Category Archives: Separation anxiety

Attachment, attached, attachment parenting: We’re not talking about the same thing

Oh it's so great to be able to post again! Sorry for that little lull — and about not being so responsive to emails and comments as of late. It has been/is a CRAZY time at work and home right now.

I thought I'd extend the conversations that have been started in the comments sections and try to clarify a few ideas on attachment and security in children. I'm thinking of this post as a reflection on your comments; I'll skip actually naming people who left the comments and sent us emails because I'm too disorganized right now, but I hope I can cover some of the concerns that have been raised.

So, the first issue concerns terminology. When developmental psychologists talk about "attachment theory" they are NOT talking about "attachment parenting." To be brief and somewhat blunt, the former is based on decades of theorizing, anthropological research, and tons of empirical studies in psychology. The latter is an approach to parenting that is valid and popular (I have many friends who are AP parents;-)), but not based on scientific, peer reviewed research. Although attachment parenting (AP) advocates often refer to the attachment theory literature, there is no direct link and, to be perfectly honest, the developmental attachment theory folks are freaked out by how some of their principles have been appropriated by the AP supporters. To be clear, I am not at all being disparaging about AP parenting, but I did want to clarify the distinction.

Related, when we talk about "securely attached" children, we're not talking about a child that is constantly ATTACHED (i.e., on the hip, in a sling, co-sleeping, being breastfed on demand). You certainly can be a well-adjusted, secure child that comes from this sort of upbringing, but it is in NO WAY a necessary condition. One of the most ubiquitous findings in the attachment literature is that there are "many roads that lead to Rome": In other words, there are a whole lot of parenting styles, family configurations, work at home/in home situations, etc. that can all lead to well-adjusted, secure children.

I read several comments and emails from parents that can be summarized like this: "My child doesn't seem attached ENOUGH to me. He doesn't get distressed when I leave at all!" Oddly enough, this probably means your child is perfectly, securely "attached" in that he has internalized a safe, secure "home base" and he does not need that home base to be physically connected to him all the time to feel that sense of security. The other set of commenters were worried that their children were "insecure" in that they were tough with transitions, needed to be held by mom all the time, etc. But see… this is the confusing part to get, these children ALSO are probably securely attached, they're just temperamentally more sensitive and you moms who are responding to it are doing your best to shore up your child with everything you've got (or can give, given circumstances). I think underlying all these concerns is the worry that we, the moms, have done something "wrong" (e.g., worked out of the home, left them too early at daycare, payed more attention to another sibling, etc). If there's ONE THING I want to get out of the way in this post is that temperament TRUMPS attachment styles. And developmental transitions can ALSO TRUMP attachment styles (in other words, sometimes your kid will have periods of heightened sensitivity to separations, sometimes she'll be fine). I'd be willing to bet that every single one of the kids of the moms that have commented would be classified by developmentalists as "securely attached" (statistics are on my side here). But all these kids that we're worried about MAY have more sensitive temperament styles, and as parents, all we can do is try to adjust to that as best we can to meet their needs.

One of the coolest things about having fraternal twins is that I sometimes feel like I have my very own little control group in a teeny tiny study. I would be beating myself up a whole lot more about my choices (to work out of the home, to stop nursing before a year, to travel for days away from the kids, and the list goes on) if I didn't see how much of separation sensitivity comes form the child himself, and there's almost nothing I can do about it. Case in point: This morning, I had to leave for work SUPER early, before breakfast. Boy 1's response: Bye-bye mama! What's for breakfast, Papa? Boy 2's response: WAILING, clinging to me, waving pitifully out the window at me (heart's breaking in 1000 pieces AGAIN as I'm writing and reliving it). If I had only Boy 2, I would attribute his distress to my working too much (which still may be true, I'm not totally off the hook here). But having my other one makes me realize that I could be a full-time stay-at-home mom and boy 2 would likely still have more difficulties with separations.

A couple of last points to highlight that were brought up in Tracy's post a bit and her subsequent comments: (1) Attachment styles are not great predictors of future outcomes. They're weak to moderate predictors, with a whole lot of the messy world, different relationships, temperament styles and life circumstances that interfere to wreck our perfect correlations. (2) Attachment styles often CHANGE throughout the lifespan, so nothing's a done deal. (3) The key issue for me is to try to do our best to foster in our children a sense of the world that is predictable (relatively), safe, warm and generally supportive. ESPECIALLY when they are young children. This isn't always easy, but that's all that secure attachment really means in the end. A securely attached adult is simply one that has grown up to feel secure, relatively confident and deserving of love and affection in their relationships.

