the school counselor tell me that my (autistic) son’s separation anxiety was my fault. Thanks!

Jackie on

I have a 4 year old and 2 year old and we’ve gone through the separation anxiety a couple different times with both of them! It does get better and pretty soon it’s a “Get back here and give me a hug!” I’ve never done the sneaking out though-I think that just confuses them in my opinion, I just tell them that mommy has to go to work and that I’ll be back later and then tell them what we are doing after I pick them up-seems to help them. And of course-getting the names of the kids that they play with at daycare helps them get excited about playing the day away too yet!

My husband and I have the issues with alone time because my activities are a little more kid friendly than his activities are-and it’s getting better now that they are older but yeah-definitely need to do stuff that you could take them with, but don’t just so that you get some time too! And giving them more daddy time, will also help out with them being more flexible with bedtime and all other needs that they NEED mommy to do vs daddy being able to also accomplish them. And even though they may not always say it, just like moms feel left out when they yell for daddy, daddy’s can feel the same way when they are only screaming for mommy too yet:)

Amy on

Marissa, I just love your honesty on here! So refreshing!! My daughter is the exact same age as your son and I’m a first-time mom so there are a lot of similarities here!

My daughter also wakes up in the middle of the night and calls for me. I can’t bear to let her cry, never could, so I will also get up and hold her for just a few minutes and then put her back to bed. I don’t plan on stopping this anytime soon, either. I’m gone so much during the day that I want to be there for her at night if she needs me.

I also went through a phase with her where I had issues dropping her off at daycare. There was a week where she cried when I left everyday. I realized that I had to say goodbye and leave quickly and not linger at all and it really made a difference. She stopped crying for as long, and then stopped crying completely. I anticipate this issue will come back in the future, but luckily I’ve been given a break for the time being 🙂 I still have to leave and say goodbye quickly at daycare everyday and can’t linger at all.

And tantrums, yes!!! My normally very easy going daughter had a huge tantrum at Target the other day because she I wouldn’t let her keep taking all of the tea boxes off the shelf and throw them in the cart. When I wasn’t looking, she seriously took like 7 of them and just was throwing them in, one by one. I think no matter what you do they have tantrums at this age. They’re just learning how to behave and how to accept disappointments and other things that come with life. It’s hard! I never thought I’d be the mother with the screaming child in the store, but there I was. Oh well.

Love your blog!!

Connie on

Hi my daughter used to have seperation anxiety so I tried many things, giving her a picture of me and her little sister, letting her wear one of my bracelets, etc., but the one that did the job was one day before she went to school I put red lipstick on and kissed her hand (which made a kiss in print on the palm of her hand) and told her when she was feeling lonely and sad that all she had to do was press her hand to her face and it would be like I was there kissing her. It worked!!!! She came home from school all happy and I didn’t receive a call from school. Maybe you should try something like this.

Jennifer Mitchell on


Everything Zev is doing is “normal”!!! Children go through different stages, and they do it at different times, not always at “2” or “3” etc… Hang in there!

Also, wanting to snuggle with your child is also normal! Do not let the “experts” tell you otherwise! I promise, when he leaves for college, he will not still be needing to snuggle with mommy at night!!! Enjoy this time with your son, because he will only be this age, and want these things once in his life!

Now, about needing time to regroup… It is so important for you to do that when you know you need to! ALL MOMMIES NEED TO REGROUP SOMETIMES!!!!! It is not better for Zev for you to become so tired and frustrated, that your patience with him runs thin!

I would say you are one terrific mommy, that has GREAT instincts, and LISTENS to them!! Way to go!!

Take care!


Barb on

I totally understand and if it makes you feel better they do outgrow all of this! I had to sleep on my sofa with my son for 1 year, then we moved him to a little bed right next to our bed and I had to lean down and keep my hand on him or he wouldn’t go to sleep. But now he’s a big 8 year old who sleeps in his own bed. But I still have to put him to bed. I enjoy it though!

Karen on

We co-sleep and I’ve always given this as an explanation for why.

When you’re born, you’ve spent your entire life INSIDE of your mom. Why are you going to suddenly go into an entirely separate room let alone an entirely separate space?

No one expects adults to sleep alone unless they LIVE alone.

As we get older we naturally want our space. As kids and babies we need that closeness.

There’s a fine line sometimes between not letting your kid “grow up” or be independent and giving them what they need emotionally on a natural basis.

I think it’s normal and I think they eventually go off on their own. Last but not least, it’s different for everyone. Some may co-sleep for the first month, others do it till their kids are way beyond toddlers.

