It is a reality that some fathers are not fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with their kids. In a time of globalization, it is becoming more and more common for parents to travel overseas often. Even if the job only requires travelling across country, the distance is still substantial enough to take a toll on the family. It leaves the children with an unstable household and causes the parents to have to solve the problem of who will take care of the child. This is particularly important for the initial two years of the child’s life as this forms the base for the child’s future relationships. If the parent has to be absent during this time due to work restrictions, then the parent will face some challenges.
Financial concerns: These involve the cost of child care, issues with the permanence of health insurance coverage and loss of income
associated with missed work days. Missed worked days can be as a result of the child’s health care needs.
Children’s interests: A big issue is the impact of work commitments on the children’s future academic success, mental health and ability to form relationships. If not handled correctly, an absent parent can be a traumatic experience for a child. It is possible for them to develop insecurities and anger issues. They may also experience depression and remove themselves from social activities. Also possible, is the experience of learning disabilities. They can also be more likely to become sexually active at a young age (this most likely happens to girls without a father).
Household safety and security: Household safety is most likely to become a concern when the “protector” of the house is absent for long periods of time. Especially in cases where the mother has to work too and the kids are deemed as too old to be babysat, they must stay in a house without parental supervision. It is recommended that parents limit the amount of time that kids are left at home alone due to the associated risks. These risks involve physical dangers and medical emergencies. There is help available from schools, churches, synagogues and community centers that offer after-school programs for children who spend several hours at home alone.
Logistical issues: These problems are concerned with organizing the details of home life such as arranging for child care, handling a sick child, etc.
Stability of the marital relationship: When a spouse is absent frequently for work purposes, this can negatively impact the marital relationship. The added stress that the home-based parent may have with juggling house responsibilities, the kids and in some cases, their own job priorities, can cause resentment.
The challenges of being away from home because of work are many. However, as an involved parent, it is key to help your kids understand why it is you are not around all the time. No matter the age of your kids, it will affect them if not carefully handled. When you are at home, ensure to spend as much time as possible with your kids and when you are at work, let them know you are thinking about them by sending them an e-mail, text or give them a quick call. Just because your job requires you to be absent from home, doesn’t mean you have to be an absent parent.