So… has this clarified anything for people or just convinced you that psychologists are altogether too loose with their terms? Is this making you feel more or less secure as a parent?

– Isabela

When Parting May Not Be Such Sweet Sorrow

Wow! That was a lot of guilt purging last week. I hope we're all travelling a little lighter this week if only because we've been reminded that we are not alone in carrying that MOTHER LOAD of guilt. Seriously, thanks for all the sharing. Not only has it been great to hear that we are not alone, but it's been great to get to know you a bit. We aim to please…so the more you tell us, the more you can help shape this site, what gets covered etc. 

In that spirit..
Last week's group carthasis started with Bella's guilt over her departure to Europe, but someone (Paola?) mentioned that she was also interested in the garden variety of separation anxiety.  I thought I"d give a little background into the research on separation anxiety (regular kind) but then leave you with a couple of questions that, to my knowledge, are not so well covered in the research literature. The first is an issue about separation anxiety that I"ve experienced with my son (there we are in the pic in those "all important" early days). I've also heard about it from friends re: their experiences with their own children. Once again, it would be great to hear about your experience…

Here's a quick "Did you know…?" to set it all up (just some highlights mind you, the literature on attachment is MASSIVE).

Fig4 1. One of the key studies that influenced thinking on human attachment came from a study with monkeys. Infant monkeys were given a choice of a). a surrogate mom made of wire, with a plastic nipple attached that delivered food or b). a similar wire mother with no food access but who was covered in a soft terry cloth. Although they nursed from the wire mom, the monkeys preferred the cloth mum (as in, they spent 17-18 hours a day with the cloth mum versus 1 hour with the wire/nipple one), even more so when food was not at issue but the monkeys were frightened by some foreign object that entered the room. You can read more about the study here. Although this finding came from a study with monkeys and not human babies, it raised the idea that food supply may not be as central to developing an attachment to a caregiver (as previously believed) as comfort and security. 

2. Of course the MAJOR line of research on human attachment came from Mary Ainsworth's work in the lab using something called the "Strange Situation". Basically, moms and infants come to the lab and spend some time in a "waiting room" of sorts (magazines for mom, toys for baby etc.). Over the course of 15 minutes, the people in the room change. At first mom is alone with baby. Then a stranger enters. Mom leaves baby with the stranger. Mom returns, then leaves again. Then the stranger also leaves and baby is alone. Stranger returns, then mom returns. Each of these scenarios last only a very short time; less than a minute to 3 minutes max. The researchers were mostly interested in what happens when mom and baby are reunited. Based on baby's reaction to mom's return, the babies were classified as either a). securely attached, b).avoidant attached or c). anxiously attached. The secure babies (about 65% of the infants tested) got upset when mom left but were comforted and quickly re-assured by mom on her return. In contrast, the avoidant (about 23%) babies were somewhat detached, did not show much emotion, even avoided mom or acted unaffected by her departure and also her return. Interestingly, biological markers (such as heart rate and skin conductance) later showed that these babies were nonetheless in distress. And the anxious babies (about 13%), were VERY upset at mom leaving, seemed upset or even angry on her return and were not easily reassured. 

The argument goes that securely attached babies, confident in a secure base to return to, are more free to explore their environment and therefore to learn. There is evidence that they fare better than avoidant- or anxiously- attached babies on complex problem -solving tasks and that they are generally better adjusted in later childhood and beyond.

3. In case you're freaking out because you don't believe that your child would react like a securely attached baby, here's something to consider. There is evidence that the proportion of babies in the different categories varies across cultures. E.g. supposedly there is a greater proportion of "avoidant" babies in studies with German infants  (although a more recent study with a German sample showed more of a "normal" distribution of babies across the three categories)  and of "anxious" babies in studies with Japanese infants.. Makes sense if you consider that parenting practices and styles definitely differ cross-cuturally, although perhaps less so nowadays what with the whole global village, internet etc. revolution.  In that case, it would be normal, and perhaps highly adaptive, for babies' attachment behaviors to reflect the culture they are being raised to function in.

