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When dad's at sea, how do I keep him familiar?
Q: My 2½-month-old son’s father will soon be leaving for a six-month cruise. What, if anything, can I do to keep the familiarity of my son's father around for those six months? Will that separation make a big impact on his life?
A: Fortunately, the separation shouldn't have a big impact on your son's life because he is so young. You probably have pictures of the ship your son's father is on, so you'll want to put them out where your son can see them. You'll also want to send pictures of your son to his dad!

If your son's father still travels when your son is 2½ years old, rather than 2½ months old, it will be more of a challenge, but certainly not an impossibility. Make a special effort to keep your son informed about where his dad is, even though he might not understand the words. Every time you get a letter, gather up your son on your lap or alongside you and read it to him. Continue to send pictures to his dad, and encourage him to do as much as he can do in return. Check out children’s books about ships and sailing and read them to him. And mark days off on a calendar, repeatedly saying, “Now when we have put X’s all the way down to here, daddy will be home.”

No matter how successful you are at keeping the image and the idea of his dad alive during this absence, your son may surprise you with indifference or even hostility when his dad arrives at home. He will grow used to having you to himself during the absence and may be reluctant to give that up. Both you and his dad will need to be patient and let the two of them get re-established. It may take a little time, but it usually happens with no major complications.