How to Raise Your Children Even While Working Abroad

woman and her daughter

The chance to work abroad is one that can’t be missed by many families. Working overseas can lead to better income, more opportunity, and upward mobility for the family. It’s estimated that in 2017, there were 2.3 million OFWs working around the world. 

Unfortunately, sometimes it’s not possible to bring your family with you when you move to a new country. Parents who do bring their children to have a whole set of adjustment issues to contend with and growth opportunities to introduce to their kids. Raising your kids while working abroad, whether they are with you or in your home country, is a daunting task. Here are some tips for parents seeking to raise a family and work abroad.

For parents working away from their family

Parents working away from their kids have the unique challenge of watching them grow up from a distance. It’s emotionally difficult to miss out on key moments in your children’s lives. But, remembering that you’ll be able to provide a better future for your family by being away can help you get through hard times. Here are some other tips for working away from your kids. 

Establish a regular schedule for video calls

Set aside a dedicated time each week when your family can expect to chat with you over video. With the time difference, what’s the best time of day to chat with each other? What tool will you use to communicate – Skype, Google Hangouts, Facetime, or something else? How often will you expect to hear from your kids? It’s important to have a regular appointment set aside to stay up-to-date on their lives, and if you hear from them even more frequently than that one window of time, even better. Planning ahead at least gives you the security of knowing you’ll still be in touch. 

Plan your vacation time in advance

Some employers let you plan your trips back home in advance of signing the contract. Just knowing when you’ll reunite with your family next can alleviate some of the mental stress of feeling far away and missing important moments. When you do get vacation time, find a way to maximize your time with your kids: time your trip to align with their school break, an important extracurricular event (like a school play, music recital, or athletic championship), or national holiday, like Christmas. Vacation time should be all about bonding, catching up, and spending quality time together as a family.

Have older children come to visit you

If you can, invite your teenage children to come to stay with you. This can be an incredibly enriching opportunity for your child to experience the world, learn about a new culture, and broaden their horizons. It also gives you a chance to bond on a completely different level, out of the context of the traditional child-parent relationship. “New foods and meeting new people can ever impact your teen’s decision on whether they want to study abroad or take part in these types of programs,” writes one mother on working abroad. 

For families living overseas with kids 

Families living overseas with kids – especially young ones – have their own set of challenges to adjust to. From learning a new language to making friends, starting at a new school and tasting new cuisine, there are many ways for your kids to learn and experience a new culture. Here’s what you can expect when bringing your kids with you to work abroad. 

Find the right school for your family 

For OFWs and other international families, the biggest challenge is getting your kid settled in a new school system where they’ll make friends and begin to learn about their new culture. For longer stays overseas, you must choose between one of these three schooling options: homeschool, local school, or an international school. Generally, local schools or international schools are the best way to get your kids started off on the right foot. Your children can meet others their age, make friends, and begin to integrate into daily life in your new country. Do some research before you move to find the best option available. 

Learn a new language together

“The most important thing that can be done is having your children become fluent in another language. This is a tool that they will be able to use for the rest of their lives,” writes one overseas parent. One of the best parts of living overseas is that your family will be immersed in a new language almost immediately. So-called “third culture kids” tend to pick up languages more quickly than adults, so set boundaries around when you will speak your native language at home versus practice the language of your new country. 

Maintain traditions from home
Try not to let your kids forget where they came from – it’s important to maintain some of the traditions from home that make your culture so vibrant and unique. For OFWs, that means instilling the work ethic and family values that make Filipinos some of the best employees in the world. It also means celebrating holidays, joining an expat community, and staying in touch regularly with friends and family back home. Don’t let your kids forget where they come from: while helping them acclimate to their new country, make sure to celebrate the parts of your culture that are special to your family.