? For Parents with College-age Kids Who Live Away at School

Updated on December 04, 2017
J.B. asks from Boston, MA
12 answers

When your kid comes home for winter break, especially if it's short (2 weeks), would you go on vacation without him/her for a few days? Especially if you're a single parent and when home, it's just you and your kid?

My SD (ex-husband's daughter; she and I still have a good relationship) doesn't come home from school until 12/22 and has to be back for classes on 1/8, so her stay is 2 weeks. Her dad (my ex) will be leaving early on the 23rd to go out of town and won't be back until the 26th. He's Jewish and not into Christmas but always celebrated with us, she is Catholic and still celebrates the holiday. She'll celebrate the holiday as usual with us and I extended an offer to stay at my house if she doesn't want to go to bed alone on Christmas Eve and wake up alone on Christmas day (just typing that makes me want to cry).

He will be home for only 11 of the 15 days that she's here. That just seems like an incredibly selfish and hurtful thing to plan, and frankly, I can't believe that his significant other doesn't also see that this plan is just wrong. SD is a plane ride (or really long bus ride) away and from the end of August until May, only comes home for this two week period. He and his SO can go away any time.

Very little that he has done since we split up has bothered me to this degree. I'd love to hear another perspective that will help me calm down LOL. Maybe other families would think this isn't a big deal? Would your kids care if you weren't there for a few days during their winter break? Are they so busy and self-absorbed with seeing friends that they really wouldn't care where you are?

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone - your feedback is definitely helpful! I talked to SD and she said that she was "confused" when he said he wasn't going to be here but "then I was like whatever, he does what he does" so...she gets it. She welcomed the offer to stay at my house but will stay with a close friend who has a guest bedroom (in my house I'd be moving her brothers to the couch to give her a bed) and join us for our family stuff on Christmas Eve and Christmas day.

As to whether or not I emphasize the Jewish holidays, I actually do. I'm hosting a Hanukkah celebration for his extended family a week before Christmas, my kids light the menorah each night and say the prayers, I have hosted Passover, and join them for Rosh Hashanah. This will be the 3rd holiday season since we separated and he has come to my family's celebrations each year so it's not like he would have been home alone, he would have been celebrating with his kids and my extended family.

I guess this is his way of distancing himself and making a new tradition. Sucks that he left his kids out of it and is instead going off with his SO (and her kids maybe? not sure where they go) - especially one he sees only two weeks out of the school year - but that's par for the course with him.

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T.S.

answers from San Francisco on

The nice thing about having divorced parents (yes there are actually a few perks!) is that when one is gone the other is usually there.
I've learned not to spend time wondering why my ex husband does the things he does, and just enjoy the time with my kids, especially the EXTRA time that inevitably happens.

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J.C.

answers from Philadelphia on

You’re very kind to invite her.

I sure wouldn’t do what your ex is doing but hopefully his daughter isn’t as upset as you are.

I can say that when my daughter is home from college I only see her in passing she’s so busy with her HS friends. I think I talk to her more when she is at college because we make an effort to be in touch everyday.

4 moms found this helpful

B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

You certainly have some strong feelings about this.
Does his daughter?
How she feels about it is what counts.

We're just learning about this since our son is a freshman this year and about is about 5 hours away at college.
Ya know - kids have their social calendar too.
I don't see it as being self absorbed.
Kids come home - and sure they want to see you - but at the same time they have friends they want to see and they aren't going to spend 24/7 of their time at home hanging on your every word.
(Our son's winter break is 26 days long and he's taking an easy online class over the break while he's home.)

So I don't see a problem with the parent not being there for a few days.
(but I also get your point about being able to get away with the significant other at any other time too - it's like gee he's on the prowl looking to get some and he's so over being a parent first (kind of sounds like mid-life crisis time)).
I wouldn't do it but while I don't respect him any for doing this it's not a major sticking point for me either.

They'll all see each other and be together for most of it.
I could probably find something else to worry about without too much trouble.

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K.C.

answers from Anchorage on

If your SD doesn't mind, I don't think it's that major of a deal. But if I'm reading correctly, he will be gone over Christmas, right? That's kinda a jerk move. But he will be home for most of her visit. I'm sure she will spend the time he is gone hanging out with friends or you. And she is basically an adult, right? So I'm sure she will be just fine.

