Childhood stress is a given in any child’s life. We don’t always know when it will hit, but we know it is inevitable. It can be wanting a toy that they can’t have or possibly another child at school that is bullying them. But what about when a parent leaves the household? It is hard enough when the father leaves, but when the mother leaves I think it is ten times worse. I don’t mean because she wasn’t fit to be a mother, but because she simply decides to up and leaves the Dad and the kids. This causes a major breakdown in the family unit and there are important things that need to be done to help the child(ren) adjust as best as possible.
Keeping Things as ‘Normal’ as Possible
- It is important to keep the children’s schedule as close as possible to how it was before she left. If they have taken the bus to school, try to continue that. If you have driven them to school, try to keep that going. I know it is hard if Mom normally did these things but the schedule is important. If you possibly you can’t pick up or drop off see if a family member is able to do that for you to help keep their schedule the same.
- Keep the lines of communication open with your children. Make sure you talk about Mom leaving and let them know you will not leave them. They need this reassurance in their daily life. So you may have to give more hugs, more ‘I love you’ and schedule in more together time. I know this is hard to do when your life previously had the other person in it, but this is crucial for the kid’s well-being.
- If your children are in school make sure you alert the school about your new situation. It is important that if your children need someone to talk to they are kept in the loop on what is going on in their home situation. Most schools have a school counselor so if your child needs someone to listen they are a perfect person to do so since they have no bias.
- Any family that is able to help you out with emotional support is a good idea as you will find you need people to lean on during this time. Whether it be for you to have someone to talk to or just to help you keep your kids with a feeling of normalcy. Also, it is ok to tell your children that it is ok to cry. Crying helps to let some of what they are bottling up inside to come out.
- Since it is their Mommy that has left make sure you do not talk down about her. I know this can be a hard thing to do, but they are too little to understand, and this will not help you out in the long run. If they ask questions all you can say is you don’t understand why, but that you love them and are there for them. Children at any age need their Mom, (in my opinion), and it is ok, to be honest with them in the fact that you don’t understand either because most likely that is the truth.
Adverse Childhood Stress
I have only touched upon a few of the adverse childhood experiences that are associated with children whose Mom have left the family home. Again I am not talking about the death of a Mom as that is a whole other instance of childhood stress and one that is final. You will be dealing with whether or not the Mom comes home, visitation or the long-term effects on the kids and yourself. If you are feeling stress from a home situation you can take this stress quiz at this link: https://www.stresshealth.org/ace-quiz/.