Parenting & Family

Long Distance Parenting

[OP]
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Sep 27, 2020
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Long Distance Parenting

A bit of background. At the beginning of last year (just before Covid) while living temporarily in Toronto separated from wife of 15 years. We have two kids (5 and 11) We had been based in Vancouver though both of us are from elsewhere. She moved back to Vancouver although sold our centrally located house and moved to the suburbs. Meanwhile I moved to Ottawa for a promotion. Now I have the opportunity to return to Vancouver for one year before getting an even bigger promotion in Ottawa. I honestly have no desire to live in Vancouver but am fine to do it for a year but not long term. I've been back and forth a few times and each time I've been anxious and tense.

Is there any point in having joint custody for only a year to 18 months? I don't want to live in the suburbs so would probably rent an apartment downtown and am dreading driving kids to school and then fighting traffic coming back in. Any creative schedule that could minimize that? Is something like this more disruptive to kids or is re-establishing a stronger relationship now setting me up for a better long distance one later?
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Sounds more disruptive to the kids, but just an opinion. Good luck with everything.
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YYZtoYOW wrote: A bit of background. At the beginning of last year (just before Covid) while living temporarily in Toronto separated from wife of 15 years. We have two kids (5 and 11) We had been based in Vancouver though both of us are from elsewhere. She moved back to Vancouver although sold our centrally located house and moved to the suburbs. Meanwhile I moved to Ottawa for a promotion. Now I have the opportunity to return to Vancouver for one year before getting an even bigger promotion in Ottawa. I honestly have no desire to live in Vancouver but am fine to do it for a year but not long term. I've been back and forth a few times and each time I've been anxious and tense.

Is there any point in having joint custody for only a year to 18 months? I don't want to live in the suburbs so would probably rent an apartment downtown and am dreading driving kids to school and then fighting traffic coming back in. Any creative schedule that could minimize that? Is something like this more disruptive to kids or is re-establishing a stronger relationship now setting me up for a better long distance one later?
Honestly, I think you should talk to a therapist who deals with family relationships. I've been through a separation with kids that were around the age of your oldest when it started. And one of the things I tried to focus on is what was right for the kids, and keeping their situation stable and safe. Moving back close to them for a year with the plan on moving away again seems bordering on cruel. But I'm not a psychologist, so take it for what it's worth.

And if you ARE going to do it, suck it up and live in the burbs for a year to be close to them. The kids are innocent bystanders in all this, and you need to think about what's easier/best for them, not your own selfish desires.

C
[OP]
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Sep 27, 2020
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CNeufeld wrote: Honestly, I think you should talk to a therapist who deals with family relationships. I've been through a separation with kids that were around the age of your oldest when it started. And one of the things I tried to focus on is what was right for the kids, and keeping their situation stable and safe. Moving back close to them for a year with the plan on moving away again seems bordering on cruel. But I'm not a psychologist, so take it for what it's worth.

And if you ARE going to do it, suck it up and live in the burbs for a year to be close to them. The kids are innocent bystanders in all this, and you need to think about what's easier/best for them, not your own selfish desires.

C
Thanks! I guess I already decided that I'm not moving back permanently. No career prospects there for me. Given that better to A not move back at all. B. just see them on weekends and holidays more like the long term plan. C as you say move to suburbs and suck it up for 18 months.
*There mother could have worked in either location but chose her personal preference. I know it doesn't matter to the kids whose fault it is and I don't blame her in front of them. We actually get along well. Her view was Toronto was always temporary and Vancouver was our home. She's not wrong. We just have different goals. Naturally. She's a physician so has a similar career and good lifestyle either way. For me it's like night and day.
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random pattern wrote: Sounds more disruptive to the kids, but just an opinion. Good luck with everything.
I think anytime with kids is beneficial and worthwhile. I mean fulltime is better for kids but this time probably on balance better than nothing no?
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YYZtoYOW wrote: Thanks! I guess I already decided that I'm not moving back permanently. No career prospects there for me. Given that better to A not move back at all. B. just see them on weekends and holidays more like the long term plan. C as you say move to suburbs and suck it up for 18 months.
*There mother could have worked in either location but chose her personal preference. I know it doesn't matter to the kids whose fault it is and I don't blame her in front of them. We actually get along well. Her view was Toronto was always temporary and Vancouver was our home. She's not wrong. We just have different goals. Naturally. She's a physician so has a similar career and good lifestyle either way. For me it's like night and day.
I know these things are messy, but as said, it really should be about what is best for the kids. Usually that is having access to both parents as much as possible with the least disruption as possible (the kids are the most disrupted with the divorce already. In an ideal world, both parents would suck up their preferences and be close to the kids even if its not their ideal to live in a certain area. If this isn't possible, then both parents spend as much time with the kids as possible which means moving even for the 18 months. It's disruptive, but it shows the kids that the parents still care. Even if it's not permanent, it allows the kids to form some bonds. Then figure out from there.

