Adjusting child to new baby & long-distance relationship

Hi, Mary Jo.

I have a two-year-old at home. How do I help her adjust to a new baby in June?

Thank you, Shay

Dear Shay,

How your child responds to a new baby is partially dependent upon their temperament; no matter what you do, there’s only so much you can control. Your child may be excited until they see the baby and then begin expressing regressed behaviors you thought they had outgrown. This is normal, so try not to overreact. These suggestions can help minimize your toddler’s feelings of being replaced and become cooperative with their new brother or sister.

  1. Give her special jobs to do.
  2. Ask her advice with simple things; for example, which shirt do think the new baby would like to wear?
  3. Read her stories about her new role as the big sister and talk to her about it.
  4. Spend time alone with her without the baby. This will help her feel less replaced.
  5. Never pressure her to engage with the baby. She will need her own time to process and work toward acceptance.

Hi, Mary Jo.

I’m in a long-distance relationship. When we get together it’s great, but in between times there is a not enough communication unless I instigate it. What should I do to help the communication flowing in between times?

Thanks, Gwen

Dear Gwen,

Relationship experts remind us that you don’t have to communicate every day to compensate for the distance or have a great relationship. Your boyfriend may feel after the visits that he is closer to you and talking more may make it feel superficial or forced for him. Being honest with each other and negotiating communication times that work for both of you will be important going forward. I also think these suggestions will help:

  1. Set ground rules to manage your expectations. It’s important that you don’t overlook his feelings when you’re deciding how best to communicate. Expectations, not actual differences, are the main culprit in breaking up relationships. 
  2. Look for creative ways to communicate. If one of you likes to talk but the other is quiet, you can still communicate with letters, messaging apps, texts, or emails. There is no “right way” to communicate.  
  3. Do things together even when apart. You can play online games together, watch a movie at the same time, or go for a walk together while you’re talking to each other on the phone.
  4. Make sure you know each other’s schedules so you can be there for each other. If you have an important meeting, make sure your partner knows about it so they can check on you and offer support.
  5. Stay engaged and interested in your own life. When couples live apart, one of the most important things is to continue growing in your area of interest. If you begin putting all your energy into the long-distance relationship, you begin clinging more and expecting your partner to make you happy. No relationship can or should complete you on all levels of growth.