Dear Dr. Graham:
I read with interest your April 7 post about connecting with kids while traveling. Like “Road Warrior Parent,” my work requires me to be gone a lot. Your ideas were great. While I look forward to using them, the subject of kids and work travel reminded me of another problem I’ve encountered while away.
My husband is much laxer about discipline than I am. I feel like when I am gone the kids are getting away with murder. It takes me days after I return to get things back under control. How do other parents handle child-rearing issues when one of them is traveling?
The Strict One
It’s difficult to discipline while away. Parenting challenges don’t stop just because mom or dad are on a work trip. While I’m not a parenting expert, I do have a couple of suggestions that I’ve gleaned from personal and client experiences.
(1) Establish agreements ahead of time about how discipline will be handled when only one parent is at home. You might agree that, since your husband is handling everything, you will support whatever decision he makes. Or, you might both decide that one of you will not make a disciplinary or other child-related decision until you have both discussed it. Such agreements help preserve parental peace. They also teach children not to take advantage of parental absences.
(2) Create guidelines around communication with the traveling parent. For example, perhaps kids are only allowed to call the traveling parent for general conversation or if an emergency arises. (You’ll want to clearly define what constitutes an “emergency.” I’ve found that parents and teenagers often have very different interpretations of this word. 🙂 ) Otherwise kids may be tempted to manipulate the situation, bypassing the at-home parent by calling the traveling parent to ask if they can do/have something.
Your comment about how difficult it is to get things under control upon your return is another worthy topic. Sometimes the hardest part of travel is getting back to real life. Stay tuned for the next newsletter, when I make some realistic “re-entry” suggestions applicable to all work travelers, whether or not they have kids living at home.
If you are ready to Lead at a Higher Level, consider joining my Facebook group to interact with other like-minded leaders. If you know someone in a similar scenario as “The Strict One” that could find my suggestions helpful, forward this email to your colleague (Thank you!). You may also submit questions for me to address in future newsletters here.