Coping with Long Hours and Work Travel

You want to spend good, dedicated time with the kids every day, but sometimes it’s just not possible. Maybe you’re facing a late night to finish up a sudden and urgent project, or it’s busy season and you’re working around the clock, or face-to-face meetings are keeping you on the road, or you’ve just been deployed, or are pulling extra shifts because you need the money—or some combination. Whatever the reason, the result is the same: just as work pressures ratchet up, you have to juggle home and care logistics remotely, you worry about how the separation is affecting the kids and you miss them like absolute crazy. It seems like a no-win situation.

Why not try out some new techniques that might lessen the strain? A few small twists and additions to your usual routines before, during, and after your time apart can make things go a little more smoothly, and keep both you and the kids feeling more comfortable and connected.

Before You Go: Planning and Prep

Getting ready to be away from home for a longer-than-usual stretch typically involves a whole lot of logistics—and some delicate, deep emotions. Here’s how, practically and personally, to get ready for departure.

Your workparent Away Planner

You might be a teacher preparing for parent-teacher-conference week and the sixteen-hour days it requires, or have a big client meeting in a distant city, or work in a profession where sudden all-nighters are the norm. Whatever the case, your head is spinning as you struggle to process and tame all the logistical details of being away. You’ve got extra care arrangements to think of, and perhaps meal planning, and the babysitter needs to be paid, of course, and there’s homework to oversee—and what happens if there’s an emergency?

What’s the payoff?

Being away from home probably does have a meaningful upside if, for example, you’re:

  • Putting in extra days and nights at the office or library to cram for those all-important professional licensing exams
  • Out on the road hustling new business that will help you get promoted (and that promotion will mean vastly less travel)
  • Working all those overtime hours to save for the down payment on a house
  • In a field or profession (aviation, healthcare, the military, etc.) where long hours and time away from home are absolute, inescapable realities for anyone who wants to remain employed or get ahead

If one or more of these are the case, your absence has a specific, important benefit, whether financial, professional, or personal. As hard as it is, being away is a good thing for the working-parent You of the future.

Be very, very careful about settling into an Away pattern when you can’t see a real and clear payoff, though. Regular or prolonged time away from the kids is just too costly, in all possible senses of that word, to keep up longer-term for no good reason—for example, just because that’s how things are done at my particular company, because I used to work this way before I had kids, or because my boss expects people to work nutty hours. Of course there will be many times you’ll have to burn the midnight oil—that’s inevitable. But remember: the kids are only young once. If there’s no payoff, it may be time to think about finding a way to push your career forward while staying closer to home.

One way to go is simply to tackle each of those details as they occur to you each time you’re in prep mode, hoping that you’ve covered everything while remaining ready to put out the small fires that might flare up due to any neglected detail while you’re gone. The other, easier way is to develop your own personalized Away Planner: a reusable outline of what will happen while you’re not around and a checklist of what you need to do up front in order to make it all work. An Away Planner prevents oversights: it’s impossible to forget important to-dos when you have them down on paper. It also facilitates communication between you and the members of your Village who will be covering during your absence; you can stay, quite literally, on the same page in terms of daily care plans, pickups, drop-offs, homework, and so on. When personalized, and done thoughtfully, your planner is also a kind of antianxiety pill, taking the edge off the stress you may be feeling. (While this particular pill will be addictive, it’s all-natural and comes with no side effects.)

In table 16-1 you’ll find a sample Away Planner, in this case for a workparent who’s part of a dual-career family and planning a five-day trip. As you can see, it covers day-to-day blocking and tackling as well as more-personal and emotional issues, like how to stay in touch and how to provide your child extra warmth and reassurance while you’re away. Read over this sample and consider how you would tailor it to suit your own family, work demands, care setup, and Village. Feel free to add columns, categories, and checkboxes until it works best for you. When you’re done, you’ll have an all-in-one, quick-use way of getting ready to go.

Creating counterweights

As you glance over table 16-1 you may find yourself pausing at one particular section: the column labeled “Counterweights.” By definition, a counterweight is a balancing force, a stabilizer. It helps compensate for the effect of something pulling in the opposite direction. When you’re a workparent and away from home, a counterweight is something that helps offset the impact of your absence—that lets the kids feel just a little more comfortable about Mom or Dad being gone for longer than usual. You may choose to use events, activities, or locations as your counterweights, although most often, the offsetting forces you’ll be turning to are real live people—family members or other Villagers. Whatever or whoever you settle on, that resource blunts the impact of your being away by providing your child with extra comfort, pleasure, or distraction.

