2018-12-05 / Columns

JFCS and the Voice answer your questions in a new advice column


“I can’t count the number of times when I felt like I didn’t have all of the answers and felt alone or anxious. Worst of all, I felt like I had no one to turn to for advice when all I wanted was a safe, judgment-free space to ask questions, or just be heard.”

To address this often-repeated sentiment, The Voice and the Jewish Family and Children’s Service Counseling Department partnered to give our community a platform to seek advice and support. The new monthly column, “Since You Asked…” will be open to receive questions on a variety of topics including mental health, parenting, self-care, and more, to be addressed by the JFCS counselors. JFCS and the Voice thank the Jewish Federation’s Shark Tank for partially funding this column along with a series of upcoming workshops being planned by the Katz JCC, JFCS, and the Voice.

Here are the first, of many, questions to come: Q. I work full time and my child(ren) spend weekdays at the Sari Isdaner Early Childhood Center at the Katz JCC. On the weekends, I feel guilty if I want to go out and have any kind of adult time. How do I find a balance between loving, caring for, and spending time with my child(ren) and still feel like my own person?

Since you asked…

The balance you seek falls in shifting your focus to the quality of time spent with your children, while ensuring you exercise self-care. We all feel the pressure to care for our children and sometimes forget to take care of ourselves. We feel guilty for addressing our needs, but you are not neglecting your children when you show yourself the respect and care you deserve. In fact, parenting can become even more challenging if you do not prioritize yourself. When we are neglectful of our needs, we can become irritable, exhausted, or sad, which makes caring for our children more challenging. This can lead to reactive parenting with yelling and missing opportunities to reward positive behaviors and more. By taking steps toward better self-care, you’ll soon realize the impact it can have on your overall well-being, and ultimately, to the quality of time spent with your children. Q. My child has been with a private nanny for the first two years of their life. This year I wanted my child to be part of a preschool program. I registered my child and tried for the month of September. However, my child wouldn’t stop crying when I dropped them off, and I felt so bad. So, I have decided to pull my child and continue with private care. Can you help me understand what is the best time for my child to begin group care and how to help them when I, myself, feel bad at drop off?

Since you asked…

Starting new childcare is often harder on the parents than it is on the child. There are different thoughts on the “right age” to start group care. From a psychosocial development perspective, toddlers benefit from this type of social interaction around two years of age, when they are developing and exploring their sense of independence, choice, and will. They will benefit from being in a supportive environment where they can learn independently, as well as by observing peers.

Being prepared makes any new experience easier. You can help your child transition by visiting the center with your child before beginning care. Show your child that you like and trust the caregiver. If it is allowed, let your child carry a reminder of home to childcare.

Sudden changes in caregivers may be upsetting to a child, even if the new caregiver is kind and competent. Stick to quick goodbye rituals since lingering can increase your child’s anxiety. Try to do the same drop-off with the same ritual at the same time each day. When separating, give your child full attention, be loving, then say goodbye quickly despite cries for you to stay. Consistency will build trust, and ultimately independence, as your child becomes confident in his/her ability to be without you.

To submit your anonymous questions for future columns, write to us at sinceyouasked@jfedsnj.org. 

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