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By you desk
Tue, 11, 19

People think scarcity of money is the most important problem in the world, but I think a mother who is forced to leave her children with her mother-in-law is the most unlucky person.....

Dear Nadine,

People think scarcity of money is the most important problem in the world, but I think a mother who is forced to leave her children with her mother-in-law is the most unlucky person. My problem is very serious and I hope that you don’t take it lightly because it concerns my children. Before I got married, I was working in a multinational. However, when I got engaged, my mother-in-law told my mother that I would not be allowed to continue to work after marriage. I resigned a month before although my boss told me to go on long leave. The first few years were good; my husband had a very good job and looked after me very well. Then he had an accident in which he fractured both his legs. He was on bed for three months and even after he started walking, he didn’t regain his strength. His job required a lot of travelling and since he was unable to do it, his boss transferred him to a desk job, with a substantial cut in salary.

My three children are school going and we needed more money to pay for their school expenses. My husband told me to look for work, and realising there wasn’t another option available to us, I applied for and got a job in my old company. But the eight-year-old hiatus from work meant I had to invest extra hours. My children were used to a stay-at-home mom and this change did not sit well with them. I hired a maid to look after my children in my absence under the supervision of my mother-in-law. Somehow, my mother-in-law managed to turn my eldest two children against me. My youngest son is three-years-old, and he is the only who still remains unchanged. My seven-year-old daughter and five-year-old son are totally in love with their grandmother and even when I am home they prefer to spend time in her bedroom. I try to give my children as much time as I can, and take care of all their needs. I had a very good relationship with all my children now they hate me because they think I have abandoned them and don’t love me anymore. It’s their grandmother they want to be all the time! My mother-in-law spoils them in my absence and let them watch TV and eat junk, and when I scold them they shout at me and run to her. My husband thinks it’s just a phase and it will pass and my children will understand that I am sacrificing my time with them for their own good, but I am not so sure. I don’t know how to cope with this situation. I try hard that my children should not feel neglected because of my work and for that I put in extra effort but it feels that I have failed. Please tell me how to deal with this situation as I feel I will go mad if my children continue to behave in the same way.

Agitated and Stressed

Dear Agitated and Stressed,

You seem too worked up to think logically at the moment, so first of all, try to relax. Your children are way too young to understand what is happening, and are only reacting to the new situation. They were used to being greeted by their mother but now it’s their grandmother who takes care of them when they return from school. They don’t realise that you are doing it for them, but they will when they are older. So heed your husband who is right about this being a transitory phase. My dear, your children are lucky to have their grandmother to look after them. It’s because of her presence that you can go to work secure in the knowledge that your children are safe at home with their grandmother. So many working women are compelled to leave their children at day care centres or with maids. Can you begin to imagine how worried they constantly are about the wellbeing of their kids? Your mother-in-law obviously loves your children, which is why your children are so attached to her. But, no one can take your position in their lives, and once they become used to the fact that you have to work, they will be all right. They just need time to adjust to this new change. In this phase, you can just continue to be there for them when you are home. Take them out on weekends and spend quality time with them. Talk to them as you would to an adult and explain to them you need to work but you love them and wish to be with them when you are home. And, try not to hate your mother-in-law for being there with your children when you can’t. Try thanking her for her time and I am sure you will feel better about the whole thing. Best of luck!

Problems that need a solution? You can e mail Prof. Nadine Khan [email protected]

Write to Prof. Nadine Khan, c/o Editor ‘You!’ magazine, The News, Al-Rehman Building (4th Floor) I.I. Chundrigar Road, Karachi.