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Dear Stavroula

Ask Stavroula: I Live in the U.S. and I Miss My Son

Dear Stavroula, 

I am a divorced father and I have a son who is finishing primary school this year. My child lives in Greece with his mother and I have been in America for five years. The reason I left my homeland and my child was, of course, financial. I lost my small business and found myself needing to sell my house as well. So I made the decision to come here at 45, find a job and start from scratch. Fortunately, I was able to find work and support my son financially as his mother is now on unemployment. Lately, however, I feel terrible. My son is asking for me more and more and even though we talk every day, I feel that it’s not enough. Every time he asks me when I will be back because he misses me so much, I don’t know what to say. I feel like a failure, not only because I couldn’t manage to keep my family together, but also because I couldn’t manage to make ends meet financially in Greece and I was forced to leave my child so young without his father. I don’t have a question; I just wanted to tell my story. 

Kostas 

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Dear Kostas, 

You write to me that you feel you failed because you did not make it financially in Greece and you were forced to immigrate to America. I will disagree with you. A person who emigrates at the age of 45 and manages to stand on his own two feet and help his child and himself is not considered a failure. You did not leave your child while you had the choice to stay. You lost your job and your home and had the courage to look for a new beginning under extremely difficult conditions. And I guess it was probably not easy at all. If you knew someone and he told you the same story, would you call him a failure? Or would you admire him for his courage? 

As for the fact that you divorced and could not keep your family together, it is not your sole responsibility. A marriage is dissolved for reasons that both partners are responsible for in equal measure. Certainly the dissolution of a marriage is not a success. But it is not a success to hold onto a broken marriage by tooth and nail. Sometimes in this case the consequences are very painful for all family members and especially for children. I do not know why you divorced, but from your letter I understand that you have a great love for your child and that is the most important thing. Your child understands this love and seeks a relationship with you. And despite the distance, he wants to communicate and express his feelings to you. This is a huge success. 

You may not be present in his daily life, but you are present in his soul. He knows he can find you and talk to you when he needs you, even online. 

Therefore, try to build a communication routine with your child. It is good that there are specific times that you will communicate with him and that they are strictly observed. You can also set up fun moments together on the weekends, watch a movie together in Greece and in America, talk about it and share your thoughts, or you can play an online video game together. You can help him with his lessons on the weekends, show him where you live, dream together about the future, about the next time you meet. 

It is very difficult to live away from your child, but it is up to you to ‘shorten’ the distance. You can have quality time with your child even under these conditions. You may not have had this opportunity for quality time if you had not left and were facing very serious financial problems back in Greece. 

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