Working Away

Kim - posted on 03/31/2011 ( 23 moms have responded )

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With the way the economy is I know of more and more families that are being forced apart with one parent having to make the sacrifice and work away, ours included. Watching some of the behaviour and emotional changes that my son has been going through has got me to thinking if this is really going to affect him long term or whether it is one of those things that kids just adapt to. Do you think that having a parent working away for extended periods of time on a continuous basis affects a child permanently or do you think they would just get used to it? Does is contribute to the problems in our society?

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Jodi - posted on 04/01/2011

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Oh, I wasn't getting you wrong, it's just not something I ever saw when I was single. Mind you, when my brother split with his ex, I saw a LOT more support from my parents go his way. Maybe my problem was I just never asked because I was to damn stubborn, LOL.

Kim - posted on 03/31/2011

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Thanks! I recently started a fruit loop reward necklace lol. My son loves them but they have to much sugar for me to give him on a regular basis so when he behaves he earns fruit loops for his necklace and when he slips up he loses one. Once he fills the necklace he gets to eat it.

Jodi - posted on 03/31/2011

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Keep plugging away. My kids said some hurtful things at that age too, and they say them because they KNOW they hurt you. Master manipulators!!



I used reward charts at that age, because they have generally grasped a pretty good idea of behaviour and consequences. They would have to accumulate so many stars to receive a reward (like a movie, or going out for an ice cream, or we would sit and do an extra special activity). They would also lose stars for inappropriate behaviour, so a bad week would mean no rewards. It seemed to work pretty well, though. Obviously we still had our battles, but it saved my sanity!!

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Of course having the parent away is going to effect the child--everything we do effects them, but I do not necessarily think it would be a negative effect.

Whether the impact the situation has on the child is positive or negative, has everything to do with how you help them cope. Just as having both parents present can be either positive (if they get a long and are involved) or negative (if one is abusive, or they fight all the time), having one parent away can be either positive, (they will learn to value their time with their parents, and know that just because someone is not present, they still love them) or negative (if the present parent grows resentful, or too stressed, or the away parent does not communicate or value the time he/she does have with the children).

Does it contribute to the problems in our society? I don't think so. A parent can be a phenomenal parent on limited time, just as another parent can be a crappy parent with all the time in the world. It is not the quantity of time with the kids that makes the difference, it is the QUALITY of time with them that will determine whether they grow into strong adults, or weak adults.

Jodi - posted on 03/31/2011

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Kim, I see this as no different to an arrangement where there is a custody order in place and the child sees the second parent every weekend or other weekend (as the case may be). In my experience, kids are incredibly adaptable and if it is handled properly, including maintaining a reasonably regular routine, and regular contact with the other parent (phone calls, skype, etc) will not have a negative effect on the child in the long term. I think the big difference is that mum and dad still love each other, which can only be a positive.



Having said that, however, you also have to look at the flip side. If we are considering that there is little difference between the situation you describe and a visitation arrangement, research has shown some negative consequences of single parenting. More people in jail are children of single mothers (one example - I couldn't be bothered finding the source, LOL, but I could back it up if I needed to).



But I am inclined to believe that in general, if the child comes from a stable home, whether raised by a single parent or two parents, will not fall within those negative statistics. I myself was a single parent to my son from the time he was 2 until I remarried when he was about 6, and he is still very much on a positive path in life at 13. I never have a real issue with him, he's a good kid. The key has always been providing him with love, discipline, routine and stability.



And sorry to hear that hard times have forced you into this situation :(

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Tinker1987 - posted on 04/01/2011

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I think it just depnds on one's personal household.My son is only 4 months old and his dad has been working away years before he was born so i think he will grow up thinking its just normal for dad to be away at work.

Alyssa - posted on 04/01/2011

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My boys would always play up the day dad left and then the day he came home too. I figured out it was the change in routine more than anything. Obviously they missed their Dad but the out of wack routine was big for us.

We used to take it easy and spend these days at home. It was no good taking them out expecting them to act a certain way when I knew they were just readjusting....again

Jenn - posted on 04/01/2011

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I think it could affect the child because they would miss the other parent, but I think as long as you are maintaining order in the house I don't see why it would cause any negative behaviour.

Alyssa - posted on 04/01/2011

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I'm talking in relation to some of my family members and the help offered and received within our family unit. I have attended many FIFO support groups and it was a general consensus that the other families feel they receive little support from their families and friends. Don't get me wrong, I don't think either is more deserving of help

Jodi - posted on 04/01/2011

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Well, Alyssa, I don't know where you are, but believe me, as a single working parent, I had very little assistance....

Alyssa - posted on 04/01/2011

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Jodi, I found it nothing like a custody arrangment.... I often thought "gees I would have more support if I were a single parent" because I would have the label so to speak. But being a FIFO mum...you are married, and apparenty rich, and it is a choice to live this way so people assume you are ok. In my situation, I had to ask many times for help whilst other single parent family members were waited on hand and foot.

Alyssa - posted on 04/01/2011

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After having my husband work fly-in fly-out for 3 1/2 years, I had had enough. We have moved up north and now all live together and whilst he still works long hours, my children and I get to see him every day.

The question of whether or not it impacts the children? I think the biggest impact is how the at home parent handles it which in turn reflects the quality of parenting the children receive. As someone already pointed out, children are very resilient and adaptable. Since the dawn of parenting it has been common for one parent to be away for significant amounts of time (hunting and gathering?) and even my father and his father had regular trips away for whatever reason.

