Thoughts for Parents who Work Long Hours

A dad and mom came to talk with me about the eldest of their two children, Marty. He was becoming increasingly stubborn and upset at home. The family had been fortunate in many ways; mom had been able to stay home with her children for a few years, loving grandparents lived nearby and Marty had always done well in school. The only consistent problems surfaced at home in the late afternoon and early evening. By bed time things were often “out of control.”

Dad had a demanding job with a long commute. He left the house before his children got up so that he could get home in time to say good night. There was little fun or laughter in their nighttime routine, although sometimes Marty and his Dad would do some roughhousing; something both loved to do.

Here are some suggestion I made to help.

1. Mom found a mother’s helper to come over a few days a week from 4 – 6. Marty and his sister were then more likely to get some individual attention after their day at school.

2. Dad agreed to do 15 minutes of active play every night if Marty agreed to get to bed on time. They tried indoor bowling, velcro darts, air hockey or some one on one basketball with a small hoop they set up in Marty’s room. These games helped to get “some steam out” better than rough housing.

3. Dad started sending e mails, texts and faxes home, letting his family know when he was leaving and how much he looked forward to seeing them. He also made a point to take Marty and his sister to his office for a visit when he could. This helped them understand what he was doing and why every day.

All these steps took some planning and patience but over time things started going much better for everyone.