Teens' Parents on Business Trips
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Teens' Parents on Business Trips
My company may be sending me to India for a couple of weeks
to train new employees. The problem is that I have a 15
year old who has anxiety issues about being away from me.
It has gotten better and there has been more independence
and we have help from a therapist. However I am concerned
that it might be too hard on the family for me to be away
for a long time and so far away. My husband does not work
fulltime and he has a good supportive relationship with her
and my 10 year old. Do I let them try to handle my absence
as a learning experience or tell my boss I can't go?
You don't mention your own interest in going on the trip or the
importance to your professional life, so it's not clear what is in the
balance. Also, ''anxiety issues'' express in a very wide range of
behaviors, so that side is a little unclear as well. Perhaps you could
talk this out with the therapist that you mention. Having traveled to
India several times on business, I can say that it's an experience worth
having ... but not if you are on the phone for an hour with your husband
every evening worrying about problems and dramas at home.
Wishing you well
One word: Skype. I cannot speak to the issues described in your post,
but if you decide to go, take a laptop and stay in touch with your
daughter/family via Skype video calling. It's free. In some ways Skype
is better than a phone call because you can see each other. It has been
a great way for for us to stay in touch when a family member has had to
go away for an extended period of time. BTW, when I had to leave my
family recently, I left two weeks' worth of home-cooked meals in the
freezer, a binder with info on the kids' schedules for my husband, and
Skyped or sent email every day. The end result is that, when I returned,
they said they did not miss me at all ... and, if I need to travel again,
just make sure I leave pre-cooked meals in the fridge HTH.
I am a divorced mom of a 13-year-old son. I share custody
50/50 with his Dad, who is sometimes difficult to deal with.
My job demands that I travel occasionally (4X this year).
My ex-husband works part-time and has also either not worked
(while we were married) or worked part-time (now,
grudgingly). So I pay him 20% of my income in child support
and spousal support. This year my trips for work will take
me away for fourteen days of my usual custodial days in
total. I asked my ex if he could cover those days, and he
responded that he thought he should be paid for that, even
though he ''always loves to take our son for as much as
possible'' and objects to my asking someone else to care for
our son. I have offered to reciprocate by taking our son at
other times when I am at home, but my ex doesn't need to
travel for his low-level clerical position and doesn't plan
to go anywhere during the time he would usually have my son.
I am afraid that, despite the fact that I need to travel
for the job that in effect puts a roof over my ex-husband's
head, he might be able to argue that he has more than 50% of
custody for our son. My questions: Am I being a jerk?
Should I pay my ex for taking our son the extra 14 days? My
son's Dad's costs would include a little for extra food (my
son doesn't eat much) and possible city car share rental (my
ex chose to go without a car in order to continue working
part-time). Or leave my son with a fellow mom and friend
who would be glad to take him for no charge? What do single
moms/dads do, who do not have shared custody with someone?
What do divorced parents do?
looking for wisdom
You are not even slightly close to being a ''jerk'', in my
opinion. Although I don't think I have a good solution, I
thought I would write in to support you, if nothing else.
It sounds like you can't win with this guy. (At least you
don't live with him anymore and don't have to deal with this
crazy making behavior all the time.)
If you do give him some expense money while you're away, do
you trust him to take good care of your teen? If so, maybe
you could offer a little money...perhaps not giving in to
his total demand. Another question that comes to mind is,
where does your son want to be when you're out of town? In
any case, it sounds to me like you're a caring and hard
working mom, and although the situation with your ex sounds
really hard, it's best not to let him forge your world view
and cause you to feel like a ''jerk''. Good luck.
You are not being unreasonable; he is. My advice to you is
to have your son stay with your ex when you are traveling
and pay the expenses. Yes, it's completely unfair and your
ex is taking advantage of the situation, but to do otherwise
wouldn't be worth the trouble. If your son stays with a
friend, the ex will object and might turn it into a much
bigger deal than it is. It doesn't seem that you can force
the ex to trade days with you, although that seems like a
solution that most people would agree to. With his
pettiness, he's trying to bring you down to his level, but
don't let him. Just tell him that you think he is being
unreasonable by not working it out with you, but if he
insists on being compensated to spend time with his son, you
will pay him.
