Kids Trying to Understand Dad's New Job

Updated on March 13, 2008
K.M. asks from Saint Charles, MO
7 answers

First off, my husband has taken a new job 4 hours away and we see him every other weekend (or at least try). This has been going on for 3 months now. We are trying to sell our house, so the kids and I are staying there until it does while he lives with a relative, because we can't afford two homes. My problem is my 5 year old son. After about 3 days (when his dad leaves), he starts really hating his dad (maybe to strong of a word), he won't talk to him on the phone, doesn't care when he gets home, or doesn't even want to see him on the computer (skype). He starts acting up in class, doesn't listen to his teachers and he has gone as far as bitting himself and smarting off to the teacher (none of this is normal). I know he is a good kid and I try everything to help him understand what we are doing, but I am at wits end. I know my son needs his father, but can anyone else give me some ideas how to make the couple of weeks work out (maybe some military wives). Thanks

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the great advise. I hope to use some if not all to try and get through the next couple of months. If any of you have any more ideas, please pass them on. I think I am about at my wits ends, but I love them and I wouldn't be writing to strangers for help if I didn't. Thank you again!!

More Answers



answers from Kansas City on

Hi K.,

I sort of went throught this samething with my oldest son when he was about 7 yrs old. My husband took a second job at another company and my oldest son started acting out, lying and getting into trouble. I aksed him why he was acting like this and he said because he wanted his dad to come home and not work.
I told him that him acting this way was not going to make his dad stop working and there are things that we as adults and parents have to do and sometimes this is what they are. I explained to him that in order for him to have clothes and nice things that his dad and I both have to work and his dad had to work a part time job also. After we talked he understood and then we didn't have any more problems. SO maybe you can try that approach explain to him what you and his dad are trying to accomplish and you are both working hard so that you guys can be back together again. Hope this helps, W.



answers from Springfield on

Talk to your husband about his job. Ask yourself, Am I happy with this situation? Is my husband happy with this situation? Are my kids? If the answer is no to any of these, it is time to make adjustments.



answers from Memphis on

I'm one of those military wives that had to deal with a 16 month separation. My oldest was 3 1/2 and younger child was 14 months when he left. My older one went through all of those same emotions and reactions. He was just mad at everyone (well, so was I:)) I wouldn't push the e-mail or talking to Dad if he doesn't want to. My son would go weeks without talking to Dad, then he'd have something important he'd want to tell him. Just take your son's lead.

For the short time of separation you have, I would try marking off days on a calendar until he can see Dad again. My husband also tape recorded himself reading some of my son's favorite books. That way he could "read" him a story every night before bed. Taking pictures of Dad's "new home" was helpful, because he could see where Daddy was. My kids decided to make Dad some pictures to put up in his new home. They were thrilled a few months later when they got a picture of Dad's new home with their pictures proudly displayed.

I'd just be patient with him and realize that it's just short-term. Keep reiterating the fact that the behaviors he's displaying are unacceptable. He'll relax sooner or later and accept the situation for what it is. As for you, make sure you have someone who can give you a break when you need one! I learned I couldn't be mom and dad all by myself. When I took a break, everyone was happier.

Good luck and hang in there!



answers from Columbia on

My 5 year old went through somewhat of the same thing in April this past year. My husband had to leave ahead of us out of state to his new job while we sold our home. My son had a lot of the same reactions. He was angry at him, wouldn't talk to him on the phone, he would throw tantrums and kick and scream at me. He would shut himself out. He wouldn't join the other two younger siblings and I on the web cam. He would also get really upset when we talked about selling our home and moving to a new place. After being gone a month Daddy surprised us all and flew home for a long weekend. When he saw him it all disapeared and he ran and jumped in his arms and was okay. He lasted the next month ok, with mostly bad feelings about leaving the "places that he knows." we were fortunate to have him change after seeing his dad again. I see that is not the case for you. I don't know if it is possible, but, I wonder how he would be if you were able to take a trip to where dad is living so your son can see where he is and maybe better understand. It all seams so hard on the little guys at that age. One thing we did that helped a little was talk about some of the new places we could go and talked about what our new friends might be like and made sure they knew the old friends will still be there. I had my husband take pictures of kid related things and that made them excited. Maybe someone else (like a close friend ie.) can try to talk to him and explain everything and get him to open up. I am sorry you have to go through this. 3 months is a long time for a little kid and it's not over yet. I will think of other things that may have helped our son in his hard time and get back to you. Good Luck.



answers from Springfield on

The other moms have had great advise!!! One little thing I would like to add is too be sure not to force your son to take part in things he doesn't want to, like phone calls. Tell him it would make you and your husband happy if he would talk on the phone, and it might even make him feel better, but leave it up to him without any pressure.
By staying calm and respecting your son's choices you will validate his feelings. When you can, let him make his own choices about how to handle things, also talk to him about other ways to handle it. Maybe he would like to take up some physical activity? When he acts out with bitting and other unacceptable ways tell him you know he was feeling angry (or some other feeling), which is ok, but he has to learn how to handle his feelings in more acceptable ways.
I know this is a challenging time, but try to take it as a learning opportunity.
Take care.



answers from Joplin on

We've been through this as well. Perhaps you could travel to where your husband is on the next trip and show your son (and take pictures) of where his dad is staying and where he works. Just knowing where Daddy sleeps and where his office is is a comfort at that age. If you are planning on living in that town, spend time in a park or another fun place to give your son something to look forward to. Show your son where he *might* be going to school after your move. Help him collect information about your new town on the internet. Give him some ownership of the moving process. That way he will understand why he has to clean his room and pick up his toys when the realtor shows the house to potential buyers. Also, when you start to pack, he will likely have a hard time putting his stuff in a box. Keep his room the same as long as possible.
Also, don't forget about what your daughter is feeling. She most likely feels the same way, but won't show it in the same way. She may be keeping it all inside. Check out books at the library about moving. I think I remember the Berenstain Bears has a book about moving that was good.
I wish you luck with your move. There are a lot of us out there that have been in your shoes. It's not easy. Accept help when it's offered and try to steal a minute for yourself when you can.



answers from St. Louis on

I would contact his school and ask for the school counselor to sit down with him regularly. His behavior sounds like it's gone beyond normal grieving/adjustment to worrisome, especially biting himself, and some kind of professional assessment may be needed. I don't want to worry you more than you already are, but I also have a child who started biting himself a couple years ago at the age of 7, and have had him in counseling for the past couple years. Good luck,

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