TABLE 16-1

Sample Workparent Away Planner

•  Travel: Flight and hotel information in Google Calendar.

•  Communications Daily video chat over breakfast. Will try to call at bedtime.

•  Money: Household cash is on the piano. Sitter has debit card I gave her.

•  Food: Extra leftovers in freezer. Household cash will cover if need to order in.

•  Village alerted? Yes—emailed with homeroom teacher. Neighbors know that Phoebe’s car will be in the drive.

•  Emergency backups: Third Parent is aware I’m away and is willing to pitch in as needed.


Core caregiver

Additional caregiver(s)

Drop-off plan

Pickup plan

Evening routine

Other to-dos

Special concerns

My availability




Aunt Phoebe

School bus

School bus


Show-and-tell: needs to bring special object to present to class

Be sure to ask him how show-and-tell went

Will be on the plane; will call when I land around 6:00 p.m.

Homeroom teacher



Aunt Phoebe

School bus

School bus



Will need extra help to finish math worksheet

Tied up in meetings, will call morning and evening


Aunt Phoebe


School bus

Aunt Phoebe


Math worksheets due—make sure these are in the backpack

Let Phoebe know household money is on the piano

Doing the client site visit; may be very difficult to reach during the day—if you need me, text

Pizza night with Aunt Phoebe



Weekend sitter will work this day until Partner gets home

School bus

Soccer practice; van will drop at home

Aunt Phoebe

Soccer—needs to bring his shin guards and cleats, and don’t forget the inhaler!

Pep talk needed; they lost last week’s game




Playdate; I will pick up if flight lands on time

Family dinner


Ask friend’s parents if he can stay for dinner if my flight is late


Playdate with Jeremy

‘‘I travel a hundred days a year for this job. But when I’m home, I work from home quite a bit, and we sit down for dinner every night and breakfast every morning—I’m not rushing toward work. And this firm lets you acknowledge family life, as part of its culture. Whenever I’ve had to cancel an important meeting because of a family emergency, the first two questions I get are, ‘Are you OK?’ and ‘What can I do?’ It’s a lot of time away from home, but there’s also a lot of advantages.”

—Karen, macro trends expert, mother of two

To take a specific example: let’s say you’re short-staffed at work, it’s busy season, and you know you’ll be working around the clock this week. Your three-year-old son is extremely apprehensive about your being gone quite so much. Realistically, this won’t be his—or, likely, your—happiest several days, but you cleverly think ahead and settle on two effective counterweights: first, a trip to the duck pond near your house, and second, his daycare provider. The duck-pond outing, which a neighbor has kindly agreed to take him on, is something you know he’ll look forward to and relish, and those extra hugs and attention from a savvy, trusted caregiver will help him feel better throughout the day. You haven’t, and can’t, completely cure his feelings of sadness at your absence, but—by arranging a brief excursion and by politely asking a caregiver for a bit of extra support—you’ve helped ease it.

Note that a counterweight doesn’t have to involve any kind of special treat, lavish gift, or rule-breaking, but something simple, that helps stoke positive emotion, and that makes your time away feel a little shorter than it otherwise would. Think what might work as effective counterweights for your child, and see if you can plan one or two out before leaving. Of course, you can always be one of your own counterweights by blocking out special time together for when you return. That shift won’t seem so long if your child knows that there’s an entire Saturday with Mom, or a trip to the zoo, at the end of it.

Not if but when

You may never be able to exert complete control over how much and how often you’re away because of work—but you can do your best to influence when.

At the beginning of each year or major work cycle, note which days and weeks are particularly important for you to be closer to, or just more available at, home. Include celebrations, such as the kids’ birthdays; transitions, such as the start and end of the school year; and important events, such as family gatherings, the kids’ special performances and games, or periods of cultural or religious significance for your family. Give the list a rough prioritization: maybe you’d love to be at your son’s first clarinet performance, but it’s essential for the family to be together on Greek Easter, for example.

