HAMDEN, CT (WFSB) -- As the search for Jennifer Dulos approaches three weeks, five young children continue to wonder where their mother is.

The children were already at the center of a bitter custody battle, and with their mother missing for 19 days so far, it hasn’t been easy for them and Jennifer’s family and friends.

“First of all, its confusing, its traumatic to not know where she is,” said Laura Mutrie, a clinical assistant professor of social work at Quinnipiac University.

That’s exactly what the Dulos children are living through, with their mother missing since May 24, and investigators looking toward her husband, their father, for information.

“My reaction is to think about the kids. When I heard there were five children between 8 and 13, that’s what I’ve done with my career,” Mutrie said.

Before becoming a clinical assistant professor, Mutrie ran clinics as a child and family therapist.

“It’s very difficult because there’s not a lot of answers, and when kids can’t have answers, then they feel more unsettled,” she said.

On Tuesday, the children’s father Fotis Dulos, who is not supposed to have any contact with them, posted bond after police arrested him and his girlfriend, charging them with tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution.

TIMELINE: Events surrounding New Canaan mom's disappearance

Investigators say a duo matching their description was seen dumping garbage bags in Hartford, bags in which police say had items containing Jennifer’s blood on them.

The same day Fotis walked out of court after posting bond, Jennifer’s family spokesperson asked for people not to lose sight of the fact five young children have not seen their mother, for what’s now 19 days.

A statement from them said “Jennifer’s family, friends, and above all her children are living in limbo—missing her embrace, her lilting laugh, her bedtime backrubs, her gentle strength.”

They add that Jennifer, who had sole custody of the kids, was a constant presence in their lives, a presence that’s not there. “Please know that the children are safe and loved and supported in every respect. But more than anything in the world, they long to know where their mother is.”

Mutrie said keeping them safe and protected is the most important thing, like shielding them from coverage of the case, but also trying to keep their day-to-day lives as normal as possible.

“It’s always best to keep kids with as much of their routine and regular schedules, activities, that they can. School is over, so that takes a big part of the routine of kids’ lives away, so trying to do that, being with supporting, caring people who will put their interests ahead of their own is always important, having people to talk to,” Mutrie said.

Family and friends say they are thankful for the New Canaan and Connecticut State Police for all their work in trying to locate Jennifer, along with everyone who has called in a tip.

They’re asking to keep that information coming.

Copyright 2019 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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