I had an appointment this morning with my daughter Serena. She’s 12. We had plans to Skype. 9am came and went and she didn’t appear online. No other contact. I Facebooked and checked email and finally took the shower I had postponed so I could make sure I made our 9am commitment. At least, I had made the commitment. Serena? She lost track of time, she said, 45 minutes later when she finally came online.
I got angry. I IM’d her:
I set aside time this morning to talk to you, to devote just to you, and you weren’t there. Let’s set another time a different day, and make a commitment to be available at that time.
Living 3000 miles away from your kids is tough. You have to schedule talk time and connecting time. No matter how much to schedule, there is never enough time. It’s not like I can pop my head in her door and ask her to take a walk with me or see if she wants to go to the store so we can have a heart-to-heart. You know the sage parenting advice “pick your battles”? When you live 3000 miles away it means even more.
I felt bad. Disrespected. Angry and sad that I was going to miss talking to her. I had so many questions. Should I make this a teaching moment? Am I making too much of this? How much can a 12 year old take? What standards do I hold my kid to? Is making a big deal of this worth risking alienating her? When is it okay to be the bad-guy parent?
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