Then start gently advocating—and defending. If your work calendar is accessible to other colleagues, block out the key no-fly dates with a polite note that “my daughter starts first grade this week; please consult me before scheduling.” Tell your boss that you’re happy to work late and take on the client two time zones away—but you would appreciate staying put on the week of May 5th. Or find a colleague with different personal obligations than yours and agree to cover weekends or work overtime on a mutually beneficial, alternating basis. In other words, plan ahead and ask for what you want.

Saying goodbye

Your child’s normal feelings of sadness that Mom or Dad is going to be away for any period of time are easily compounded through uncertainty—and your own mixed messages. Big, open-ended questions that your kids may have around your departure but may be too young to put into words would include: Don’t you love me and miss me, too? Do you really have to go? What will happen to me while you’re away? When are you coming back? The more preemptive answers you provide, and in a straightforward and positive way, the more secure and calm both you and your child will feel and the easier your leave-taking will be.

When the senior people expect it

Team norms and expectations are difficult things to break, and they’re typically set by your group’s most senior members—often in a less than working-parent-friendly way. The leaders you work with may see, or even themselves use, endless face time, work benders, or long stretches of professional travel as proof of value within your organization. But it’s also very possible they’re working less efficiently than they could, and that you can prove your own contributions without selling your soul to the job.

Think carefully about any ways you could still deliver the professional goods without being away from home quite so much. Try landing new clients locally or making sales through VC rather than in person. Speak at industry or trade conferences to generate visibility and new business leads more quickly than you could through multiple single-client visits. Try clustering or smoothing out your overtime hours to ensure a better time-with-the-kids schedule, or think about volunteering to work on a few holidays or other “undesirable” times in exchange for a bit more day-to-day flexibility. With some careful planning and technology on your side, you may be able to generate the same results as any work maniac or road warrior—all while minimizing your time away. When you can point to hard numbers and specific wins that prove your contributions, managers will usually take notice.

Before any Away period, make sure to preview the plan. Tell your child where you’re going, when you’re returning, and exactly who will be the caregiver while you’re gone. Be direct and reassuring: “Mom’s going on a work trip for five days, and when you’re not in school, either Daddy or Aunt Phoebe will be with you the entire time.” If your child is toddler-age or older, post a simplified, age-appropriate version of your planner in the kitchen, or someplace else readily visible. That way, caregivers can help your child “mark off” the time until you’re back: “Look—it’s Thursday, which means Aunt Phoebe will be coming to help us with dinner tonight and there’s just one more day until Mom comes home!”

‘‘I’ve been deployed twelve times. It’s what my kids have known their whole lives, since they were infants. We tell them about it directly, but keep things age-appropriate. We’ll say, ‘Daddy’s going on a long business trip’—or a short one. They don’t need to know the specifics.

We tried using FaceTime to keep in touch, but when the kids were small, they’d get really upset. It’s easier for them if I’m completely gone than some kind of confusing halfway. And I don’t play the whole ‘who’s working hard, whose car is still in the parking lot’ game. When I’m home, I put a high premium on being home.”

—Ashley, military officer, father of three

As you talk through the plan, and while saying your actual goodbye, be certain to acknowledge and respond to your child’s feelings, without mirroring them. If your five-year-old gets weepy, hugging her and telling her that “it’s OK to be sad” is helpful and healthy, but expressing your own sadness at leaving will only stoke confusion: If you’re so sad, she’ll wonder, then why are you going? It also thrusts your child into a difficult, ambiguous position. She may think, If I keep crying, will Mom decide to stay? If she leaves anyway, does that mean she doesn’t care about my feelings? Be sympathetic but definitive, and anchor your comments in the future: “Mom will be gone for five days, Daddy is here to take care of you, and I can’t wait to see you when I get back.” That beats a wistful “I wish I didn’t have to go, either.” Separation, particularly from very young children, will never be easy—but be sure to send the right signals. Your kids take their emotional cues from you.

While You’re Gone: Specific and Powerful Ways to Stay, and Feel, in Touch

You miss the kids, and they miss you. To compensate, and to close that physical and emotional gap, your go-to tool will likely be the phone or video chat: you’ll be tempted to call home several times a day to connect and to see how things are going. Sure, you want to hear the kids, and check in with their caregivers—but you also want to feel present, and more parent-ish, and all-around better about the situation yourself.

