DEAR ABBY: After reading your response to "Desperate Mom in Miami" (Aug. 10), who was being married and wasn't sure if she should take her 4-year-old son on her honeymoon because she was afraid he'd be traumatized if he was left for 12 days, I have to respond. Of course he will be traumatized if his mother leaves him for that long!
"Desperate" has been living with this man since her child was 6 months old. They have already had their honeymoon, so they should go away for only the weekend without her son. Come on, Abby, it's an impressionable 4-year-old -- not an older child! -- T.C. IN WADSWORTH, OHIO
DEAR T.C.: I stand by my reply. While I did find it curious that "Desperate" had planned a 12-day honeymoon and then was uncomfortable about leaving her son with her mother and the boy's father, by age 4 children tend to be somewhat independent. The honeymoon will present the perfect opportunity for her son to get used to having other people around him. Other mothers with similar experiences offered helpful suggestions. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: You were spot-on in your advice to "Desperate Mom." Her separation anxiety (and that of her son) will be lessened with a little advance planning. She should buy some children's books, record herself reading them, and leave them with the boy's caregivers to listen to each night before bed.
She should also get some little cars or other low-cost toys, wrap them, and have Grandma and Daddy reward the boy's "grown-up behavior" at the end of the day. A 30-minute calling card will allow her son to talk to Mommy for a short time every other day or in case of emergency. The mother should also send postcards to arrive while she's gone, praising him as a big boy and closing with, "See you soon." -- SANDY IN CIRCLE PINES, MINN.
DEAR ABBY: I was recently married, and a 5-year-old daughter was part of the package. We took our honeymoon a couple of months later and explained to her what it was: a vacation for two people to take when they get married -- and children don't come. Period. We told her we would call to say hi and bring back a small gift.
She understood completely and was excited to spend extra time with my husband's mother and sister. She would not have enjoyed the trip we were taking, and I'll bet "Desperate's" son would feel the same way. Honeymoons are not for kids -- both for their sakes and the parents'. -- THE STEPMOM
DEAR ABBY: When I married for the second time, I had four children whom I left at home with my mother. Before I left, I assembled a goody bag for each of them -- one for each day I would be gone. Inside I placed a short letter telling them where I was likely to be on that day, and some of the things I might be doing. I also included a few pieces of candy and a small toy.
Every night before they went to bed the kids would open their goody bags and find a treat from me. They looked forward to it, and were able to tell from the number of bags left how many more days I would be gone. They enjoyed their toys and treats, and their separation anxiety was greatly diminished. -- WORKED FOR ME IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
DEAR ABBY: Your response to "Desperate Mom" was correct. The idea of children being "traumatized" by a disrupted schedule has gotten out of control.
My friend sheltered her two boys from almost everything. They're now 18 and 20, and not only have almost no coping skills, but are also fearful of any social situation. I believe too many parents use "traumatized" as an excuse to avoid dealing with normal situations when they arise, and it is a disservice to their children. -- MICHIGAN MOM