The important thing is the amount of support for the at home parent (which I had very little of) It is a messy lifestyle...alone with children for several weeks then happy party time faces when daddy comes home. The children quickly picked up on the monotony of it all.

I will be interested to see in 20 years when someone will have done a study on the effects a FIFO lifestyle has had on the grown children......

Tracey - posted on 04/01/2011

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The only difference I have seen since my husband started working away is that my 11 year old son now feels he has to be the man of the house and is acting more responsibly. When his dad comes home he reverts back to childish behaviour.

Kim - posted on 03/31/2011

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I know it's not entirely related to his dad being away but some of the comments he makes just make me hurt for him. I'm sure it bothers me more for his sake that it really does him. He has his moments but I'm sure it's nothing he is constantly thinking of.
We live in B.C. and he is already in pre-school. He goes 2 days a week for 2 1/2 hours. He will be starting kindergarten in September which will be a full day. I'm hoping it will help keep things consistant for him with us not being able to go as many places since he will be in school. Thanks for the advice.

Jodi - posted on 03/31/2011

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Sounds like you are both doing a great job. It possibly is that he is a bit bored when dad isn't there. But I'll be perfectly honest, my kids drove me around the twist with their behaviour in that year before they started school, so I think you will find that his increasingly difficult behaviour could have nothing to do with your family situation and possibly everything to do with his age. My mum said we were all the same at around age 4-5 until we started school. I am not sure whether other mothers here have experienced the same. Forget the terrible 2's. But the minute they started school, they settled down again and were different kids.



I am not sure where you live, so not sure when your school year starts, or how your system works, but do you have an idea on when you may be looking at a school or pre-school for him?

Kim - posted on 03/31/2011

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He is gone for 2 weeks at a time and home for 6 days. They generally spend a lot of time together when he is home. We usually spend a lot of time together as a family going hiking, for bike rides to the park, swimming etc. When our daughter naps we will play games or they will fix stuff outside or wash the truck together. We also try and make sure they have their time which usually is going to a movie, or out shopping together or something. We have just started having our special movie night for him after his sister is in bed. We bring our mattress to the living room, pop popcorn, let our son pick a special treat(he rarely gets junk so he thinks its awesome), cuddle and watch a movie.



They usually talk every day or at least every two. It used to be only on the phone until about a month ago when we bought another computer so they could skype. I try and keep him busy when his dad is gone but it's hard since I don't drive. I'm wondering if it's because we do so much when he is home and generally hang around the house more when he is not that he gets upset? I try and keep him busy doing crafts and inviting friends over and stuff but mabye he is just bored. I don't know. His dad is taking 2 weeks off in May so he can be here for our daughters birthday so I'm hoping that will help.

Jodi - posted on 03/31/2011

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Kim, how often is his dad home, and how do they spend that time togethers. I think that is an all important question, because there's different ways of spending that time that may have impact on a child too. Also, does dad have regular contact with him in between visits home?

Kim - posted on 03/31/2011

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I guess I can't say he was forced to leave there is just very little construction jobs where we live and the wages have gone down. We could scrape by off of what he makes but we want to better ours and our kids' lives and be able to have that savings and get ahead so we can buy a house and give them all the experiences they deserve. No way that would ever happen with him working here.

Kim - posted on 03/31/2011

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Yeah I wasn't really thinking about all the other careers that have parents working away. I've just noticed with my friends and I all of our kids have had some problems adjusting and was wondering if it would turn into a long term thing. They are all young so it's hard to tell. My boyfriends co workers kids have had their dads going away for years and still cry and act out when they leave so I thought that the emotional aspect of not having that parent might affect them long term. My son is 4 and at first was fine but as time goes on it seems to get harder and harder on him but he is very close with his dad and I think if it was me leaving he wouldn't have as much of a problem. I guess it is one of those depends on the circumstances kind of thing.

Carolyn - posted on 03/31/2011

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yeah i think if a parent working away resulted in societal problems etc. you would think there would be a trend amongst children who's parent/parents have lengthy military careers with several tours of duty.

i think its all in how you help your child adjust, and provide consistency and structure in all other areas where you can.

Johnny - posted on 03/31/2011

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My husband's father worked away for all of his childhood. He was home most, but not all weekends and for a couple weeks each winter when the weather was too harsh for construction. From the time my husband was born until he left home (to go work with his dad) his mother was basically the sole parent. My husband does not have a lot of "issues" (at least compared to the average person I know) nor do his siblings. They have all turned out to be well-adjusted individuals. Both his older siblings have been in long-term happy marriages and raised kids. Their family does not seem to have had problems with this. His eldest sister was also an only child for the first 13 years of her life, 8 of which her dad was completely out of the picture. I think she regrets the loss of that time of their relationship, but by the time I came into the family, her and her dad were very close and had a positive relationship.



I completely agree with Jodi's post, especially the part where she states that the key is providing the children with love, discipline, routine, and stability. That's what my MIL did, and although they missed seeing their dad, it did not effect their lives in a really negative way.

Mel - posted on 03/31/2011

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I feel for you, it seems like the only option these days because of how the world is going. I know we could be so well off and be able to buy a house if we choose this method. I think it would be hard at first if its not something they are used to, my daughter asks where her daddy is when he goes away amd he he generally only goes about 5 times a year sometimes 2 days sometimes 10. I think they would adapt to it, and understand if its a regular thing. As long as there are some times where your all together as a family, I think its hard for some kids growing up with just one parent when parents are seprated. Me personally I never had a problem with my parents being divorced, people apologised everytime I said they werent together and I said it didnt phaze me, I dont remember them being together so for me that would be very strange even just knowing they were married for 15 years before us kids

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