How does a 2.5 y.o. react to being separated from father for weeks? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 12 Old 10-18-2011, 08:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We're planning on taking our daughter to my husband's country of birth (for the third time) when she is about 2.5 (or so). She will be away from my husband (who she is very attached to) for at least a  few weeks. Our last trip, when she was 15 months, was really hard. She was constantly needy and just angstful (contrary to her usual happy, easy going self). It was hard on both of us. (And people on this forum warned me it could be hard, I just didn't realize how hard! Thank you, wise people.)

 

Is travel and separation at age 2.5 likely to be easier than it was at 15 months?

 

I've posted a similar but more detailed question in the Multicultural Parents forum. Thank you!



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#2 of 12 Old 10-19-2011, 12:21 PM
 
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I'm sorry to be nosy, but I read both of your questions and I am sitting here puzzling over why, when you go to your husband's country of origin, you are going without him?

 

FWIW, I am an expat and will be returning to the US for 3 weeks with my (then) 18 month old this winter, without my husband (who is from the EU). I am also worried about the same thing. He has spent a few days without his dad, but never more than that, and I am worried the effect it will have on him. So I'll be curious to hear what others have to say here.


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#3 of 12 Old 10-19-2011, 01:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi P.J.

 

I am not exactly going without him. We will be going together at first, then he will go elsewhere to work for a few weeks while I stay. Then we will probably meet again in his country and fly back to the US. If he had more time off or if I did not want to be separate from him, I would stay for a couple of months. :)

 

I hope some people have some experiences to share with us! Good luck with your trip!



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#4 of 12 Old 10-19-2011, 05:25 PM
 
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I feel like I shouldn't be answering this for multiple reasons, but I also feel compelled to say I think it sounds really rough. greensad.gif I don't know, I know my kid is especially sensitive, but I can't imagine him being away from his father for more than a day or two (and he's actually closer to me than to him). I don't even know if he'd be OK for a single night without DH in the bed with us. Even short separations are really hard on him.

I think maybe what you are asking is the developmental difference between 15mos & 2.5? While the day-to-day separation anxiety seems to be higher around 15mos -- when just stepping out of the room is a problem -- the overall anxiety seems to be a little worse at 2.5, which is how old my DS is now. At this age, he has a strong sense of our family, how things go, our routine, and really thrives on familiarity. Maybe that was always true, but it's much more apparent now, and he's really able to verbalize his anxiety, which makes it both easier & harder. He also is still getting a couple of the 2-year molars, and is just starting in on the 3-year-old nightmares/fears/phobias and a new round of clinginess. I actually think an extended separation at this point would be harder than one at 15mos (traumatic, actually), and I have a feeling many of my friends with 2.5yo's would say the same.

I hate to be so negative, maybe some will chime in with a more positive outlook! If it were me, I would keep the separation as short as possible (or not separate at all), even if it means cutting the trip short.

If you have to shorten your trip, would it be possible to have his family visit you for an extended period of time so she can bond more with them but be home and with DH around?

Co-sleeping is really wonderful when your child actually SLEEPS!! familybed1.gif
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#5 of 12 Old 10-21-2011, 07:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, crunchy_mommy, for your feedback.

 

My daughter is a little different, it sounds like, from your son. She seems to handle separations of a day or two when my husband travels for work just fine, and she seems to understand explanations well. Last night after explaining after her nap that this would happen,  I went out to dinner and left my husband to put my daughter to bed (something that hasn't happened in a very long while), and even though I usually breastfeed her to sleep, she slept okay with him and stayed asleep until her usual awakening. But I'm aware that explanations probably won't help her as much when her heart is seriously missing her father.

 

I would love to hear from others with experience.



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#6 of 12 Old 10-21-2011, 07:14 AM
 
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Yeah, IDK, maybe my kid is just extra sensitive. His verbal skills & comprehension are light-years ahead of his age but no explanation makes a difference. He will cry, "But I LOOOOVE Daddy!!!!!!!!!!" or something and then just lose it.

Co-sleeping is really wonderful when your child actually SLEEPS!! familybed1.gif
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#7 of 12 Old 10-21-2011, 10:42 AM
 
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It totally depends on the the individual child.  But, I do think in general travel is going to be easier with a 2.5-year-old than a 15-month-old.  FWIW, we travel a lot and DD does as well on the road if not better than at home.  

