The Experiences of Adolescent Children with Parents as Overseas Filipino Workers

Colleen Atienza

Kyle Kapunan

Chris Noe

Ryana Panlilio

INTRODUCTION

The Overseas Filipino Worker phenomenon is a vital and growing sector of the Filipino society. Labor Migration started during 1974, and has not stopped since (Ortigas, 2008). While 3.8 million Filipinos the total labor force are working abroad as temporary migrants. While millions of children in the developing world grow up with at least one parent living abroad (Cortes, 2011). This research aims to find out the actual experiences of adolescents who have parents that work abroad. The researchers also want to understand what they go through and what are the things that affect them. The impact of migration varies – ranging from economic benefits not only for the family but the country in general through its remittances to the security and well being of the family of migrants. But a major concern here is the social costs of migration, specifically, to the children left behind (Reyes, 2008). This study intends to discover and find out more about the experiences of OFWs or Overseas Filipino Workers’ adolescent children. This study also seeks to find out what are the experiences of Overseas Filipino Workers’ Adolescent Children, what are the perceived effects of having OFW parents as adolescents, how do they characterize their relationship with their parents, and how do they cope with the situation of not having a physically present parent.

METHODS

This study involved only twelve adolescents in the university setting who has at least one parent that works abroad for not less than three years. For the data gathering proper, the researchers identified individuals who may qualify as participants, and requested for their permission to participate in the study. Once participants have clearly stated their willingness to participate in the study by signing consent forms, they were asked to partake in the interview. This was also done for the focus group discussion and the participants were also informed about it being involved with several randomly chosen participants. Thematic analysis was used to make significant deductions from the qualitative data that has been transcribed. In thematic analysis, a concept is chosen for examination. In this case, the concepts that have been chosen are the experiences, the effects and the parent-child relationship of the children of OFWs. Its analysis then requires identifying and naming themes according to the responses of the participants. At the end of every interview and also after the FGD, the researcher that has been assigned to take down notes summarized what went through and asked the participant/s if they agreed on the data that has been collected. If not, they were given the right to raise their points and correct the researcher. This specific part of the interview and FGDwas done to fulfill the requirement, reliability and validity check

RESULTS

(If you are having troubles viewing the tables below, please click on it to zoom and to be able to read the contents better. Thank you.)

Table 1.

Table 2.

Table 3.

Table 4.

CONCLUSION, DISCUSSION AND RECOMMENDATION

It is emotionally and physically challenging for the children to accept that their family set-up is not the same with other families. But as the child matures, he begins to understand the rationale why the parent has to work abroad and is able to get back on track and take on the responsibility of managing their household and family life on their own. The researchers aim to find out the significant experiences of OFW children according to their parent-child relationship, the researcher’s perceived effects, the relationship they had with the OFW parent, and their coping. For the experiences, three themes were identified, namely, Absence of Parental Role, Initial Changes, and Maturity at an Early Age. This situation is also consistent with Battistella and Conaco’s  in 1996 their study reveals that parental absence is experienced particularly as a sense of loneliness and abandonment. Parents’ migration requires changing previous arrangements concerning the division of care and other domestic responsibilities within the left-behind households (Pessar & Mahler, 2003; Leavitt & Glick, 2004). For the perceived effects, four themes were identified, namely, Financial Stability, Initial Academic Decline, Numbness to Absence, and Maturity at an Early Age. Migrants on average receive incomes that are four to five times higher than they would at home, which is usually more than enough to offset the boost of standard of living. (University of the Philippines, 2002). Although remittances increase children’s ability to obtain school supplies and pay school fees, some children left behind suffer negative educational outcomes. For the relationship with the parent, three themes were identified. Feelings of Neglect, Perception of Strong Relationship, and Trusting Relationship. Often, they attempt to make up for their migrant parents’ hardships by maintaining close bonds across great distances, even though most of them feel that such bonds could never possibly draw their distant parent close enough. But their efforts are frequently sustained by the belief that such emotional sacrifices are not without meaning-that they are ultimately for the greater good of their families and their future (Parrenas, 2000). For coping, three themes were identified, namely, Imidiate Family for Support, Accustomed to Absence, and Reciliency. Even if circumstances are difficult, some children are able to build resilience and appear to not be affected. Consequently, under varying circumstances, as well as depending on how those affected interpret the parental migratory process, some are able to effectively cope despite their experiences (Daniel and Wassell 2002).

