Occasionally a family may find themselves in a position where there are higher-paying job opportunities overseas than there are in their own country. The pull of the quantity and quality of the opportunities might be too much to resist, and one parent may have to move abroad to work and send money home to the family. Your family has now become transnational. A new concept to get your mind around. It will be easier for the family to all come to terms with this lifestyle change if those who stayed behind receive counselling and the parent overseas receives counselling from an expat psychologist.
Having a parent who lives and works abroad comes with its own unique challenges and perks for every member of the family involved. Is this a sustainable family set up? Of course! With the right channels of communication and if all family members are willing to work together then living apart is doable. Especially with the increased connectivity around the world, making it easier for families who are oceans apart to keep in touch. While there are no set rules to navigate these challenging times and situations, there are some guidelines that the psychologist and expat psychologist may give the family to make the transition smoother:
Co-parenting is key
Just because you are away from your kids, or your partner is away from your family doesn’t mean that they aren’t still part of the family. It is important to involve the missing member in most of the decisions regarding the children. Especially those that are important to their well-being, education, or the financial status of the family. This doesn’t mean that you have to discuss every basic decision that needs to be made. But keeping an open line of communication between everyone involved is important. Remember, they are just a phone call away.
The one parent does not have to feel as though they are alone in their parenting. And they the other doesn’t have to feel as though they are being left out. If you are finding co-parenting hard to implement, then a psychologist or expat psychologist may be able to help you maintain the balance.
Don’t feel sorry for yourself
We understand that this situation might be hard for both the family left behind and the person leaving. But ultimately this choice was made to enrich everyone’s lives and provide everyone with a better standard of living. If you, your partner, or your kids are feeling a sense of abandonment and resentment then it is important to make an appointment with an online psychologist to help you navigate these waters constructively and to get through this via the path of least resistance.
Learn effective communication
There are lots of emotions involved when one member of the family must move away. But it is important for both parties to put those emotions aside and still be able to communicate effectively. It is vital to still communicate your feelings, hopes, dreams, and journey although your partner isn’t under the same roof. Even if it feels like something small. You are not alone in your struggle; your partner is there with you even if he is on the other side of the world. Communicating the complexities of this with each other may even cause you to feel closer to them.
Do not rely solely on text messages – getting lost in translation is not ideal. The increased connectivity around the world does make it easy to keep in touch 24/7. For a more authentic experience, we recommend trying a video call instead of just a normal phone call. Video calls allow us to feel as though that person is right there with us, even when they are miles away.
Keep the romance alive
You still both love each other. It is important to make one another feel that love. Set up virtual dates, send gifts, send loving texts and still be there for one another.
Keep a healthy sex life
A healthy sex life and having your partner in another country may not seem like they go hand-in-hand. But while the interaction between you two cannot be physical for the time being it is still necessary to find time to have intimate moments. After all, they say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Set aside some time in both your days for some virtual time together. No kids allowed.
Avoid projecting how you feel onto your children
It is important to never mention to your kids when you and their dad have hit a rough patch during this time. We may not realise it, but our children pick up on everything – especially on how we are feeling. They are already finding themselves in unchartered territories. It is important for them to never feel as if their family is divided in more ways than one. Another tip; avoid the dramatic goodbye.
Yes, we know this may seem like a big deal. But there is no need to make it an even bigger one by having a drawn-out teary goodbye. It is important that you both remain as strong as possible so that the children don’t take on your emotions. An expat psychologist will explain to you both that it is important during this time for both parents to make the kids feel safe, secure, and still loved.
Remember why this separation is happening
It is important to not lose sight of why you and your family find yourselves in this situation. Remind yourself daily that this decision was made for the long-term benefits it has for your family and that had it not been vital, you would most likely find yourself in a very different scenario. Just because they have moved overseas to work doesn’t mean that they don’t love you and the kids, and vice versa.
Remember this is only temporary
It is okay to miss each other, in fact, it is natural. Often when a partner moves away it is only for a couple of years, so please remember that his lifestyle adjustment is not a permanent one and that one day things will be back to the previous status quo.
As with all things in life, there are pros and cons. There are plenty of benefits to having a transnational family that you need to remind yourself of. Or if you’re struggling to see the expat silver lining at the moment let your expat psychologist explore these with you. Some of the benefits include:
Increased family income
Having dad overseas earning more money that he sends home to the family every month, allows you all to have a higher standard of living. This would not have been achievable if dad was still at home. This increased income allows for easier access to other important opportunities – such as a better level of education for the children.
Life lessons for the children
In not passing on this opportunity you are teaching your children that it is important to put family first. It also teaches them to wholeheartedly grab any opportunity that comes their way. You are showing your children that it is okay to make big decisions and big moves as long as they have been thoroughly researched and the pros outweigh the cons.
Another important lesson this situation can teach the children is the importance of broadening one’s horizons – quite literally in this case. While away, dad will get caught up in a flurry of different cultures, languages, and people – he can educate the children on this and bring these experiences back with him. This will open everyone’s mind up to just how vastly diverse the world is. As well as how to deal with and accept these differences.
Here are a few ways in which to make the change more manageable:
Set up a routine
Set up a phone call schedule so that you are communicating with your partner daily and the kids are getting a chance to chat to their father regularly. This will make the distance feel smaller.
Both parents remain contactable throughout the day
There may be a time difference between the family and your partner, but it is important that both parents remain reachable throughout the day if there is any kind of important decision to be made, if there is an emergency or even if one of the children just needs to talk to their dad. The routine and call schedule doesn’t mean that the parents are off the communication hook the rest of the time.
Involve dad in as many activities as possible
With video call, Skype and Zoom, it is easy to ring your partner and set up the phone in the corner of the room so that he can see everyone, and everyone can see him. He can now be a part of any meals eaten together, he can help with any homework and be a part of any movie or game nights. His presence may only be virtual, but it is still important in normalizing the situation for everyone.
If you are still struggling to see how you can make this work for everyone involved, then please feel free to set up an appointment with an expat psychologist and they will be more than happy to help you find a happy medium. After all, every family is different, so every situation and solution are different. Since many of our expat psychologists are expats themselves, they truly understand what you and your family is going through. You can contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org or by completing the form below.