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Traveling Parent Syndrome

Kimberlee Leonard

Posted on November 14, 2018 14:57

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Traveling for work is hard. Leaving your teen in charge is a whole other level of hard. Introducing traveling parent syndrome: the fear that chaos will occur when teens are left on their own.

When the cats away the mice will play. That old saying is the terror of every parent who leaves on a business trip. Routines are crushed. Rules go out the door. Life becomes a vacation for those who stay behind. 

It’s all fair, right? After all, if mom gets to go “play” on a trip the rule book should be thrown out the window. 

I suffer from traveling parent syndrome. Okay, I made that up but I think it has some legs to take on a life of its own. Traveling parent syndrome is when you leave your teenage children in charge and fear nothing gets done and all hell will break loose. 

In my case, he wasn’t even on his own. For a week he was dropped off at school by my mom, had his day’s activities and walked to our home, then spent a couple hours there to workout, shower and complete homework before returning to grandmas. Seems like a plan that shouldn’t cause too much chaos. 

In fact, I felt it gave him some semblance of normalcy in his routine even if I wasn’t there. Plus, it mitigated any thoughts there may have been of recreating the movie Risky Business. But what do parents do when they have teens and need to travel for work? 

Every movie in the world depicts the party beginning the second the cab drives away to the airport. The reality is less of a concern of my home converting into a party house than the fire department reporting because the stove was left on. Sure, my son knows how to cook for himself and knows to turn off the stove, but that is where traveling parent syndrome occurs.

It’s a step up from you leaving and thinking you left the iron plugged in. Your child and home are left to the judgment of said child. But why do we go crazy obsessing about it? He is often home by himself for extended periods of time when I’m not in town. I don’t worry about it then. 

Why then, when traveling with a chaperone checking in on him and the house does my fear level increase? I’m home. Everyone is safe, the house is intact with just a few extra piles of dishes and clothing to do. But if I really stop and think about it, my fear has more to do with letting go as my son grows. 

These small moments are tests for him as well as for me. Soon he will be off into the world as his own man. That makes me miss him already. I suppose I should feel assured that he can safely care for himself. Now if I could only get him to do the dishes after.

Kimberlee Leonard

Posted on November 14, 2018 14:57

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Source: The Atlantic

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