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Ask Cher Your Own Question
Cher, Teacher
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 90
Experience:  Extensive Experience working with Children/Teens; M.A. Teacher/Tutor 40+ yrs.; Parent of 2
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Child psychological development

Customer Question

child psychological development
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Parenting
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have a question about my child's development in light of my absence's due to work.
I make a lower middle class living as a long distance truck driver and can adequately, if not comfortably, support a stay at home mother and 25 month old son. Owning the business allows me the flexibility to be home much more than others in my line of work; usually 2 to 4 days per week (spaced out during the week), for 2 or 3 weeks, followed by a 1 week absence - which explains why my income is not higher...I'm home a lot for someone in my line of work.
My financial situation, however, makes changing this an impracticability for the foreseeable future; perhaps 24 to 36 months. Maybe longer. We live in the country and near poverty (a career change combined with our decision to home school would diminish our income to not much above the poverty level) would further diminish his already poor educational opportunities (i won't go into politics here).
But, needless to say, I'm concerned about the effects this will have on his psychological/emotional development. We have bonded excellently and, as far as I can see, he takes my leaving well; he doesn't cry (yet) or act out. His mother says that he wants to nurse (he's weened), causes fits at nap time, and seems a little bit down & calling for me, for a few days after I leave but other than that, takes it as well as can be expected. She says that it was worse when I didn't break up the absences with short stays at home like I am doing now. (IDK. I'm not there and she has her own problems with my absence so I'm not sure, clinically speaking, how reliable her opinion is.)
I'm unable to accurately judge the risks to his future material & educational well being against the risks to his psychological & emotional development as 99.9% of information I've found deals exclusively with a parent that is absent 100% of the time, which I am not.
I understand that my son is human, not a clock with easily replaceable parts, and that his development depends on a myriad of factors so your response could not possibly be an all-encompassing "how to" on how to raise my child, but I would really appreciate your opinions on these questions:
1-What ARE the risks to his psy/emo development with my being gone roughly half the days in a year?
2-Would these potential problems be minor and/or rectifiable with my anticipated change to a full time presence in a few years?
3-Would it be better to be absent and present in solid blocks of time, or spaced out and broken up, as we have been doing, if our current situation remains the same?
4-What strategies could we employ to lessen any negative impacts if our current situation remains the same?
5-What other questions should I be considering that I haven't mentioned?
6-Can you point me to any other resources and/or studies that I should be considering?I know this is a tall order. I sure do appreciate you taking the time to read and respond.
Expert:  Jen Helant replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your patience. I would like to help and will be working on your answer.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks. No rush; I understand some of this may be unanswerable and I appreciate your thinking on it.
Expert:  Jen Helant replied 1 year ago.

I understand all of your concerns as a parent and I commend you for analyzing the situation and caring about this. First off I want to say that the fact that your son has a loving father that is in his life is what is most important. Life in this day and age is not easy. Many are struggling to survive, so I would not feel guilty for not being there when you are working. If you are a driver and are absent a few days and home others I really do not think your son will be negatively impacted. He will see that you are a hard worker, provided for them, and the took care of your responsibilities. He will appreciate this and you will be his role model. If you are spending quality time with him when you are home he will enjoy those times and that will lay his foundation. He will have a sense of security knowing that you are going to work, but will be back again. From there he will look forward to you being there and that week when you are home as well as the 2-3 days. You can enjoy a lot of quality time with him. I do not forse any issues due to this. There are many Dads who may be around more, but in reality they are just "there" and not actively participating. A situation as such would be more prone to cause issues in a child's life just as a father that is completely abent and never sees his child. Those two types will cause negative impacts in different manners.

I will answer all your other questions, but before I do I wanted to clarify what your new work schedule would be. You mentioned some changes you plan to make. Can you clarify what those will be so I can understand better and answer accordingly . Thanks

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sure. As I mentioned I own and operate a semi truck. I drive regionally and occasionally long distances, which makes it impossible to be home every night obviously. I could work for someone else locally and be home every night but as those types of driving jobs are the ones that people really want, the money is bad (25 k/year is an average). And the hours aren't really much better. (4 a.m to 6 p.m is probable, 6 days per week, and that doesn't count the commute to and from work)Therefore, I've decided to put my truck to work locally myself instead of seeking one of those jobs with someone else. I'll make better money (still less than now though), be home every night, and consequently, will be able to work better hours. However, I'll have to purchase a trailer and put more money aside as a cushion for the business before I can afford to take the risk. Add to that the fact that I currently have substantial debt and my guess is that it will take a few years.We've determined to home school him so my wife will not be able to find work. And neither of us are really qualified to do any thing other than what we are doing now. So until he's older and needs less supervision, it looks like we'll be living on what I can make.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I should add the reason that keeping and driving my own truck is so important: These things are really expensive needless to say, and fully 40% of any revenue is consumed with making truck payments. The money I won't have to spend on those payments is what will allow me to work less and better hours.