When the child goes to school, he may need guidance and help regarding his studies. A child who misses may become sad and unmotivated, thus lowering of grades may be a signal that there is something wrong. Sudden changes in attitude toward school and friends may also be indicative of the school age child’s difficulty coping with the parent’s absence.
The same would be true for children whose parents have separated or had their marriage annulled although worse in the sense that the parent or parents have left them not for a noble cause such as providing for their basic needs and maintaining frequent contact but merely for selfish reasons such as having an extramarital affair and eventually leaving them for another woman or family. This makes the child feel he / she was not good or worthy enough to be loved and cared for; the child may also feel abandoned, rejected and lose his /her confidence as well as self esteem.
The school age child also needs the parent of the same sex i.e. son needs his father and daughter needs her mother as they test out new roles in school and society, aside from the parent of the same sex’s responsibility to prepare the child for the oncoming puberty and adolescence.
It is this period in one’s life that the father begins to impart his values, philosophy in life and affirms his son’s worth by spending time with him, answering his questions and advising him as the need arises.
Having one parent working abroad is bad enough so that if both parents are abroad it is worse for the child. Even when extended family members are there to fill the void as many children of overseas workers are left to the care of grandparents, aunts/ uncles, cousins, older siblings and even neighbors or family friends, it is still not the same as when their parent or both parents are with them. There are a few lucky children of overseas workers who seem to grow up emotionally healthy yet many are scarred by the absence of their parent/ s in one way or another.
If the child is lucky enough to have loving relatives or family friends who will lovingly take care of him/her, they may learn to understand why the parent had to leave home and has sacrificed the joy of being together. With the help of the relatives left behind to care for the child, they are able to appreciate the great sacrifice their parent have had to make just so they can enjoy a roof above their heads, private school education, designer clothes and the latest gadgets. They also feel sorry for their parents and empathize with the struggling emotions and difficulties in making such a decision to be away from their children and the rest of their family. Quite often such well behaved and loving children pressure themselves to do their best in school as the academic honors and scholastic success is their own offering and gift they offer to their parents who are of course quite pleased and proud of their children. It makes them feel that all their efforts, hardships and loneliness suffered while working abroad all worth their while. The problem may arise if they are not able to fulfill their parents’ high expectations from them and thus may cause depression and sometimes suicide.
Children of overseas workers have a variety of reactions—half may accept their parents’ migration while a third may have mixed emotions and yet others have a lot of emotional difficulties and react adversely. This may result in some form of addiction—drug or alcohol, gambling or video games; aggressive or sexual misbehavior; failing in school or dropping out—which can be the result of their anger and depression. Studies have shown that there is nonetheless a pervading feeling of sadness and longing for parent/s to return home.
Frequent and regular communication through the many forms of modern technology and telecommunications gadgets helps keep families in touch and close despite the far distances between them.
Some people say, “In spite of the distance in miles, the family is not destroyed because it is the bond of love that keeps them together,” and they make the most of their time together. Ultimately what spells the difference is the degree and level of emotional support shown by the parents abroad for their children at home though traditionally and ideally, being together and spending time with each other would still be preferred, regardless of whether parent works in the same locale or abroad as their children and the rest of their family. What the rest of the relatives say or feel towards the overseas worker parent also influences how the child begins to view and react to their parents who leave them or to their situation. Parents explaining why they had to leave home helps the child at the age of reason, which starts at around 7 or 8 years old.
If one parent left behind is nurturing and involved, then the child’s pain is a bit eased. The loss of the mother is compensated by the time and love experienced from the other parent.
If the experience was positive, they may opt to do the same with their own children or if the experience was not that pleasant, they would vow not to do the same and become dedicated homemaker moms.
Other activities that could help parents or relatives left behind would be to encourage the child to develop other skills and engage in some hobbies or lessons other than school. These become avenues to vent out their feelings, gain self-confidence, and improve self-esteem.