So pick the options that allow you both to spend time with your kids even if it's inconvenient to you, and then if it's inconvenient to the kids. This is better than not seeing them at all.
On a 'smart' device that isn't always so smart. So please forgive the autocorrects and typos. If it bothers you, then don't read my posts, but don't waste my time correcting me. If you can get past the typos, then my posts generally have some value.
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fogetmylogin wrote: I think anytime with kids is beneficial and worthwhile. I mean fulltime is better for kids but this time probably on balance better than nothing no?
I’m thinking of the disruption related to kids moving back and forth between mom’s house and dad’s apartment and by the time a routine is developed, dad moves back to Ottawa. But i can see the advantages of doing it as well.
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random pattern wrote: I’m thinking of the disruption related to kids moving back and forth between mom’s house and dad’s apartment and by the time a routine is developed, dad moves back to Ottawa. But i can see the advantages of doing it as well.
Moving back and forth between mom and dad, aka joint custody, has been proven conclusively beneficial to kids, especially boys ( compared to limited time with dad).

As for the temporary dramatic change in arrangements it’s certainly more uncertain. I guess it depends on the kid, situation etc.

I’d second the therapist recommendation and I mean that in the most non-judgemental way.
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do what's best for the kids.

And no idea how you could prefer living in Ottawa vs Vancouver but to each their own.
[OP]
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Swerny wrote: do what's best for the kids.

And no idea how you could prefer living in Ottawa vs Vancouver but to each their own.
Yeah everyone says that but in the end you have to live your life. Career is as important as family in the end. Everyone says it's not but look at someone who worked a job they hate for 30 years and see how they get along with their family. Like many people my career prospects are night and day compared what I could do in Vancouver. Basically difference between working in a call center vs managing a team of 10 doing more interesting work. Salary is double but with child support most of that is gone so it's more about life fulfilment. My ex actually has the exact same very high paying and fulfilling job in either location but somehow I am the bad guy for not following her back to answer phones.

Anyway I guess no personal experience of this situation but still thanks all for the input!

Vancouver is nice. More big city amenities than Ottawa. Better weather. At same income life is probably better in Ottawa than Vancouver or Toronto.
Meanwhile I am basically looking at vastly different career options.
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Almost seems like the career is more important then the kids
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YYZtoYOW wrote: Yeah everyone says that but in the end you have to live your life. Career is as important as family in the end. Everyone says it's not but look at someone who worked a job they hate for 30 years and see how they get along with their family. Like many people my career prospects are night and day compared what I could do in Vancouver. Basically difference between working in a call center vs managing a team of 10 doing more interesting work. Salary is double but with child support most of that is gone so it's more about life fulfilment. My ex actually has the exact same very high paying and fulfilling job in either location but somehow I am the bad guy for not following her back to answer phones.

Anyway I guess no personal experience of this situation but still thanks all for the input!

Vancouver is nice. More big city amenities than Ottawa. Better weather. At same income life is probably better in Ottawa than Vancouver or Toronto.
Meanwhile I am basically looking at vastly different career options.
It really should both parents are looking out for the best interests of the kids. I don't care if it's the mom or dad, both would get the same advice from me. If the mom doesn't want to move to Ottawa and you don't want to move to Vancouver, then you could always have the kids live with you Ottawa. Then you have her figure out how she wants to parent and what is more important. Also, don't forget if you had move to Vancouver and making a lot less, your child support is a lot less.

It does come to the decision of if you pick your kids or your career. I gave up a high profile career that I loved the work, got paid alot more, and had a lot more opportunity something that I don't enjoy very much in order to have more time to be the parent I wanted to be with my kids. It was an extremely tough decision. I some days do not like what I am doing, see the people that have moved into senior positions (like the person who took over for me), and it sucks. However, the time I am spending with my kids is the most important. In your case you are talking about 13 years from the youngest is an adult, One can always restart their career then -that's my plan at least.

