Perhaps the fact that I’m traveling tomorrow so soon after Mother’s Day sparked the thought about my book, The Parents Guide to Business Travel, the first non-fiction book that I wrote. While I usually hyperlink the title, this time, I’m providing the link to the first chapter instead because there might be some passages that will sound very familiar. http://www.charliehudson.net/books/week_sample.html
In actuality, I think the spark came from a discussion with a friend who has a friend who is feeling that his relationship with his children is strained due to travel, but he thinks that it will eventually work out. And it might. However, if the plan is to pretend that there isn’t a problem and ignore it rather than honestly look at the situation, then the scales could tip in the other direction. The very reason that I wrote the book was based on many years of work-related separation, to include the six months of deployment during Desert Shield/Storm. The separations began when my son was only three and continued through high school. That is why I divided the book by age group – how one handles separation with an infant is not the same as with an adolescent. No matter the age though, there is a common theme and that is to convey to the child/children that you are not away because you value work more than family. The demand of travel in a job is a reality in certain professions and that is what you explain. How you explain that will depend on age, personality, and other factors that I discuss in the book. When managed correctly, this can be a positive influence because it provides insight to a child about adults and work. Children can understand priorities when those are presented in a user-friendly way. “Mommy/Daddy has work and sometimes it is at the office and sometimes it’s in a far away place. I will come home as soon as I can,” instead of, “Stop crying about me leaving. I have to because of work.” It may seem like a subtle difference, but it is a difference.
Enhanced technology can be a wonderful thing for helping “shrink the distance”, although that doesn’t always work schedule-wise if you travel in significantly separated time zones or are on a project that starts early in the morning and ends late at night. The key point to remember is that children can and do understand about why you travel if you have two-way communications and address their concerns seriously. (That doesn’t mean agreeing to emotional blackmail, but I cover that in the book, too). So, if it’s time to pack that bag again soon, interact with your child/children prior to the trip and if the response is, “That’s okay, it’s not a big deal,” that probably means you are handling the situation well.