Q&A: More effects of this !@#$%^ war

Michelle writes:

"I'm freaking out a bit and I'm hoping you and the Internets might be able to help calm me down.  In the way of background, our 10 month old son is at an in-home daycare 4 days a week, and has been there since he was 3 months old.  The daycare was recommended to us by some friends who have a 5 year old and a 2 year old.  We have been thrilled with our provider, "Jenny," and she absolutely adores our son.

Jenny's husband returned from a year-long overseas deployment 2 months ago and Jenny has mentioned to me that they've been having trouble adjusting to having him home again.  Then, a couple of days ago, he just left, and Jenny hasn't heard from him since, short of a text message saying he was meeting with a counselor.  I found this out yesterday when I went to pick up my son.  He was in a swing-set baby swing, by himself, and Jenny was on the complete other side of the yard.  He was just hanging out, staring down at the ground.  He wasn't upset, but he was definitely all alone. When I saw him, I was really surprised and upset…  Jenny is usually right there with him.  I ran and grabbed him, and when I turned around to see why Jenny wasn't there, she was sitting in a chair staring off into space.  I asked her if she was okay and that's when she told me what happened with her husband.

I understand why she's distracted, but I worry that with her mind elsewhere she'll be unable to properly care for the kids.  I spoke with the friend of mine I mentioned above, and neither of her kids have said anything about things being "weird" at Jenny's, which makes me feel a bit better.  I also worry, though this is probably my new-mom paranoia coming out, that her husband is going to become violent and come to the house while the kids are there.  It sounds like the person who held his post prior to him arriving committed suicide, and that many of his superiors needed to be replaced because of the stress.

So, what I need, I guess, is some reassurance….  How have other people dealt with it when their daycare provider is having bad personal problems?  And I suspect I'm overreacting when I worry about her husband hurting the kids or hurting her in front of the kids, but I would love for someone to tell me to chill out about it…"

I am so, so, so sorry for Jenny and her husband that this is happening. They are not alone. I've been reading all kinds of articles about how returning military people are having major problems reintegrating into their families and lives when they come back from being deployed. The system is starting to get overwhelmed, and returning military people are slipping through the cracks and families are being destabilized.

It sounds like Jenny has no idea what to do about this. We have no idea if the husband is going to become violent. I wouldn't rule it out, but I also wouldn't say it'll definitely happen. The sooner they can get help, the better off everyone will be, and the more stable the situation will become.

I think the best resolution to the problem would be for you and the other parents to start poking at the system in your area to see what support services there are for returning soldiers and their families. I'd start looking around for EMDR therapists.(EMDR is the process that's showing the best results in treating PTSD effectively and rapidly.) And I'd call the VA and see if there are support groups for families. It's good that he's seeing a counselor. Very good, and seriously lessens the likelihood that he'll be violent. But we have to hope that the counselor knows what to do with PTSD cases.

Does anyone out there have experience with getting help from the system for a returning soldier and family? Jenny and her husband aren't the only ones that are dealing with this. And not everyone has a Michelle who's worried about it.

Bring our troops home NOW.

0 thoughts on “Q&A: More effects of this !@#$%^ war”

  1. I don’t think this mom is being paranoid. She seems to be having an appropriate reaction in terms of defending her child … and as much as Jenny needs help, the situation may be out of the mom’s control.Does anyone else think it might be wise to quietly investigate backup childcare options? Just in case? Not to abandon Jenny, but to put the child’s welfare as first priority …

  2. So let me get this straight: the very real burden that the war puts on families (which is terrible, as you illustrate) warrants that we:1) Bring them home, making their burden in effect meaningless, and
    2) Leave an unstable country to civil war where many people would die, including little Iraqi babies who don’t deserve such a terrible fate.
    Couldn’t there be some middle road in there somewhere? Like Bring our troops home ASAP?

  3. I wouldn’t rule out violence against Jenny. It happens. I’m not as concerned about violence agains the day care kids. As I wouldn’t rule out violence against Jenny, I would get my child out of that house. I just would. My primary obligation is to my child. I probably wouldn’t do it without talking to her first and getting a feel for the situation. Does she have help or is she by herself with the kids all day? That kind of thing. I’m not really worried they would actually witness any violence. I would be more worried on the impact on the caregiver abd how that would impact my child, but you’ll have to talk with her and get a feel for the situation. If there are other workers in the home or if she has a strong support system in her family, church, friends, whatever.

