Dear Dr. Meg:
My husband and I have a 13-month-old child, and we have been trying to make sure that we keep our relationship strong. We try to plan little get-aways at least every few months. I feel so bad leaving my son with family overnight, even though they enjoy having him.
We will be leaving him with his grandparents for two nights this time, and I feel so guilty for leaving him. We both work full time and he goes to day care during the week, and I guess I just feel guilty for leaving him.
So my question is, how long is too long to be gone, leaving him with family?
Feeling Guilty Mom
Dear Feeling Guilty Mom:
Most parents worry and feel guilty when they leave their children. These are appropriate and healthy responses, but there are times when we need to keep them in check. Whenever a parent leaves a child, he or she needs to think through a few things:
- Is my child well cared for and will he/she benefit from being with the caregiver?
- What will my child gain from my being away for certain periods of time?
If children are left with caregivers who don’t pay attention to them or put their lives at risk either emotionally or physically, of course a parent shouldn’t leave. But if a grandparent is caring for the child (particularly a loving grandparent), it is good for the child to be alone with them. Helping our children (even babies) have strong relationships with their grandparents is wonderful—both for the children and for the grandparents.