“Children serve doubts” – Why parenting is sometimes really difficult

“Nest warmth that gives wings” is the name of the work by bestselling author Stefanie Stahl, which she wrote together with Julia Tomuschat. Her message: If you want to offer children a warm nest and still want to educate them to be independent, you should know and understand yourself well.

At the latest since her bestseller “The child in you must find a home”, the psychologist Stefanie Stahl has been the queen of life advisors. The strong images and her feeling for language make her books entertaining, comprehensible and wonderfully tangible even for psychology laypeople. Together with co-author Julia Tomuschat, she has now devoted herself to the ultimate parental question with the guide “Nest warmth that gives wings”: How do we give our children roots and wings, i.e. the right amount of bonding and freedom? How do we keep these two poles in balance?

We spoke to the best-selling author about early childhood imprinting and parental self-doubt.

BARBARA: The subtitle of the book “Give support and give freedom – how we educate without educating” already suggests that the book is no ordinary, that’s how it works and no other way educational novel. What makes your book different from the parenting guides we know?

Stefanie Stahl: When it comes to the question of how we raise a child, it’s not so much about the child, but above all about ourselves, our bonding behavior, our own autonomy and our self-esteem. The book is therefore primarily devoted to these three poles, which are rooted in one’s own childhood experiences. It would actually be perfect if you read the book as a preparation for your own role as a mother or father. The better you know and understand yourself, the better you can reflect on yourself as a parent.

What exactly do you mean by nest warmth?

Every human being has an existential need for attachment from birth. Even babies make an effort to build a good bond with their caregivers, for example by smiling at them. This need for closeness and support is deeply rooted in us, after all it ensures our survival. Our attachment behavior towards our children depends to a large extent on how we were formed. For example, a mother who experienced a great lack of love during her own childhood runs the risk of tying her child too closely to satisfy her own need for cuddles. So it’s not about the closest possible bond, but about the right amount of bond.

So a bond that still leaves room for freedom?

Exactly. Because the desire for autonomy is another important pole for every human being. Balancing these two needs – attachment and autonomy – accompanies us, so to speak, from the cradle to the grave. Basically, all world events can be explained with these two poles.

How can I tell if the two poles are well balanced for me?

Both poles bring certain skills with them. People who tend towards attachment are great listeners, are willing to compromise, and like to adapt well to their counterparts. They are very good at bonding with their children and taking great care of them. However, they often find it difficult to let go of their children as they grow older. Parents who tend towards autonomy need a lot of freedom themselves. They are very good at trusting their children and promoting their independence. However, these parents quickly feel constrained by the needs of young children. If you are in balance, you are in a good position at all times and you can both let go and adapt to the child’s needs quite well. There are also parents who alternately gravitate in one direction and then the other. This happens, for example, when they sacrifice themselves too much and then really break out.

Why is it so important to know what makes you tick when you have children?

Because our own imprint is the glasses through which we see the child and the world. And because we can better classify and adjust our own reactions when we understand where they come from. That’s why it’s good to keep reflecting and questioning yourself.

But how do you manage to stay friendly with yourself when reflecting and not drift into self-reproach?

By consciously switching to wide angle again and again when you notice that you are focusing too much on your own mistakes. The brain has a tendency to keep tipping into the negative if you leave it to think on its own. Noticing mistakes ensures our survival, so it’s normal for that to happen. It then helps to consciously bring your own strengths into the picture along with the mistakes and to say to yourself: “Hey, just thinking about it is great”.

What time in childhood is the most formative?

Clearly: the first lifetime. The brain is immature at birth and develops rapidly in early life. But also in puberty a lot is reorganized again.

What can I do if I happen to put my embossing on the children’s backs?

It’s always good to take a step back and ask yourself: Where are my triggers, my sore points, my behavioral strategies? Then we can think about how we can do better next time – mental preparation is the best prevention. It is also important that we as parents take good care of ourselves. It’s easy for us to slip into old behaviors when we’re under stress. Sometimes an apology to the child is simply appropriate.

Which is more difficult: raising a child who is very similar to you or a child who is very different from yourself?

I think both are great challenges. If the child is very similar to you, you constantly look in the mirror. If it is completely different, one can again lack understanding. Neither is easy. However, how difficult you find it has a lot to do with your own self-confidence. The more self-confident I am, the easier it is for me to have a relationship with my children, because children serve doubts.

Is it still possible to have an elementary influence on self-confidence as an adult?

(laughs) If I didn’t believe in that, I would have lost my job. You can definitely do that.


A book for all parents who want their children to grow up to be strong and happy personalities.

“Nest warmth that gives wings. Giving support and freedom – how we educate without educating” by Stefanie Stahl and Julia Tomuschat


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