Bonding w/ 1-1/2yr old after being Deployed?

Flora - posted on 05/27/2011 ( 6 moms have responded )

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I recently came back and am on leave from my deployment for a couple weeks. And my 1-1/2 yr old is afraid of me for lack of a better word, and I'm afraid that we wont have ever have as close a relationship as my older and I will. Briefly, just want to describe the situation. So since she was 5 months old, I have been like a dead beat dad, that's how I have been describing it. In and out of her life, because at 5mths was when we really started training and going away for week long trainings and coming back. Although at those times when I would come back, she would stil be fine with me. Then at 9months I left and started my deployment, at that time I had no way to communicate, like skype or anything. So after 2-1/2mths I went home on leave for a few days before we went overseas. When I went home she was fine with me again, she knew who I was and still felt comfortable(maybe it was becasue she was still young enough not to really really understand). Since then within a 6mth period of time, I have been skying and calling (talking - somewhat) on the phone. At first she would never say anything when I would call, and then she started to "talk" a couple months ago. She finally had recognized me as mommy on skype after they kept pointing to me on the screen and saying that's mommy. When I came back a few days ago, she came to the airport to pick me up and when I grabbed her she started crying. She wanted to go back to my cousin, and since then I have tried to hold her, and she cries. When she sees that grandma is not there in the room and only sees me, she starts to cry or runs after grandma. She won't let me hold her, and if I try to she starts to cry. She calls me mommy and everytime she says it I answer her, but she doesn't understand the meaning. My older daughter will hug me or will hug her (the baby) and say that's mommy...But nothing seems to be helping. I am feeling really down (the rainy days are not helping) because i carried this child for 10mths and she wants nothing to do with me really. She has started to warm up to me, by handing me stuff. But if I talk to her, like if she does something she is not supposed to be doing, she will start crying and run to grandma(her grandmother takes care of her while I'm gone and while her dad is at work). I was fine with her rejection until when she hurt herself pretty bad and cried even more when I picked her up to comfort her. She went to daddy, and that really hurt my feelings. Because I am the mother, I should be the one comforting her. I have always comforted my older daughter, and like I was telling my older daughter that I feel bad because I have been trying to bnd with her but she cries everytime. But I also don't want to ignore her, because she is off by herself say if we are on the bed. She (baby) is talking to herself and me and my older daughter are hugged up, I don't want to ignore her but my older daughter constantly showers me with affection and it feels so nice!! I only have a couple of weeks and then I have to leave again for another 3mths because that is when my deployment ends. A friend of mine who is in the military said that her daughter was the same with her, because she had to leave the deployment early. She said she was the same way when she first got home, but that now they were inseperable. But her daughter is 3 or 4 and I think that it's a little different...Because she had several years to bond with her daugther before she left, and mine was only 9mths when I left. Has anyone been in this situation, or are there any child therapists among this circle of moms that could give me some advice? I could use all the advice that you all can give me. I would go see a professional that works with kids, but that would takes time to find someone. I don't have all that time. Thank you for listening!

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Christy - posted on 05/27/2011

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Flora, First of all THANK YOU for your dedication to our country. That is a huge sacrifice you have made. I appreciate it.

My heart is broken for you. I left my one and a half year old for a week to take my daughter on vacation back east and he didn't forgive me for two months.

I have a background in counseling. I don't think seeing a professional will help, you haven't traumatized her in any way. It's simply going to take time. The best thing you can do during this couple weeks you're home is to play games, read stories, give her her favorite treats, etc. She may not want to give you loves, but you're creating positive emotions for her.

Keep up with skype and phone calls as much as you can. And talk about big hugs and kisses over the phone even though she doesn't want to share those now. Things won't be any worse when you get back in three months. At that time you'll be able to work on your relationship without having to leave again. Start small like high fives and fist bumps, pats on the back. Playing together at the park, chase, tackle, wrestling, building up to more physical contact in positive situations where she voluntarily plays with you. She will begin to recognize that she can trust you and the hugs and snuggles will come. Don't give up. Meanwhile, it's okay for her to go to dad and grandma. You put them in place because they are people you trust with her!

It may take several months, but she will come around and all will be well again. You're a good mom!

Laura - posted on 05/27/2011

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First of all, "Thank-you" for your service to our country! Your story points out just what sacrifice our soldiers make!

Second of all, "relax!" Your baby sounds like she is going through some typical seperation anxiety that is common for that age. the problem is compounded only by the fact that she is seperating (learn to self-idintify as an individual from her caregivers) from others rather than from you. You are viewed as "the other person" rather than as the caregiver. That must certainly seem hurtful, but remember that this is about a developmental stage rather than an emotional one from your daughter's perspective! You are the one interjecting your emotions into the situation, not her. While this may seem like a difficult task, try to seperate out your emotional reactions from the situation, recognize your emotions as such, an look at the situation as a developmental process your daughter is experiencing.