I think it's kinda jerky of him, but not something worth starting world war 3 over, ya know?

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M.D.

answers from Pittsburgh on

My parents did it for a Thanksgiving holiday when I was in college. I didn't think it was a big deal. I went to an aunt's home for Thanksgiving dinner and otherwise spent my time sleeping in as late as I wanted, visiting high school friends, and vegging in front of the TV - exactly what a college student on break wants to do.

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M.6.

answers from New York on

I really think that this is all going to be in the "eye of the beholder." Some moms would think this is a totally inappropriate thing to do, others would be like "meh, not that big of deal." Rather than focus on what your ex is or isn't doing (I realize you aren't obsessing or anything), if it bothers you, fix what you can and let the rest go. Ask SD right out "does it bother you that Dad is going to be out of town, and, if so, what can I do to help?" You already know that jerky ex of yours isn't going to change his plans, and you care about SD's feelings, so approach it from that direction rather than what your ex is doing is wrong, or thoughtless or whatever (because THAT will never end - he is who he is). The sucky thing about divorce is you still get to clean up after them when it comes to the kids, just like you did when the ex disappointed the kids when you were married :(

Good luck!

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D.D.

answers from Boston on

For the most part the kids tend to want to spend time catching up with their friends when they are home from school. But I'd probably have made an effort to be home use because they aren't home often and I'd want to be there to catch up with them and spoil them a little.

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S.B.

answers from Houston on

But this really isn't about the winter break its about him not being there on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. If he celebrated it prior to now then yeah, its a jerk move. But he's a jerk so really why so surprised? He's an asshat who doesn't care about anyone but himself. No we have never gone away without the kids at Christmas.

I'm glad that you offered her your home. No kid wants to go to bed alone on Christmas Eve. I don't care how old you are!!!!

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S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

maybe he assumed she'd be celebrating with you?

i mean, i'm no fan of your a$$wipe ex, but if he doesn't typically celebrate christmas anyway, a couple of a days away isn't so awful. especially if a) he figured she was going to be with you and b) he offered her the choice to go with him.

i've never not celebrated christmas with my kids (yet, i'm sure the day is coming) but leaving an older kid on their own for a few days doesn't strike me as so awful. heck, we left our 17 year old here alone for 2 weeks to take care of the place while we took the younger out west for vacation because the older had college classes.
khairete
S.

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K.N.

answers from Boston on

I think it's a jerk move -- totally -- but, JB, from what you've written before about your self-absorbed ex, it's pretty much in character. Still, a totally unkind, thoughtless move.

For those who talk about kids and their social calendar and how they want to connect with their friends: you're absolutely right. But it's not about that and connecting with their friends doesn't mean disconnecting with their parents. It's about still being a parent and still being available to your almost-adult child. Even at that age, they need to know you're THERE and that there's constancy in your relationship with them, that you're willing to keep the home fires burning, so to speak, even if they just touch down and go off again, then come back and then go check in with another friend. I don't mean you should be a martyr to your kids and I do agree that our relationship with our kids evolves a great deal between16 and 25. They still need our love and our presence. Given that this 2 week break is all this kid (& her dad) get for 9 months, I don't think it's too much to ask. And the SD shouldn't have to ask. Her (obviously clueless) dad should see that.

All that being said, this does seem so totally typical of things you've posted in the past about him and hopefully SD doesn't expect much more from him. So screw him. If you have room, have her come directly to your place at the beginning of her break and stay with you until at least the 26th. Yes, she'll go visit friends and such but her home base is with you. She should always be able to count on a home with you, too. Since her dad is such a poor role model for adult relationships, I'm sure she looks to you (even if she doesn't know that yet) for an important counterpoint to his behavior.

Let him go. Focus on her.

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N.G.

answers from Boston on

Do you put any emphasis on his Jewish holidays? He is not Christian so the jerk move is not about Christmas, but about her break and his being gone.

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T.M.

answers from Tampa on

Yeah, I definitely see it as a jerk move, but not really anything more you can do about it. It doesn’t sound like he really listened to reason when you were married...you probably shouldn’t expect anything different now. It’s really gracious for you to open your home to her over Christmas...that’s the best that you can do with this.

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