4. A student of Mary Ainsworth – Mary Main – went on to do pioneering work on adult attachment. She was interested in how your memories regarding attachment with a primary figure when you were a child compared to the type of relationships/attachments that you form as an adult (in friendships but particularly in romantic relationships). Turns out that in ~75% of cases, that early style of attachment stays with you and is similar to the types of relationships/attachments formed in later life. Although, keep in mind that it has also been suggested that certain "buffering" factors can help mediate that connection. So a rough time in childhood does NOT necessarily mean that you are doomed to repeat that pattern as an adult.  

So there you go, some points to ponder. Here's what I'm interested in hearing from you:

My son has been very attached to me, since very early on. At 18 months of age, he would get upset if I left the room to go the bathroom, even if he was in the company of his father or grandparents who he knows very well and loves dearly. A good friend of mine's child went through a phase (granted he was quite young, maybe only 6-7 months or so) where he would get upset when she bent down over the sink to brush her teeth and was momentarily out of his view. Both of these kids improved immensely, but then with no warning would show this intense reaction all over again. No precipitating event, so stressful time, no new baby, move, change of preschool or daycare, illness of loss of a family member etc. Then it would subside, only to return again. And so it went. This summer,at almost 5, my son went to a day camp for the first time (for 2 weeks). He did not know a soul, it was in a location he did not know well, first time taking his own backpack, own lunch etc. But he did not even blink. "See ya Mum". That was it. Ditto the first day of school some weeks later. So we seem to have come out the other side. It's understandable to me that there may be sensitive periods in development when kids are more likely to suddenly seem anxious about separation agai
n, but sometimes he would sail through those sensitive periods without a blip and sometimes not. 

I'm interested to hear from you about "bouts" of separation anxiety. Anyone out there have a child who would "zoom" in and out?  At what ages?  What do/did you attribute it to?

Finally, as a mum of only 1, I"m always interested to know how kids with siblings cope with things. If you have more than 1, are/were your kids similar or different when it comes to separation anxiety?  Also, do you think that how the younger one or ones handled separation from you was different to how their older sibs handled it because they had sibs – read: company – to help tide them over until you returned? 

Send me your thoughts…


Strategies for easing separation anxiety (Ours or theirs?)

Let’s start with the necessary caveat: What follows is based mostly on my own experience, the experience of my trusted and often brilliant friends and colleagues and a whole lot of reading about related and unrelated topics. I have found very little trust-worthy science on evidence-based techniques that help ease or prevent children’s separation anxiety related to longish (a few days or weeks) separations from parent(s). Of course, there’s a whole lot on children’s separation issues, but in terms of an actual “how to” manual, program, or list of stuff that’s been “proven” effective? Not so much… But if you’re a mom like me who is always looking for ways to help my kids cope with (or even delight in) my trips away from them, I hope you find some ideas here useful.


So, first and foremost, I think that the sorts of things that will help our kids through these separation periods will vary wildly from one child to another. I talked mostly about age or stage of development in the last post, but there are a whole host of other considerations to keep in mind. For one, there’s the child’s temperament. Some kids are so mellow and easy-going that separations aren’t that big of a deal in the most dramatic of cases. These kids may need very little in the way of preparation and thoughtful strategies. Other kids are very sensitive/emotional/fragile/spirited in general and separations, even one night out on the town, may be highly problematic. We’ve talked a little about temperaments before here and here and, as usual, you know your child best and you’ll have a sense of what’s most appropriate for him or her.


Another source of variation comes from the other side of the equation: parents. Your parenting style, beliefs, the cultural norms you were brought up with, your own history of separations from your own parents and your own personality/temperament will determine in large part the sorts of strategies you chose to implement or stay away from.  My parents, for example, went away on vacations without my brother and me over the course of my childhood. I  now understand how fun that must have been for them, but for us, the kids, we LOVED staying with our grandparents — they were WAY more permissive, gave into our every whim, and showed us and taught us whacky things we would never have been exposed to otherwise.


Then there’s the support system available to you when you do consider leaving for extended periods. Some parents may have a large family of close relatives living close by that would be thrilled to take their children for an extended visit: grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and so on.  Others have nannies or babysitters that have been close to their children for years. Still other parents may have a spouse or romantic partner that is ready, willing and eager to FINALLY have the kids all to him/herself. And then there’s always neighbors and close friends that may have fabulously close relationships with our children and who may be happy to take our kids for a weekend. These multiple attachment figures may be crucial for how children adjust to our departures. BUT… other parents don’t have the luxury of these support systems; or they may have them, but they don’t live nearby. Having to leave our children with people who don’t adore our kids and who our kids don’t likewise love can be so, so difficult and make long-term separations almost unbearable or simply impossible.