Our study is clearly limited by the fact that our sample includes predominantly middle or upper- middle-class adolescents. The participant’s parents would usually have a career that is considered white-collared jobs. Usually, in the Philippine setting, most OFW parents would have blue-collared jobs.

In the Philippines, having a blue-collared job, one would not be able to financially support their families unlike when they work abroad. Other approaches should be explored and the use of a bigger sample of participants and also it could have been best if the researchers did a comparative study on the parents who come home more often that the ones who don’t.

REFERENCES

Battistella G, Conaco CG. The impact of labour migration on children left behind: A study of elementary school children in the Philippines. Sojourn. 1998;13:220–241.

Cortes P. (2011). The feminization of international migration and its effects on the children left behind: Evidence from the Philippines.(Master’s thesis, Boston University).

Daniel B. and S. Wassell. 2002. Adolescence: Assessing and Promoting Resilience in Vulnerable Children. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Ortigas, C. (2008). Creative Solo Parenting: Here’s How.

(pp.92-93). Quezon City: Office Of Research and Publications Loyola Schools Ateneo De Manila University.

Parrenas, R.(2000). Migrant Filipina Domestic Workers and International Division of Reproductive Labor. Gender & Society. 14, 560-881.

Reyes , M. (2008). Migration and filipino children left behind: A literature review. United Nation’s Children’s Fund, Retrieved from http://www.unicef.org/philippines/8891_10202.html

Tel Aviv University . (2002). The study on the consequences of international contract labour migration of filipino parents on their children. (Master’s thesis, University of the Philippines ).

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10 Comments

Filed under Adolescent Children of OFWs

10 responses to “The Experiences of Adolescent Children with Parents as Overseas Filipino Workers

  1. Ms. Trina

    Here are my comments on your executive summary. :)

    INTRODUCTION
    “While 3.8 million Filipinos the total labor force are working abroad as temporary migrants. While millions of children in the developing world grow up with at least one parent living abroad (Cortes, 2011).” – Please check the mechanics and grammar of these sentences.

    Please include rationale for studying adolescents. Why did you zoom in on the adolescents’ experiences?

    METHODS
    In the Methods section, can you specify the ages of your respondents and their family’s SES?

    RESULTS
    The theme MATURITY may be too broad for the description and presented quote. Does being more responsible entail that one is more mature for his age?

    In the theme INITIAL ACADEMIC DECLINE, the quote presents two important points – the decline and the realization that s/he has to do better. Shouldn’t this be coded separately? If you are going to code it as one, perhaps you can change the theme to incorporate data that says they did better afterwards.

    The theme NUMBNESS TO ABSENCE may be too conclusive. Is numbness similar to getting used to their situation? The quotation says, “…nasanay na ako” and not “namanhid” na ako.

    For coping, I recommend that you phrase your themes in such a way that it directly answers your research question, how do adolescent cope with the situation? For example, instead of “immediate family for support,” perhaps you can say “relying on family for support.”

    CONCLUSION, DISCUSSION, RECOMMENDATIONS
    “Usually, in the Philippine setting, most OFW parents would have blue-collared jobs.” – you need references for this claim.

    Perhaps you can highlight your unique findings. Were you able to get data that are different from what was found on your lit?

