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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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If kept busy, kids won’t dwell on missing Dad

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar Creators Syndicate

Dear Annie: My husband and I own a business that requires him to travel out of state several times a month. Typically, he is gone several days at a time and then returns for a few days before going out of town again. Although this lifestyle has been rough, we have done our best to adjust. We don’t like it, but we understand the reasons behind it and try to make the most of our time together.

We have two daughters, ages 4 and 7. Obviously, the children are having a much more difficult time. When their father is here, he gives them 110 percent of his attention and honestly could not be a better dad. Sometimes he goes a bit overboard, understandably, to compensate for the time he is away, but I often wonder if that only makes it harder when he is gone. They miss him terribly and cry for him every night even though he always calls before bedtime. Their sadness breaks our hearts, and I am the one whose job it is to comfort them.

I want to make this easier on my children. I tell them they will meet Daddy in their dreams because he is dreaming of them at the same time, or I try to focus their minds on the new memories we’ll make when he returns, but they still fall asleep with tears in their eyes.

We most likely have a few more years of this schedule ahead of us, and we could really use a morale booster. What can we do to ease the pain of missing each other? – Apart in New Mexico

Dear New Mexico: It will help to fill the days with other activities, so the children aren’t focused too much on Daddy’s absence. It also is important that you not dwell on how much all of you miss Daddy.

Be cheerful but matter-of-fact when he leaves, excited when he comes home, and while he is gone, make their days busy. Before they go to bed, concentrate their minds on the next day’s schedule. Then read them a story. It not only will get their minds off Daddy but will develop a love of reading.

Dear Annie: “Another Graduate’s Mom” wrote how important graduation ceremonies are for those who get to watch. At my school, we get only four tickets. I have spent sleepless nights trying to determine who should attend the ceremony next June. I know a lot of feelings will be hurt. Please help. – Already Dreading It Early

Dear Dreading: Invite immediate family first, and everyone else will simply have to understand. By the way, most schools offer extra tickets if any are available, but you have to put in a request in advance. Here’s more on graduations:

From Central Illinois: I looked forward to my graduation ceremony, but now I wish I could have those two hours of my life back. The ceremony was filled with rude, obnoxious people who, despite being asked to hold applause, cheered and yelled throughout the entire event. There was an area set up so family members could take pictures, but most of the people liked the view there and wouldn’t move, hindering other parents’ ability to take photos (including my mother’s).

Connecticut: My graduation ceremony at a large, public university was a joke. We were crammed into the basketball arena like cattle. Most of us couldn’t see our families with binoculars. There was no stage, our names weren’t announced, and we were given a dummy diploma that had to be returned. I was a chemical engineering student, yet my family had to sit through four hours of liberal arts majors.

I hated the whole process. What was meaningful was seeing my family and marking the occasion, which we did at dinner that night. I show my gratitude to my parents by thanking them, reminding them that they gave me a marketable skill and actively keeping them involved with my life.

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