I’m a mother of two kids, but that doesn’t mean I have to take all the risk.
Here’s what I learned as a child when I got a job at a new company that hired my two-year-old daughter.
It turns out that it’s a common problem for dads too, even if they’re just a little bit older.
“When I first got the job, my daughter was still very young, so I was still working,” says David Riggs, a 29-year veteran of the U.S. military.
“I had my own car and was living in the city, but my kids were not, so they would spend a lot of time with my wife and the kids.
My wife was also working and her job was not as stressful as mine, so we could have a lot more time together.”
The family had a lot to do in those first few months, as they watched their daughter grow into an amazing young adult, but also the pressures of juggling three jobs, being a parent and caring for a growing family.
Riggs says the pressure of the job led to some stress that ultimately led to a “big drop in my daughter’s mood,” but he says he was able to handle it and keep it under control.
“It wasn’t like I was losing sleep because my daughter didn’t want to do anything,” he says.
“We would talk and joke and try to get her excited and make her feel like she was part of something.
I remember being upset that she didn’t get a chance to play outside with her friends or have fun, because she was a toddler.”
But the stress of the work did lead to a major drop in Riggs daughter’s happiness.
“After she had her first birthday, she started crying and was very unhappy,” he recalls.
“She was very frustrated and very unhappy.
She was very angry with the other employees, and she was very, very upset with me.
And so she had a very, really bad time.
She wanted to throw the food in the dishwasher, and that’s when she started getting upset.
She would say, ‘Mom, Dad, I don’t want your food in there.’
And I would say: ‘Well, you can’t throw it out, because we’re having a conversation about how to get rid of it.’
She started to act very upset.
I tried to get out of the way of her, and when I was around her, she got very upset, and we had a fight.
I had to restrain her.”
Riggs recalls the fight that led to the employee being fired.
“My daughter, in fact, became very angry and started hitting me in the face,” he remembers.
“As soon as I stopped hitting her, the employee got angry again and said, ‘You can’t hit her in the eye.’
I told her that if you hit her, you will lose your job.
I told the employee that she had no right to do that to her.”
So the family had to move out of their home and live in a motel with their four-year old son, who was about to turn two.
But even with a home in their new location, the stress still led to anxiety and depression.
“Her depression was pretty bad,” Riggs admits.
“If you look at it, she was pretty depressed when she was three years old.
So, you know, when she’s three, she doesn’t have the same level of mental health that she has now.”
Rigg says his daughter still has to deal with some of the same things her older siblings do, but he’s not afraid of the challenge of having to juggle a new role.
“The fact that she is now in a new situation, I would not say that I don,t feel stressed about that,” he explains.
“But, I mean, she does not want to be in the job.
So we have to manage it.
We have to work on it and make sure she gets what she wants out of it.”
Rigs children also have a different challenge.
“Because she is three years older, she has to be more responsible,” he points out.
“So, I am the one who has to put my kids first, and I have that responsibility, so she has the responsibility, and then I have a bigger responsibility of her safety.”
But Riggs adds that the stress has been manageable in the long run, and the family has had plenty of time to recover from the work.
“Our kids are pretty happy,” he adds.
“They’re just happy that we’re not dealing with all the issues that are coming up in their lives, so the stress doesn’t really bother them.”