unlucky-luck asks: My daughter is three years old and has a very close bond with my mum. I’m moving away soon, and my mum has asked me if my daughter can move in with her as she is heartbroken that she is moving away. My daughter sobs if we meet up with my mum and then leave to go home, as she wants to always stay with my mum as well. Visiting us or us visiting her won’t be an option, as neither of us drive and money is tight. I’m not gonna lie, my daughter and I don’t have a close relationship, which I think was due to me having post-natal depression. I also have a 9-month old son who I have a close bond with. I don’t really wanna “give my child up,” but I’m wondering if it’s in her best interest if she lives with my mum.
Hi unlucky-luck –
This is a really difficult question for me, because there are so many different aspects to it.
First of all, there’s the very real and awful issue of postpartum depression. It’s much more common than most people realize, and can leave a new mother anything from a little blue, to distant and unfeeling, to feeling a desire to hurt her child or more, to being actually psychotic and needing to be hospitalized (I’ve known cases of each of these). Lots of women are embarrassed to admit they’ve had it, so I really respect your bravery for opening up about it here.
Second, your daughter seems to enjoy your mother more than time with you, and it sounds like your mother is great with her.
Third, you have more of a bond with her little brother than with her.
But fourth, you very understandably don’t want to “give your child up.”
And I’ll add a fifth, that your daughter will struggle, as she grows, with understanding why her mother “gave her up” if you do leave her with your mother. Even though she shows more affection to her grandmother now, she’s very young, and as she gets older she’ll start asking a lot of questions.
And of course, the easy answer to all this would be to split time with her, but you say that’s not possible due to distance and finances.
So I hate to do this, but I’m going to say… I can’t give you a good answer! I simply don’t know what would be best.
But I will say one thing. Whichever choice you make, it will be terribly important for that girl to get as much contact as possible with the lady she’s not with – whether that’s phone calls or some visual connection like Skype or FaceTime, or letters and drawings sent between the two, and all the gifts possible. Think of it like a child whose father is in the military; they sure don’t like it, but they do have the connection as often as possible.
And also, it’s very important that the issues you raise with me are discussed with her (to her level of understanding) often. That she knows that the person who’s not with her loves her just as much as the one who is; that if you could, everyone would be living in the same house; that this situation (like everything else in life) isn’t permanent.
You may not have the bond with her that you’d like to, due to your bout of depression, but you are clearly a deeply caring and loving mother. Some kids don’t even get one such person in their lives and she has two. So whichever choice you make, she’s going to be all right.
But whenever it is possible to have a vacation and let her visit the one she doesn’t live with, oh those will be the best days of her years!
Best of Luck,