Separating from Infants and Toddlers
Separating from our loved ones is a lifelong process. If you think of separation in the broadest terms, it begins at birth and ends at death. In a more limited way, it happens every day as we say good-bye to various members of our family when we or they go to work, school, child care or the corner store.
While each family handles these daily separations in its own way, the act of leaving our very youngest children in the care of another is what seems to cause the most stress. Adjusting to such a separation may challenge individual parents in different ways. Separating will also be a different process with each individual child in a family or with each child care provider along the way. The sadness or anxiety caused by initial separations can resurface as children grow older and can be triggered by many different kinds of situations, such as travel, illness or the birth of a sibling.
Separation Can Be Extremely Hard For Working Parents
Many working parents who grew up in the 1950’s and 60’s came from families in which the mother worked in the home, and for many the belief still lingers that that’s where mothers belong. In addition, the workplace has not yet adapted to the needs of working families. Many mothers strive to be good employees while remaining “old fashioned moms” – doing all things for everyone. The situation can cause a tremendous amount of guilt, stress and feelings of inadequacy as a parent. If you choose to work, or have no choice but to work, you will need to find ways to keep these feelings at a manageable level.
Separation as Growth Opportunity
Despite the stresses separations can cause, there are ways to ease the “pain” and turn this process into an opportunity. It can be a time for parents to examine their fears, beliefs and goals and to reaffirm their love and attachment to their children. For children, mastering separation at an early age can lay the foundation to meet this and other challenges with trust and confidence throughout life. We hope that some of the following suggestions work for you as your child enters the world of child care.
Reprinted with the permission of BANANAS, Inc. © 2007 BANANAS
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