Oftentimes, the decision is not a choice, but it is a necessity based on the financial needs of the family. But even when it is a choice, it is still a difficult one to make and can substantially increase stress in the already-overwhelming world of a new parent. Moms and dads experience a range of emotions including guilt, shame, relief, and resentment as well as confusion and stress--not to mention the judgement, criticism and disappointment that may come from friends, family, spouses, and/or partners.
Keep in mind, the decision to work after having a child is a personal one based on the financial and emotional needs of the family. There is no right or wrong answer--despite the extreme opinions you may come across on the internet or through other media outlets. Children have been raised in different types of situations with parents who are home full-time, work full-time, and everything in between, and have grown up to be healthy, grounded individuals.
If it is a safe environment where the child consistently feels loved, is actively tended to, and his needs are met (either by a parent, caretaker, nanny, day care provider, etc.), the child will thrive and develop healthy attachment. It is vital to provide this type of environment for your child, regardless of your work situation. And how do you relieve the rest of the guilt, stress, or anxiety? By not being so hard on yourself and by acknowledging how difficult this all is and taking some time for yourself. Remember, the baby thrives best in an environment where both parents are able to take care of themselves in a healthy way with self-care, family/community support, etc. Only then can both parents attend tot he needs of their child.
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West Valley Counseling Center is located at 19634 Ventura Blvd. Suite #212 Tarzana, CA 91356