My husband’s leaving on a plane and won’t be coming back for four days. He says it’s three days. It’s really three and a half days, but for my sanity, I am thinking it’s four because then he comes back earlier. My daughter recently has been calling him by his first name. When he was in Singapore, she said that he doesn’t love her and when he came back, she said, “He loves me, but he doesn’t care for me. He is not my father. He is a friend.” I’ve been telling her how much he loves her right after she falls asleep as part of sleep talking – which was mentioned by Jan Hunt in one of her articles. I talk to Mishy about twenty minutes after she falls asleep and first tell her I love her and then I tell her how much Babba loves and cares for her – he really does – and how he would love it if we could always travel together and we will travel together again very soon. (We’re going to Toronto and Montreal come April.) Sleep talking is a very gentle way of helping my daughter work things out. I used to sleep talk to her about going to the doctor – which helped a lot. We also played doctor so she became used to the experience of undressing, getting measured and weighed, and sometimes poked and prodded. It used to be traumatic. Now, she looks forward to it. It’s also helped that we haven’t given her vaccinations for awhile.

Another method I’ve used to help facilitate her understanding of her experiences is to write a book. The book is something I learned to do by a non violent communicator, Ruth Beaglehole – who is the executive director of The Echo Center, a center for non violent parenting, which she founded. The idea of non violence is in the same vein as Gandhi and Martin Luther King – peaceful communication. The book is a regular piece of blank paper, folded in half and we draw about a time that has some significance – it could be a visit to the doctor or a time at the playground when an infant was crying and the caretaker was ignoring the infant’s tears – any situation that has emotional weight behind it. We use stick figures because it’s easy and I can let go of the idea of drawing well. I’ve been thinking about starting to write books for myself because let’s face it – I get affected when someone cuts me off in traffic or when a grown man steps on my daughter’s foot and thinks it was her fault for being in the way. This happened when we were at the library. I’ve asked Mishy if she wants to write a book about the time Babba went to Singapore. She’s said no.

I read an article that children are affected greatly by how the parents feel about being apart. I admit it, I like my husband around. He washes the dishes, he does the laundry, he throws out the garbage and recycling. Most importantly, I can count on him – not to just do the bulk of the housework – I can count on him to be my mate, my partner in life, and a co-parent to our daughter. We’ve been together for almost 14 years. It hasn’t been an easy journey, being together, and there have been times when I’ve really wanted out of the marriage and we still have our disagreements and fights – yet, we are together and I like him around. I love him and I’ll miss him. And while he is leaving on a jet plane, he will be returning in sooner than four days…


Jan Hunt – Sleep talking in the article, When Will My Baby Soothe Himself To Sleep?

“Sleep talking” (talking softly to a sleeping child)2 is another helpful approach, during which a parent can ask the baby or child for help, provide explanations of stressful situations, apologize when needed, or simply express love to the child.”

Also in Mom To Mom: Jan Hunt:

“I would also like to include another tip called sleeptalking, which is simply talking to the child while they sleep – it seems to reach the child on a deep level. It can be especially helpful for subjects that are hard to discuss during the day or if the child is just too young to communicate well around a particular topic. You can talk about anything… it’s not just person to person, it’s more like heart-to-heart or like “ageless soul to ageless soul”. They seem to understand anything this way so it can be very helpful. For instance, you can say, “I’m really puzzled about (some new behavior) and I’d like to understand more about that. Could you find a way tomorrow to let me know how I can help you with that?” You can also use it to explain difficult situations. I’ve had clients going through a divorce who have found it very helpful to explain in sleeptalking that are trying to make the situation as easy as possible for the child, and that they will always be there for them. That kind of reassurance can really get through.

There’s a fascinating website on the subject by pediatrician Rhodora Diaz. She offers short scripts for her patients, which include love statements, explanations, reassurances, and offers of help. Lots of my clients have been amazed at how helpful it can be. I often mention it because so few people know about it.”

Jan Hunt is the author of the book, The Natural Child: Parenting From The Heart and is also webmaster of The Natural Child – a website which is full if insightful and helpful articles about raising children. She comes from an unschooler’s perspective

The Echo Center