I just think that scientifically speaking it makes sense to give in to their needs if they need to be with you, whether it’s at night or during the day. Not always feasible because we all either work or sometimes need to leave the house with our kids, but we just all find a balance.

Been There on

@Nicole, you don’t reason with a toddler. Period. You set the rules and you stick to them, fun or no fun. My son was born with the Terrible Twos and didn’t outgrow them til he was 16. Remember the dinosaur in Jurassic Park who was always testing the electric fence? That’s what kids do. Make sure it’s always electrified and your life will be much easier.

@Sky, you and I agree on how it’s done. Who ever thought parenthood was easy?

Lala on

thank god i have never gone thru this with my son, but my nephew sure did! and honestly i don’t know how moms can put up with it! i totally understand needing me time. my son is 6 now and from about 3 months old i let him sleep in his crib and be in his crib even if i wasn’t busy. i had to let him know being alone was ok and that mommy was going to come back. the first day of preschool i had the separation anxiety. he said bye and never looked back. i called the school everyday for the first two weeks.

and for the sleeping in bed thing its going to happen regardless of what you do to stop it. my son sneaks in the bed every night around 2 in the morning usually in stealth mode. i use to pick him up and put him back in the bed when he did that. but one day i was talking to a coworker and he said its a phase, he will grow out of it! so i just make sure he goes potty before bed so no accidents in my bed!! let him know when its mommy and daddy time (aka close the door) but other than that let him in! he will get over it and stop letting him play you!

kids are so manipulative its scary! they know exactly what they are doing! he he he he 🙂 and they know being cute is the # 1 weapon in their arsenal!!! i couldn’t even punish my son for years cause he was just too darn cute!! it was like go away i can’t even look at you cause i’m laughing when i should be mad!! it will happen to you soon enough!! he he he

Donna on

Why do these people bring up the same, tired old complaints? Does she really think she is the first person to go through this issue? And with the extra effort she went through to have this baby, maybe she should spend more time at home or stop complaining about leaving him.

Jack's Mom on

Marissa, the fact that you care so much about your son comes through in every word of this blog, and I find that touching. But I also get the impression that you care a lot about what other people, especially other moms, think about your parenting decisions.

I know it’s hard (I’m a 30-year-old mom to a 20-month-old and get advice, wanted or not, from all directions) but try to relax a little in that regard. Love your little man as hard as you can and everything else will turn out fine, no matter what other people think or say. We are just starting to deal with very public temper tantrums and when I feel “the stares” starting I just try to shrug it off and keep my focus where it belongs. I know people are judging me without even knowing me but I don’t let it bother me…kids will be kids.

As moms we should try to support and understand each other, but sadly that isn’t always the case!

Luna on

Of all of my children, only my oldest son and my fourth (my third daughter), had the whole separation anxiety thing. My oldest son would cry and cry when I left, because I worked during the day as a teacher. I tried giving him an ‘I love you, I’ll be back at xxx time.” Than I’d leave. That worked for him. My next two were twins and always had each other to comfort them. Just never had to deal with it. My next daughter was manipulative. She wouldn’t just cry she’d say, “Mommy come back, I need you!” What am I supposed to say, explain the need to leave? My youngest is still a baby, so I don’t leave him alone very much, plus I’m a stay at home mom now.

Sleeping was never a problem, except with my youngest daughter, the manipulative one. She comes into my room and lays down softly and I don’t even know she’s there until I wake up. Or, she’ll ask me for, “One more minute…” Good job Marissa, it’s hard. I applaud you for trying to find the best way to raise your son by taking care of everyone in your family. Good luck, Zev is ADORABLE!!!

Tina on

I am still struggling with this with my 4 yr old son. All kids go through it between 2 and 3 and sometimes it extends to 4.

I used to fight it, but when I just relaxed and started snuggling him whenever he needed it, he stopped needing to hang on me. Then one day, I asked him why he didn’t want Mommy to leave. He told me that he was afraid someone else would hurt him. Big light goes off in my head. He’s never been hurt by anyone, he just got that in his head. I told him that Super Mommy would beat down anyone who hurt him. He started laughing and we’ve made huge leaps since then.

I think sometimes we forget that kids are not all they same and they have minds and can make connections on their own. Sometimes those connections can lead to misunderstandings, and what we think is irritating behavior.

