The guilt of the non working parent

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child, missing mum, missing parent,
Okay, things aren’t quite this bad in our household, but you get the idea. Pic credit below.

My youngest daughter has reached a point where she is much more self-aware and increasingly understands the world around her. This has manifested itself in a way that breaks my heart and makes me feel a little guilty as a non working parent.

This is a topsy-turvy family. My wife, Gill, works full time while I run the household and do most of the childcare. This means that each morning, if they’re awake, the kids wave mummy out the door as she heads off to the office.

The toddler has taken to getting up in the mornings, pointing off into the middle distance and saying “mummy, work.” It happens every day.

This is the bit that causes me pain. I know they want to see their mother but reality dictates one of us must work and provide for the family and Mrs Adams is best placed to fulfil that role.

When Mrs Adams gets back in the evening, Elizabeth is increasingly telling me to “go away.” She wants time exclusively with her mum, which is quite understandable. This doesn’t upset me, I expect it from a toddler of her age and I think it’s only right for me to back off so that mother and daughter get some quality time together.

As for Helen, my eldest daughter, she takes this more in her stride but occasionally tells me she wants to see more of mummy. In most families I’m sure kids pine for their dads. The reverse is true for us.

Just yesterday I had a chat with Helen. I explained to her that she came from a “special, cool” family because daddy stayed at home while mummy worked (just to clarify, it’s not that I don’t do any work, simply that these days it is all home based and fits around the kids). Interestingly, she has never once queried why I always pick her up from school and, prior to that, why I collected her from pre-school.

It’s tough but I guess this is a situation that all us stay at home parents face. I can’t do a huge amount about it, other than make sure the children do get quality time with their mother.

How do you deal with this? Do you kids pine after the working parent, be it mum or dad? Does it cause major issues in your family or is it easily dealt with?

Pic credit: Cecilio M. Ricardo Jr. File is in the public domain courtesy of the US Federal Government.

4 thoughts on “The guilt of the non working parent”

  1. Gerhard Pretorius

    Hi John,

    It must be hard to be the one who stays behind and sees the sadness children display when the other parents goes off to work 🙂 In my family I’m the parent that goes off every morning. Our eldest is now at the point where some mornings I get the brightest smiles possible, and the best little waves when I leave. At other times I can see the disappointment on his face when I leave, and all I get a shrug and his back turned to me. My wife does say that he seems to pine for me a bit during the day. When I call on the phone he often points and indicates I should come home ad play 🙂 (Breaks my heart a bit). Its extra hard for him as he now needs to suddenly share mum’s attention with his new sister when I leave home. he seems to do what you described your daughter does. When I come home he generally ignores his mother. I have to feed him (he take the bowl from mum and brings it to me). He asks me to play, and sits on my lap most of the evening. he won’t allow mum to do much for him. He tries to include me in everything he does. These times are very precious to me, and I am glad my wife appreciates and is understanding about this.

    Thanks for the lovely post.


    1. As ever Gerhard, a superbly written comment. Of course your family has just expanded. I know when we went fromone child to wo, the eldest was constantly making demands to play with me. She clearly wanted reassurance that dad’s love was still there for her (which of course it was). All things considered, the transition was actually relatively easy, especially compared to what some friends went through, but it can’t have been easy for her. Anyway, good luck. SOunds like it’s all going well for you and long may it continue.

  2. Hubby works shifts and our little bear often ‘pines’ for him when she’s only had half hour or so with him before school. It’s especially difficult after a tiring day at school/work with a tired bear who just wants a daddy laugh (the kind of laugh that mummy can’t provide). But their bond is beautiful and during his precious weekends off, he’s the one she wants to colour in with and boss around! I do think that our little ones tend to want/need their mums more emotionally when I’ll and at milestones which I’m guessing doesn’t surpass your guilt radar. Saying that, our children are very adaptable and bounce back… Interesting post!

    1. Thanks for commenting Carol. My kids love spending time with mum, although I don’t think they’ve been particularly bothered that I tend to be around more for the milestones. Glad you found the post interesting.

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