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Alicia_MSW, Family Counselor
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 794
Experience:  Licensed social worker and psychotherapist
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My wife and I are in Russia now with her parents, and we are

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My wife and I are in Russia now with her parents, and we are visiting them for the summer. The question I have is my wife and I have to go away for business this summer for 4 weeks, from mid June to mid July, and we will be leaving our 23 month old twins in the capable hands of the grandparent's care.

The question we have, is what is the best way for us to explain to the kids that we will be away for 4 weeks? We have been here in Russia with the grandparents now for two weeks, and we were all here together this past Christmas holiday season, and did a similar thing last summer, but they were only one then and they hardly even missed us.

We are concern about their possible feelings of abandonment, and causing a since of insecurity now and possiblly effecting them in the future. We have Skype ability and can talk over the phone anytime, but the reception is not the best here. They also get along very well with their grandparents who also love them very much.

What is the best way to handle our temporary separation and prepare them for this?

Thanks for your question, I'm happy to help.

Since the children are used to being around their grandparents and have had relatively frequent contact, I don't anticipate this being an extremely difficult situation to address, although your concerns about feelings of abandonment and insecurity are valid. For starters, I would suggest that you write down their exact schedules for your wife's parents (including any food preferences and so forth) so that they can maintain a feeling of security in their regular routine. Leave specific toys or certain articles that remind them of you for comfort. This can help them maintain an attachment to you while you're away and help them feel more secure. Children at their age don't completely understand the concept of time, of how long you are going to be away, so the big problem (if there even is one) will be the initial separation. Try to downplay it and not make it a huge deal, because if they sense you are upset about it, they will become more upset as well. When you call while you're away, if it's possible, try to avoid calling before bedtime, as it can make it more difficult for them to fall asleep. You say you've done the same thing last year, and they adjusted well, so I would not be too concerned that they will have trouble with it this time. It is helpful to provide reassurance so they feel secure that you're not abandoning them. You want to present the experience to them as being as fun as possible - so make it an adventure for them, reassure them that it's going to be safe and fun and that you are going to return after a few weeks. Its normal that you and your wife experience a certain degree of anxiety, but if you can relax about it and show the kids that it's not a huge deal, then they will also pick up on that and have an easier time adjusting. Good luck.
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