The Working Parent Dilemma

in Everyday Learning

working parentsGolda Meir, former Prime Minister of Israel, said this for working mothers, “At work you think of the children you have left at home. At home, you think of the work you’ve left unfinished. Such a struggle is unleashed within yourself, your heart is rent.”

Working outside the home, whether part time or full time, is a big transition for parent and child. Guilt is the least useful of parenting emotions. Cast the guilt aside, plan well for separation, and trust your child’s ability to cope.

Penelope Leach, child development expert, says, “Babies and toddlers only flourish when they are cared for by people they love. Help your baby attach himself to someone else so that he can comfortably accept her instead of you when you are not there.” First, a child needs time to get to know his caretaker with you before you go back to work. Next, whether your caregiver is grandma, nanny, sitter, or a child care provider, it matters that you stay relaxed and reassuring. You want your child to love his caregiver and comfortably accept her.

Suggestions for a smooth transition for parent and baby or toddler:

  • Repeat the same loving rhyme or song when you leave your little one and when you return (Choose a Mother Goose rhyme from Here Comes Mother Goose, by Iona Opie.)
  • Leave a piece of your clothing, unwashed, for your baby or toddler to hold.
  • Leave a favorite story with your little one. A homemade story with pictures of family faces is a comforting read aloud.
  • When you come home, close the family circle first. Use hugs, kisses, and play time on the floor.

For a child ages 2-5 years:

Read aloud Owl Babies, by Martin Waddell. This tender story addresses every child’s greatest fear, being separated from a parent. Patrick Benson’s stunning pictures beautifully capture the owlets’ joy when mother owl returns.

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