Jessica on

I am single with no children, and I love this blog! I come from a large family, so I’ve seen plenty of tantrums. Thanks for being so honest and funny. The pictures you post portray just how happy you are. Go Marissa!

amanda on

while i sympathize since im a working mother come on! at 2 years old most doctors will tell you children need to be sleeping alone. yes i understand that sometimes a child will sleep with you after that age. perhaps if theyre sick, had a horrible dream, etc. but letting a 2 year old constantly sleep with you is not healthy. for the child or for the relationship with your spouse. it is also not the child’s decision to wake the parent up in the middle of the night to cuddle. bedtime is at a certain time and you wake up at a certain time. end of story.

as a parent you set the rules not the child. and for the woman whose child caused a scene in target, i hope your child was punished. if my child causes a scene in the store i pick up my purse and we leave. bad behavior will not be tolerated period. sorry call my strict, but as a mother i get sick and tired of being around other moms who let their kids get away with murder. i work hard to discipline my child and teach him manners and how to behave in public. i wish other parents would do the same.

jessica on

I agree with Marissa 100% we all raise our kids OUR way. I think you are doing an amazing job, my son has huge seperation issues, like today my hubs had to run to the bank, he had to walk there and it was raining so my son couldnt goo, so he came to me to hold my hand. he doesnt like when either of use leaves, specially me. but he is my side kick 100% of the time there is not a moment we are not apart. you practice amazing attachment parenting. Im 100% AP momma here. so Kudos to you for giving your child the love he wants from you

Anonymous on

donna, you’re a troll. the fact that she struggled so much to have him means nothing. she’s a MOTHER and no mother has a perfect life with their children. she’s not the first mother with these problems, and nobody claimed she was. she’s writing a blog about HER life, so she gets to express HER problems. just stay quiet and go write your life story on

Erika Hudson NH on

I absolutely love reading your blogs. You make me laugh and smile…my 4 yr old is the same way. I’m sure they’ll get over it and honestly they’re only little for so long. When I get the “Mama can you cuddle me”….I crawl right in and settle right in. They may be our “babies” forever but they are only a baby for a short time. It’s a Mommy’s right to take advantage of it. BTW Dunkin Donuts is a weekly stop for a sprinkled covered treat. It’s a childhood right…

Mommyof1 on

I have a 15 month old daughter, and I know how hard it is to hear your child cry, especially when you’re leaving, but I agree with those who said the quicker it happens, the better it is. I think that, for the most part, it’s actually the parent (usually moms) who WANT their child to cry because then they feel needed (especially us working moms).

I don’t think sleeping in your son’s bed is good for anyone, especially your son, but also your husband. Your son needs to learn to sleep alone and understand that you (and your husband) are still there, just in another room. I think he will handle you leaving much better if you do it quickly and don’t get upset in front of him or delay it at all.

The question is, can you handle it if he’s okay with you leaving? You have to remember that you will always be his mom, but the best mom you can be is one who encourages her child to be independent and able to take care of himself.

Keely on

@Donna! Are you a real person? Did you click on this article, read all the comments, and then decide to post the most negative thing you could think of? You are the reason why new mothers are nervous about being judged! I wish I could delete your comment so Marissa can’t read it. Or anyone else! So very rude!

PS. I’m not a mother (yet) but this blog makes me excited to be one, even with all the ups and downs and judgemental people! 🙂

Mrs W. on

You are the best!

Last night I cried myself to sleep because I was feeling like the worst mom on the planet with the worst behaved son as a product of my bad mothering. The tears continued this morning. We went to see a friend’s father play guitar at a coffee shop and Edward was so bad. It was a little late, but my friend’s son was being sweet and a little sleepy. When Edward gets sleepy he starts hitting EVERYTHING and usually me.

I was so upset, humiliated and embarrassed. I didn’t even say good-bye to everyone. We just got out of there. I just felt like we’re never going to have friends and play dates with his behavior. Edward is my first and I don’t really know any kids his age or older.

I guess to make a long story short, THANKS! THANKS for letting me know that other kids have meltdowns like Edward. My husband said that my friend’s kid will soon be as “bad” as Edward when he gets a little older, but hearing it from you…made me feel a lot better.

Looking forward to reading more!!!!

Desiree on

I had all these same problems with my daughter. Now she is 13 and has been diagnosed with bipolar and severe anxiety. It only gets worse, when she started school the teachers would have to come and get her from my car and I would go to work crying. She used to have awful outbursts and people would look at me like I was crazy because I couldn’t control her. I just wanted to help her and go to bed and have a good night sleep. She didnt stop sleeping with me until she was 7 years old and that was a bad habit to stop. She still sleeps with the lights on. Now we do lots of therapy and some medicine and everything is starting to get a little better and a litte easier to deal with.

