I have been thinking about this a lot more now that dd is getting bigger (3 yrs old) and wonder what the rest of you think? It is very normal in Europe especially for families to live together and for grandparents, uncles, aunts to have constant contact and "help parent" DC's. Grandparents especially have a special role in childrens' lives and parents don't think twice about letting their kids spend lots of time with extended family. This social philosphy, however, is not employed here in the U.S. for a number of reasons...people don't live in the same dwelling, distance, more work opportunities, the break-down of family, etc.
In any case, for the first two years of dd's life, I felt adamantly that there was no reason for her to have extensive contact (like spending the nights) with her grandparents. I really felt like it was totally dh and my responsibility to provide ALL of her nurturing and that I was shirking my duties as a parent if I allowed others to help. Now, however, I am rethinking the whole "It takes a village" philosophy. When dd turned 2, I started letting her spend a night here and there with my parents. My grandmother lives with them and between my dad, mom and grandmother, dd has TONS of attention that she thrives on. It also gives dh and I a little alone time (you know....where you can actually sleep in past 6, not have to fix breakfast, take a leisurely shower
) This summer, I actually let her spend a couple of consecutive nights with my parents. DD loved it and I found myself, guiltily, enjoying the break from her. (FYI my parents live about 30 minutes away)
I've realized that dd learns things from them that I can't provide her with. She learns all sorts of things...new songs, reads new books, new ways of communicating, etc. She loves it and I feel like she is enriched by those experiences. Since having dd#2 (who is 7 weeks old) I am more and more tempted to let dd#1 go over to her grandparents' house. It gives her some one-on-one time that I don't have to give her like I used to. It also gives me time alone with the baby. This past weekend she spent 2 nights with grandparents. Although I missed her, part of me kept thinking how nice it was to have that time to myself and not have the whole responsibility. I didn't have any qualms about the level of care she was receiving. The other part felt guilty for thinking that and feeling like it was a cop-out to let someone else take care of her. But, then I go back to the whole "it takes a village" philosophy.
What do you think about that philosophy, and do your kids have extensive interaction (such as nights, long days, etc) away from you and with a member of your family or other trusted person?