  4. I agree with SarcastiCarrie. I completely understand the reaction Jenny had – it would be shocking. But it sort of sounded like she wasn’t able to step away from her experience and see how this was affecting her work. Maybe it was just that day, and she’s certainly entitled to a very, very bad day. But if she is unable to put my mind at ease by ensuring my child’s continued safety and care (through temprary help at the house, etc.) while she attends to her personal life, I would take that as a sign that it is time to look elsewhere.Such a hard situation, though, and hardly Jenny’s fault. Problem is, it shouldn’t turn into Michelle’s, or Michelle’s son’s, burden. I guess as a business owner, Jenny’s just got a responsibility to put together some back-up care while she works things out, or else she’s going to lose customers.
    As far as the potential for violence, that is so tricky. I would be concerned, too, but I also just tend to be uncomfortable with that kind of in-home care. I would think that it has to be a gut decision on Michelle’s part, as all childcare decisions really are.

  5. What happens to Jenny if she has to suspend the business (which is my utterly uninformed opinion of what maybe needs to happen)? Is that doable financially? Is it mentally the right thing for her to take that kind of break?I know our first obligation has to be to our children, but we owe it to our fellow humans to help them when we can — what’s going to get the best results for everyone here? Could Jenny get additional help so she can be a little preoccupied? Can she have the daycare somewhere else for a while so her husband, dangerous or not, can get a little space? In addition to not being there, I don’t know anything about licensing requirements, business needs, availability of childcare options, blah blah blah.
    So this has been unhelpful. Sorry. It’s just such a tricky situation, and so sad, for so many people.
    And could we please keep opinions about the war and the correct next step in that regard out of it?

  6. Anything that makes Michelle worry more rather than less about her child should definitely be acted upon. I can imagine Jenny must be having a hell of a time but it shouldn’t be coming between her and her being able to care for the children. I would probably look for a way to reassure myself that my child is absolutely safe and cared for at every moment, otherwise I’d pull my child out.

  7. Yeah, I have no actual advice about what to do with the childcare situation immediately. I don’t know what I would do. And I think Michelle has to follow her instincts. If she feels like it’s dangerous, she has to get out.

  8. Jenny, I would take some time to sit and really listen to your fear. Is it really just “freaking out” or are your instincts telling you something profound about how the care situation has changed? Because I might be looking for a new care situation in your position. I think you can figure it out and support your decision either way.I strongly recommend Protecting the Gift as a book to help structure that kind of question as well as its predecessor, The Gift of Fear.
    It is awful of course that your care provider is going through this, and hard for her if it impacts on her business. But this soldier has already failed to notify his wife about his whereabouts, which speaks to how confused his thinking his at this time in his life. I would really counsel you to consider whether this is a good situation for your child at this time. You are the only one who can judge, but please don’t dismiss your fear – listen to it and see what it really says.
    I suffer from PTSD and I am well, well aware that many people go through lots of trauma and pain and do not hurt other people, particularly children. At one point in my life I revealed some of what I was struggling with to close relatives with young kids, and they chose not to have me sit for them. And it hurt, because of course I felt ashamed and stupid and sooooo not abusive. At the same time I completely respected their decision. Protecting our kids has to be a priority over offending adults.
    Also Moxie I love your advice generally, but EMDR is not some kind of magic bullet for trauma. This is not something that is likely to resolve quickly, so this mum has to be comfortable with how things are now.
    That doesn’t mean it’s an unsafe situation right now or forever, but all the community support in the world will not help – it’s the individual’s journey, and for many people there is a months or years long period of instability.

  9. I agree with two points above: (1) Can we please keep our opinions about the war and what we should do with the troops out if this in order to focus on the OP’s concern and (2) I would look into alternative child care options immediately. If in the meantime you realize there is no reason to be concerned, you can stay with Jenny. If however there is a second incident like your child left alone in the swing, I would want my kid out yesterday. My son comes before anything. I’m sorry. I know the world would likely be a better place if we could all put the bigger picture before the needs of our immediately family, but it’s my mommy lioness need to protect and it’s very powerful.

