When I first decided to move abroad in 2012, I can’t imagine what my parents thought. So I asked my dad about how he felt and what sort of advice for parents with kids going abroad he’d like to give.
I’ve been living in Spain since 2015 and before that I lived in Thailand. I try to come home at least once a year (twice, if need be).
My dad, John, is a chronic worry wart. Like the good dad he is, he’s always worried about where I am and if, above all else, I’m safe. Since I’ve moved abroad there have been many events highlighted on the world stage as dangerous ones, instilling fear into many. In 2016, there was a bombing in Bangkok the same day I was in the city and I’m traveling in and out of European airports every three months or so.
So I sat down with my dad to talk about how he felt about my moving abroad, how he deals with knowing I’m out there but not quite knowing where, even on a normal day, and any advice he has for equally-worried parents sending their kid overseas for the first time.
How did you feel when I decided to move abroad?
John: Oh my gosh… all emotions! Pride, joy, happiness, fear and selfishness.
I was really proud of you to pursue what you want to do. I love the determination and the will to pursue what you want to pursue. You have this resolve about you. Your demeanor does not show it but you’re not one to sit on the “sidelines” which I can relate to. All this makes me happy for you.
However, there is always the parental mindset to show your children the way. So that you don’t make the same mistakes I did, so to speak. But I also realized that you have to find your own way, make mistakes and learn from them. This was harder to come to terms with. As a parent, you hate to see your children in harm’s way mentally and physically. An unrealistic expectation, I know. But at the end of the day, you have to live your own life and I will be there when you need me.
I know you’re a worry wart, what were/are you most worried about?
J: You getting emotionally or physically hurt and getting sick and not with you available.
As an immigrant to the US from the Philippines with a daughter moving back to Asia, did you have any concerns based on your own experience?
J: Yes I did. I relate it to the challenges I had when I first came to the United States. Language barrier, not having friends, and the feeling of not being home.
How does the news affect you when I’m overseas?
J: News of terrorism always concerns me, here and overseas. It makes me angry that people prey on the masses, but if you check in letting me know you’re okay. The anxiety settles.
Any advice for parents with kids going abroad to study or work? Any advice for those going abroad?
J: For parents:
- Get involved in the initial planning as a collaborator not as a parent.
- Constantly connect as you normally do. Overseas or not.
- With technology today, connect during family events.
For those going abroad:
- Do your do-diligence.
- Try not to be too emotional but practical when making decisions.
- Keep parents updated from time to time while overseas.
- Consider your parents’ advice.