Monday, June 14, 2010

Helping Children Develop a Solid Foundation

I've been following Monica's journey back to full-time work away from the home over at Attachment Mama. Her post about all the separation anxiety and emotional turmoil the change is creating within her family makes my heart ache.

On the one hand, I think it's healthy for children to experience discomfort and some uncertainty. Those emotions are most definitely part of all of our lives, and I believe that we need to cultivate the ability to be comfortable in those moments. We need to develop self-soothing mechanisms in order to cope with inevitable discomfort and uncertainty. We need to experience discomfort and uncertainty in order to practice dealing with it.

On the other hand, I believe that being able to cope with discomfort and uncertainty stems from the process of being "full-up" with love, connection, and certainty. In other words, once children build a solid foundation of love, connection, and certainty, then they can move onto the art of practicing how to deal with discomfort and uncertainty.

I have no way of anticipating how long I'm going to want to stay home with my [future] child. I have no idea how long it will take to create that solid foundation. I have no idea how long I'll be able to sustain my need for creativity, inspiration, analytical conversation, and connection with others as a stay-at-home mom. I have no idea if my partner, Matt, will want to stay home with our child instead of, or in addition to, me.

Regardless of all these questions, there is one answer that seems to float to the surface of certainty: Matt and I should do everything possible to get ourselves into a financial situation that allows us to work out whichever arrangement feels right when the time comes.

Put more simply, it means that we should a) save as much money as we can and b) be careful about the financial commitments we make. For example, as we ponder what our next house will be, we should remember not to get ourselves into a mortgage that requires two full-time incomes.

Easier said than done!

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Katie said...

The decision to stay at home or work outside the home can be very difficult and is a very personal descision. You have no idea how you will feel until you are in that position.

I have always had to work, since I have been a single mother. I do believe that working benefits my kids in just as many ways as it would benefit them if I was at home. Three quick examples:

* Working makes me a better mom, I have more energy and excitement to do things with my kids and truely make the most of every moment with them because my time with them is so precious. I am afraid it would be easy to loose sight of this if I was with them day in day out and did not get the chance too miss them and long for that special time with them.
* My girls have learned so much and had some great experiences due to the time with their babysitters. I never sent the girls to traditional daycare (not a good environment in my opinion) until 3 months ago when a move forced me to. Before that they spent their time with a WONDERFUL mennonite family that treated them better than I could have asked for. I am a proud agnostic/atheist mom and I think it was great for them to see how other people live. Plus, I knew they were not plopped in front of a tv or hearing swear words! I was lucky though, good sitters are hard to find!
* I feel I am setting the right example for my family. I am doing the best I can and they will know that. So will your children no matter what decision you make!

I commend you for putting so much thought into all of this before you are forced to make a hasty decision!

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Katie: I totally agree with your statement, "The decision to stay at home or work outside the home can be very difficult and is a very personal decision. You have no idea how you will feel until you are in that position."

I would also add to your list that when you work, it's easier to model for your children that you have passion and commitment for things out in the world.

I just hope Matt and I can set ourselves up financially to make whatever choice feels right for us (primarily by keeping our bills down, like our mortgage and other forms of debt).

cypress sun said...

I love attachment mama's blog. :)

I agree. There really isn't a better way, but there is a better way for you and your family.

Financial planning is great, but it's also important to be flexible as things can change. It might be more helpful to sit down w/your partner and define priorities. That way...if a job is lost, or unexpected expenses come your way, you feel more certain about what you can and can not live without.

I thought that I already knew all this about myself and husband, but I was a bit wrong!

Monica said...

Sara --
I was checking my Google Analytics tonight and practically fell over on my couch seeing that 100 people came to Attachment Mama today. I thought, "What in the world??!" And then I figured out that you had mentioned me in a post today.
You sweet girl. Thank you for that. I'm so glad that sharing our "learning the hard way" lessons about careful financial planning with the decision to stay at home can make a difference for you in your process.

Amy makes a good point that sometimes all the planning in the world can't prepare you for a job loss or unexpected expense.

Had we lived our lives the way my Dad wishes we had, we'd have saved a year's worth of living expenses as a safety net should both of us be out of work AND make sure our living expenses are low enough to be managed by one income. Since both of you are in education, I don't imagine you two ever being faced with the same thing that my husband and I have gone through though.

Looking forward to catching up with you Sara! xo Monica

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