  10. I’m not a military wife, but my husband’s father was in the military for years, and my daycare provider is a military wife. So not an expert, but have talked about these very issues before.It’s very difficult to come back home to family life, whether deployed during peace times or war times. The stress is enough to overwhelm most families, especially after the glow of the initial reunion has worn off.
    Michelle, it sounds like your son was left in an age-appropriate device, and not unattended. Yes, Jenny might have been on the other side of the yard, but she was present and your son wasn’t upset. You shouldn’t assume that the husband will become violent without finding out more. And the way to find out more is to talk with Jenny. NOT accuse of neglect! Ask her if you can help her out. Help with her kids, help her with support, and ask her out of the house for coffee on a weekend. Give her a sympathetic ear and find ways to ease her burden.
    I don’t mean to completely disregard your concerns, but if the other parents haven’t heard anything (and trust me, the 5 yo would talk), then until you hear otherwise, you should focus on ways to help, and not to pull your child out.

  11. Recently I pulled my oldest out of a home day care because I just wasn’t confident it was the best situation for her. It started out okay, but then little things started to happen which eventually turned into a big deal for us. I started worrying about my daughter being there instead of feeling at ease that she was being taken care of. I could have pulled my daughter out on a whim, but I gave a months notice and did it over a period where I would be home for a few weeks (starting of maternity leave) so it wasn’t hard on her transitioning to another child care facility.I think first and foremost should be your instincts telling you that it may not be the best situation for your own child. It sounds like Michelle is concerned about her sitter’s mental health (and rightly so), and could offer support in other ways as well. Maybe trading off child care in the other direction so that Jenny could have time to seek out counseling or just to get out for a cup of tea and do some thinking?
    Personally, I would want my sitter to be focused on the kids.
    On the atrocities of war – it’s horrible to watch governments spending millions and billions of dollars PER DAY on saving the children of Iraq and Afghanistan when people in our own countries are starving and suffering their own atrocities. I think that we should save our military for keeping the peace and not fighting the terrorists.

  12. My nephew is shipping out in three days for BCT, Army Airborne. I worry about him reintegrating as well – I’m putting on hold worrying about whether he’ll even come back (my brother is ex-Navy, I’m used to the lack of control on that, worry doesn’t really help). On the plus side (small plus), kids with very strong attachment function have much lower risk of PTSD as adults, and he’s as solid on that as anyone I know. I’m not going to argue bring home now or bring home advisedly or what form of advisedly is best. I *am* going to argue putting way more resources toward improving return conditions (counseling, support, etc.) for anyone coming home. It’s a sin the way we’ve used the military without paying into the maintenance and recovery side proportionally. It takes it from used to *used*. No matter what the position on the war, our servicepeople have been treated shabbily by the people choosing what money goes where.Anyway, that’s my soapbox for the day.
    Meanwhile, the OP.
    Our DCP had an unexpected catastrophic breakup of marriage (she kicked him out, with cause), and she called us that night to say she was closing the daycare until she was certain that there was no risk to the kids in any way. Not that she thought there WOULD be, but any risk was too much risk, and that included the designation ‘unknown’.
    We scrambled like crazy, found alternate care (which was acceptable but not great), and her ex promptly found himself a new girlfriend and paraded her around at family gatherings… so, likelihood of issues at that point seemed small. Daycare reopened. She also watched the twins, later. We loved her as a DCP, and had no trouble placing the kid/s back with her when she waved the all-clear.
    It seemed alarming to have that happen at the time, and even in retrospect. Almost to the point of ‘alarmist’… but. But I think it was the right thing for her to do. I’m not sure if I would have shushed my gut reaction if she hadn’t just taken over and made the decision for everyone, but it is possible. FTR, she did not get all her clients back.
    In this case, I think a frank discussion of the issues with a) the wife, and possibly b) someone at the base (that is, someone in a counseling role? someone who could give perspective on what the reality of risk is?) is the place to start. But keep going – I would also quietly look for other care for my child. And I would when talking to the people on base see what other options might be available for family support. I know there ARE a lot of support programs, but there can be little subcultural resistance issues – not wanting to take advantage of X or Y because it might end up affecting spouse’s file information/career, or it might become gossip fodder, etc. Base families can be stuck in some strong subculture traps at times (depending on the base, and the family).
    So, that’s the start point. It is impossible for me (and likely for anyone not professionally trained, and even then maybe iffy) to determine from a distance whether someone would become violent. And seeing violence would be enough risk, even if the child is not at all in harms way.
    I also ditto the “Protecting the Gift” re-read (or read, if you haven’t). My feeling is that Michelle is already uncomfortable and her alarm bells are going off, and she’s trying to excuse them and deny they’re sounding. They’re sounding. Maybe not loud enough to race over right now to pull your child out, but enough to start looking TODAY for other care – knowing you won’t find anything instantly (the longer you wait, the more you’ll be able to say ‘I should ignore my intuition’). But you’d know your own bells. They may be louder than that. Don’t ignore them. Don’t ignore your care provider, either, but your child is still your first responsibility.
    I think the most telling thing is that you’re asking for someone to tell you to calm down and that it is all okay. Which says you are not okay with the situation already. It’s okay to believe that. You may be wrong, and chances IMHO are good that you are not able to predict anything in specific. You’re still supposed to listen to your own alarm system.
    So, um, go read the book… it will help you stay sane while you figure out what to do next.