Homesickness, and how to get through it

The word homesick is typically associated with children: hear it, and you may think of a miserable eight-year-old missing home on the first night of summer camp. But adults can miss home, too—and if you’re a new working parent, the kids are very small, or you’re unused to being away, it’s very likely that at some point you’ll develop a case of homesickness yourself. If you’ve ever gotten choked up on the way to the airport, or been trapped at work but found your thoughts wandering to the kids and how great it would be to snuggle them, or just felt allover blue when away, you’re certainly not the first.

Chances are those feelings will begin to resolve with a little distraction: landing in a new city or attending to important details before that big deadline forces your focus elsewhere, displacing intense thoughts of I wish I weren’t away. If you need some additional help, call or message other workparents you trust: their responses should be sympathetic but encouraging (they’ve all seen this movie themselves). Then remind yourself of your counterweights: yes, you miss your nine-year-old terribly now, but you and she will go bowling—her favorite outing—together this weekend. If the sadness becomes acute, if it’s accompanied by any twinge of guilt, or if you find yourself weepy: think “meta” for a moment. The thing that’s making you so upset right now is the exact same thing that makes you a wonderful parent: your total and complete devotion to your children. You may be away, but homesickness is proof that your heart and mind are in the right place.

Those calls may not go very well, though, or provide either you or the kids much comfort or reassurance. Small children aren’t able to engage in adult-style conversations, or to narrate their daily experiences, and older ones may be perfectly capable of doing so but just not want to. Ask a four-year-old or a fourteen-year-old, “How are you?” or “How was school?” particularly over the phone, and you may get a monosyllabic answer or silence. And of course, if your child is still a baby or young toddler, it’s even harder to connect by calling. So what will keep you feeling bonded and closer-by when the demands of your job keep you apart?

‘‘“I’m often away two nights a week, sometimes more. No matter where I am, I always call right before they go to bed—for the songs, the stories. It’s wonderful to get to call home and hear, ‘Hi Papa!’—and to be there, with them, for that lullaby time.”

—João, management consultant, father of two

  • Tangible reminders.  Make sure that there are small physical reminders of you, and of you and your child together, throughout the house. Display pictures of the two of you where your child can see them, and leave books you like to read together or games you enjoy playing together out within easy reach. If your child is very small, think about giving him one of your belongings as a “comfort object”: that favorite T-shirt Dad always wears can make an excellent blankie for a little one to use at naptime. That trick goes both ways: when you’re away from home, it can be oddly reassuring to know that you’ve got one of your son’s dinosaur socks in your work bag. In other words: allow yourselves to feel the other’s physical presence, even when you’re away.
  • Keeping up with your regular routines.  If your bedtime ritual is “song plus story,” keep singing and reading, and at the same time of day. Bring one of your child’s favorite books along with you and read it over a video call, turning the pages, doing the funny voices, and showing the pictures as you go, and then sing the same song you normally would. Even if you have to read that story during the middle of the night because you’re in a different time zone, or have to do so in the middle of the break room during lunch, maintain as much consistency as you can.
  • Playing a game, or doing another activity, together.  Before you leave, hide a few “I love you” notes or small gifts (a yo-yo, a small piece of candy) around the house, and during each call home provide a new clue that lets your child find one. Or start a game of online chess with your teenager, or have a Ridiculous Faces contest with your middle-schooler via photo message. Whatever the gag is, and no matter how small or silly, it will let you keep interacting with your child.
  • “Talking” via recorded video.  In addition to live/interactive phone calls, record yourself talking to your kids (or singing, or waving, or doing a tour of your hotel room, or showing the scene outside the taxi window, etc.), and then send the clip to them or to their caregiver. Unlike with live, real-time video, they can watch (and rewatch) at their leisure, with zero pressure to immediately respond—and then watch again, if they want to, or send you a message back.
  • Sharing where you are and what you’re up to.  When you’re away, your children may feel as if you’ve fallen into a mysterious hole. You’re gone, and they likely have no idea of why, or what you’re doing. And unfortunately “we’re short-staffed” or “I’m in Birmingham for a meeting” won’t resonate with your nine-year-old. So help your children understand a bit better: have their caregiver show them where you are on a map, or send a photo of yourself in the conference room surrounded by papers as you prepare for the big meeting. Provide a window and insight onto what you’re doing.
  • Following the “when we see x, then y” technique.  Have an agreement with your son that today, every time either of you sees someone wearing the color green (or chewing gum, or driving a convertible, etc.), you’ll think of the other, and send an imaginary hug or high five. Even when you’re not there, you can still stoke positive emotion.
  • Eating together.  As we explore in chapter 18, “Food and Mealtimes,” many of the most powerful connective moments you’re likely ever to have with your children are over a meal. So continue having the occasional meal together, even while you’re away: prop the iPad in front of you while you’re having a quick breakfast at the hotel coffee shop and they’re eating their cereal at home. It’s just a normal morning together—even if you’re five hundred miles away.
  • Sending a postcard.  In today’s world, actual, personalized, hard-copy mail has a retro, novelty appeal, and children love receiving it. Keep stamps in your wallet, ready to go, grab a handful of postcards, and drop the kids a message on each day you’re gone—even if in the same city. The metamessage: I’m thinking of you constantly.
  • Emailing.  Open an email address in your child’s name—even if she’s years away from being able to use a computer—and, every time you think of her, miss her, or see something interesting or unusual while you’re away, shoot her a note: “I just got to my hotel. Here’s a photo of the view from my window, and I miss you and love you,” or “I’m working the overnight shift tonight, honey, and sending you a big hug.” That email account may not be opened, or read, for years, but when it is, your child will have ample proof of your feelings and commitment. In the meantime, you’ll feel more emotionally connected.

