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Too Old for a Blankie?

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Momlogic's Diana worries: How long will my kid be carting his blanket around?

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Recently, Ryan Phillippe lamented the fact that his 8-year-old daughter, Ava, got upset after a paparrazzi shot of her with a blankie ended up in the tabloids and friends made fun of her. 

This is not only another reason to loathe the paps, but as a mom it made me wonder: How old is too old to have a blankie?

My blankie-toting son is now 6, but sometimes, in a fit of neurosis, I flash-forward 15 years as he's about to graduate from college. As he stands in cap and gown waiting to graduate (with honors), he turns, hands me a tattered blue square of fabric, and asks: "Can you just hold Bluey for a sec while I get my diploma?"

He and his pastel pal Bluey have been together since he was a baby. In fact, at one time there were many Blueys. We bought them in bulk after an unfortunate evening in California wine country spent searching a pitch black vineyard for "Original Bluey" as my son howled with separation anxiety.

Bluey no longer goes everywhere with him, but I still worry. Recently, I tried to broach the topic of perhaps spending a bit less time together. I began with: "You really love Bluey, don't you?" He nodded, matter-of-factly. 'Of course I do, Mom. Bluey has a heart and a soul."

O-K, then. Maybe it was time to call a professional. Luckily, momlogic friend and parent educator Jill Spivack, LCSW had some reassuring advice.

First of all, she says, never forcibly remove a blanket or other comfort item such as a stuffed animal from a child. 

"Taking away a blanket is saying 'You need to grow up!' when they're already growing up by leaps and bounds," Spivack says. "Don't battle about it and make it a control issue. Most kids just mature out of it on their own. At a certain point socially it does become embarrassing for kids to take out and be seen with their comfort objects."

"If you're concerned and want to set some rules, sit down and have a chat with your child. Tell him or her that you're worried that the blanket or lovey could get lost, and so you're making a new rule. Say: "When kids turn 4 (or 5, or whatever age you determine), the new rule is that blankets need to stay in bed. So that's what we're going to do. You can have your blanket at bedtime."

Spivack says that for some people, comfort objects never completely go away. And that's OK too. "I know some adults who still have their blankets or stuffed animals squirreled away," she says. "Who's that hurting? It's kind of sweet."

OK, I feel better now. I just hope my son doesn't have to get a powder blue tux at his wedding to match his blanket.

Have you experienced the blankie dilemma? How did you deal with it?

For more information and parenting tips from Jill Spivack, visit her Web site.


next: 2 Kids and 20 Bucks: Part 1
25 comments so far | Post a comment now
yani May 26, 2008, 5:45 PM

don’t worry, my kids were in pullups til age 4, and they’re perfectly ok today.

Kristen May 26, 2008, 9:20 PM

Well I’m not a mom, but I am a 21 year old “kid” that still has her blankie. I have had my blankie literally since the day I was born. My mom never let me carry it around in public, but I always carried it around the house when I was little. I think when I was 5 or so I was only allowed to have it at night. When I got older I started carrying it around the house again, and my parents never really mentioned it after that.

I think for me, having my blankie nearby is half habit and half a coping mechanism for stress. Being 21 years old, it’s pretty much in tatters, but it is very soft. It’s sort of like a pet for me (I’ve got allergies…if I didn’t, I think a cat would have replaced my blankie by now). I do have to have my blanket with me when I go to sleep at night, so I take it with me on vacations and stuff like that, but very inconspicuously. No one but my parents and brother even know I have a blankie.

Despite my attachement to my blankie, I’m a pretty normal adult. I’m living on my own, paying my bills, not in debt, going to school and I have a job :) Don’t take your son’s blankie away. It’s really no different than an adult drinking coffee every morning, or having a beer after work. It’s just a different sort of comfort habit.

Michelle May 28, 2008, 12:15 AM

A gal I know sent me this link because I had just been wondering how long my 3 year old son will hold onto his blankie (puppy as he calls him since he is a small dog with a blanket sewn on and dangling from his navel). We have two “puppy” blankets (he knows there are two but only gets one at a time with the washing rotation) and I was toying with the thought of getting another one before no one carries them anymore and I am scouring Ebay and paying a fortune for a triplet of his discontinued lovey.