  13. Michelle, I think if you feel comfortable a real open conversation with Jenny could help. It could be framed as you trying to learn more about PTSD. Jenny obviously cares for your son–I don’t think it’s out of bounds to ask point blank if his safety is in any way compromised. You may or may not get a honest answer, but you’re putting your concerns on the table. She has a right to know what’s going on in your mind, in particular if you’re considering looking for different daycare options.Like a pp, I’m going to say this not in any way to try and negate your mommy sense, but as for your son being alone in the swing that day, I would have to say that I think some people can have a tough day. If this kind of behavior continues, though, take it as a huge warning sign, for sure. But the one time incident… wait and see. This is crazy hard for you. Good luck.

  14. Hedra’s right, it does sound like your mommy alarms are going off. The swing thing, on it’s own, may not be much, but it *does* sound like you’re sensing more. I feel like I’m maybe belaboring the point, but I do absolutely respect your senses. So, um, maybe don’t listen to me at all on that one.

  15. Thanks, Rudy. I was looking back at my comment and wishing I had mentioned “one time incident” somewhere. Because, as much sympathy as I have for Jenny right now, and the incredibly tough situation her family is now in, I do believe that her job is also very important, and if she can’t focus, she needs a break.And gut feelings shouldn’t be discounted, but I didn’t see where the OP mentioned gut feelings, or instincts about violence. She seemed more concerned with the level of care.

  16. Oh! And as for the politics, well, let me tell you that [shrill bleeping noise] and [BLEEP] national defense… [BLEEP BLEEP] leadership and governmnt controls [BLEEEEEEP] and can you believe the frickin Merrill Lynch debacle? Honestly, I [BLEEP]. And that’s all I have to say about that.

  17. Do helping Jenny and finding other child care have to be mutually exclusive choices? Michelle obviously feels uncomfortable with the situation and I wouldn’t talk her away from her feeling of unease. I know that removing her son from Jenny’s care will likely be a financial burden on the caregiver, but it sounds like that might not be the biggest of her problems right now.I may be projecting here a bit because when my husband and I put my daughter in day care a little over a year ago, we had a few niggling concerns about the center. We promised each other to take her out if anything ever seemed amiss. But the truth was, we talked ourselves out every gut reaction until it became spectacularly clear how wrong the situation was for our daughter. She’s been with a different caregiver for almost a year now and the change in her has been remarkable. And it still bothers me that I chose to ignore what was wrong before.

  18. Here’s what I think, and this may not be popular. I don’t think you necessarily have to pull your kid out of Jenny’s care. But Michelle should have some major alarm bells going off.Whether the husband is violent or not shouldn’t be the bar. I wouldn’t want my kid sitting through any on-going major strife/depression/arguments, etc., at daycare.
    Bottom line- I re-read Michelle’s question to Moxie and I am seeing a LOT of second-guessing herself and wanting reassurance that there is nothing wrong here. I think she needs to try to step back, try to assess what’s going on at that house, and have some self-confidence in her assessment.

  19. @Keri-“And it still bothers me that I chose to ignore what was wrong before.” Yes, yes, yes! I am carrying this regret too. When my maternity leave was over and my then-4-month-old went to a friend’s house for care, it seemed like the perfect solution: loving mom with similar parenting style, quiet house, another baby of similar age… I rationalized the nagging feelings that something wasn’t right for a month and a half. And she screamed the whole time, developed recurring ear infections, was generally not happy. It wasn’t abusive or neglectful or dangerous. It just wasn’t right.I knew it, and I ignored that feeling. I still regret it.
    We switched to another caregiver, and it was 100 percent better, instantly.
    I think that if Michelle feels uneasy, she should listen to that uneasiness. She may not need to switch caregivers at this point, but I agree that she should be prepared to do so…

  20. Part of my point was mangled in there…looking for other care today doesn’t mean “I already am choosing to take my child out no matter what” – it is allowing you to take one type of action (that has a longer run – we all know how long it takes to find good care, yes?), so that she can start that now, while meanwhile doing the communication/suss-out with the care provider.
    Yes, people can have bad days – that’s not the alarm bell. The alarm bell is that this kind of situation could be going on all day every day or for unknown amounts of time per day for unknown duration of days. Unless there’s a clear solution, or a sense of reality to the problem-solving, there’s still a problem. Having started looking around for another location doesn’t mean you necessarily TAKE the other location, but it starts the process and makes the whole thing very real, and not something you can just sweep under the rug emotionally.

