It’s probably one of the hardest decisions you ever had to make. But a parent’s got to do what a parent’s got to do, even if that means being far away from the people most important to you.
This is what makes overseas parenting difficult.
There is a mix of emotions that come with the distance involved and the need to be a good provider, and that’s okay. It’s not an easy setup, but someone’s got to do it.
The Joys of Working Overseas
Why do parents choose to leave their kids behind and work overseas?
Let’s face it. The Philippines, as progressive as the government claims it to be, does not really offer the same kind of opportunities as compared to other places like Australia. People can go months without a job, and once they finally find one, the pay is often not enough to cover even the most basic of needs.
Working in Australia opens up a whole new world of choices for skilled Filipinos.
Finally, you can afford to pay the bills, send your kids to a good school, and give them the kind of life you’ve always wanted for them. No more sweating over how to prevent Meralco from cutting off your electricity. No more running to pawnshops to surrender things you value for cash.
These are the things that make the distance worth it. There’s a peace of mind that comes with knowing that money will finally be coming in right when you need it.
The Challenges of Working Overseas
Of course, working overseas also means that you would have to endure challenges that not a lot of people handle well.
The distance, for instance, often takes its toll on families. And without the strong foundation and the amount of effort required to make things work, families and their members become broken in the process.
We have all heard stories about the lifestyle of families of overseas workers as well. A lot fall into the trap of enjoying sudden wealth and forgetting about the more important things. They buy gadgets, toys, and a lot of other things that do not really matter, often neglecting to save up for their future.
Parenting is also one thing that suffers. A lot of workers overseas make up for their absence by showering their kids with material things, but fail to connect with them on an emotional level.
These challenges have a huge impact to every family member, especially the kids. The good news is, there are so many things you can do for all of you to overcome these challenges together.
Overseas Parenting Tips
Just because you have decided to work abroad does not mean that you’re leaving all the emotional stuff to the parent being left behind with the kids. You have to do your part too.
Here are a few tips that would allow you to fulfil your duties as a parent despite the distance:
Talk to them regularly
It doesn’t matter if you’ve had a long day or if you have dinner plans with work friends. No matter what happens, take the time out to talk to your kids regularly.
And this is not just about small talk. Ask them how school was, and who their friends are. Listen to their stories. Share a few of your own. Remember that the few minutes you spend with them everyday would mean a lot, especially if they’re going through tough times.
Consider yourself lucky that the internet makes it easier for you to communicate.
Plan shared activities
Who says distance will keep you and your kids from doing anything together?
Some families Skype while they’re having dinner. Some Facetime each other while they’re out shopping. Some also take part in helping their kids out with school work.
Remember that even if you’re far apart, distance is just an excuse. There are so many ways to continue sharing precious moments with your kids – don’t waste them.
Plan about your next trip home
Sometimes, kids get used to their parents being gone. That’s okay, but the moment they stop looking forward to you coming home, that’s where the real problem starts.
Make your kids excited about what you plan on doing together on your next trip home. Maybe they want to go out of town. There could be a theme park you could visit. The possibilities are endless!
Make sure that you plan this together as a family. This way, you make the entire process even more exciting for them.
Tell them about your long-term goals
Sometimes, kids are at a loss about why their parents chose to leave instead of staying back home. Especially for the younger kids, it’s not unusual to find them wondering why their friends’ parents are earning a decent amount of money in the Philippines. It makes them feel that you could have also made the choice to stay.
Don’t shield your kids from the harsh reality that sometimes, difficult decisions have to be made to secure their future. However, don’t make this a negative thing for them.
Instead, tell them about your long-term goals and make them feel excited about the same things. You could be planning a business for the family, or a new home somewhere. Share these goals with them and help them understand where this sacrifice is leading to.
Share important moments together
Just because you’re far away does not mean that moment together will stop. If your son finally learned how to ride a bike without training wheels, talk to him about it and share his excitement. If you got a promotion, make sure that they’re the first ones you call.
Note that this does not just involve the good times. You can share even the worst days together. Be there through your daughter’s first break up. Console your son for not making it to the varsity team.
These may not seem much to you, but to your kids, knowing that you’re there no matter what will make them forget the distance.
Parenting is already a tough job. Having to do it overseas is even harder. But if you focus on the prize and remember what all this is for, it all becomes worth it and you’ll learn to celebrate all the high and the lows that come with the situation.
Special thanks to Answers.com for the main image.