Raising your kids will not always be sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes, you and your partner will have to deal with specific issues involving your children, be it at home, in school, or in the community. Parenting is often challenging, so it will be a relief to have a partner you can discuss the issues with and depend on when it comes to decisions regarding your children. But what if one of you works overseas and is away most of the time? How does a person raise children when working abroad?
Better job opportunities with higher pay or military deployments have prompted families worldwide to adapt to a new way of life. This situation leads to children losing the chance to be with their father or mother while growing up. Is it fair to leave your children and work abroad?
Do children understand why their parents leave?
Children are bright, and they are observant. Sometimes, what they see is enough for them to understand their reality while growing up. For instance, if you have older children, they will understand why you or your partner needs to work away from home for some time. They should adjust well to this kind of family setup. On the other hand, younger children may deal with it in an entirely different way. They need more time to adjust and may keep looking for the parent for the first few days or weeks.
If you’re in this situation, you will find yourself questioning your or your partner’s ability to raise the children “alone.” Even when apart, both parents remain responsible for raising the children despite the distance. They need to make a conscious effort to let the kids feel that there’s no missing piece of the puzzle. There should be a constant reassurance that the family is still intact, and this should be done regardless of how old the children are.
What is the effect of parents working abroad?
Your kids may have adjusted well or still be in the process of understanding why one of their parents needs to work abroad and be away for some time.
The parent who is with them at home plays a vital role because there are some negative effects among children whose parents are working abroad. These include:
- “Out of sight, out of mind” response-This is common among children with a parent working abroad. Perhaps they’ve gotten used to the idea of having only 1 parent or a guardian to look after them. They tend to unintentionally “forget” the parent who is overseas and feel as if they don’t need that person other than for financial support.
- Separation anxiety-Believe it or not, your children will never get used to you or your partner leaving. They don’t have any choice but to deal with the situation. Anxiety and fear are normal human reactions, and your children will also experience them each time you or your partner needs to leave.
- Emotional and social difficulties-Your children may have everything they need-food, shelter, clothing, education, and even leisure. However, emotional support may be the top necessity when a parent decides to work overseas. Although one of the parents or a guardian is there to fill the void, some kids still feel overwhelmed by the situation. Emotional difficulties reflect on children’s behavior at home, school, and the community.
My husband is a sailor. He stays on board the ship for at least 6 months and comes home for about 2 months. So, I’m not new to situations where I play both the mom and the dad, the bad cop and the good cop, and every other role I need to play when my husband is not around.
We count ourselves lucky that my husband only needs to be away from home for 6 months. Some families are apart for a longer time. Plus, they are in a more complex work situation, like those who serve in the military in war-torn areas or those in the health sector during the pandemic. At the end of the day, we still have to raise our children as if both parents are doing it despite the distance and circumstances.
For over 13 years, I’ve been raising my children without my husband more often than not. With the help of the people in our circle, we overcame the difficulties in this family setup.
We are still a work in progress, but here are some tips for you and your partner on raising your children when one of you works abroad:
- Understand the “why.” This is the most critical thing you have to discuss with your kids. While you can say you’re doing this for the family or their future, it’s also essential to ask them how they feel about you or your partner leaving. Reassure them that this situation is only temporary, and you will be together again as a family in the future.
- Get in touch with them often. Thanks to gadgets and the internet, spending time with your kids nowadays is possible despite the distance. Regularly “talk” to the kids and be sure to set aside some time even after a long day at work.
- Communicate with your partner about parenting. Work as a team in raising your children. Discuss parenting issues such as discipline, study habits, behaviors, and even teaching life skills. Remember, if there’s a will, there’s a way, especially with regard to parenting.
- Get involved. Although you can’t be present in your children’s daily life, your support and encouragement will be enough for them to love you even more. Do not forget special occasions, be in the loop on every school activity, and get to know them by making time to ask them how their day was.
- Vacation time is family time. Take advantage of the time you can spend with your kids during vacation and make memories with them. This will have a significant impact on them while growing up.
When it comes to parenting and working overseas, you and your partner have a choice in how to raise your children despite the distance. Your effort counts, and your kids will know and feel the presence even if both parents are in another part of the world.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting a more secure future for your family, and choosing to work overseas doesn’t make you a bad parent. Wanting the best for your children is always fair, but be sure to make up for the time lost as much as you can.