Take heart in the fact that you have a good job, you're a
good mom, and in a few years your son will be 18 and you
won't have to deal with your ex in this way any more! Good
luck to you.
Take the high road
I was a divorced single Mom of children (and teens) for 10 years AND I had an
ex who was not particularly cooperative (I'll never forget he paid $3 for PTA on
his custody days once and deducted it from his child support. . . . ) I think it is
really important to keep your lives separate. Sounds like you communicate
with him regarding your son. (like you said he didn't want you to leave your
son with someone else while you are gone etc.) I think while he can tell you
his opinion, you can do whatever you want when you travel for work. When it's
your turn to have your son, he can't really tell you what to do. I used to trade
dates with my ex all the time (my kids went to my parents in So. Ca. for parts
of the summer). I think your ex is being unreasonable by not letting you trade
dates with him (e.g. have him take your son for the time you are traveling and
then you take the equivalent number of days when you are in town). I don't
think you should pay him extra. If he is not willing to trade dates, then leave
your son with your friend. That's what I would do. BTW, can your son go to
grandparents? That's always a good option. Another suggestion is to work out
your custody dates around your work schedule so that this would not even
happen. Good luck.
I've been through joint custody with a jerk. This one's
maturity level is obvious. Your ex cannot be trusted not
to use it against you or to be gracious or helpful. So
even if it costs a little more, I'd leave him out of it.
Trade with other moms or even pay your friend something.
Don't go over his 50% at all.
-my 2 cents
Ugh, your ex sounds like a jerk. I shared custody of
teenagers with a jerk. Aren't we glad to be free of the
jerks! But they just keep on making problems. When I pressed
my ex to stick to his agreement to help with college, he
reneged: ''if they want to go to college, they can do what I
did, and take out a loan. I'm not paying tuition.''
OK, so anyway. Normally I would say that you should find out
what your son wants to do while you're out of town, and do
that, even if it costs you. Just bite the bullet - you'll
probably have to do it again anyway. But, if you are at all
worried that your ex will claim he had your son for more
than 50% as a result, don't do it. And he does sound like
the type to do that. I would leave my son with a friend
first. Or better, with one of his friends. Or even better, a
mom and son trip with maybe a college student at the other
end to entertain him? I took my kids with me to conferences
and work meetings a couple of times. They got a little
bored, and I had to curtail my socializing a bit, but
overall it was a positive experience.
all done with custody now - yay!
after reading the first round of responses which seemingly
mostly came from women... more free advice, but from a guy
i was married to an inflexible spouse who made a huge fuss
if i needed to travel for work, and i gave the former spouse
100% of her income upon divorce, though she was Phi Beta
Kappa grad. I was paying her about 45% of my income until
my kids decided to move into my home and i ended up with 99%
your post had overtones of bitterness and mean-spirited ness
(''his low-level clerical position''. now PLEASE, take a deep
breath... this is really hard stuff and you can be as bitter
as you want... but really, 14 days of 20% of your income...
we are not talking about a lot of money. Also, so he
doesn't have a car... maybe he wants to save the planet...
though he does sound like a lazy dude... lets stick to the
issue at hand: YOUR SON and his care is the most important
thing here... not the 4% of your 20% of your annual
salary... (if you make $100k per year, you pay him 20%, or
$20K... another 14 days sounds like $770...) so, as a guy,
it's not worth fretting over a few hunderd dollars. It is
worth fretting over your anger and frustration. Try some
Thought #2: I really disliked paying spousal and child
support to a jerk... another but: as my lawyer used to say:
''you married her...''. BTW, i really liked my lawyer... AND
my kids' mom flaked on her commitment to paying for
college... so don't count on that.
In parting, leave the personal judgment of his lifestyle
aside... you won't figure it out, that's why you are
divorced! So, do the right thing and promote the father/son
relationship (unless there is abuse or drinking at dad's
house) ... you can set the example for being gracious,
giving and generous.
and remember... deep breath, you are divorced and you cannot
force anyone to do anything.
this page was last updated: Nov 6, 2011
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