 

DH has also been gone for long periods of time as wells as a couple of weeks here and there, and DD has not been phased by it at all.  She is so a daddy's girl.  (She calls me daddy sometimes when we are playing.)  That being said, she is very understanding when he leaves.  She is just very matter-of-fact about it.  "Daddy is on the other side of the world."  Hmm, I think it helped for her to have an early understanding of "daddy has to work" as well as geography.  I really can't explain it.  I don't know that it is typical.  I can only say that DD is very close to DH and does not mind all that much when he leaves.  I imagine it will get worse in a few years.

 

I would put money on this trip being much easier than your last.  15 months is a really hard age!

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#8 of 12 Old 10-23-2011, 05:33 PM
 
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I can let you know how it goes in a few months! Apparently I'm the world's worst mother, because I am taking my children to visit my family in another country (on another continent even!) for 3.5 months this January. DD will be just barely 3, and DS will be just barely 1. Honestly, I do worry a bit about the effects of the separation on the kids, but this is also an amazing opportunity for us. My parents are funding the trip, and we would otherwise not be able to go at all. My kids have never been to visit my parents/brother, and the last time I went was 5+ years ago. My husband can't come because of work obligations here. We've discussed it, and though we do see potential issues, the benefits far outweigh the challenges. It does feel a little hypocritical to me, because there is NO WAY I would even entertain the notion of allowing my children to be apart from me for 3 months. Our situation is a little different too, I guess, as my husband is involved in the kids lives, and they love him and enjoy spending time with him, but I wouldn't say he is anywhere near being the center of their universe. They definitely don't get distraught when we are away for a few days. 

We plan to skype nearly daily, and I plan to bring photos and a voice recording of my husband reading a few bedtime stories. 


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#9 of 12 Old 10-23-2011, 05:43 PM
 
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Well, I'm in a little different situation, as I am a single mama, and my ds and I just moved away from his dad (NYC to DC).  The one thing that makes it easier, is Skype.  If you've never done Skype before, definitely try it out.  My ds will be 3yo in January, so he's just a bit older than your dd.

 

I also have a photo book of pictures of ds and his dad together - its a great tool for those missing daddy moments when skype or phone isn't possible (schedule conflicts, time change, whatever).  Good luck!

 

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#10 of 12 Old 10-27-2011, 06:09 AM
 
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It does get easier. My husband goes away for weeks or longer than a month some times, and my son is about 2.5. When he sees dad the first day, he dosen't go to him, but after a while he warms up and goes and visits. I think for my DS its just he feels betrayed, like why did daddy leave me? My DD is diffrent, when her dad shows up shes all over him. I think one time she will end up fusing to him.

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#11 of 12 Old 10-27-2011, 06:44 PM
 
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My son will be 2 in November. He only sees his daddy about 4-7 days out of the month. My husband is a truck driver (and a brand new one at that) so he is out on the road a lot. He has to be out for 4 weeks and then he can come home for anywhere from 4 to 7 days to spend with us. My son was a mess the first couple times he left and I was worried that he wouldn't remember who daddy was since he was so young. This is my husbands 3rd trip home and he will be leaving again on Monday for another 4 weeks. I would say that my son is still too young to understand what's going on but he does seem to realize that daddy is here sometimes and gone sometimes. We have a few pictures of my husband up around the house and we call him at least once a day to talk. My son doesn't like to talk on the phone much but he will kiss the phone to send daddy kisses. Usually a few days after my husband leaves, my son will wake up in the morning and ask for "dad-dad". I tell him that dad-dad is at work and then he goes on with his day.

 

The first couple times were super hard but it does get easier.

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#12 of 12 Old 01-06-2012, 07:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I didn't realize so many people had replied to this thread. Thanks, guys! Your experiences are really reassuring. It looks like we'll be traveling sometime around April.

 

Quantumleap, I guess your big trip is coming up! Wow--what a big adventure it will be. I wish you all the best. Let us know how it goes. If you run into challenges or need support, feel free to write here. Mothering mothers are so resourceful and can be very supportive.



Mama to a bilingual (Arabic/English) and cuddly 3 year old, and planning another peaceful homebirth in June.
 

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