Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bye Baby Bye

Your children need your presence more than your presents.
~Jesse Jackson

A friend of mine gave birth to a healthy baby boy this morning at a Dubai Hospital. I visited the couple and welcomed their foray into the bittersweet chapter of OFW parenthood. From the look in their faces, I could see the bliss and profound joy in having their first son saw the light of the day amidst the sad and often tragic plight of some 12 million overseas Filipino workers that unfold in every nook and cranny of the world. Never mind the pains. Never mind the finances. They are now a family and ready to build its foundation. But where do they start?

In a month's time, the mother and her baby is going home to spend her maternity leave in the Philippines. Come three months, she will be back to Dubai again as a 'full pledge OFW", leaving her "motherly" duties to her newborn in the hands of her immediate family. This early, she has to make that difficult decision to leave without her baby to work abroad and secure his future. She could only hope that while she and her husband saves for his future needs, he doesn't grow up shortchanged of right love and care, not feeling abandoned and not growing up to be spoiled and undisciplined without proper parental guidance.

This parent's resolve of course, is not shared by all. I also have OFW friends, who after giving birth to their first child; have decided to go home for good to start their family together. While the stringent economic conditions back home have stopped them to think for a moment, in the end it didn’t matter. They just believed they couldn’t compensate their kids growing up years by just simply providing him everything that he needs. After all, parenting is not just about providing for the physical needs of children. It is also about being there emotionally and psychologically in order to raise and teach them the right values in life.

It is inevitable though, sometimes living in the Philippines would make financial requirements rear its ugly heads toward homes. So as not to totally sacrifice parenting, some couple decides one of them would have to leave and earn for the family. This way, parenting is not totally jeopardized and the family won't have to deal with the barest of necessities for survival. This one less generation of families, in my opinion is acceptable than to have no parent at all overseeing the development of their children.

Other OFW couples of course, having the means would rather have their kids grow with them instead of letting a relative taking charge of caring and parenting. This is way more costly as you have to rent at least a room to shield your privacy. If both parents intend to work, then the children have to be tended in a school or under the care of a nanny. All factors in; expenses definitely will weigh down the savings otherwise banked had they incurred back home. For all its consolation, a family that stays together is worth immeasurable. Moreover, nothing can be more expensive than to rehabilitate children with no moral upbringing caused by lack of parenting. You can always pay for the re-fitting of your clothes but it takes time and efforts to change the malevolent character your children has grown up with.

Generally, nobody wants to get separated from your own flesh and blood. Everybody wants a "complete" family, father, mother and children. For OFW couples, weighing between the importance of being there for your children and leaving to secure their future is not easy and making the latter choice somehow brings a bad impression on others. For parents, it kills to see their children grow up, it's murder to see them grow up in their absence but I guess it is sudden death when they don’t grow up at all due to poverty and lack of essentials for survival.


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