So it is a question of at the end of the day, what is more important, your kids or your work. It's not about being a bad guy, it's about being look ahead 20 or 30 ahead when you are done work. You will have to ask yourself then was it worth it. I agonized over stepping back, and what I realized was I get one chance to be a parent to my kids which to me is the most important job in the world. I will have lots of opportunities in the future.
On a 'smart' device that isn't always so smart. So please forgive the autocorrects and typos. If it bothers you, then don't read my posts, but don't waste my time correcting me. If you can get past the typos, then my posts generally have some value.
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ratatapa wrote: Almost seems like the career is more important then the kids
He flat out said his career is as important as his kids, even though it's clearly more important as he's already moved away from them once and plans on doing it permanently. This is so wrong. I would live in a bachelor apartment and beg for money before I'd ever abandon my child. I'm sorry, there's absolutely no excuse for it. You chose to bring 2 kids into this world, you have an obligation to be in their lives, so that they can have a father. It is detrimental to kids to not have both parents in their lives. There's no such thing as long distance parenting for a 5 and 11 year old. It doesn't exist.

Find a new career close to your kids
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What decision will you regret least at the end? That should help guide you to whatever you can live with.
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Macx2mommy wrote: It really should both parents are looking out for the best interests of the kids. I don't care if it's the mom or dad, both would get the same advice from me. If the mom doesn't want to move to Ottawa and you don't want to move to Vancouver, then you could always have the kids live with you Ottawa. Then you have her figure out how she wants to parent and what is more important. Also, don't forget if you had move to Vancouver and making a lot less, your child support is a lot less.

It does come to the decision of if you pick your kids or your career. I gave up a high profile career that I loved the work, got paid alot more, and had a lot more opportunity something that I don't enjoy very much in order to have more time to be the parent I wanted to be with my kids. It was an extremely tough decision. I some days do not like what I am doing, see the people that have moved into senior positions (like the person who took over for me), and it sucks. However, the time I am spending with my kids is the most important. In your case you are talking about 13 years from the youngest is an adult, One can always restart their career then -that's my plan at least.

So it is a question of at the end of the day, what is more important, your kids or your work. It's not about being a bad guy, it's about being look ahead 20 or 30 ahead when you are done work. You will have to ask yourself then was it worth it. I agonized over stepping back, and what I realized was I get one chance to be a parent to my kids which to me is the most important job in the world. I will have lots of opportunities in the future.
I don’t want to derail thread but giving up your career to spend more times with kids is up there with voluntarily being permanently separated for a promotion in terms of likely life regrets.

I agree it doesn’t matter who moved where but a stable and rewarding career is a key driver of a happy and productive life. I’d have to know details before giving a definitive answer. If my kids nice to Texas and my option was flip burgers I’d say no and I’d venture most here would as well. Living in Vancouver for a little less money doesn’t sound like a huge sacrifice if that’s all it is.
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fogetmylogin wrote: I don’t want to derail thread but giving up your career to spend more times with kids is up there with voluntarily being permanently separated for a promotion in terms of likely life regrets.

I agree it doesn’t matter who moved where but a stable and rewarding career is a key driver of a happy and productive life. I’d have to know details before giving a definitive answer. If my kids nice to Texas and my option was flip burgers I’d say no and I’d venture most here would as well. Living in Vancouver for a little less money doesn’t sound like a huge sacrifice if that’s all it is.
Here's how I look at it, I have had to make several tough career decisions because of my choice to have a family.
1st. time: Turned down a director level position in another city because we knew we were trying to start a family, and knew we would stop trying if I got a high pressure job, and wouldn't not want to raise a family without my community (family and friends support).
2nd time - turned down dream job doing the work I love but require 90% travel for 2 years while my kids were 1 & 4.
Then I left the company for a company that was less demanding so I could balance family. I easily average 70+ hour weeks.
3rd time -after a my kids were older (7&10), I got another high profile position that once again would lead to senior positions, with work I loved, but back to the 75+ hour weeks.

So, I went back to my old job, with no hope of promotion or raise, in fact I took a pay cut to go back.

I won't lie, I sometimes wonder what my career would be, and I find that it is a useless exercise. Yes, my career and finances would be quite spectacular, but know that my relationship with my kids would not. It rocky with my tween and teen at times just because they are going through so much. We have gone through some physical issues (a severe head and eye sports injury), severe mental health, and other challenges. At times, I have been at my wits end and was going to take a leave from work (just before COVID hit). There is no way I could have done any of the high demanding jobs and manage what I did at home.

I have absolutely no regrets that I choose my kids. They tell me about all the things going on with their classmates and team mates. Some have been hospitalized because of their mental health and they tried to hurt themselves, many are facing anxiety and have a whole bunch of crap going on such as bullying, harassment, cutting, eat disordered, one is trying to deal with sexual assault by themselves. I am trying to encourage these kids to talk to their parents or a trusted adult. None of them will go their parents because their parents are too busy at work, they don't trust their parents, or have no relationship. Sadly, I am the trusted adult for some of these kids. EVERY ONE of these kids are in familys of the 2% or probably closer to the 0.1% of incomes. Some of them I was ahead of them in career when younger, and their careers far exceed mine now.