    Good paper, guys. :)

    Ms. Trina

    • Atienza.Kapunan.Panlilio.Noe

      Good Day Ms Trina!
      First of all we would want to thank you for taking your time and reading our executive summary. We are pleased to see how much comments you have put for the betterment of our paper. In reply to your questions, kindly see our answers below.
      1. Introduction
      While 3.8 million Filipinos the total labor force are working abroad as temporary migrants. While millions of children in the developing world grow up with at least one parent living abroad (Cortes, 2011).”
      Revised Version: 3.8 million Filipinos comprise the total labor force working abroad as temporary migrants, leaving behind millions of children growing up on their own (Cortes, 2011).
      We failed to include on our summary the rationale of our study which would have been stated as we intended to focus on the adolescent age group since most of the focus of previous studies tackled younger children of OFW families. We wanted to emphasize the experiences and the impact of the OFW parent on the adolescent left behind.
      2. Methodology
      The selection of our participants was based on a criteria that we have identified on our final paper which include an adolescent aged between 17-22 years old, coming from a prestigious university and with at least one migrant parent.
      3. Results
      a. Maturity
      Yes maturity of mind became an essential tool to enable the adolescent to take control of the responsibilities supposedly being fulfilled by the parent.
      b. Initial Academic Decline
      Maybe we could have revised the theme of “initial academic decline” to impact on academic performance so it would include the initial decline and the realization which happened to the adolescent that triggered him to perform better academically.
      c. Numbness to absence
      Yes because we felt that being numb to the feeling of sadness due to separation, influenced the child to get used to the family set up and no longer dwell on the absence of the parent
      d. Coping
      We agree with you that “relying for family support” would have sounded much better than our theme which was “immediate family support”
      3. Conclusion
      Sadly, all the data we have were all supported by related literature thus no unique data was found in our research study.

      Again, in behalf of all of us we thank you for taking the time in reading our paper your comments and suggestions were truly appreciated. :)

  2. Cam

    I really find this study interesting. You have covered a great topic. Good job! :)

    However, I just have one concern…
    Does this study covers the effects to children who have parents abroad who belong to different time zones? Say a difference of 8-12 hours or is it just in general? Cause I think time difference has a big role in this case study because it can make effects mentioned in the summary vary. One of which is the frequency of communication. Families can communicate more to each other when the time difference is shorter versus when it is longer. There is a possibility to have different views and impacts to children who are allowed to communicate more often with their parents may it be through phone or the internet. Having said that, do you think this can be a limitation as well?

  3. Camille Ocampo BS Applied Corporate Management

    I really find this study interesting. You have covered a great topic. Good job!

    However, I just have one concern…
    Does this study covers the effects to children who have parents abroad who belong to different time zones? Say a difference of 8-12 hours or is it just in general? Cause I think time difference has a big role in this case study because it can make effects mentioned in the summary vary. One of which is the frequency of communication. Families can communicate more to each other when the time difference is shorter versus when it is longer. There is a possibility to have different views and impacts to children who are allowed to communicate more often with their parents may it be through phone or the internet. Having said that, do you think this can be a limitation as well?

    • Atienza, Kapunan, Noe, Panlilio

      Good day, Ms Ocampo.
      We would like to thank you for you comments regarding our executive summary.

      To answer your concern, about the different time zones and how it affects the communication of the children to their parents, the time spent talking can somehow be a limitation, but the content of their conversations are a more important factors than the length of their conversations.

      All our participants stated that they are able to communicate frequently with their parent working abroad. Also, they are flexible with the time, one participant stated that he would wait till 2:30am just to be able to skype with his parent.

      Again, in behalf of all of us we thank you for taking the time in reading our paper your comments and suggestions were truly appreciated.

  4. Comments:

    I think the title of your first table, which is “experiences of adolescents with parents as OFWs,” may be too broad. I think that your succeeding tables can also be classified as experiences. “Perceived effects,” “percieved relationship” and “coping” are all, technically, experienced- thus (and sorry for sounding repetitive) these can be called experiences too. Maybe you can term your first table as something more specific- such as “changes that occur in the life of an adolescent whos parents decide to be OFWs,” or something to that extent. Nevertheless, the themes are okay.