  21. Thank you all so much… Lisa M, after thinking about this over the weekend your comments reflect the way I’ve been leaning. Even though we’ve only been with her a few months, I do feel as if I could ask Jenny point blank if she’s still up for watching the kids even with everything else on her mind, along with supporting her as a friend.As for my Mommy Alarms, they’ve been going off a tiny bit ever since her husband returned. Jenny just hasn’t been herself (which I TOTALLY understand). She’s taken on another baby in the last few weeks, too, which has changed the dynamic, and I think we’re all (my son included) just trying to get used to him not being the youngest there.
    Finally, I think I will start poking around to try and find another place to take my son, just in case.
    You all have been amazing, just like I knew you would be when I sent Moxie this question.

  22. Gee…so many issues here, not all relevant to Michelle.Sounds like Jenny has serious stuff going on and it would certainly be great if Michelle can help her find resources to deal with that — and Michelle may have some self-interested incentive to do that if she does leave her son in Jenny’s care; whether she does or not it would be a kind thing to do, if Jenny wants help.
    But as for Michelle’s actual question, gee…honestly, to me this sounds like a one-time, not dangerous incident and I think I would ignore it, except for being attentive and careful. Oh, and looking for alternative care arrangements just in case is undoubtedly a good idea.
    I have my son in an in-home care place (which I’m much more comfortable about than the commercial alternatives, in contrast to at least one other poster). Without the other issues Michelle raises, I did one morning drop my son off early (which I don’t, usually) and found the care provider dozing in a chair in her (fenced, child-safe) backyard while a couple of the other children played back there (these kids are between 1 & 3 years old). I woke her and left my son with her. Did I feel great that she had nodded off while watching the kids? No, it worried me. But OTOH, I’ve myself nodded off from time to time while “watching” my son, and truly, had any of the kids done or experienced anything untoward (hitting, tripping, etc.), there would have been shrieking and she’d have woken immediately and dealt with the situation effectively. And as I say, the basic area is child-safe. And nothing similar has happened since, and my son loves the facility and clearly feels very secure there. So, as I say, not exactly the same as Michelle’s situation, but not entirely different, either, and that (nothing, basically, except making sure there was no pattern) is what I “did.”

  23. I think I would want to know what is Jenny’s (the care provider’s) game plan. What is the support system for her husband? What is the support system for her? Is she planning to hire an assistant, so that if she needs breathing room or to go to an appointment, she can? I think that there are a variety of “right” answers to these questions, but the important thing is that there is an answer.I think if you took the reintegration issues out of the scenario and subbed in some other family crisis, these are the things you would want to be reassured of by the care provider.
    I hope that the care provider is able to get her ducks in a row – so that her family situation is improving and so that she doesn’t lose her livlihood.

  24. While I agree we should be worried about Jenny and her husband, I think the question was what should Michelle do for her child, not what should she do to help Jenny. She can do both, but her first priority is her son. Keep an eye on the situation, if it gets worse, get him out of there. You might ask Jenny if there is anything you can do. I would tell her your concerns if another episode of him not being watched occurs, she might not even know she is doing something wrong because her mind is elsewhere.

  25. Michelle, since you mentioned feeling comfortable talking directly with Jenny, I think that’s definitely the way to go. A conversation with her about your concerns, and seeing how she responds, should go a long way towards helping you decide what to do next. Whenever I’ve had unease about any of my children’s care, a scheduled, sit-down, one-on-one talk has provided me with everything I needed to make a confident, informed decision. In one case, my concerns were completely unfounded, but in another, I did end up switching my son to a different pre-school. When you talk to Jenny, though, be sure it’s not just a curb-side chat at drop-off or pick-up. You’ll both want to give this the time and focus it deserves. Best of luck to you!