So how I look at is, if think about what I lost or what could have been just in my career, yeah, I could have regrets. However, when I look at what I gained with my kids, I have no regrets at all. It would be different for each person. It's not that had to choose between flipping burgers and exec job. It's I had to choose between an average profession job that still gave me a middle class lifestyle vs an upper (middle) class lifestyle. If I had to move countries to stay with my kids, I would do it. I would just find a way that I didn't have to flip burgers. When I am old and retired, I have to ask myself what will be most important to me. I have few people say that I wish I didn't have my family and a better career on their deathbed.
On a 'smart' device that isn't always so smart. So please forgive the autocorrects and typos. If it bothers you, then don't read my posts, but don't waste my time correcting me. If you can get past the typos, then my posts generally have some value.
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Macx2mommy wrote: Here's how I look at it, I have had to make several tough career decisions because of my choice to have a family.
1st. time: Turned down a director level position in another city because we knew we were trying to start a family, and knew we would stop trying if I got a high pressure job, and wouldn't not want to raise a family without my community (family and friends support).
2nd time - turned down dream job doing the work I love but require 90% travel for 2 years while my kids were 1 & 4.
Then I left the company for a company that was less demanding so I could balance family. I easily average 70+ hour weeks.
3rd time -after a my kids were older (7&10), I got another high profile position that once again would lead to senior positions, with work I loved, but back to the 75+ hour weeks.

So, I went back to my old job, with no hope of promotion or raise, in fact I took a pay cut to go back.

I won't lie, I sometimes wonder what my career would be, and I find that it is a useless exercise. Yes, my career and finances would be quite spectacular, but know that my relationship with my kids would not. It rocky with my tween and teen at times just because they are going through so much. We have gone through some physical issues (a severe head and eye sports injury), severe mental health, and other challenges. At times, I have been at my wits end and was going to take a leave from work (just before COVID hit). There is no way I could have done any of the high demanding jobs and manage what I did at home.

I have absolutely no regrets that I choose my kids. They tell me about all the things going on with their classmates and team mates. Some have been hospitalized because of their mental health and they tried to hurt themselves, many are facing anxiety and have a whole bunch of crap going on such as bullying, harassment, cutting, eat disordered, one is trying to deal with sexual assault by themselves. I am trying to encourage these kids to talk to their parents or a trusted adult. None of them will go their parents because their parents are too busy at work, they don't trust their parents, or have no relationship. Sadly, I am the trusted adult for some of these kids. EVERY ONE of these kids are in familys of the 2% or probably closer to the 0.1% of incomes. Some of them I was ahead of them in career when younger, and their careers far exceed mine now.

So how I look at is, if think about what I lost or what could have been just in my career, yeah, I could have regrets. However, when I look at what I gained with my kids, I have no regrets at all. It would be different for each person. It's not that had to choose between flipping burgers and exec job. It's I had to choose between an average profession job that still gave me a middle class lifestyle vs an upper (middle) class lifestyle. If I had to move countries to stay with my kids, I would do it. I would just find a way that I didn't have to flip burgers. When I am old and retired, I have to ask myself what will be most important to me. I have few people say that I wish I didn't have my family and a better career on their deathbed.
You give some good examples. This is my basic assertion. You need a fulfilling career but 75 hours a week or living across the country from your kids like OP is a bridge too far. One caveat if you are achieving outstanding success. For me this has to be more than just financial it means transformative success. Like James Cameron said anyone can be a dad only 5 of us can make movies like this. At the other extreme you can’t have no career or live in a bachelor apartment.

I don’t know if any of this is helpful to OP.

Finally, on one level it doesn’t matter who moved where the end result will see the same impacts on the kids and you missing out. However, on another level it does matter. Unless you are a psychopath as others say you will feel guilty living far from your kids. If it truly was out of your control you won’t have this. Kids are hard and sending a cheque is certainly easier than being a parent.
[OP]
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Sep 27, 2020
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Thanks all!

It's never so simple as we want to make it when we give others advice but the sentiment is appreciated regardless. No easy answers I'm afraid. We get one life.
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YYZtoYOW wrote: Thanks all!

It's never so simple as we want to make it when we give others advice but the sentiment is appreciated regardless. No easy answers I'm afraid. We get one life.
What you say is true. But something that's even more limited is our time with our children AS CHILDREN.

C
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CNeufeld wrote: What you say is true. But something that's even more limited is our time with our children AS CHILDREN.

C
This is great point. And it goes for each age too. Having a 5 year old is a magical experience and an 8 year old is just not the same. Maybe OP is remarried and looking at more kids but otherwise these really are once in a lifetime experiences.

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