Claire on

@ Amanda, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. It’s so nice to see that some parents take the time to teach their kids manners and respect. Sorely lacking these days…

I think Marissa is a wonderful, down to earth, honest, funny mom. If she and her husband have no problem with her getting up in the middle of the night to go sleep with their son, then so be it. But Marissa, please know that Zev is just manipulating you. The first time he did it it may have been just a fluke. But then he figured out that it works so he keeps doing it. This behavior will likely start leaking out to other areas of his life. He now knows that putting on his cute face and saying, “Mommy, I need…” is the key to getting what he wants.

As a teacher, I see way too many children who have been coddled and babied throughout their life. I can spot the attachment parent kids a mile away. They are the ones who manipulate their parents into doing everything for them. Their mommies and daddies are there twice a day to “rescue” their “precious baby” from the teacher who has the gall to expect them to function on their own or follow rules (I teach middle school, not pre-school btw). Nothing is ever their “baby’s” fault!

I have even seen one mom come to school all day with her son for a week straight because, “he just hates it when I leave him!” He’s 13, leave him alone! Attachment parents have the right to parent however they want, but they rarely think about how this will impact their kids later in life.

mp on

My now-29-yo daughter went through a phase around age 3 when she would stand at the daycare window and sob as I left for work. It was so hard to drive away, but one day a fellow mom put her arm around me and said, “We have to go to work and our kids will be fine.” I looked back to see her son sympathetically hugging my daughter. Yes, we had to go to work and yes, both our kids were fine.

Mama on

You sound like a fabulous Mama, carry on with your heart. Sometimes, “ya just gotta do what ya gotta do!” I’m now on my third baby and you know I wish I hadn’t spent so much time and energy worrying about whether I was creating bad habits and just gone with the flow a little more. You’re very right, the snuggles get less and less…:(

You’re doing wonderfully, and thankyou for your honesty, it’s so refreshing to read a “real” blog.

Mary on

He has you wrapped around his little finger. Trust me you want to stop this now even if it breaks your heart. You may understand the bubble breakdown but it is up to you as his parent to let him know the way he handled it was inappropriate. To you want him to grow up to be that kid no one wants to be around? Imagine if something happened to you at work and you handled it the same way he handled the bubble thing or the sharing thing? Yeah he’s only 2 but he’ll understand when you correct him.

Also on the separation thing…I would drop my baby off with a friend for 2 hours between when I went to work and my husband came home. She would cry and cry when I would leave and it would break my heart but then according to friend she would be fine. Then one day she didn’t cry but ran to play with her friends and I got to the car in tears thinking she didn’t need me anymore so either way it’s a lose/lose thing. 🙂

Hang in there! It doesn’t get any easier.

A Mom on

Wow Amanda, pretty harsh and judgemental of you! Co-sleeping may not be right for you, it also wasn’t right for my family. But both my kids went through a period when they were 3-4 years old of coming into our room around 3 or 4 in the morning and crawling up between us and sleeping the rest of the night with us. It was a bitter-sweet feeling the first morning we woke without anyone else in bed with us…they’re 18 and 14 now, and I still get nostalgic.

I also don’t happen to believe that a tantrum is necessarily a “punishable event.” Two year olds are very, very young. They are growing very very fast, and get tired unexpectedly and easily. They are creatures of the moment not of “in a few minuts” – being patient, not putting them in a position of temptation, and loving them and verbalizing your understanding when they DO pitch a fit is a much more productive way of handling a tantrum in my opinion. Lighten up! My kids are always complimented on their behavior – and managed to get through the tantrum stage without being “punished” for a single one!

Marissa…you are doing just fine! He is happy and healthy, and believe me, this time goes far too fast. Snuggle all you want!

mamaoftwo on

I enjoy reading these blogs, and I hold that all parents have the right to parent differently.


As an attachment parent, I can say that this is NOT attachment parenting. You don’t make decisions in the middle of the night about whether or not you are an attachment parent and are co-sleeping. You make a conscious choice about the decisions that are made, as the child’s parents or with the child’s involvement in the decision, but with thought.

It’s not about coddling your child-it’s allowing your child to be able to be near you when they need to be, and choosing separation when that is more appropriate. As children grow, they need to “check in” less and less.

To some other commenters-when you need to leave a store or a playground or whatever, maybe it would be kind to show your child respect and give him/her warning. “I know you’re having fun, but slide three more times and then we need to go”. Think about whether or not some of your child’s actions are a result of being pulled out of something suddenly. You wouldn’t want to be told what to do every second.