Finally, there’s the context of the separation that matters. Leaving because you “have to” for work or some stressful, distressing event (visiting a sick loved one, funeral, etc.) compared to leaving because you “want to” have an adult holiday which is child-free can feel very different both for the child and the parent. All these conditions will make a difference in terms of what sorts of strategies you feel comfortable using and which ones will be effective. 


Here are some ideas that I’ve used or I’ve heard has worked for other parents (there’s nothing particularly original about them, so please add your own in the comments):

  1. DO tell your child you’re leaving, if she’s at the age that she can understand your words. It can be incredibly distressing to have the separation foisted on a child without the parent discussing it first with her. Of course, if the child is 6 months old, this won’t likely matter, but past the age of 8 or 9 months, I would say it’s important for the parent leaving to even briefly tell the child what to expect.
  2. Personally, I would NOT tell the child about the impending separation until about 1 or 2 days beforehand. Knowing too far in advance may only serve to heighten anxieties and prolong them. Of course, this will have a HUGE amount to do with how you know your child. Some kids need LOTS of time to prepare for transitions and this may not be the right approach for them, but for many children, keeping in mind a day or two in the future is just about all they can do.
  3. Some parents find it useful, especially for young children, to create a picture book or digital album of photos of the places mom will be visiting. These pictures can be put into a “book” and read to the child while you’re away. The ending can be about how soon you’ll be flying back and how fun it will be to play again together (with appropriate pictures to accompany these sentiments).
  4. Focus on the positive: Draw your child’s attention to as many “good things” about the impending trip as you can. Kids take so many of their emotional cues from us (remember the research on social referencing?). For example, for my upcoming trip, I told my kids that when I get back, we’ll be going to get a Christmas tree right away and I played up how much fun decorating would be. I also told them all the great things they’d be doing with their father: you’ll be going to a restaurant almost every day! You’ll be going on forest adventures! You’ll get to watch a DVD every night if you want! These are all “special” things that they love and wouldn’t be doing if I was around. (Mean old mama). And of course, the classic trick: tell them you’ll be bringing back a special present for them. Some of you may have issues with the bribery aspect of this, or the “materialism” (for what it’s worth, I usually end up spending very little money; things like cool rocks and fun postcards and zippy dollar-store cars usually suffice) or the fact that it makes kids so focused on your gift rather than the pleasure of seeing your face again when you return. For me, there is nothing that gives me more relief and helps me get over the period of separation as seeing my kids’ faces light up when I return — I really don’t care if it’s about the toy, I just want them happy. I respect and understand why others may have opposing views (and please let me know! I’m sincerely interested!). Also, in the past, the promise of a toy when I return helps with phone conversations when I’m away. I remind them that I’m looking for just the right present for them, they ask me what it will be, I tease them a bit about it being a surprise, and the excitement and joy that that brings seems to help with thinking about mama so far away.
  5. Allow the caregivers that are taking care of your child while you’re away to talk about you and your absence. Some grandparents or caregivers might be tempted to distract the child when she brings up your absence, in hopes of lessening the child’s sadness… but ignoring or trying to distract the child at that point may just heighten anxieties. I was actually surprised to hear how infrequently my children brought me up over the course of my business trips. But when they did, my parents or husband made sure to reassure them that I was indeed coming back very soon, that I missed them and that it was ok for them to miss me.
  6. Call them… or don’t. In my experience, and in conversations with lots of other mothers, I find this to be a tough call. Some kids will become very reassured to hear your voice when you’re away — it seems a good thing to remind them that mommy’s still “out there”, thinking about them, she hasn’t disappeared. On the other hand, some children will BECOME distressed from hearing your voice. The phone is this funny thing — it sort of connects you, but it’s also pretty darned frustrating because you can hear mommy, you can speak to her, but you can’t HAVE her. She’s perpetually out of reach and that partially met goal of connecting with mom can be the source of incredible frustration that can turn into pure rage and a deep sense of loss. I think the extent to which kids react well or poorly to these phone conversations has a lot to do with temperament. But it ALSO may have a great deal to do with the age/stage of the child. I think the early sensitive stages that I’m always referring to, in particular the 18-21 month transition period, may be the hardest for phone conversations. It’s because of how vulnerable children are to separations in general during these phases and how needy they can be. They may be coping just fine without you, but when you call, that neediness and vulnerability (and the potential anger that can be triggered by the sense that you are purposely withholding your love from them) can be a lot to take.  And you can’t physically comfort them, which is what they’re often looking for at this age. From personal experience, this was the toughest time I ever left my kids — when they were just over 17 months old. But it was MY fault… I called. They were having a perfectly fine time with their father and until I decided to call, more because I missed them and wanted to connect than any perception that they were having a hard time (my husband had repeatedly reassured me that they were doing great). One of my boys did fine with the call and took it all in stride (yup, the temperamentally easy one). But the other, oh the tears… It was like he SUDDENLY realized I wasn’t there and the waves of vulnerability overwhelmed him. Needless to say, I cried far more than he did after that call (Marc called me that night to tell me, over and over again, how quickly he bounced back and how effective watching Mary Poppins was to wiping out any residual sadness).  And I never called again during that trip. My advice to parents who are leaving for the first time, or for the first time during a more sensitive stage, is to (a) trust your gut and (b) if you feel you need to call, do it once and feel it out, keeping in mind that it might be tough and you may want to make that the last call of your trip if it is difficult for the child.
  7. When children get a little older, approximately 3 years or older, try video skyping if you have the capacity. There’s something about seeing a face connected to the voice that I think is MORE reassuring to a child than just this disembodied voice on a phone. It can also be fun and exciting to kids, to get on a computer to talk to mom (but younger than 2 may be very confusing and creepy, so feel it out and maybe practice a few times before your departure, with younger ones). We’ve tried this once with my kids and they LOVED it. For this upcoming trip, I started what they call a “chapter story” before I left. I told them 2 chapters and then when I skype them on my trip, I plan on continuing a chapter per night over the course of the trip and finish the story when I return home. That way, I figure they’ll have a sense of continuity, they’ll get to see and hear me and know that I’m still out there thinking of them, and they’ll get some exciting “screen time” which seems to be a strange form of crack for my kids.
  8. Finally, depending on the age and temperament of your child, expect some “reunion distress.” This is a VERY common reaction that almost all kids have at some point or another during their development. It can be just as distressing, or more so, for the parent who has just returned as it is for the child. Basically, instead of the child being thrilled to see you and excited about hugging and kissing you, he reacts with either extreme anger (hitting or pushing you away) and/or by withdrawing. My husband studied reunion distress for years and it’s ubiquitous (I’ll spare you the links to his rather dry papers on the subject). Children who are securely attached to their parents often feel the first jolts of anger at being left when the parent returns. It’s as if, when you were gone, they could hold it together with the knowledge that you were returning. But once you’re back, they sure need to let you know they did NOT appreciate being left. During these reunion periods, my suggestion would be to not take it personally. Give the child some space and time to adjust to your return. Let her know you love her, that you’re sorry you had to leave her, that you’re excited to play with her again. Stay close — it might be tempting to withdraw also, but try not to. Usually, these episodes subside rather quickly, but sometimes they can leave a residual moodiness and sensitivity for days. Spending extra time with the child, being extra sensitive to her needs is usually enough to get her over the hump.


