(By "old country," I mean a country in which a parent grew up but where the family does not currently live.)
I know of many bicultural families who live in the US who send their kids (with or without the mother and/or father) to the old country for a long period during the summer months. If you are trying to help your family maintain a connection with an "old country," I would love to know your thoughts/experiences regarding the following.
Last time we went to Lebanon in the winter of 2011, my daughter was 15 months old, and it was really a stressful and difficult visit for her and me. We were apart from my husband for 2 weeks. Even though I get along well with my in-laws, I was totally overwhelmed by my daughter's emotional needs to have my undivided attention for 24 hours a day, amidst her missing her father and teething and developmental milestones. Then my daughter got a terrible flu-like cold, and then I caught it much worse and could barely function for the last week. I was a terrible houseguest, I'm sure. During my sickness, my mother-in-law was amazing in caring for my daughter, took her on lots of visits to relatives .
My daughter is really, really bonded with my husband. At home she normally gets 5 or 6 hours a day on work days with him, and he is a "kid person" through and through. Also, I think while we were in "his country," she just seemed to feel more comfortable and secure with him there. She is a very easy going, flexible, and happy child up until now, but she goes through her difficult times. I know it's hard to predict, but can I expect a big difference in her reaction, based on the developmental changes that happen between 15 months and 2.5 years?
This year, there will be many things that are different. I'm a more experienced and mature parent. My daughter will be around 2 years and 7 months old and is already very verbal. She knows her extended family through Skype. She speaks Arabic as her dominant language. I speak much better Arabic. The season will be spring (probably April/May), so the weather should be nice for part of the time, at least, and maybe we won't get so sick.
My original hope was to stay in Lebanon with my daughter (sans husband) for a longer period this time, maybe even a couple of months, to advance our language and cultural bonding (and because I thought it would be fun). After my horrible trip last time, I'm thinking to decrease the period of separation considerably. I feel like these visits are so precious that I want to make the most of them, for the sake of extended family bonding, cultural connection, and language support (for her and me). But I don't want to overdo it.
If you have dealt with these same kinds of issues, what do you think?
Edited by sky_and_lavender - 10/18/11 at 7:51am