  26. As a military spouse who has now been through seven deployments, my heart aches for Jenny’s family. We have also gone through PTSD and re-integration issues, just as almost everyone we know has. I think Michelle should have an open conversation with Jenny, expressing her concerns, with a great deal of sensitivity, of course. Get a bit more information from Jenny. Military families have remarkable way of picking up and moving on. I suspect that just like during a deployment and dealing with all the frightening and stressful emotions that go along with it (which I’m sorry, but non-military families can simply not understand this), Jenny will “suck it up” and move through the reintegration process, make decisions, etc. Of course if Jenny thinks her husband may be violent, I would immediately remove the child from the situation. But this is probably not likely. I suspect I’m not saying remove your child right away from Jenny’s care because all around me, people are in the same situation. It sadly seems normal. And we all just carry on.And there are programs on post for returning soldiers and their spouses that help deal with marital problems, PTSD, etc. Often you can get the ball rolling by contacting your chaplain, family services, social services, or army community service. The stigma is slowly disappearing, but for those who are hesitant to go through the military, civilian help is available. My husband was very proactive in recovering from his PTSD issues and is fine now. Early intervention/treatment are key.
    And finally, it’s just possible that after a year/15 months apart, the couple has just drifted apart. It’s hard to keep a marriage alive and happy when people are constantly together. It’s nearly impossible when they’re apart for over a year and under such stressful conditions. One of them may have met someone else, become different people, etc. So basically, I’m saying don’t assume violence or drama. It may just be over.
    And I agree…bring our troops home. The thought of more deployments in our future (and there will be) fills my heart with such intense sadness, there really are no words for it.

  27. My instincts would be to find out what I could do to help, and maybe contact the other parents to see if they could help. If I’m having a tough time at work, there is nothing like someone else jumping in to help out or ease the burden in some way. It must be so much harder when your work is at your home, if there are problems at home.Michelle, you said you feel comfortable talking to Jenny. Could you ask her what you and other could do to help? Is there a parent who could jump in by coming earlier than usually and helping out with the kids During pick ups? Maybe some parents could cook up breakfasts or pack lunches? I don’t know what else, but maybe help in some way.
    To me, this is one of those times when we all need to support each other. Of course your primary concern is your child, and you have serious concerns that you should look into. But it feels like to me one of those “it takes a village” moments where we should all try and jump in and support each other, rather than leave a person alone to struggle even further by themselves.
    Anyway, those are the thoughts I had. Granted, I’ve not had to deal directly with this situation. I’m just trying to relate it to things I have had experience with, like when my mom had something come up and couldn’t handle watching my child and my niece so she needed to hire someone to come earlier and help her out. Although, we did get to the point where we had to take our daughter out of my mom’s care because it became to much for her. But there were things we tried first to ensure the care was good and the caretaker had extra support when she needed it.
    Good luck!

  28. I’d be looking into a different daycare immediately. Actually, if it were me, I’d pull my child out now. That’s my gut reaction and if it’s also yours, follow it please.

  29. Hi… Understand the need to help the child care provider but not at the expense of a sense of security/comfort for the parents. My first thought was perhaps if Michelle could take a week vacation to give Jenny a break. Michelle could use that time off to check into other care options and then the following week, I’d suggest she come to pick up her child at very random times to check the situation and give her gut feeling a check.Good luck…

  30. These kind of judgments are so hard. I loved Protecting the Gift, but I know people who just found it upsetting.A technique I’ve used in situations like this is to ask myself what I would do if nobody would ever know about my decision. In other words, if I didn’t have to worry about being embarrassed, labeled over-reactive, or hurting another person’s feelings. I know, intellectually, that I value my children’s safety over those things, but that deeply-ingrained training to be polite, politically-correct and thoughtful of others’ feelings is very hard to overcome.
    I have a little experience with the PTSD thing, you know. I would say the vast majority of military sufferers are not a threat to children**. I personally would probably not worry about that (though I can’t say without having met the dad — I’m a big believer in trusting my gut, but only in person). I might try to find out (in a general way) what his particular Trauma (the ‘T’ in PTSD) was. In my husband’s case, for example, the anger is almost entirely self-directed. The only person he’s ever really angry at/fearful of is himself.
    I just went back and re-read the original question and realized that nowhere does Michelle even mention PTSD. For all we know, ‘Jenny”s husband went to see a counselor because of re-integration, marital or who-knows-what problems. So it does seem like jumping to conclusions to assume the husband might hurt the kids. (Again, UNLESS YOUR GUT TELLS YOU HE MIGHT, in which case, run like hell.)
    I hope Michelle can speak to ‘Jenny’ and express her concern over the specific situation (baby unattended in swing) that upset her. In a way, the stuff with the husband is a separate issue. It doesn’t so much matter why ‘Jenny’ wasn’t attending to the kids as the fact that she wasn’t. That’s the way I’d try to start the conversation.
    Can I just say for the umpty-billionth time how grateful I am to my employer for the flexibility that I get? I am so glad to be in a situation where if I suddenly discovered my childcare situation wasn’t acceptable to me, I could take care of it without worrying about losing my job.
    **I’m speaking here of PTSD sufferers from the Iraq war. I think some of the Vietnam vets, who witnessed or were aware of acts of violence perpetrated by children (of which, sadly, there were many) might have a different perspective.

