Answers to the Most Common Worries of Working Mothers
Here are the five concerns most often expressed by working mothers and some tips to help alleviate them:
- You won't bond with your babyYou worry that you've returned to work before you've bonded with your child. Theres no evidence to suggest that an early return will affect your baby's normal development. Bonding isn't glue. It comes through interactions during the typical child-care activities over months and years.
- Your caregiver will be closer to your baby than youYou wouldn't be human if you didn't feel competitive with your care provider. Of course, you want both your child and caregiver to love each anotherbut not too much. If you work at it, you can learn to respect your caregiver for the skill and interest she brings to the job without viewing this interloper as some kind of rival. Studies show that the strongest emotional bonds are between a mother and her child, regardless of who supplements the care.
- Absence from homeBe honest and realistic about the demands and priorities of your life. Understand that the unrealistic expectations of others come from outdated views of what a woman's role in society should be. Remember that you love your work, that you need the challenge it provides, and that your child is not suffering but is receiving excellent care. Think of yourself as your child's role model for achievement and feelings of self-worth. Remember that mothers who stay home have their own guilt because they're not contributing to the family income, and they sometimes resent their lack of freedom. Make up for your absence by phoning several times a day and schedule a play/talk time every evening.
- You will spoil your babyContinue to lavish love and affection on your baby. There is no more important contribution you can make to your child's well-being than to help develop a sense of self-worth and of being lovable. After all, a loving, stable environment is just what your baby needs. On the other hand, if you cling to your child, it will interfere with the development of a self-reliant, independent individual.
- You will snap at your childPerhaps you're preoccupied with thoughts of work when your child intrudes and you show your irritation. Explain to your child that you're tense, or worried, or tiredand apologize for your quick temper. Force yourself to clear your mind of work concerns and give undivided attention to your child.
If you begin to feel jealous of your child's attachment to the caregiver,stop to realize that this doesn't mean any loss of love for you. In fact, it means just the opposite. Your child may be so overcome with love for you, and with the fear that you would leave, that she clings to the caregiver. Besides, the more people who love your baby, the more special and secure your baby will feel.
Understandably, it hurts you to know that your care provider, not you, will see your child's first step. But take some comfort in knowing that when your baby smiles at you for the first time it will be a special moment. And when you hear the first recognizable word, the thrill will be just as great. For now, you have to focus on your need for a loving caregiver.