I have no intentions of taking it away. More the opposite. I want to make sure there is a viable puppy around when ever he needs him. He has had him for every nap and every night since he was 4 months old and we started sleep training. They are inseparable most time, although I do draw the line and make him leave him in the car when we go somewhere. He’s ok with that and just gives him a huge hug and kiss and the traditional “ear pull” and he is fine to leave him to nap in the car. I just wonder, how long will it last? I can’t picture him at 7 wanting to be seen with his puppy, so I am sure he will be stuffed under his pillow somewhere by that time. But, I am ok with that. I don’t have anything like this from my childhood, but my sister does. She’s 26 now and a Child Psychologist with a Master’s degree and she STILL sleeps with her blanket (which is in tatters and shreds) from when she was a baby. I guess if the highly educated therapist who is supposed to help diagnose and help with child problems still finds it acceptable to sleep with HER blankie into adulthood, then I shouldn’t be worried about my 3 year old for at least 2 more decades. Right?!?

anndy June 13, 2008, 1:46 AM

im 12 almost 13 years old and i still have my blankie. yes i still have 2 have it when i sleep. thats y i cut a little piece of s o i can have blankie with me were ever i go incuding school and no1 knows. whenever i need comfort its always there in my pocket. no1 knows i have a blanket (name: Blankie, orignal i know) exept 4 my bro and mom (my dad would find him and through him away.

Aaane August 10, 2008, 6:38 AM

I hope yr dad throw it away anndy. Grow up fr fuk sake… Pathetic.

tommy November 27, 2008, 1:16 PM

I’m concerned that blankie adiction will lead to other addictions, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes.

Fiona December 20, 2008, 5:18 AM

Tommy,
I have had a blanket since I was a kid and I am afraid I have developed an alcohol problem. This is not to say your child will end up in my position. (I hope not, I wouldnt wish this on anyone.) In many ways the two are greatly linked. I treat drink as a comfort tool, much like the blanket.
I have alot of issues with feeling insecure and inferior. I use both objects as a tool to get away from this or to make me feel better about myself.
Not to alarm anyone. Im just saying theres strong connection.

Ribena March 1, 2009, 9:08 AM

Ohmygod Alchie scum! >:(

Angie March 3, 2009, 8:41 PM

The above comment was uncalled for.

Fiona, although I sympathize greatly with your situation, i do not agree there is a connection. That claim is a little OTT.

I have a 13 year old son who still has his comforter and it doesnt make him a bad person.

He cant sleep properly without it and he always has it when relaxing around the house because it helps him feel at ease. He keeps it in his schoolbag too.

Does it bother me as a mother? No. It isnt causing anyone any harm.

Whats the problem?

Dee March 3, 2009, 11:03 PM

I’m doing research on a project I’d like to do with my Grandson’s 1st grade class. Came across an article I thought some might find interesting.

Angie March 4, 2009, 8:38 AM

Hi Dee, your project sounds interesting. What does it address? Do you have a link to said article you can post?

Angie March 4, 2009, 8:44 AM

I decided to show this post to my son this morning. He seemed frightened by the negative comments on here but was glad to see he wasnt the only one. Well done to all you lovely people. As for the more shallow minded posters, i pity your judgment. It is people like you who take peoples childhood away by distressing young people. I was bullied at school but it seems like nothing compared to that dished out nowadays!

Angie March 4, 2009, 9:13 AM

I decided to show this post to my son this morning. He seemed frightened by the negative comments on here but was glad to see he wasnt the only one. Well done to all you lovely people. As for the more shallow minded posters, i pity your judgment. It is people like you who take peoples childhood away by distressing young people. I was bullied at school but it seems like nothing compared to that dished out nowadays!