Ultimately you need to remember one thing: Children under the age of three do not form long-term memories! Your daughter will not have any memories of the time you were away let alone who actually took care of her during that time. You will be able to bond with her when your tour is completed. The good news is you will be in her life when she begins to retain those first early memories! So unless there are serious behavioral issues, save your money--you shouldn't require a therapist for her!

Another important point to keep in mind is that she is loved by those who are helping you care for her while you do your all-important job! Your daughter sounds like she is safe, loved, and nurtured in ways that YOU would do were it not for your job. Thank those caring for her until you can once again resume your job as "mom". She may always have a good relationship with those caregivers, but it will be because she knows she was loved and cared for rather than any fond memories. You will have opportunities to build those memories! I hope this helps and best of luck to you!

Dana - posted on 05/27/2011

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Well, you're NOT a dead beat dad or mom! You are providing for your children and serving your country. That's the farthest thing from a deadbeat that there is.



All I can think is maybe when you saw her at the airport and grabbed her for a hug, it might have been too much. At this age, children can get overwhelmed. They can feel the energy that other family members have, the excitement the apprehension, the longing. It just might have been too much for her. I suggest taking it slow now. And next time when you come home, approach her quietly without much ado. Try and bring her something special when you first see her. Even if it's something you have a family member bring and slip it to you while she's not looking. You can bond over a new toy or doll and get all excited over that together.



I wish I were a professional because my heart breaks for you and I wish you well. Stay safe and I hope you're able to return quickly to your girls again.

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Flora - posted on 09/02/2011

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As you all know I have been away on deployment for almost a year now, but I am finally back. I left when my baby was 9 months old, and I have to slowly build up a bond with her. However while I was gone her grandmother and her dad spoiled her at bed time. So now she is used to going to sleep with someone there, and moreso with her grandmother! I have only been back for a few days now, and I have been spending a lot of time with her...but let her sleep at my mothers house, because I don't want to overwhelm her. Her dad is busy and has been really busy a lot lately in the last few months. So she has been staying with my mother quite a bit.

Let me say that she has been pretty good with me lately, because when I first came back on my R & R for two weeks. The baby would not have anything to do with me, she would cry and would be scared of me. She has been letting me play with her, come near her. She also comes to me and talks to me...But then she will start getting shy, and after a while of playing then she has had enough! She also has a pretty mean little streak ( worse than the terrible 2s, my older daughter DID NOT act like this one does!)

So I also have been doing things with her with her dad as well, so that she gets used to us being together and that we are her parents. We gave her a bath tonight together, got her ready for bed...then we laid down with her. But as we were laying down, asked him if he was going to put her in the crib and he was like that is not going to work. I get upset about that...bcs while I was on my deployment, he told me that he would let her play in the playpen and then she would fall asleep or she would fall asleep on him. Then he would lay her down in his bed and let her sleep ther, so the reason I get upset is because we paid quite a bit of money and it has barely and does not get used. So she was ok on the bed with us, in her room (where her sister sleeps as well), and was playing with a doll. Then she figured out that it talked, so she kept pressing the button. Then she started to whine and fuss and then she was calling for her grandma...then she started to cry, and she cried and cried until she fell asleep. This took about an hour, just the crying alone part.

He has to be at work early, and I can't be in there with her alone...bcs she is not comfortable with me yet, but I don't think it is good that he goes thru this when he has to get up early and go to work...and I certainly do not want to go thru this when I start back to work(in about 3 months).

I think if she were to be put in her crib and read her a book, then put on some soft music...and let her cry herself(if she needs to do that) in the crib and be consistent each night of this routine and the time she is put to bed. Help someone, has anyone been through this? At least the part of a very spoiled, stubborn, yells no, and having a hard time with the child going to bed? I REALLY need some good advice here! Please help?! Thank you in advance!

Flora - posted on 05/27/2011

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Hello to all! I really want to thank you all for the encouraging words and positive motivating input! I do want to clear something up, because it may have been taken in a different way that I was meaning. What I meant by asking a professional therapist, meaning asking them and talking to them about what I talked about on here! Just a one time thing, but as I stated it would take a while to find the right person to ask this to. But what I have read on here is good enough for me, and a faster way to get advice and cheaper!! Lol!! I don't think that I or my baby needs to see anyone, just needed some advice...and who better than ask, MOMS LIKE YOU!!! :-) Thank you all again, and I will replying to each of your posts!!

Dana - posted on 05/27/2011

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I have to disagree Christy. If Flora found a professional to talk to they should be able to help her go about it all properly. I actually think she should do so the next time she's home for an extended period of time.

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