  31. @Michelle, is there any chance you could take a personal day off from work and spend it with Jenny and your child at her house? It sounds as if you need more data, and it may take more than one conversation to set your mind at ease. If it were me, I would want to see how Jenny’s mood seems over a few hours, how she handles the kids, how the kids are responding to her and her mood, etc. And it would be nice to be able to have a longer, less directed dialog about what is happening so you can do a bit more risk assessment about her husband and their situation. In the process, you could give her a bit of help, some friendly company and a chance to talk, which would probably help no matter what the situation is.

  32. My father was in the Navy, though it was a long time ago. It seems like family support has improved a lot since those days. There are family services, base chaplains, and organizations like the Navy Marine Corp Relief Society (and Army has it, so I assume Air Force does as well), which are avenues to approach for help. Also, in the Navy when ships deployed there at least used to be ombudsmen which is a more or less thankless job of being a volunteer social worker/voice of the leader of the ship/unit to the home front, etc… but generally knows of resources and help.So, anyway… talking to Jenny about concerns for her and if she has these resources available/has approached them or knows about them would be a way to show concern about her situation and also help you get a better read on what is going on. The father being away from the family even six weeks means that when he comes back, life has changes. Even in ways that seem insignificant and silly – but when my dad was deployed we’d sometimes have TV dinners – but not when he was home. And not like it was a secret or something, it was just one of those ways “something had to give.”
    What I wrote could read like “fake like you care about Jenny to get more information on the situation.” I don’t mean it that way, take it as far as you’re comfortable and is natural.
    Also – those recommendations for Protecting the Gift remind me I need to get that book. I have read the same authors book “The Gift of Fear” and it is a very thought provoking, educating read. Whichever one you can get your hands on first you should read. Definitely, listen to your gut. If you don’t learn from it how to deal with this situation, then you’ll probably at least learn something about yourself.

  33. So, the biggest difficulty in a home daycare (as opposed to a daycare facility), is the lack of backup. I haven’t read all the comments, but I’ve seen a few that have suggested you’d already know if something were going wrong there. I think that’s falsely hopeful. Just because something “weird” hasn’t happened already doesn’t mean that the situation isn’t headed in that direction. Jenny doesn’t have anyone to whom she pass off the kids if she feels like she can’t quite manage that day. She doesn’t have anyone who’s working with her to watch what she’s doing and say, “Hey, I think you need a break.”IMHO, I’d say that you need to find a new daycare situation for sure temporarily and perhaps permanently… So sorry this is happening, both to Jenny and to you Michelle!
    And Moxie, I feel like this is your blog so you have the right to express your political opinion too. Just my opinion.

  34. @ Lori,You expressed what I was thinking about in such a personal way. I’ve seen how hard it is on my provider and her family with the stress of her husband leaving, and then the stress of making him part of the family (and decisions) again. My MIL and I have talked a lot about how hard it was to have her husband (my FIL) coming back and trying to take control of the family again after she was in charge for so long. They ultimately split up because of the stress (and are now back together after a number of years, in a very weird post script). And that was during mostly peaceful years, without the stress of wartime deployment.
    With all that swirling around, I just find it hard to believe that the family drama Michelle is witnessing isn’t part of the reintergration problem; not without having more information.
    So, Michelle, I’m so glad you’re going to try to talk to Jenny and clear up these issues. And even if you do try to find a new provider, you can still be part of her support network, if you want to.
    Good luck. It’s certainly a very difficult place for all of you.

  35. What CathyY said @5:16pm.The family’s personal problems are none of your business. You have already witnessed your child being neglected. Enough said.