When your child acts out and throws a tantrum, obviously, you don’t give them the choice to do that. How many times are their tantrums the result of being told no to something because it’s worked before to get what they want? I do think we should respect our children enough to give them choices over clothes, choices over which side item they want with dinner…but the choice of screaming or pushing away other children is not an option. And even then you use that wording. “By screaming you are making the choice to leave.” or “Pushing Jane wasn’t a choice you can make, now we have to leave”. But also give them things they can choose often.

Marissa seems so nice, but so many of her actions seem to be a result of mommy guilt and not conscious choice, so I would concur that some of what she does IS brought on herself. You are the mom. Loving him well means setting appropriate boundaries that you decide on ahead of time. Your life is going to be much more difficult if you let his whims run the show, and please, no one else call that attachment parenting.

Kelly on

OMG, everything you wrote is my 2 year old to the T. Wow it was like reading a blog about my son. Thanks for your honesty it’s so nice to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way. You Rock!!

Kristi on

@Been There…love your Jurassic Park reference. So true! Also, the book The Kissing Hand is helpful too. My daughter is 6 and we still use this book to ease separation.

Smith on

Marissa, you aren’t alone, trust me. I just got a newsletter in my inbox about this very subject today. You should look at the Consciously Parenting site. They have some great information and suggestions for things just like this.

And just an fyi: there’s nothing wrong with co-sleeping. I can’t tell you how many friends I have who do it and their kids are well-adjusted and in their own beds now. 😉

Professional cosleeper on

Love you! How refreshing! My 2 year old plays the game when she wants, how she wants. She always gets her way:) I am a firm believer in ‘they are not going to college doing ______ (whatever it is). I still co-sleep with my princess. As a working mother and daddy it is our time as much as hers. She wakes me up with a kiss and the remote control so I can turn on Mickey. How I will miss this. All too soon it is ‘uncool’ to do all the things we bemoan anyway so I say enjoy, relax and just go with their flow. Best Wishes!

Jill on

Mamaoftwo, I agree with every single word.

I am strongly against co sleeping. My best friend who does it and I have talked about it. She has said she does it more for herself. I think a lot of people do that but will not admit it. Children feed into this……

Sarah on

well, I have three so I have been there and done that, but it never gets any easier. I co-slept w/the babies until about their first birthday and am pretty strict about everybody in their own beds.

however, I am not above bribing them. they don’t often have sweets or candy, so when it’s time for Mama to go everybody gets a packet of fruit snacks or a fun size candy. What’s really good about it is that the little one who really cares that I am going cannot open it herself and must go to Daddy or the babysitter to have it opened, thereby giving me a chance to wave and leave, and the baby is far busier trying to get a sugar high.

Sara on

To the judgy critical mom commenter(s): REALLY?!? Seriously?!? You’re going to judge, and criticize someone you don’t know, who is doing a job (multiple jobs in fact – wife, mother, actress, etc…)that is one of the toughest, most rewarding, jobs EVER?!?! Who do you think you are? I am no expert, but then as far as I can tell neither are any of you, but it sounds to me like LOTS of mom’s have done and gone through what she’s doing and going through.

I have a 3 year old son who does, on occasion, throw a whopper of a fit, wake in the middle of the night for a snuggle, and want nothing more for me to be within ear shot… HOWEVER, he also is (according to his doctor and anyone he comes in contact with) super verbal, imaginative, independent, and extremely well mannered. I’m a 1st time mom who read all the books, listened to all the advice, and in the end makes decisions based on my instincts and our family’s lifestyle – NOT what other moms might think of me!!!!

There is an infinitesimal number of ways to parent. No one way is the right way. As mothers we should be encouraging and uplifting one-another (even if we think what someone else does is wrong. Who are we to judge? We’re not her. SO I say, MARISSA! You’re a mom of a beautiful NORMAL boy who is doing what ALL kids do (and have done since the beginning of civilization I’m sure)… You do what you think/feel is right for you. Follow the advice that seems the most to fit with your lifestyle and values and forget the rest (including this rant =P )

Sara on

I’m gonna go ahead and add that MANY of these comments simply prove that there are judgy “mommie bullies” and that they OBVIOUSLY have everything so handled and perfect that they have time to talk smack on a CELEBRITY BABY BLOG!

chere on

Your son needs more of you and he is choosing some hard-to-be around tactics to get more of you — Making you need a break from him… which just makes him insecure and need more of you. It’s classic. Sleeping with him is an excellent solution as long as it is approached as a matter of fact and not done begrudgingly after middle of the night shouts and yells. Go to sleep with him and he (AND YOU) will look forward to night time and the 15 minutes of cuddle and whisper time you have together.

