When To Let Your Husband Travel With Your Child
So the 2019 holiday season has come to an end and we’re in 2020. While traveling to and from the U.S. with my daughter in tow, I was proud to see other fathers doing the same. Many fathers and children walking through airports together, eating at restaurants together, just waiting but spending quality time together. It made me think about spousal relationships as well. Strong relationships are based on trust, but trusting someone to take care of your child is something that is never easy. But what if that person is your spouse. It’s no secret that women tend to naturally have motherly instincts, although there may be just as many great fathers as there are bad moms out there.
So what’s the difference in trusting your husband to take your child to the park for the day versus taking your child half way around the world for a few weeks?
The answer is trust AND showing your significant other that you have good child-rearing habits. When a father takes their child to the park or to the supermarket, their wife usually shouts a last-second “Don’t forget to buckle up” or “Make sure you watch them the whole time.” But as a father spending a few days or even a few weeks with your child away from Mom, there’s more to it than just making sure they don’t get out of sight. From managing baths, brushing teeth, and bedtime routines to knowing what medicines to give if they get a fever, being solely responsible for a young one goes way beyond just watching them. From morning to night, you’re responsible for making sure all their needs are met and that they don’t gorge on their wants. But just how much can a mother trust her significant other to make sure these things get done and that her child makes it home in one piece?
Is there an appropriate age for children to be away from their mother?
After my wife gave birth to our daughter, she went back to work within a month or two. From that point on, I watched my daughter 3 days a week and my wife watched her 4 days a week. For the first 4 years we rarely had days with all three of us together. During the those first 2 years when my daughter was breastfeeding, my wife would pump so I’d have reserves to feed my daughter during the day. Otherwise, I’d drive to my wife’s workplace during lunch to let her feed and possibly pump more reserves. Nevertheless, I think those crucial early years of my daughter looking up at me as she was feeding was very important to not only strengthening our bond, but for my daughter and myself to not create a dependency on my wife. To this day, I still feel that this was the most important first step to molding an independent self-thinking individual; especially given that we moved back to Japan (where my wife is from) where the social norm is husbands being the breadwinners and wives being virtually single mothers when it comes to raising children.
Being that I’m from Alabama, my wife is from Japan, and we were living in Hawaii at the time, the big debate was where we would go when we had valuable vacation time. Of course, I wanted to go to Alabama to spend Christmas or Thanksgiving with my family. And my wife preferred spending New Year’s in Japan with her aging mother. So now that a new baby was in the mix, would obaachan(grandmother) in Japan or Grandma and Grandpa in America get to spend the holidays with their new granddaughter? We alternated holidays in Japan and mainland U.S. for the first couple of years, but then came to an agreement that once my daughter was 3 years old, I could take her by myself. Ultimately, this decision boiled down to more of a debate about the healthcare systems of Japan and America. In Japan, you can easily get seen by a doctor day or night using their affordable social insurance or national healthcare plans that are available to all residents of Japan and can be used at any hospital or clinic. In America, we had gotten used to having outrageously priced plans that may or may not be acceptable at certain hospitals and then getting invoices for various things for weeks or months after a visit. So, we just felt that after 3 years old our daughter would be more tolerant of suddenly coming down with a cold, fever, etc. and therefore avoid a costly doctor’s visit.
It’s been 4 years since our first holiday trip back to the States and my wife now looks forward to us being away for a few weeks during Christmas so she can have some “me” time and spend valuable time with her 85-year-old mother. On top of all of our father-daughter camping and ski trips during the year, our long trip to America for the holidays strengthens our bond.
So what is the verdict?
There is an appropriate age but that’s for each family to figure out. But wives can’t just make a list of responsibilities for husbands to follow and husbands will need to prove that they can take care of a child starting from the day they’re born. When a wife sees that her husband is capable and willing to bath, feed, burp, change diapers, put the child to bed, take the child to doctor’s visits and checkups, and the whole list of things that come with being a responsible parent (without having to be told to do it), it enforces the trust and confidence that a father can and will do everything necessary to care for their child.
© 2020 Paul Ledford