Should the kids come with me?

You may be toying with the idea of bringing your son or daughter along on that work trip—or may have enviously read about the “we’ll fly your child and nanny along with you” benefits offered at a few high-end companies. But before you make any plans or start romanticizing this particular type of work/life integration, do a quick reality check. Do you really want to lug all the baby gear through the airport or run the risk of needing to make a sudden trip to the pediatrician’s in a distant or foreign city? Is staying together worth completely upending your child’s regular routine? Can you stay focused and top-of-your-game professionally while sharing a small hotel room with your toddler? Depending on your schedule, your destination, and the ages of your kids, having them join you might work beautifully—but think ahead and be practical.

‘‘I’ll take a piece of the kids’ artwork along with me, and send a picture of me holding it in the cockpit, before takeoff. We also play a game where I’ll take a super-close-up photo of some object—like a lampshade in my hotel room, or part of the sidewalk—and they’ll have to guess what the object is. They know I’m thinking about them, and we’re interacting, even when I’m not around.

If you feel shy about doing that kind of stuff in front of your colleagues, don’t. They’re all living through the same thing. They get it.”

—Rick, airline pilot, father of three

Whatever connection strategies you choose to use, take great care to keep your messages and overall tone warm, upbeat, and light. If you’re jetlagged, or annoyed at working the double shift because somebody else called out sick, fine—but use your video to make a little joke of it, laughingly pointing out the dark circles under Daddy’s eyes instead of moaning that you’ve gone twenty-two hours without sleep. In the videoconference dinner you’re doing from the break room during busy season—when you’re feeling ground down and running behind—don’t talk about your workload. Ask how the kids’ macaroni and cheese is. Keep your connections positive.

Upon Return, and After: Making Your Homecoming Calmer and More Satisfying—for Everyone

You’ve just finished the marathon work session and arrived back home. The hard part is over now, right?

Well, not quite. Changes in routine are tough on you as an adult and professional, but they’re much more difficult for children—even when those changes, like your return home, are good ones. As you walk back through your front door, your children may greet you with the squeals of joy, full attention, and hugs you’re hoping for—or with confusion, hot-and-cold behavior, demands, hostile questions, a tantrum, or apparent indifference, and from your side any of those responses may feel crushing. Yet a difficult return isn’t inevitable: just as you paid attention to the small-scale mechanics and to the emotional impact of your departure and time away, you can do the same now on the way back in, using a few specific maneuvers to make your homecoming a smoother, more natural-feeling, and happier experience for everyone.

