More time in sun, less time with kids

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Q: I have a standing job offer in Miami Florida. This is an excellent company and a career I would love daily. However taking the job means I would only have my 15 year old daughter and 12 year old son for 6 weeks in the summer and Christmas/Spring breaks. I could of course fly up to Ohio anytime for visits.

Both my kids are happy and adjusted at their mom’s and in schools. I currently have them two overnights a week and every other weekend. The kids and I have talked about it, my daughter wants me to go and my son initially does not, but he trusts his sister. I think he needs me in his life. will summers and breaks be enough?

I am torn. I absolutely hate Ohio and it’s cloudy/snowy weather. I am unhappy at my job and stressed by the continual daily contact with the ex. I am a triathlete and just loved the Miami weather and atmoshpere and lifestyle.

The kids and I would all fly down together to house hunt and so that they could see where dad would work and what Miami is like.

My fear is that for the three or so months that I will not see them that I will be too sad and depressed and that they may miss me too much (especially my son). Insight?

A: It’s a question of priorities, isn’t it. I’m sorry you hate Ohio. I’m sure it’s difficult dealing with your ex. I’m sure the weather is better in Miami. But kids are kids for only a short while. Your importance as an influence on who they are and how they grow is now. Trust your good instincts. Your doubts are reminding you that your shelf-life as a parent to your son is only for another 6 years, your daughter only 3. (Once they are through high school, your relationship will shift.)

It sounds to me like you already know you’re needed in Ohio. My suggestion is that you find a therapist to help you learn to deal with your ex with less stress and focus on getting your kids safely through their teens. And make sure your kids know that you are freely making that choice out of love for them. (You wouldn’t want them to feel guilty that you aren’t in Florida.) Once your son graduates from H.S., you can follow the sun and explore new career dreams. In the meantime, maybe you can pick up some consulting work with the company that offered you the job — say for 6 weeks in the summer and a week or two during the year.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 19 May 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). More time in sun, less time with kids. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/05/19/more-time-in-sun-less-time-with-kids/