Jul 19, 2014

Should I Leave My Baby?

Category: Infants
Posted By: Dainelle

Question: I have a 5 month old baby, and plan to leave for military basic training when she is 8 months old. I planned to leave her with her Grandmother and her father, both of which she has seen everyday since the day she was born. Her grandmother plans to leave work and stay home with her 24/7 upon my leave in order to give her the same love and attention that I have given her by being a stay at home mother throughout her life thus far. My concern is my leaving her for 3 months while I'm in basic training, will affect her mentally and emotionally in a negative way and possibly long term. Or will she adjust due to the fact that she is well acquainted with her soon to be caregiver and live a normal life.

Dainelle

Answer: Dear Dainelle, thank you for your question.  Goodness it’s a difficult one to answer.  I would love to tell you that it won’t have a long term affect on your daughter but sadly that just isn’t true.  Three months is a very long time in the life of a baby and 8 months is quite a critical period in terms of emotional and psychological development.  It would be a huge shock to your daughter’s sense of security and stability and a real breach of her attachment to you.  No one can say exactly what the long term affects will be but there are likely to be consequences of a loss at this time.  Your daughter will not be old enough to cognitively understand that your absence is temporary and the effect on her will be the very similar to a bereavement.

If you are able to put off your training for a further year, your daughter will be much better placed to understand the situation and know that it is temporary.  Even at this point it would be important to carefully prepare for your absence, talk to your daughter a great deal about the event and help her understand it in depth. Give her a calendar to cross off the days until your return and think through with your mother and your husband ways in which they can manage her missing you and keep you in her mind.

What I can say is that whether you go ahead with the training now or in the future, you have put the very best care arrangements in place for your daughter if you are away from her and that this will help mediate her experience while you are away.

I am sorry, I wish I could give you the answer you are looking for.  I rather hesitate to give you this advice as it is because I can imagine it would cause you great distress if you do need to continue with your plans.  On the other hand I felt that it was important for you to make an informed decision.

Very best wishes,

Ryan



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