Migration is a prevalent phenomenon worldwide.
Thousands of individuals make their odyssey to different countries in hopes of a brighter future for their families.
Articles often talk about how individuals abroad usually feel excitement mixed with anxiety, isolation and loneliness. How most conclude that it is worth every tear shed to see their families better off.
Other studies focus on how the children they left behind may suffer from not having their parents nearby.
However, there is another group that is affected by migration who we seldom talk about, the parents of the migrants.
As a colleague of mine once said, not all of us have children yet but we all have or had a parent or parent-figures and like everyone in this equation, they have feelings too.
How do most parents feel when their child goes abroad?
Filipinos are proud parents. The walls of their houses can attest to how much pride swells from their hearts when their children achieves something significant like school honors and graduation certificates.
After school, most parents think that landing a professional job overseas is another milestone. They will waste no time in letting everyone know that their child will soon earn dollars.
Parents may even hold a fiesta-like celebration before their child leaves. They have high hopes for the bright future that their child will have for himself and directly or non-directly to their family as well.
On the other hand, some parents may feel guilt when they send their children abroad to help out with the family’s finances.
These families are often left with little choice because their parents are unemployed either due to aging, disability or lack of employable skills.
Naturally, parents feel guilty of not being able to provide. Unfortunately, this is a reality in the Philippines as more young adults migrate to the Middle East and neighboring Asian countries to engage in menial work.
Any parent will feel anxious about their children’s safety and well-being no matter if their child is 3 or 30. How much more so for parents whose children are so far away from home?
Most Filipino migrants are also working in countries where political or religious volatility are commonplace. Parents would tear their ears for any news of such things, praying fervently every night that their child is safe.
Cell phones (and slowly the Internet) are also very important items in their homes as it is the only thing that connects them to their child.
There are also parents of migrants who are asked to be the primary caregiver to their grandchildren.
To be a parent to grandchildren is difficult even if they already experienced being a parent before. No matter if they are the primary guardians, they are still not the parent. Children with parents living abroad often have issues and it can be doubly hard for grandparents to discipline them. They are simply not the ones the children badly needs. Of course, grandparents will not give up and do everything in their power to create a sense of normalcy in the home.
Still there are times when parents and grandparents may even clash at differing parenting style (especially if the in law is brought up differently). Or parents may feel jealous or threatened to see their child growing closer to their grandparents and farther away from them.
Being the elder, grandparents would strive to help better the relationship of their child and grandchildren. It takes a certain kind of balancing act to be able to do this – filling the shoes of the parent while still making sure the child knows that the real parents are working hard overseas.
The hardest part for grandparents is letting go, there will come a time when the children will either stay with their parents here or be brought to another country to live there permanently. Another goodbye.
Filipinos are very family centered and they remit money to the Philippines regularly. Successful migrants are able to provide their families and immediate relatives the money they need.
Migrants who earn well are able to send almost every relative to school, buy a house for their parents and for themselves and even throw in a car for their parents too. Sadly, achieving their financial dreams after several years would mean that their parents are getting old longing for their children to come back.
There are some instances that parents grow old without their children. It is common for parents to have that “empty nest” but it is sad to see parents and their children reunite only upon their deathbeds.
Parents are very important in everyone’s individual lives. They are a source of wisdom and strength, the core of every Filipino community as they pass down the culture and tradition. They should not forgotten however busy life becomes overseas.
All migrants dream of a better future for their families regardless of the hardships and the sacrifices. It may be lonely to be away from family and loved ones but it may somehow help to know that even those left behind have their own sacrifices to make – all for family.