I need some help with a behavior issue that is now turning into a marital issue.
Yesterday I returned from a family member's funeral out of state. I left the kids at home with DH while I was at the funeral. It was the first time that I have ever been separated from my kids overnight - my kids are age 4 & 10 - and I was gone for 2 nights.
The kids behaved perfectly for DH while I was away. They were sweet, affectionate, helpful, and everything went smoothly. My 10 year old (dx ASD) did not stim at all, my 4 year old did not have any tantrums and complied calmly with all of DH's requests. They came to pick me up at the airport yesterday. I get in the car and say, "Hi! I missed you!" My 10 year old immediately starts stimming, my 4 year old starts fussing and refusing to speak. At home, my 10 year old immediately started compulsively picking on his little brother, my 4 year old refused to take a bath (we have bathtime at the same time every day) and resists every request I make. Getting ready for school today involved a lot of crying.
I'll let you figure what DH had to say about the sudden change in behavior. I tried explaining to DH that this is a normal emotional reaction after separation. He's not buying it. Can you help me find a scientific article from a mainstream source that explains children's emotional reactions to separation and reunion? Or an article that explains why ASD kids behave differently with different caregivers?
Supportive comments only, please. Negative remarks about my DH are not helpful in this situation.
You were gone, now your back. The kids behaviour stayed the same bc they didnt leave the house. Their lives stayed pretty consistent bc they remained in their own environment. The variable was you. So therefore the behaviours triggers were you returning. It is pretty standard behaviour. I dont know many scientific reports to support it. Just plain old expereince.
I believe you misunderstood.
I posted this in Special Needs Parenting because I have 1 child with autism and another child with some autistic personality traits. My DS1 stims CONSTANTLY when I am around, but his stimming stopped COMPLETELY when I was away at the funeral for 2.5 days. My DS2 is highly sensitive (plenty of fussing and crying most days), but remained calm and affectionate with DH the entire time I was away. The minute I greeted my children, the stimming and tantrums started again. DH is saying negative things about my parenting as a result, since the behaviors only come out when I am present.
I am looking for information about Attachment Theory and separation/reunion behaviors, especially in relation to autism. Thanks!
I don't have any articles or references for you. But I can say that this happens in my house too and I get blamed for being the bad parent since my son behaves when I am away.
I'm sorry for your loss and for the grief that you are going through, and that your homecoming is so rough.
This actually made me laugh out loud.
We've had very, very similar things happen at our house. I don't get it, but don't know of any papers that would explain and justify it.
My ASD does GREAT with dad. I really wish he were around more and spent more time with her because they are just awesome together. She is so happy when they are just together. In our case, I honestly think part of it because my DH is gone a lot -- he travels with his job and works long hours and the kids both are different when they get time with him.
I'm always around. I was a SAHM until they were nearly teens. They take me for granted (in a good way) and are just exactly how they feel around me.
Also, my DH is more about the moment and just accepting the lushness of time together. I'm the one who has to get stuff done. He's the fun parent, I'm the one making sure they actually get raised -- brush their teeth, learn to pick up after themselves, etc.
Sometimes there are things we can tweak in our parenting to help our kids find their strengths, but I think it is really normal for kids to show different behaviors around mom and dad. It's more extreme in some families than others, and ASD really ups the anti.
Both Dr Sears and Dr Brazelton are wonderful writers about babies and children. Both of them assert that when a child has been separated from, and then reunited with, its mother, it will cry and carry on in various ways because it feels emotionally comfortable again. The fact that the child is attached to its mother causes the freedom to express emotions, even negative or frustrating ones, especially those that have been pent up during a separation. My child is most likely NT and does this every time she is left with her beloved nanny. I come home, she flips. Whines, cries, writhes, pulls off her diaper. It's because of the comfort of seeing me again and feeling an emotional release. Still, it doesn't feel so great for the mother!
So, it sounds to me that your children are attached to you in a really good way that manifests itself in some objectively undesirable behaviors. Who could blame them, especially after your first overnight away, which was even more than one night (not that it's your fault, of course)?
I don't have the exact quotes from Sears and Brazelton, but you can tell your husband about it anyway, I promise it's in their books :)
I don't have any links sorry. My kids do the same thing-even the "non special needs" ones. Just curious-but is your personality a lot different than your husbands? Mine is. I am a very high strung/anxious person and my kids seem to feed off me a lot. When it is just dh-they seem a lot calmer. I've wondered why before and I think it's just them feeding off me. Possible for yours?
This is a totally normal (meaning for both SN & NT kids) reaction. It's the same reason you see kids a perfect little angels at school and come home and become satan.
Your children feel safe with you. They can be whomever they are whether it's a loving sweet child or a stimming pouty mess.
I am going to make an assumption here and if I'm wrong, please forgive me but your family sounds similar to mine....
You are the one who sets the boundaries. You are the one who disciplines. You do the bulk of the parenting. Not saying your husband doesn't contribute but the major stuff falls to you. Dad is the fun one. They kids adore him but subconsciously, they just don't know where they stand with him any more than they do their teacher so they do their best to be on good behavior because they just don't know where that line is. Mom walks in and the kids know that, even though she's the one who does the punishing and maybe isn't as fun as Dad, no matter what she understands and loves them and they can be who they are and so they are.
Your children acting out are not a reflection of bad parenting on your part. In fact, it's a reflection of good parenting and you should feel honored (yes, I know it sucks at the time) that your children feel safe and secure with you to let it alllll hang out :)
No sites to offer - just sharing the words of many different therapists I've seen over the years.