Be part of your family’s milestones: Tips for OFW parents
MANILA, Philippines – Teofilo Fernando is an OFW who has been working in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia since 1991. In his younger years, he considered himself a “happy-go-lucky” type of guy. He only started considering overseas work when he got married and had children.
“It was all about the income against the expenses,” he explained. “[My income] was not sufficient; I have to give my family greener pastures.”
If you’re one of millions of Filipinos working abroad like Fernando, then you’d understand that the decision to work overseas is not an easy one to make. Still, it has paved the way for brighter futures and the success of many Filipino families.
A job with good working conditions and bigger pay is certainly a blessing. Nothing can beat the feeling of being able to provide for your children’s education or finally buying your own house. However, these accomplishments are often bittersweet. On one hand, you’re thankful for the financial benefits your family can enjoy, but on the other hand, you want to be able to to enjoy these benefits with them.
“The hardest thing of course is being away. The saddest is the moment you are getting close with your kids, [then] it’s the time that you have to say goodbye again,” Fernando shared.
Parental involvement and your child’s development
Today, it is much easier for OFW parents to keep in touch with their family. Fernando, for example, is thankful for the advancements in technology that allow him to stay connected with his loved ones.
“On a daily basis I make sure that we chat and make video calls with each other at the end of the day,” Fernando said. “Unlike before [when I had] to write a letter, make a voice recording, drop to the nearest post office, and wait for a week for a reply. The expensive way [back then was] to make an overseas call which will cost you 18 riyals (~P220*) per minute.”
Parental involvement is more than just physical presence. A huge part of being a good parent is being able to listen to your kids whatever your time zone is. Simply setting aside a part of your day to give your family a call, ask them how their day has been, and share your own experiences will positively affect your child’s well-being and make them feel closer to you.
These simple, daily conversations could already guide and encourage your children. As you talk to you them, don’t forget to mention how much you’re rooting for their endeavors.
Never miss out on a milestone
Parental involvement also entails being part of every important event, but there’s no need to feel guilty if you can’t fly home for every birthday or holiday. If your schedule or funds don’t permit you to take a leave, there are ways for you to play an active role in your family’s milestones:
1. Setting future goals – A child’s graduation is a symbolic culmination of you and your child’s hard work. While it would be great if you can make it to the ceremony, it’s more important to help your child understand the true value of getting an education: finding a vocation, striking a balance between practicality and pursuing their passion, and learning perseverance.
Even before your child marches on stage, make time to discuss with them their plans for the future and challenges they may face in the real world. Encourage them to share with you their plans for internships, job interviews, or even further studies. Talk to your children like you would with you friends. Voice out your opinions, but make sure they feel that at the end of the day, the decision is theirs.
This will help them be more confident in taking on all challenges and opportunities they will undoubtedly face as adults.
2. Understanding the true meaning of Holidays – Christmas is arguably the most important holiday for Filipino families. OFWs usually struggle with not being able to make it home for this holiday. If you have the resources, send out your balikbayan box of gifts earlier so your family can open them come Noche Buena. Presents don’t need to be big and expensive, but being able to send them just in time will help your family feel like you’re with them during Christmas Eve, too.
More than the gifts, don’t forget to remind your children about the reason for the season. Christmas is about sharing joyful experiences, being thankful for your blessings, and giving back in any way you can. This definition of the Christmas doesn’t change wherever you are; just like how you can imbibe the true meaning of “family” even when you’re miles away from yours.
3. Big financial decisions - It is vital to openly discuss decisions that will affect the household’s cash flow. These include things like opening a business or starting construction on a new house. Most of the time, these entail a slight shift in budget priorities, and neglecting to have everyone on board from the get-go could make it tougher for you financially. You may be apprehensive about discussing money with your children but involving them in conversations about the family budget will actually make them more financially aware and equip them with skills that they can use later on.
Let’s say you want to purchase a family car. For many, this is an exciting milestone – no more hailing for taxis and vacations are just a road trip away! Start by setting aside a budget for it, and seeing if it can be included in your household’s monthly expenses. Next, start looking for car models, financing options, as well as additional monthly expenses on parking, gas, etc. Your spouse and older kids can help you with the research, getting second opinions, and looking at potential models even before you buy. (READ: A checklist for first-time car buyers)
Researching is important because you’ll discover things you may have never considered before. For instance, you might find that getting an auto loan might be a better option than setting aside the full cash upfront. While a loan requires a lot of commitment and responsibility, it will also let you pay at a more flexible pace and won’t leave a huge dent on your bank account in one go.
OFWs can apply for an auto loan online. Antonio Peña, Auto Loan Business Head at BDO, said: “Those working abroad who would like to get an auto loan can send in their applications from anywhere they are in the world.” After submitting your application form, