Some women have partners who are not physically present to help care for a new baby and provide ongoing support to the family. Partner absence could result from being pulled away for work responsibilities, deployed as part of their military service or in prison or jail. A partners’ absence requires a lot of family change, including shifts in family roles and routines. In these situations, having a strong support community is especially important, as it helps make up for the partner’s absence and allows moms to lean on others for parenting support.
To the extent possible, consider maintaining the couple bond and the partner’s connection with the baby and family via technology, such as text messaging, phone calls, and visual web-conferencing. Think creatively about how to keep the family connected, and seek input and support on this front from your partner and other members of your support community.
It is important to realize that the return of a temporarily absent partner will not always go smoothly, and it is unlikely to resolve all family issues. Family experts highlight what is called “reintegration,” or the process of a family member coming back into the day-to-day functions of the family. Reintegration can be especially challenging when a partner has been away for a long period of time, as the mother and child(ren) grow accustomed to their new roles and interactions. Consequently, partners returning home can struggle to resume their previous roles and find their place in the family. Seek help as needed when working to bring an absent partner back into the flow of family life and care giving for the baby.
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