I shared the following case study with these parents.
Bernice graduated three years ago, like all children she benefited from being in our daycare, but the strongest influence in her life was her parents. When she first joined our daycare, I thought of them as being almost ideal.
-They were always on the same page.
-They gave clear directives.
-They followed up on what they said.
-They spent their non-working time with Bernice exposing her to creative, educational, social and fun experiences.
Then both parents changed careers at the same time. These career were more demanding in every possible way: time commitment, challenges, availability and stress.
Without realizing it, they were communicating with each other while at home almost exclusively about their work conditions and challenges and only focused on Bernice’s world when she acted out, i.e. breaking rules, not listening, playing at mealtime, stalling bedtime.
One incident stands out in my mind. Her dad came to pick her up and changed his initial request to her five times until he arrived at a version she approved of. Then he congratulated her on being such a good listener.
He was now settling for whatever worked so he could get home to complete a follow-up assignment.
He had easily given up his role as a guiding parent.
She was still at our daycare for two more years and at the time she graduated, we were witnessing a major change in who she was and her relationship with her parents.
Do children change over such a long period? Of course. But, they should not lose their core values, their self-confidence and their important guiding relationship with their parents.
She was no longer their priority. The amount of time they spent together was reduced to a bare minimum. She was neglected, was constantly pushing her boundaries to the extreme and displayed both physical and verbal signs of aggression.
She was still loving and sweet on occasion, but no longer the confident, outgoing, high performing child she had been.
The parents who raised this question understood the impact their decision could have on their family and decided that the best solution for them was for the dad to postpone the launch of his own business for a few years. This ensured that one parent was always available for their children. He felt confident that an opportunity would open up for him again in the future.
We are also working with another family right now who have taken on a major career change and are being challenged to make this all work for their daughter. They have finally found a really reliable baby sitter to provide care for their daughter, but are still witnessing behavior changes that are not positive.
Their present plan is to figure out how they can work out a better schedule so they are no relying on the sitter so much and spending some additional time together before the situation gets out of hand.
Our families all consist of two working parents. Under those circumstances, being committed and effective parents is already a challenge.
In our experience, having only one parent with a demanding high powered position that includes long hours and travel and the other parent hopefully with some schedule flexibility and less pressure in their workplace is less stressful and more realistically successful. It usually allows for more direct parent/child time.
A nanny/babysitter, even when great, is no substitute for the parent’s involvement. For their best well-being they need time and involvement with their parent.
Do everything you can not to shortchange them!