  36. Agreed hush. Your priority is your child. Neglect is neglect. I’d start shopping around. 10 months is too young an age to be left alone for any amount of time.A concern for Jenny’s husband is udnerstandable but I agree with Moxie–get our troops home!
    A larger way to help would be to protest this war and protest this administration and get more politically active (and less silent) about what this war is doing to our citizens and the citizens of Iraq who are bearing the brunt of the violence, trauma and child deaths. There is no skirting around it.

  37. Although there are numerous other issues involved here, all of which have been previously addressed, the main concern for Michelle is that her son is safe. I think she should find alternate care, at least until this situation is under control. It might be hard to do so, but peace of mind and a safe child are invaluable.

  38. We had our son with an in-home daycare that we initally thought was wonderful. As I became closer to “Jenny”, she confided in me more and more about things on a personal level. Eventually she confided in me that her husband had serious mental illness issues, and was addicted to porn (her words). She was considering leaving him because of a recent relapse.While I felt badly for her (and him), and didn’t feel that he was a threat to my child (who was about the same age as Michelle’s child), I did feel that my DCP’s focus was now split. Things began to slip at the daycare. We would show up at our usual dropoff time, but she wouldn’t be downstairs yet. Items were left around the room that weren’t child-safe. Things just seemed chaotic.
    We did eventually leave her daycare because of this and other issues, and things are 150% better at the wonderful center we found. I liked in-home daycare for when my son was an infant, but now I really like that there are many eyes watching my child.
    Bottom line, we had misgivings, acted on them, and the stress relief from that was tremendous.

  39. While I don’t have much to offer in the way of the child care situation and I’m coming to this a bit late, YES — there is a lot of help that can be given to transitioning active duty military to veteran. I actually work at VA and would be happy to help the family locate any care necessary. Moxie has my email (I wrote her last week about my crazy non-sleeping toddler) and can pass it on to the original poster. Your local Veteran Service Organizations will be a huge help. Please do what you can to help this family — it’s a chronic issue and will help your own child as well.

  40. While my son is now in a preschool environment, he spent his first almost 4 years in an in-home daycare. Yes, she was in home but she did have a back-up she could call when she needed a helper or if she had to run to the doctor or something (she has 2 teenaged kids of her own). In fact, the kids often behaved better for the helper than for the provider. The presumption that an in-home daycare does not have the extra support is not always accurate.

  41. I have some sympathy for the returning vet in that when he returned, his home wasn’t really his own for 10 hrs out of the day. I see my sitter’s husband who works third shift and how he feels displaced from his own home sometimes b/c the kids are all taking his space, parents come by unexpectedly, and they get calls at all hours of the day making it difficult to sleep.My only point is that there are benfits and draw-backs to using an at-home sitter. The benefits (home-like environment, kind one-person caregiving, family-style interactions, less structured play, ect.) can sometimes conflict with the draw-backs (being intimately associated with another family’s personal life) so keep that in mind when you consider what to do.
    It sounds like your sitter has been great up until this point and you’ve never been concerned about your son’s care in the past. You really should talk to her.
    Also, not to poo-poo everyone’s “follow your gut” advice, but being a first-time mom, EVERYONE (and I mean everyone) in my life thinks that I’m over-protective with my son. I try to keep that in mind when I get worked up about something. Some previous commenters made good points when they said that it doesn’t seem that your son was actually in any danger at the time.

  42. This is just a tangential issue, but I felt the need to comment on the PTSD treatment recommendation. Definitely, PTSD needs treatment. But I would hesitate to recommend EMDR, and would definitely not call it “best results in treating PTSD effectively and rapidly.” There is a lack of rigorous, empirical support for the use of EMDR for the treatment of PTSD.There are, however, several treatments that DO have a substantial body of research to support their use in the treatment of PTSD. Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and some PTSD-specific forms of cognitive therapy (e.g. therapies that focus on narrative restructuring) are all possible choices. In addition, medications – particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – may be a good choice for some individuals, as they may be able to begin working faster and help therapy work better.
    It’s important to encourage people having psychological problems to seek treatment. It’s also important to make sure that, if we recommend a treatment, it is supported by scientific evidence!
    I hope things are going well both for the OP and her babysitter & family …

  43. “Everybody’s always trying to do something physical, but I would say feed your spirit more than anything ’cause I think that’s where it all starts, especially for myself. When I’m healthy spiritually, I’m able to do any and everything that I put my mind to.”— DeLisha Milton-Jones, women’s basketball

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