If there’s one thing that hurts the most about working abroad, it’s the decision to leave your kids behind.
When you’re an overseas skilled worker parent, you miss out on a lot
Their first steps.
Their first words.
Their first day in school.
The list gets longer as your stay abroad becomes longer, too.
But just because you made the tough decision to leave does not mean that your role as a parent ends as well. It’s not just about earning the money that send them to school or buys them the things you could never afford if you don’t leave. It’s about making your presence known and continuing to cater to their mental and emotional needs despite the absence.
What are the things that your kids need from you, knowing that the distance is there?
Constant Reassurance through Constant Communication
You may not be the type who goes for the usual mush in relationships, but when it comes to your kids, you have to go all out. Reassuring them constantly about how much you love and miss them will make them feel that the absence is not something you enjoy. It helps your kids see appreciate the huge sacrifice that you’re doing even more.
Don’t look for excuses. In today’s world, it’s impossible not to have any means to connect with your family no matter how far they may be. Emails. Chats. Phone calls. Text messages. Make the most out of every situation. The moment you start letting those precious moments go, you open up the thought that it’s okay for your kids not to keep in touch, and you might find yourself one day not being a part of their life at all.
Talk About Them and Talk About You
One huge thing that skilled workers often miss out on is the daily stories that update them about their kids’ lives. Nothing is too small to discuss. What they ate for lunch. Who their crushes are. How tough their math teacher is. The more interested you are in each of your kids’ stories, the more interested they would be about sharing everything with you.
Of course, you also have to keep your emotions in check. You wouldn’t want your kids to stop telling you stories just because you reacted sourly about a failing grade or a new boyfriend. Be kind. Ask them how you can help, and give them advise in a way that sounds as if you’re there to guide them, not to judge them.
But the stories should not stop there.
Tell them stories about what you do. About your boss. Your coworkers. The train ride to and from work. The importance of what you do. What you miss about the Philippines the most. Ask them about their opinions on things. It may not seem much to you, but it means a lot to your kids to know what you do.
Don’t Be Afraid to Talk About Money
You may say that it’s for their future, or you could say that it’s to give them a more comfortable life. It all boils down to one thing – money.
A lot of Filipino parents find it difficult to talk to their families about money, most especially their kids. However, this is also one reason why overseas skilled worker parents sometimes end up raising kids with very little financial responsibility. They think that just because mom or dad is earning big, they also get everything they want and need.
As your kids what they spend their allowance on. Teach them how to handle their money. Explain the hard work that goes into the money that you send them.
Also, don’t fall into the trap of making up for your absence by giving them material things. Don’t fall for the emotional blackmail that kids often subject their parents to. Don’t worry – if you explain things well enough, they would understand. Sure, they’d feel bad about not having that incredibly expensive laptop. But if you give them the right mindset about money, they’ll shrug it off in a day or two and decide that there are more important things they can use the money for.
Relying on Your Partner
As with any partnership, remember that the failure of one is also the failure of the other. Don’t neglect the wife or husband you left back home. Remember that the stronger your relationship is, the tougher the family also gets. When your kids see that you two are trying your best to keep the family happy and healthy despite the absence, the kids will adapt the same happy mindset.
Make decisions together. Be involved. Remind your partner that when it comes to big things, like buying an extremely expensive toy, or going out on dates, they also have to consult with you first. And when the decision has been made, the kids have to be informed that this was a mutual decision.
With this kind of partnership, your kids will not lose sight of the respect that they should be giving to either one of you. They begin to understand that just because one of you is not physically there, it doesn’t mean that the person absent should not be seen as an integral part of their everyday life.
Being an skilled worker is tough. Knowing that your kids are growing up without you is tougher. But with the right mindset and the will to make it through, you can remain visible to your kids as a parent despite your physical absence.
Special thanks to a b franzen for the main image.