Sunday, February 25, 2007

Time Conflict

For the first time ever, I am faced with possibly missing part of my daughter's birthday. I have colleagues who routinely miss their offspring's birthdays owing to job-related travel, but I have always managed to avoid having to be away on a birthday.
Hence, this poll:

Would you miss all or part of your young child's birthday because of a time conflict with a job-related activity?
No, not for any reason
Yes, if I felt I had to
Free polls from


Anonymous said...

I never did that. But I did celebrate the birthday at a convenient date, so as to fit with my schedule. It works when the child is too young to read the calendar.
I also encouraged a toddler to wean (at 13 months) so as to go pumpless for a job trip.
You're a great parent, FSP.

anon said...

Well, when they get to a certain age, they'd rather not spend the whole birthday with the parents...

Female Science Professor said...

I guess I meant by "young child" that range of ages where they are old enough to know and care (a lot) about their birthday but not old enough to be too cool to spend it with a parent.

Irie said...

I think if you explain to your child and they know that this is the first time this has happened it would be OK. If you routinely missed his/her birthday then I think it would be hurtful. Kids are pretty understanding.

Anonymous said...

My mom - a university professor - had the biggest annual conference in her field always around my birthday. When I was very little I think she just did as the first comment notes and moved my party around a bit. As I got older...well, I can't really remember, but I did always have great parties so I guess celebrating nicely means more than having it on the exact day. And she did skip the conference on my 18th, which meant a lot to me.

Mr. B. said...

Don't beat yourself up over this. Sometimes important things like birthdays have to be worked around. Someone made the helpful suggestion of moving the day of the celebration, perhaps to a weekend, if the event happens during the week or you've got to be out of town.

Children are pretty understanding if they realize that you love them and are willing to make sacrifices for them but that sometimes this is not possible.


(been there...)

Mr. B.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, I forgot that back in the old country when I was small, my birthday was always on a Sunday since my parents weren't willing to do it during the week and as I got to school age, we had to go to school on Saturday too.

I think Saturday school was a big conspiracy to give parents a day off alone without their children. Often as I left for school on Saturday when I was 7/8, they were both still in bed.

Anonymous said...

My Father had to miss a birthday when I was young. But it was one of my favorite birthdays ever as for my birthday present, he surprised me with a day trip with him into "the city". We rarely had time with just the 2 of us and it still has provided some of my fondest memories with him.

I wish he had to miss more of my birthdays!


Laira said...

I had a father who skipped out on all kinds of events in my life in favor of work, and my resentment toward that behavior isn't any individual event, but the accumulated message he sent to me that work was more important than I was. I was half expecting he wouldn't show up for my college graduation. Perhaps he would have (or did) postpone work to come, but that wouldn't have made me feel much better; at that point, him showing up was, in my opinion, the least he could do. Many of his meetings and business trips get changed, added, or postponed on short notice, and I know that's out of his personal control. Still, his behavior was consistent, and that's what really hurt.

As long as you're not playing catch-up to being there, I don't think your kid will mind, along the lines that others have already suggested. If you send a message of genuine caring on a regular basis and don't make a habit out of it, one birthday celebrated on the "wrong" date won't be a message that work is more important than they are.

Anonymous said...

Could you maybe discuss it with your daughter and see how she feels about it - like whether it matters more for her whether you'd be there for the whole of the actual day, or whether she'd be happy with some special just you and her treat later on - one on one time? Then she could have special one on one time with her dad on her birthday and special one on one time with you later?

I think time alone with a parent can be really special, particularly as children get a bit older - and in some ways it's kind of appropriate for a birthday because it's saying that you're old enough to be good company as a person, not just a kid.

Lisa said...

I can't say I know how to deal with children, as my first is waiting to be born, but one theme that seems to come from childrearing experts is that the kids appreciate having choices; even if the main thing is decided they can have a choice about the details. It sounds like you are not completely sure whether you will go on the business trip, so you could tell her the situation and say that you can stay for her birthday, or you can have some special mom-and-me birthday time on a different day. If she is anything like me, she will choose the latter and you will both feel better. And if she doesn't, then you'll know it's very important to her.