    I think your theme of “perception of strong relationship” should be defined more. For me, a strong relationship is a trusting relationship; Or rather, trust can be a characteristic of a strong relationship. You separated these two themes. But if you really meant that these two kinds of relationships are different, then the description of a “strong relationship” should be distinguishable from that of a trusting relationship. Your exemplar quotes for these two are almost the same, in that they both indicate closeness, and it is as if the exemplar quote for “trusting relationship” simply adds to the definition of the exemplar quote for “strong relationship.” Maybe you can put “trusting relationship” as a sub-theme under a “strong relationship.” :)

    Question:
    Was there a case where only one parent was an OFW? If so, did you see any differences between the experiences of adolescents of OFWs with regard to which parent (mother or father) was abroad? (If you were unable to elicit this information, disregard this question.)

    Also, would you say that the type of job that the OFW parents has affects their relationship with their child/ren? For example, you mentioned in one of your tables that relationships with OFW parents were in the nature of “feelings of neglect,” and also “strong relationship” and “trusting relationship.” Could it be that these contrasting themes also have to do with the type of work that the OFW parents have? Or would you say that it is not a case of their job, but more of how long they have been away from their children?
    :)

    • Atienza.Kapunan.Panlilio.Noe

      Hi Mai! Thank you so much for reading through our executive summary and commenting on it. We can’t thank you enough for the effort you put for this. This will surely help as it will be a learning experience for our group. Below are our answers to the comments and questions you asked us.
      1. Experiences of Adolescents
      Actually, the “experiences of adolescents with parents as OFWs” is our main question and “perceived effects,” “perceived relationship” and “coping” are only sub-questions which is why the succeeding tables can be classified under it or why they are related to “experiences”.
      2. Perception of Strong Relationship
      The researchers divided the two themes because they are defined differently from one another. The theme “perception of strong relationship” is defined as how the respondents recognize the strength of their relationship with their parent by distinguished things such as: small things start to mean a great deal, their own identification of their relationship and how the distance makes the relationship even stronger. For ”trusting relationship”, on the other hand, it is separated because establishing a relationship overseas is difficult and in this theme, we find out how they build that relationship with each other such as the use of technology, the content of their conversation and how updated they are with one another. But the definitions could be improved as you suggested.
      3. Number of Parents Working Abroad
      Yes. Most of our participant’s parents actually only had one parent working abroad. There was a difference in the experiences of the adolescents whose parents were both away from the child that’s with one parent. In most cases, with the both parents away, children would usually reside to the next immediate family, which is either their own sibling or their grandparents. Adolescents who have parents that stay with them would have to deal with the absence of a role of the other parent. The adolescent would constantly look for the presence of the parent away but not expect the other parent that’s with them to fill in. One participant expressed that he was not taught by his dad to play sports or learn how to fight and stand up for himself; he expects his dad to do this with him but since he was away, he had to learn those by himself. Another participant shared that having her dad stay with them led to a strict environment at home. It was difficult for her to share stories or activities with the father.
      4. Type of job and Relationship with their Children

      The type of job the parent has can affect their relationship with their children in a way that it concerns the time they have to spend on that job. It is either easy for them to talk to each other at the time they want or they do not get to talk as often. Other than that, the researchers did not see any significant changes between the participants because of their parent’s career.

  5. Hi! Your research is truly splendid and recommendable. I’ve learnt a lot from this case study. If you and your members would permit, would you let me and my fellow student researchers use this as a reference? We promise to give you full and due acknowledgment. We are currently investigating on the effects of having OFW parents in their adolescent children’s academic performance/achievement(s), and your papers would really help us. Thank you for your consideration (if you will allow it). Thank you.

  6. thanks for this :) i can use it as my reference on my study

  7. Anonymous

    what’s the complete citation of your study?

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