As far as tantrums and yelling, you need to IGNORE UNWANTED BEHAVIOR and reinforce positive behavior.

Mira on

I really dislike parents who see their kids as master manipulators and focus all their efforts on showing the kid who’s boss. “You’ll not only do things my way, but you have to be happy in obeying me, otherwise I’ll punish you”. Great parenting philosophy… NOT.

Sasha on


I absolutely adore reading your blogs. The other mommy bloggers have been great but you are so relatable. Your writing is amazing and it makes me feel like I want to keep reading. Thank you for the personal photos and stories and showing the world that just because you’re in the entertainment business doesn’t mean your life is any less normal than anyone else’s.

I look forward to the rest of your blogs. And Zev is a gorgeous boy by the way.

julez on

Buy one of Jim Fay’s Love & Logic books, or better take one of his classes.

It will help you and your husband with all these issues and make life so much better as he grows up. You’ll get life long parenting tips!

This too shall pass! Hang in there!

amyjoyfox on

Marissa, I know that you read these comments, and I just want to thank you for being so honest about parenting, and not trying to appear as if you have it all figured out – because none of us do! My daughter is a month or two older than Zev, and is also going through some challenging behaviors lately. You are not alone! Yes, we have consistent boundaries and follow-through with her, but the fact is that two is a difficult age. Hang in there, follow your instincts, and you will all be just fine!

Ha on

Oh yes, of course you can spot a kid with AP parents a mile away! Way to generalize. I’m super AP, but strict with my children, they know what is expected of them. Puhleeze. Sweeping generalizations make me laugh. My kids are anything but coddled.

marissa jaret winokur on

I always read EVERY comment! But this week actually made me feel sooooooo much better! I seriously had a moment when i called my husband and said…”is there something wrong with Zev?”

Everyone has the right to agree or disagree with me and my parenting… I have actually learned a lot from the comments… and totally started trying what Lilianne said about getting out fast and I actually have him now kiss me and push me out the door so he feels in control of it…It’s been working a little better for me.

Thank you all for sharing your stories! I figure if us 60 (minus Donna) feel the same way then really it must be normal. I never address the negative comments BUT I do have to say no matter how a child is conceived ..with lots of planning or “surprise” all children deserve loving parents. And Anonymous put it best when asked why i was talking about the same old topics….saying that I am talking about what’s going on in my life…. YES terrible twos is NOTHING new, But now going though it I am really stressed by it . I understand why everyone talked about it… and even though it’s always talked about …UNTIL YOU GO THROUGH IT!!!!!

OMG you guys, thank you for advice and taking the time to support not just me but each other!

Lilianne on

I am SO glad it is going better for you and that anything I might have said was in ANY way helpful to you or someone else!! So…Yay for you and Zev! It made me laugh reading what you put about him pushing you out the door. I do that sometimes with my daycare kids…after they say goodbye to Mom/Dad I will say, “Hurry, lock that door before they come back!” And the child will giggle and run over to lock the door quick! I think it does help them to feel in control over it. Being here with me is THEIR place and sometimes we will tell Mom to go to work so we can have FUN. Lol.

I think it’s great that aside from a couple of grouchy posters that Moms are here supporting each other and offering their experiences and insights. Being a parent is very hard and I think leaving your child to go to work is probably one of the HARDEST things to do. Trusting someone else to love and care for your little one is a big leap and I never stop being aware of that responsibility that my Mom’s have given to me.

MG on

Fortunately, I’ve had very few issues with my 2 year old daughter & separation anxiety. I feel bad sometimes because she knows when I’m leaving & she’ll wave, “Bye mommy!” But I guess I’d much rather have her happy when I leave than stressed out.

As for the sleeping situation, they’re going to go through phases. We let my daughter fuss it out & she did really well putting herself to sleep until she learned how to climb out of her pack & play at 19 mos. So when we transitioned her, I thought she regressed a bit. It turned into an all out battle to get her to lay down & take naps. Now, I realized that she likes to be cuddled & rocked to sleep. At first, I was battling with her to lay down on her own, but then I realized that I should take advantage of the fact that she still wants to cuddle with me because I don’t know how much longer she’ll let me.

Lately, she’ll also wake up in the middle of the night & I’ll come home from my graves shift to find my hubby sleeping on the floor next to her bed. I know that in our culture, we think that kids should be sleeping on their own & through the night by a certain age. But still, they’re kids & still need/want to be comforted. There’s no problem with that.

