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Parent - Child RelationshipsHi Diana, I have a dilemma which I am struggling to deal with. I stayed at home for two years, unfortunately my relationship with my childrens father broke down so I went to work, we got back together and I then stayed at home again.
My partners opinion is that which I should stay at home until the children are at school. He is very adament and he told me his opinions on this matter when we got together. I agreed that I would stay at home. But now, I feel that the children are at an age when they will both benefit from the social life that childcare would give them (they are two and three).
I also feel like I need to regain control of my life in the working world. I miss the interaction with other parents who don't talk about children all day, is that selfish of me? I question my values as a good parent by wanting a little of the me back before I had children, however I do love my children and I do want to do what is best for them.
I have read hundreds of articles which say that i can do it without completely destroying my children and articles which say I should be tossed in a vat of oil at 100 oC if I go back to work. I am so confused and I need help. I need to know whether or not my children will gain from me going back to work as opposed to me staying at home.
If i'm honest I am going a bit crazy now, and I feel like in my opinion we would all benefit from me going back to work. My partner says he has no respect for me and that real mothers stay at home and don't want to work. All of his friend's wives stayed at home. He said that I shouldnot have had children. I love my children but I also value my sanity and I'm not very happy at the moment. Please can you give me a little advice?
Angela - I can hear your struggles in the question you have sent me and it cuts to the heart of every mother when she feels that motherhood is not enough for her. Wanting the stimulation of adult company and feeling that you have your own sense of worth outside your role as a mother are very common emotions.
I see two distinct parts to your question. There is is the issue of whether you can be a good mother if you are working; then there is the relationship between you and your partner. These are two distinct elements and I will try to help you with them separately.
Of course you can be a good mother and still go to work. If you provide your children with a stable environment, bring them up with love and a consistent approach and do not give in too much to the ever-present guilt which working mothers feel, there is no reason why your children should grow up with problems simply because you are working. It needs to be managed well and often depends on the work that you do.
You do not say what you were doing and whether you are looking at full-time or part-time work. It would need some thought and planning to ensure that the essentials for your children are dealt with. There is also the issue of suitable childcare and its cost.
You do say that you feel the children would benefit from the social life that childcare would give them - but you might be able to achieve this by getting together with other mothers; you do say that your partner's friends all have wives who do not work, so there may be a ready-made social life there for you and the children. In any event, your three-year old will probably soon be at nursery, if not already, and will develop social skills and a social life from that.
Now to the second part of your dilemma: this is more difficult as you say you gave an undertaking to stay at home with the children and now you have changed your mind. This change is causing problems in your relationship. Have you talked to your partner in a calm way, preferably when you are out for a meal in a restaurant, about how you feel now that the reality of staying at home with the children has kicked in? You need to tell him how you feel and why and explain that you would be happier going to work than at home. This will help you to feel better when you are with the children.
However, I can see that he might feel upset that you have changed your mind as this is clearly very important to him. Perhaps this is why he says he has no respect for you which is very hard to hear.
Please talk to him about your feelings and also why he thinks that mothers should stay at home. If you were to stay at home till the children went to school, it would not be for very long ( at most another three years) and you might find some voluntary work which would give you the stimulation of an outside interest but still allow you to be there for the children.
Then you could concentrate on your career when they were at school. If you are adamant that you cannot wait that long, talking to your partner about your feelings and trying to soften the blow of your change of heart is important. so that he will come to respect your opinions and decisions again. You need to be united parents so that your children will grow up in a loving, consistent family.
I hope things work out well for you. Diana Wolfin
Dear Lorraine, I face a tricky one with my almost 5 year old. She has wet beds 5 nights per week on average. In the last month she has had almost no dry beds at all. Last night, as a tester I promised to give her 10pence for every dry bed this week and she could take the money on Friday to the school tuck shop (for which I am principally against because they sell crisps, fizzy juice and sweets). Of course her bed was dry this morning as it always is when the incentive is this good. Bribery is not what I normally like to resort to, but I know she can do it when she wants. What else can I do?
This is a tricky one but you know that you can turn it around. You have already proved that - so well done. Now you can build on that success and move forward so that you feel in control. The challenge of bed wetting is a difficult one - for you and for your child. It is important for both of you that you deal with it quickly. It will make a big difference to both your lives. 1. Acknowledge your achievement in motivating your little one to be dry - even if this is the exception rather than the rule at the moment. It is tough for you and upsetting for her if she is wetting the bed so frequently. 2. Praise her when she has a dry bed and don't make a fuss when she wets it. This will only put additional pressure on her and make it more difficult for her to stop. 3. The key is in the motivation. If she really wants to - she can do it. I prefer to call it motivation rather than bribery! The challenge for you now is to develop a motivational plan that works for you and for her. You don't sound happy about using financial rewards and I think that it is important to move away from them as quickly as possible with as minimal fuss as possible. You will find that there are other motivators that work just as well - and won't cost money. You know your child better than anybody. What will work for her and you. I have worked with many Mums and Dads who have devised lots of different and successful ways of motivating their children. These include praise, a star system or a treat (that involves your time not your money). The important thing is that it needs to be workable for you. If it is too complicated or hard to maintain, it won't work. Brainstorm all of the incentives you can think of and then decide which one you are going to go with. 4. Communicate your plan to her in a positive way and then do it! You can make this work and so can she. It will take willpower and control on both your parts but you can do it. 5. Finally, take all the practical steps you can to make it as easy as possible for her to keep a dry bed. When is she having her last drink in the evening. Make a list of the drinks she is having and at what times in the evening and take sensible steps to reduce these. Make sure she goes to the toilet just before she goes to sleep. Ensure that her bedtime routine is as relaxed as possible so that she goes to bed in the most positive frame of mind. And when you say goodnight - tell her one specific reason why you love her. Don't just say I love you - tell her why. Make it different every night. Best of luck, Lorraine.
I have 3 year old twins Sam and Dan. I'm a working Mum and find the evenings really stressful. I always end up shouting at Dan because he is so naughty and just wish he could be more like Sam. I say things I regret and I feel really guilty but he drives me to it. What can I do? Stella, Manchester
Dear Stella, Decide how much YOU want to stop shouting at Dan. Evenings are tough for all families because everyone is tired. Dan may be winding you up, but at the end of the day, YOU have control Ė or lack of it. He doesn't make you shout. You do. Just imagine what a difference it would make to both of you if you could stop shouting. You mention that you have said things that you regret. Make a list of them all. How did it feel when you were saying these things? How do you think he felt? How would you feel if someone said them to you? How committed are you to making yourself stop saying them? When you shout what do you see when you look at Dan? You might love your child, but sometimes itís not easy to like him. How committed are you to replacing those negative feelings with positive ones Ė even when he pushes you to the edge? What do you really love about him? When you feel you are losing your temper, look at your child and focus on this. Instead of seeing a difficult little boy, see a toddler who loves you and you love. Brainstorm as many different things that you can think of to help you keep control when you feel a shout coming on. Think of everything you can possibly think of. Choose just one thing on your list that you can try. It can be a big change or a small one - but change. If you keep on doing what you're doing, you'll keep on getting what you're getting. Now try it, give it a go. My challenge to you is to try to keep calm. You can do it if you really want to. See how far through the day you can get without shouting. How does it feel to be in control? How do your children respond? Each day, see if you can get a little further through the day without shouting. Keep a diary to see how you're doing. How would it feel to go to bed at night knowing you haven't shouted. It isnít easy but can do it. Take small steps and you can get there.