PHEW! Is this the longest post I’ve EVER written? I had no idea I was embarking on a tome on this subject. Hmmm… do you think all this writing about separations may be a way for me to cope with my own impending trip away from my BABIES?!?!  My sweet, helpless, mother-less babies!!!  Ahem. Well, there you go (Whispers to herself: They will be fine. They will be fine. They will be fine).


What are some of the other ways that you’ve prepared your children for a separation of some length? What’s worked best? What doesn’t work for your children?



I’m leaving on a jet plane, my kids will never be the same again…

 I'm out of the country this week so I've got a few posts that will go up automatically for the next few days. As you'll see, it seems like I couldn't get my head around only one theme this week — probably has a lot to do with how completely out of control my life feels right now. It's all good: I'm LOVING being with my kids these days (they'll be 4 in March and there's just something about this age that seems to groove with my parenting style), I'm crazy-busy at work with some great projects, and I'm traveling overseas to work with fabulous people. Each one of these things seems great on its own, it's the combination / balance that I'm having a problem with. Yes, I know this isn't a personal blog, apparently I just need to get those excuses out. And it sets up the premise for today's post and tomorrow's follow-up…

I thought I'd post some thoughts about longer separations from our children. I don't mean leaving your child for a few hours or for the evening. I'm talking for a couple of days or longer. We've had two readers send questions about this issue, the gist of which boiled down to two main concerns: (1)  Are there better and worst ages to leave your child for a few days/weeks? and (2) What can I do to make the separation more bearable for my child?