MiB on

I just wanted to say something about tantrums, at this age, they are not really a sign of bad behaviour but of immaturity. Toddlers are impulsive and curious, and they also don’t really have a grasp of consequences. They are frequently find themselves in situations where they can picture themselves doing things but can’t do it or where they want to explain something but can’t, which I’m sure anyone could agree on, is very frustrating.

They are also often very focused on what they are doing, to a point where they can’t see a scolding coming (like Amy’s daughter at Target), and get upset when they are suddenly out of the blue being told off (mommy is putting things in the cart, that means it must be the right thing to do, so why is she suddenly angry with me for doing it?) or can’t do it anymore (like when the bubble machine ran out of bubbles). This behaviour is enhanced when they are tired or hungry (which Mrs. W. noticed when she went out with her son), after all anyone can have a meltdown when they are tired or hungry, but toddlers don’t have the self restraint not to give in to it.

The best way to deal with tantrums at this age is distraction and removal, and knowing what triggers the tantrums (your normally sweet little angel always has a tantrum in the grocery store late afternoon? Maybe she is hungry? Give her a cracker! If that’s not the problem, enlist her to help you, ask her to help putting things in the cart, go get the breakfast cereals to keep her occupied). Off course, you may notice that they are trying to push the limits especially when they are nearing three, and then you need to stand firm, never give in and if necessary remove them from the place. Testing the boundaries is a normal phase around three and notice that there are boundaries, and they need (and want) the parent or caregiver to reinforce the boundaries because it gives them a sense of security. But that is a matter totally different from the kind of tantrums Zev is currently having. All I want to say is, that a tantrum is not necessarily a sign of bad behaviour at this age.

As for the separation anxiety, I agree with those who say, keep the goodbyes short and predictable, and never show him that it breaks your heart to see him this upset. Remember, this too shall pass, one day you’ll drop him off, and he’ll run off to play with his friends, barely having time to kiss you good bye.

Julie on

I love your openness and honesty! It’s refreshing! As a mom of two boys, I want to reassure you that you have years of snuggles ahead 🙂 My 9 yr old still loves to snuggle with me, and my 18 yr old was happy to snuggle until he was about 9 or 10. I have heard that girls get over that much, much sooner, but those of us with boys get to have all the snuggles!! Also, anyone who has had a normal 2 yr old knows that you need to take a break with the girlfriends sometimes and have dad take over. Sometimes I think that 2 and 3 yr olds were created just to drive us over the brink to madness! I know you will get through it though. Don’t forget to tell your hubby how much you appreciate him!

blessedwithboys on

He’s not manipulative, he’s just asking to have his needs met. Smart boy! If you’re going to leave him screaming and then make up for your own guilt with junk food, by all means, at least do the right thing at night and let him in your bed when he asks.

Linda on

Hi Marissa,
Have you ever read the book, “The Family Bed” by Tine Thevenin?
It doesn’t work for every family, but it worked for us.

First, the Mom and Dad both have to agree it’s okay for a wee one to sleep and snuggle with parents at night. If one parent is against the idea, it won’t work. My husband loves it when our little boy curls up between us feeling happy and secure. You never saw a more serene, blissful face on a child. On the days my husband has to work late and doesn’t get as much family time as he would like, watching our son sleeping and dreaming next to us……kinda makes up for some of that day’s lost time.

Honestly, I think it’s only natural for babies and small kids to want to be near their parents at night, in the dark. They feel safer with us than alone. Humans are the only animals on the planet who think it’s okay to plunk our kids in a separate bed, in a different room…….and then deliberately ignore our children crying out for us in the middle of the night……because we’re “trying to train the kids to fall back asleep on their own” or we’re “afraid the kids will become too attached and will never learn to become independent.”

Come on! Boys and girls have 18-years to learn how to become independent! And trust me, they won’t be sleeping in your bed when they’re bigger either! Ha! Ha! So relax, and enjoy all the cuddles you want. You BOTH deserve them.

Ms M on

Don’t start that sleeping with you, you will never stop. He’s just two and he will get over it. Right now he is just seeing how much he can get away with. You can not constanely give in too him. I know I’m a mother of two (adults) 2 grandchildren and 1 great grand. I’ve been thourght is all.

NoAdditives on

Separation anxiety is a normal part of life with baby or toddler. There are general ages when it happens but every child is different and as a child grows and develops it can happen or come back at different stages. My 2 year old daughter went through it when my husband was going to school when she was around a year old. Most days when he left she would scream and cry. It broke his heart and frustrated me. Then she’d do the same thing when I’d leave to run errands or go a doctor’s appointment (I was pregnant with my son). With time she understood that we’d always come back, that we never left for good. The only way we could avoid her emotional reactions was to distract her. We’d take her into a bedroom and we’d play while the other parent snuck out.

