Child Angry About Dad’s Out-of-Town Job

How can we help our daughter adjust to the stress and strain associated with my husband's new job in another city? We only see him on weekends, which makes her very angry and depressed. Despite our reassurances, she insists that her Daddy doesn't love her anymore. What should we do?

It’s not uncommon for children to have a difficult time adjusting to sudden family disruptions and changes in the familiar routine. Separation from a parent can be especially hard on some kids, so we can understand why your husband’s absence might be stressful for your daughter. At the same time, we have to admit that her reaction does seem somewhat extreme. In view of this, we think you are wise to look into this situation further.

Why the intense emotional backlash in this particular case? Our first thought is that there may be other issues in your family that need to be addressed – subtle problems that have been brought to the surface of your daughter’s consciousness as a result of the current “crisis.” We’re only guessing here, of course; you know best whether these speculations are anywhere near the mark. Still, the “anger” and “depression” you’ve described strike us as a bit unusual and deserving of special attention. You didn’t say whether her depression has shown itself in the form of suicidal thoughts or threats, but if it has we’d suggest that this needs to be taken very seriously.

It’s possible, of course, that your daughter is simply mad about the separation and trying to manipulate you and your husband by means of her mood. In any case, we would strongly encourage you to consult a psychologist or family therapist. It’s important that the entire family be involved in the counseling process. Call us. Our staff counselors can give you a list of licensed family practitioners in your local area and a free over-the-phone consultation.

In the meantime, you and your husband will also need to make some hard decisions as to how you are going to balance career and family life in the future. We’re of the opinion that your present arrangement should be a temporary measure – it definitely wouldn’t be wise to prolong your current living situation for an indefinite period of time. If your husband’s job in the other city is expected to be a long-term commitment, you should think about relocating. Otherwise, he should consider looking for employment closer to home, even if that means taking a cut in pay. We realize that these are difficult choices, but no job is worth sacrificing your family relationships.



Be the Dad She Needs You to Be: The Indelible Imprint a Father Leaves on His Daughter’s Life

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters

She Calls Me Daddy

Helping Your Kids Deal With Anger, Fear and Sadness

Hart Institute

John Rosemond: Parenting with Love and Leadership

National Center for Fathering

Dads resource list

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