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My husband got word today that he is to leave on Monday to help his employer set up a branch office on the other side of the country. He will be gone for about six months. The pay is substantial, and with a new baby on the way we need the money. The company will fly him home just three times during the six months. My son loves his daddy, and will surely notice when he doesn’t come home anymore. How can I help him understand?
Unfortunately, age 2 is a bit young to understand such subtleties as budgeting. You don’t want to set a bad precedent by lying to him, yet at the same time, providing all the details will not make him understand the situation any better.
Your best strategy involves building on something the boy already understands. Presumably, your husband already goes to work during the day, and your son knows that the man is not going to be home. Mommy and Daddy need to sit down with the boy and let him know that his father’s work schedule is about to change. Don’t offer details beyond that unless he asks for them. Instead, focus on the realities of the separation and let the boy know that it’s only temporary.
There’s no way to truly blunt the effects of this change. Your son will not be happy about it, nor should he be. Do not get upset if he responds negatively to the news. If your son is unusually savvy, you might be able to explain the issue by relating it to advancement. This assignment will help your husband move forward in his career, like a boy might move forward through preschool and on to higher grades. Of course, this argument will just sound like Greek to many 2-year-olds, but you know your child better than I do. Brainstorm with your husband for an analogy that will make sense to him.
To ease the pain, I recommend taking the following steps:
- Use some of this newfound money to fund visits beyond the three the company will arrange. At least once, fly out there with the boy, so he can see where Daddy is living and what he is doing.
- Suggest that your husband talk to his son by phone at least once a day. This may be frustrating to the man, as few children that young are comfortable on the phone. But hearing Dad’s voice regularly should provide your son some comfort.
- Purchase videoconferencing software and cameras. In the computer age, it’s easier than ever for families separated by distance to keep in touch. Install the needed equipment on your husband’s laptop and on your home computer. It will cost some money, but not too much if you shop around, and the benefits could be invaluable. Your husband and son should talk face to face at least a couple times a week.
- Make sure your son understands that his father’s actions are not the boy’s fault. Your husband needs to assure the boy that he is still loved, and that their family will be together soon. Do not be surprised if your son needs this message delivered more than once.
- Set up a page at Facebook or Blogspot so you can keep photos of the boy and the father in front of each other.
My baby boy is 15, and his buddies are the tough guys. After wearing a jacket around the house for a week, he finally showed me a tattoo, a big red heart with “Mom” in the middle. Is it wrong to be proud of him? Should I be mad, or should I raise his allowance?
Let’s recap. Your minor child allowed a stranger to inject ink into his skin with a needle. Without talking to you about it first.
Yes, you should be mad. No, you should not be proud. And whatever you do, don’t provide him with tacit approval for more tattoos by raising his allowance. The fact that the tattoo reads “Mom” has nothing to do with it. Age 15 is far too young for a child to make such a decision regarding a permanent change to his body.
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