We also went through this for a short time when we moved a few months ago, just before she turned 2. Again, the distraction method was the only thing that worked. The best distraction at the time was asking if she wanted popcorn. Which she did, it’s one of her favorites! And she’s finally to the point where I’m allowed to leave with her little brother and she doesn’t cry to come with us. Now whenever one of us leaves, even with our son, she just waves and says, “Bye!” and happily goes back to whatever she was doing.

As far as sleeping goes, don’t feel bad about wanting to sleep with Zev. As you said, he’s only little for a short time and there’s no reason to encourage him to grow up to quickly or to miss our on all the sweetness and love that little ones have. Both my kids sleep in their own beds but there are still plenty of nights that one or both of them sleep in my bed. My daughter will wake up from a bad dream and she just won’t be able to sleep in her bed. Or my son, who we’re weaning off of nighttime feedings, won’t be able to sleep through the night without either eating for sleeping with me.

I co-slept with both of them and I have no problem with sleeping with them as they get a little older. After all, they’re just babies. Even toddlers can’t really be expected to behave like mini adults. They just aren’t capable mentally or emotionally. So if Zev cries out for you and you want to sleep with him, do it. It really will not hurt his development or make him unable to sleep on his own as he gets older. What Zev needs most right now is to know that you love him and that you’ll be there when he needs you. That’s what all babies and toddlers need and providing that gives them a sense of security that helps them grow into confident adults with great self-esteem.

Give him the love and attention he needs and try to give him more Daddy time. He’ll soon learn that time without Mommy can be just as fun and wonderful as time with Mommy.

NoAdditives on


I completely agree with you!!!

It makes me so sad when I hear people putting their newborns in a crib in a separate room! A baby has just spent its entire life inside your body, how in the world is it natural to make them sleep in another room?

Halley on

I am sure all sorts of haterish people are going to say haterish things, so let me just go ahead and say, ignore them all!!! My son is a great kid, do I sometimes bribe good behavior with treats like giant donuts- yep, sure do! I also love, love, love co-sleeping, and did it forever. My son is almost 7.5 now, and he sleeps in his room most nights, but you’d best believe if he had wanted me to sleep with him when he was two, I sure would have. Soon enough, he’ll be a teenager, and will barely want to acknowledge I am alive, so I am taking what I can get while I can get it, and you should too. Also, dont feel bad about sending the baby with his dad to the zoo. It was good for all of you. I love my son more than the sun, moon, and stars, but we all need a break sometimes!

Lily on

Keep the faith’s only a phase…and read A Feminine will help dramatically!

Lorena on

Wow….I am a mother of an 11 year old boy, 7 year girl and a 3 year boy and until this day, the guilt eats me alive. The two youngest stil sleep with me in my bedroom. Samething, “Mommy hug me” and off to sleep in minutes. I get home extremely tired from work, but their love, hugs, and smiles at the end of the day is all well worth it. THANK YOU so much for making realize that I am not the only one who goes through this. Keep up the good work to all you mommies. We will be ok.

Jenn on

@Tracy, I totally sgree. My fiance had Monday’s and Tueday’s off and I will be taking all week off next week, but still plan on sending my son to daycare so we/I can have some much needed alone time!

Marissa, I love reading your blog. My son is only 13 months and I can’t resist snuggling with him either! When my fiance works night’s I usually let me son sleep in the bed with me. I love snuggling him and I love that he gives kisses all the time. I treasure them now because I know he won’t do it forever. My son sleeps in his crib, but sometimes wakes up @ 2 or 3 in the morning and I bring him into the bed until he wakes up @ 6. Thank you for sharing your stories and for being so honest. Love your blog and look forward to the next one!

Lisa on

I’m the mom to an 18 and 23 year old wonderful women and both my husband and I have had full-time outside of the home jobs their entire lives. I didn’t want kids to have them hang all over me and be attached to me all the time. I didn’t tolerate any shenanigans like your son is getting away with. Remember you are the parent and he is totally manipulating you and is winning.

Yes, you have to set boundaries with him, letting him know that you are only coming back once more at night, etc. Let him whine/cry for a while, he’ll get it. It will be difficult for you but in the long run it will work. YOU can’t cave in or your kids take charge of your life instead of you taking charge of theirs. Parenting is setting limits. Yea Yea Yea, I know they are cute and you love them BUT…