Since my kids turned one and I returned to work full time, I've thought (and freaked the freak out) about these questions a lot. I've had to leave my kids for 2-6 days at one time about twice per year for business trips. Leading up to these trips, I invariably get very anxious about how my boys will cope. I try to remind myself that they're with their father, that he is an equal partner in this parenting gig, that they love him equally and need him equally. But who am I kidding? There's no doubt about the equal love, but the attachment is different and when they get tired, hungry, hurt, frustrated, or challenged in other ways, they want mommy (and I fully recognize this isn't the case for all family situations). But we do what we have to do — some of us have little choice but to leave our kids for a few days and many of us actually think it's healthy to go away for a weekend or so without the kids (count me in both groups). 

So… are there better and worst ages to leave your kids for a while? For those of you who have been following this blog for longer than a couple of weeks, you'll probably have a good guess at my answer. Yes, I DO think there are certain stages that will be harder than others for your children to deal with separations. Those stages happen to correspond to the sensitive windows in development that I spent 6 months talking about in terms of sleep training children. The same stages that are particularly difficult for sleep training are also generally difficult for ANY transition, especially those that have to do with separations. Before the age of about 8 months or so, I actually think these separations are not too bad for babies (I suspect they're much harder on moms). They haven't yet reached the big 8 – 11 month transition that will usher in a sudden burst in working memory and allow the child to understand that "out of sight is NOT out of mind." Even when mom is not in the room, she's "out there" somewhere… As I've written at length, this ability to keep mom in mind even when she's not present results in the onset of full-blown separation anxiety — NOT a time when you first want to take off on your child for days on end. Another stage you may want to avoid leaving for extended trips is the 18-21 month period. This is a DOOZY (and, of course, it happens to be one of the ages when I DID have to leave my boys… I remember the weeping phone calls to this day). I won't get into all the MANY, MANY reasons why this stage is considered the most dramatic transition period in early childhood… you can read about all the gory details here.  Suffice it to say that children are really GETTING social interactions in a way that they weren't able to before — "real" language takes off, they understand simple rules and family members' roles and they get the idea that they are expected to follow rules and respect those family roles. Most parents report this stage as the most intense emotional period in their child's life, fraught with buckets of neediness, moodiness, tantrums, meltdowns, and general crazed vulnerability (there's lots of research to back this up, reviewed in our book). Leaving your children for extended periods during this phase may heighten their sense of vulnerability and neediness and it may take a while before you child "forgives" you for leaving, once you are back. 

The other stages to watch out for are the 2.5 to 3 year old period and the 3.5 to 4 year old stage. Different developmental issues are at play at each of these various sensitive periods, but the general rationale for avoiding long-term separations during these phases are the same: these are developmental transitions during which children are more emotionally vulnerable, more attuned to separations and their meaning, and they're in need of more reassurance and support than at other more stable periods.

Ruby's jetplaneA couple of extra considerations: (1) Kids will likely be more vulnerable at the beginning of these sensitive periods, when new cognitive acquisitions are just emerging and they're coping with this novelty; the more into the stage they are, the more likely it is that they've started to learn to cope with their new sense of the world (and the accompanying new skills). Or at least that's what I'm telling myself, as my kids round the corner of a sensitive stage (3.5 – 4 years old) and I'm gallivanting in Europe. (2) If you gotta go, you gotta go. Sometimes we have no choice but to take off during one of these sensitive periods. In those cases, the mere recognition that it might be tough on our kids might be important. We can try to put in place some plans that might help ease children's distress like scheduling more phone calls (or less, depending on how your child responds to these brief connections from afar) and/or taking some extra time off when we return.

But that's the topic for the next post: What CAN we do to make separations from our children less stressful? (Hint: See this pic of one of my boys? That's just one of WAY too many guilt presents he got after I returned from my last overseas trip <sigh>)

Tell us: Have you left your child during one of these sensitive periods or during more stable ages? How did it go? Do you think it's easier to leave younger or older children? How have your children coped with your times away? How have you coped? Do you think it's generally a good or bad idea to leave your children (with a partner or grandparents or other trusted caregivers)
for a few days?

(I haven't said this in a while, so I wanted to remind readers: ALL opinions are very welcome, whether they conflict or are consistent with mine. We want to know what YOU think. What YOUR experiences have been. And I'd like to hear from those of you who DON'T think it's wise to leave kids just as much as I'd like to hear from those who do. Really. Let's talk…)