  • Preannounce your entry.  While bursting through the front door with little warning and proclaiming that “Daddy’s home!” or “Mom’s back!” may feel wonderful to you, it probably won’t to the kids. What you intend as a positive surprise may create unintended pressure on older children to respond in a certain way (be thrilled to see me, right this minute!), and it may startle or even frighten little ones. Call en route home and let your children—or whoever’s taking care of them—know that you’ll be there shortly. That advance notice offers them the chance to get into a good mindset about your return. If you’ll be arriving home after the kids are asleep, get ahead of that, also: tell your six-year-old that you won’t see her tonight, but that when she wakes up tomorrow morning she should come jump into bed with you, or that you’ll eat breakfast together. In other words: keep your actual, specific point of reentry into the family sphere as gentle and as “no surprises” as possible.
  • Talk positively.  OK, maybe the meeting didn’t go so well, the project is off the rails, you’re exhausted, the train was late, traffic terrible, the extra hours a waste of your time. So life goes—but your kids can’t solve those problems, and those problems aren’t what they should be focused on when they haven’t seen you for the past three days. A simple “I’m so glad to be home now and to see you” sets a much better tone, and allows better connection.
  • Don’t force interaction; let them come to you.  Because you’ve missed the kids like crazy, it’s natural to want to race toward them, lavishing them with hugs and expecting their undivided attention. But they may have settled into a routine while you were away, or for the moment their attention may be glued to another person or activity. Maybe your son worked hard all afternoon on that Lego tower, and doesn’t want to turn away from it right now, or your teen is still upset over a loss on the sports field. That’s not any kind of feedback, or lack of excitement that you’re home—they’re just in a particular groove. Try sliding into their activities, joining them in what they’re doing and experiencing. Admire the tower and ask how he got the big yellow piece to balance on the top—rather than making yourself the main event.
  • Tie up loose ends in private.  You likely still have a few lingering details to take care of: the update email has to be sent to your boss, your hours logged in the billing system, the team thanked for their hard work, the schedule checked for your next shift. But avoid immediately going into get-it-done mode, sitting down in your home office, or typing on your smartphone screen in front of the kids. Yes, it will feel terrific to close out those annoying, lingering items on your to-do list, but it sends a powerful—if unintentional—message that you’re not fully there. Finish up what you need to quickly and behind closed doors, or after the kids have gone to bed.
  • Reestablish routines.  No matter how long you’ve been away, try to get straight back into regular, predictable patterns, both in terms of home and work. Your departure was, at some level, a disruption, and going back to your regular schedule and habits spells a return to normalcy. So sit down to dinner when you usually do, review your eight-year-old’s homework, take the dog for his evening walk. Spend some extra time with the kids if you can—do the school run even if it means going into work half an hour later than usual, for example—but don’t try to overcorrect for your absence by hovering, demanding long stretches of one-to-one time, or otherwise throwing the typical family schedule and the kids’ expectations even further out of whack. As much as you can, give your kids the gift of predictability.

Using time away as time for yourself

It’s the dirty little secret known to absolutely everyone but the kids: away time can help you restore, recharge, and reconnect with the noncareer, nonparent You (remember you?). If you’re staying late at the office anyway, you may be able to walk the longer way home rather than racing home on the subway. On a work trip, you may get a few blessed hours to read a book or watch TV; you have only yourself to take care of on that plane; and in the hotel you may even—savor this thought as it washes over you—get a night or two of solid, uninterrupted sleep.

Good for you! When you’re working this hard and in the thick of parenting, you don’t get a lot of breaks, and you deserve this one. Don’t spend any time guiltily wondering if you should be more miserable, or wondering if looking forward to that child-free flight makes you a bad parent, because it doesn’t. These Away-induced pockets of “me time” are like a few good gulps of a sports drink during an endurance event: they give you a hit of energy and are one small way to increase your overall resilience.

Try to maximize these breaks in whatever way works best for you. Instead of settling for whatever movies are offered on the plane, download several by your favorite director and turn the trip into a film festival. On a night you’re already working late, have the sitter stay an extra hour so you can meet a friend. You’re not being selfish—you’re being smart.

Showing up, and being there

If you’re in a career that requires spending longer stretches away from your child, you may find yourself hovering on that fact—and harboring some guilt. If so, it’s time to redefine: to remind yourself what showing up and being there as a mother or father really means.

Of course you want to connect with your child, in person, and as much as you can—that’s critically important, for both of you. But if your family needs the money, you’re showing up for the kids by working those extra hours. By honoring the treasured bedtime ritual, even when it’s over the phone, you can be a presence when not actually present. And every time you give your child your total and full attention, wherever both of you are, you’re being there for her, too. Being physically present or constantly available to your children isn’t the sole yardstick of good parenting—your love and commitment are what count.

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