ofw_parent_inside1.jpgWhile hopping on a plane to go to a foreign destination may be done for pleasure in more affluent countries, a huge chunk of Filipinos go abroad to seek greener pastures because they are unable to find a high-paying job here. Doing Business in the Philippines reports that "there are over 8 million registered Filipinos working abroad." That means 8 million modern-day heroes who not only help the country’s economy through remittances, but who also grapple daily with the loneliness that comes with leaving their families behind.

The Pinoy diaspora is changing the face of family dynamics as well, having great emotional effects the children who were left behind. That’s why the Ateneo-based NGO, Ugnayan at Tulong Para sa Naralitang Pamilya Foundation, Inc. (UGAT Foundation) focuses on guiding them as they go through their parent’s absence. Moppet Gonzales, managing director of UGAT Foundation, shares with Yahoo! Philippines that most of the children feel resentment toward the parent who left, as well as loneliness, abandonment, and confusion. There is also a pervading sense of loss due to the parents’ absence.

However, parents must be able to provide for their families, and for some, going abroad is the only option. Here are 5 tips to help your child deal with the OFW set-up.


1. CALL FREQUENTLY

Ana Marie Galvez, and OFW for more than 20 years, tells the Philippine Daily Inquirer that she tries to call her daughter Aika daily because this strengthens the bond between them. Ana says that their phone conversations range from daily activities to remember how things were when her daughter was still young.. Both admit that having open communication lines not only brought Ana her closer to her daughter, but also helped Aika understand their unconventional situation better. Despite having a hard day’s work, making it a point to call your child daily can go a long way.


2. TALK ABOUT DAD (OR MOM).

The parent who’s left in the country should educate their child about the parent who’s away. Sharing stories about Daddy can give your kids a sense of familiarity with him despite his being away. Point out similarities between the parent and child, such as "Your dad also likes to draw" or "Your mom is a morning person just like you" to give the kids a sense of affinity with the absent parent. Not discussing the topic just makes it taboo, which can lead to the above mentioned issues as cited by Gonzalez.

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(Photo by apdk via Flickr Creative Commons)

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ofw_parent_inside2.jpg3. CREATE BONDS.

OFW parents must make it a point to build memories with their children whenever they come home. While it’s tempting to just rest and lie around all day, having your husband invest in quality time with you and your children is far more important. Engage in a green project by planting your own backyard garden, teach them how to cook, or play a sport together. While there’s nothing wrong with showering them with expensive toys and gear, it’s not good that an absent parent is remembered only because of the pasalubong he brings home.


4. BE INVOLVED.

Ask about your kids' progress and problems in school by calling up their teachers. In fact, Baguio City councilor Lulu Tabanda recommends that schools in the city give OFW parents updates about the situation of their kids in school. Knowing firsthand that your child is having bullying issues or needs an academic boost through tutorial classes can help you act on it faster. We bet that your child will appreciate your efforts to get involved when you mention how happy you are that she finally made up with her best friend, or that he can breathe easily now that the final exams are over. Also ask relatives who are taking care of your child to keep tabs on how he or she is doing.


5. GO ONLINE.

Today’s technology offers you a variety of options to communicate with your child better, even if you’re a thousand miles away. Try and make sure the whole family shares birthday celebrations through pictures posted on Facebook, blogs, tweets, or even online games.

(Photo by chimothy27 via Flickr Creative Commons)
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