My daughter and the maid
CHILDWISE by RUTH LIEW
I HAVE a boy aged 13 and a girl aged 10. My Filipino maid has been with me for 10 years and she will be returning home for good in January 2007.
My daughter was brought up by my maid. She is very close to her and has been sleeping with her in the same bedroom. As she grows, my daughter shares many common interests such as music and books with her. Sometimes, she would tell her secrets that she keeps from me because she is afraid that I might get angry.
They do have their tiffs. There were times when my maid misunderstood my daughter??s ideas and behaviour. There were occasions when my daughter got mad and shouted at her. But their relationship has remained good.
I would like to know how to help my daughter cope with my maid??s forthcoming departure. What are the things that I should do?
I hope my daughter will be able to accept her departure. I know it is going to be tough for them. - Concerned mother
Your 10-year-old daughter is very close to your domestic helper. She will surely miss her when her caregiver leaves for home in four months.
For starters, you can reassure your daughter that she is very much loved and cared for by her own family. You must also acknowledge her sadness and reluctance in parting with someone who has cared for her all these years.
Your daughter may have feelings of fear and worry when the maid leaves. She will feel helpless and wonder who will be her confidante when she needs one. To help her ease her anxiety and cope with this stress, you must start to draw closer to her. Build on your mother-daughter relationship to strengthen her from within. She needs to know that you can be her friend as well as her mother.
Talk to your daughter about the changes to expect when the maid leaves. As you help your maid prepare to leave for home, you can also help your daughter to prepare for what lies ahead. She may want to do up her own room or set up a new schedule with you. With good planning, there will surely be fewer disruptions to the family routines. This way, your daughter will feel more confident with the changes.
Share with your daughter what kind of adjustments everyone in the family will be making. You can also talk about your feelings. As she gains more awareness of the impending separation, she will find it easier to cope when she has to say goodbye.
Your daughter may get angry and upset when she finds out that the maid will be leaving soon. Do not berate her for expressing her feelings; let her know that she can express them. Reassure her that you are prepared to hear her out whenever she needs a listening ear. If her anger turns violent or hurtful towards others, you may want to be firm with her.
Encourage your daughter to be independent and responsible. At 10 years of age, she would have developed many skills that she can contribute to the family. Assign some special duties for her to do in family routines. Before your maid leaves, you will do well to encourage your daughter to do certain tasks at home. Praise her when she does well and is responsible for the duties entrusted to her. Tell her it is a tribute to your maid who has done a good job in her care-providing.
You can help your daughter say goodbye to your maid by creating happy memories together. Since the school holidays are around the corner, plan to do something fun together. Your primary school age child will be able to give you many interesting ideas that can bring cheer to all in the family, especially your maid.
Reassure your daughter that she can still stay in touch with your maid through mail, phone calls and visits. She will feel better when she knows that she can still communicate with her. It is positive to note that they can still remain friends when they are apart.
Your daughter will learn to cope with losing the maid when she gains your support and encouragement. She will be stronger and more self-assured if she has your understanding and unceasing love. Spend more quiet time with her before the maid leaves so that she will find it easier to make the transition.