I have a 22-month old boy and a 2-month old little girl. My husband is with the state national guard and started his basic training a month or so ago, is now back for Christmas, and will go back in a few days' time for another 6 month with no break. Both kids will go to daycare as I resume working full-time in a few days time. Luckily, I have very helpful in-laws living nearby to help out on a daily basis. However, in the previous month of my husband's absence, I noticed behavior issues with my older child, including resisting going to daycare (his dad always takes him in), resisting bath time and bedtime (his dad always plays a part), and general tantrums. These issues alleviated soon after dad returned. I don't know for sure if his behavioral issues are 100% attributed to his dad not being around, but it seems that plays a significant part. Despite my complaint of my husband while he is here that he doesn't help enough, I realize now that his presence is great for the older boy. With my husband leaving soon, I am very anxious. I am also guilty that I need go back to work, creating even more change for my kids. I am also sad that my little boy is just of that age that he does not understand dad will be gone for a certain length of time, and is probably just confused about where he is. Am I dooming my parenting by my own worries? Any concrete advice on how to act generally without the dad in the picture for now and make the toddler feel secure and disciplined would be greatly appreciate. Thank you.
Hello, and thank you for writing. It's clear that you're grappling with some guilt issues about going back to work and leaving your little ones in the care of your in-laws while your husband is in basic training. You're also sad because he's leaving, and worried that your son will again have a difficult time adjusting. The silver lining is that you've realized just how much your kids need their dad, even if you think that he doesn't always help enough! (By the way, dads are not mind readers and are generally happy to help when asked.)
All those emotions are understandable and normal, but they can't determine what you do about your toddler's meltdowns (which will likely resume once his dad leaves). Children thrive on routine and predictability, so make sure to keep to your routines as much as possible. If your husband is able to video chat with you all on a regular schedule, I highly recommend setting that schedule and sticking to it. Have your son draw pictures for Dad, and dictate letters to you that he can mail to his dad. Keep doing the things you know he loves, and add some new fun activities to do together on the weekend, like going to the public library for a few new books or going to your local park to play, Greet each day as a new opportunity to grow closer to your children, and a chance to pat yourself on the back for having everything you need to navigate the next 6 months with love, leadership, grace and humor.
We're here for you as you get through the next months, and you will!
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