Elliott March 5, 2009, 7:51 AM

am gessin ur unemployd angy lol uve gt way 2 mch time on sittin on here moanin ah fink its a discrace folk havin kiddies hings at tha age
esp when yer maw is lettin u angy wht kinda maw r u ur son mus gt rite abuse at skl n ur no helpin!!! Gt a grip! ellie xxxxx

Willie March 17, 2009, 6:48 PM

I get it, I hear it all the time, “Whats the harm”. The harm is simple, the same thing that is happening with most of our youth. They can’t look inward to overcome their issues, be it fear, sickness, stress or whatever is plaguing them. We have broken my girlfriend kids of the Blankies. We did it when they got worn out. They are a boy that is 2 and a girl that is 4. The explained that the blanket (what was left of it) needs to be put away for safe keeping for when they are adults, my girlfriend still has hers. They listen and they understand. Go figure. My girlfriend’s X is trying to say that we are taking something away from the kids and they are hurting for it. I see these kids and they are fine, they are better than fine, they sleep through the night, play hard, do what they are told and will hug you like the day is long. I can’t tell you all the time we have saved not having to look for the blankie, not have to go back to the house because someone forgot it. And yes I have kids of my own 2 and 6 and they never had blankets, I did not growing up, I had my family. When I had an issue I talked to them and they listened and helped me. They did not give me a blanket to comfort me, they did. Nothing put me at ease like talking to my grandfather I can remember talking to him back when I was 5 years old telling me that everything is OK and to be strong. Why is strength and self-reliance looked down upon. And strength does not mean bullying, that’s someone acting out covering a weakness. I know that I have gone way beyond the topic at hand but you get my point.

One another note, my grandfather and father stressed that I should have a watch and a pocket knife on my at all times, which I do today and I just don’t feel right if I don’t. The second I don’t have them someone will ask me for the time or to open a package. I don’t think I am using them as a coping tool, but rather as actual tools. Just my 2 cents…..

Anonymous April 19, 2009, 2:38 PM

I’m 21 and I still have my blankie. When I was a baby, my mom used to use those cloth diapers (never actually used AS diapers) to put on her shoulder when she burped me. I got used to smelling them and having them against my face, and I’ve kept them for 21 years, even replacing the whole set twice. I am worried that, if I hadn’t been able to turn to my blankie for comfort, I would have started drinking or smoking or something. So in that way, I’m glad I have it—there are worse things. Now though, I want to be free to travel without it, to NOT have to do laundry so that I can have a clean one every night, to break free from it. I wish my parents would have been stricter with their wean-me-off-the-blanie-as-a-kid program, so that I wouldn’t have to do it myself as an adult. I love my blankies, but I wish now that my parents had used more parental power so I dont have to use so much willpower to quit.

Rita June 23, 2009, 6:10 AM

mmm blankie is so soft blankie so smooth and warm i wrap myself in his soft lovely fabric make me happy and help to sleep

i am 43

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Pillie April 29, 2010, 9:52 AM

My parents were never strict about “no blankies” and my brother stopped using his around kindergarten. I still had mine in high school and while I did still enjoy it (I’d run the edges of the fabric through my fingers), I never needed to take it to camp or to sleep-overs. I eventually grew disinterested in it. While I remembered it fondly, I no longer got any pleasure from fiddling with the fabric.
Recently, I went through a tragic experience and noticed I’d started fiddling with my pillow-case again. So here I am, typing with my pillie on my lap. Is it embarrassing? Sure. But I’m not overly worried about it. I need that comfort right now but I’m confident that someday, I’ll loose interest in it again. Even if I don’t, so what? I’m in my late twenties and a scholarship-winning law student; having a blankie in high school did me no harm.
I would only enforce that the “blankie” not go out in public because, as previously mentioned (and exemplified in this blog), bullies don’t really have limits these days.

Normal May 17, 2010, 7:16 PM

I’m 24 years old with a “blankie.” I work a full time job, I graduated college with a major in paralegal law. I have never smoked pot or done drugs. I don’t even smoke cigarettes! I pay my bills the day they come in the mail. So I may be an adult with an addiction, but these “bullies” who come on here to insult us really have no room to talk. Their addiction is belittling people. I think it’s safe to say that my addiction isn’t harming anyone ( except for maybe myself.) A blanket is simply a coping mechanism. The fact of the matter is, depite all insults against us, we’re just like anyone else. We could be a lot worse off. We’re not serial killers or rapists. We don’t have sick minds. We just find comfort in an inanimate object that we couldn’t let go of as children. I’m a well educated, motivated, hard working individual. Having a blankie as an adult has not done anything to prevent me from “growing up” or moving forward and advancing in life. It’s ok to take comfort in something that we love ( even when other people don’t approve. ) The only concern people should have for their child’s sake is confronting the issue in the future when it comes time to move in with someone who can’t accept this coping mechanism. Good luck.


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