My husband works abroad for a year now. He will be home again next month. My 2 year-old fears other person she barely knows or see. I know it will hurt my husband's feelings. What should I do to make her feel comfortable with him and won't feel anxious?
That must be extremely difficult at times for all of you. You do so well to care for your daughters when your husband is working abroad. I bet you can't wait to see him again!
I think what is important here is that it will take time for all of you to adjust to him being back. How long will your husband be home for? Your 2 year old is sadly unlikely to remember her dad because the last time she saw him she would have been very young. I would start showing photos of him to her and videos too if possible. Are you able to use Skype to video call your husband? This real-time video interaction can be excellent for children building relationships from a distance.
You could put together a scrap book which explains to your daughter more about her daddy, with lots of pictures and photos. For example, stick in it pictures of clothes he likes wearing or hobbies he has. Make a page about fun things you are all going to do together to look forward to.
When the time comes for him to join you at home again, I would try to deal with your children sensitively and gently. They may be feeling all kinds of emotions and perhaps unable to properly express them (this is likely to also be the case for your older child). Give them lots of leeway if they seem shy, unsettled or angry. Explain all this to your husband in advance. Of course, he must be missing his children so much but as you transition to living together again you must both put your children first and your own emotions second. Videos and photos of your children for your husband (sent to him in advance) may also help him to bond with his children again easier.
You could try using some role-play with your children's teddies or dolls. Have a teddy play each family member and act out what is going to happen. Ask your children to tell you how teddy is feeling and let them know that it is ok to feel like that. It will get easier with time. Some children find it helpful to draw pictures expressing how they are feeling.
It may be nice to plan some special family days out in the first week that he is home. Everyone can then hopefully relax and have fun together making new family memories.
I hope this transition time goes smoothly and happily for you all.
We seldom talk/video chat because he is on-board on a ship with no WIFI. He is a seafarer. I may need to try your suggestions. I really hope it is not too late. Thank you so much for the great advice.
That must be very difficult Leslie.
It's not too late - try and put some of the suggestions in place that would work for you e.g. sharing photos with your daughter of your husband and with your husband of your daughter. You could also start writing your husband a short paragraph with the highlights, and difficult times, of each day so that he feels in touch with the details of your day and your emotions. It just takes a bit more effort and planning when a parent has to work overseas. What is important is to keep your communication open and honest. How long will your husband be back for?
Thinking of you,
You are right, LJ. Thank you. He will be staying with us for couple of months only.
At least you can pack that couple of months with lots of special family bonding times. Here are some ideas of fun things to do together as a family:
- go on an orienteering walk
- go to the zoo or a farm or even simply a pet shop!
- draw portraits of each other
- create a family scrap book of memories along the way
- plan a special menu and cook a meal together
- have a teddy bears picnic
- fly a kite
- go on a barefoot walk in your garden or a friend's garden; squelch through the mud and feel the shapes of the stones on your feet
- feed the ducks at the park
- let your children plan the day's activities
Have fun and enjoy.
Thinking of you,
Thanks again. I'm collecting pictures of my family now and my children helped me too.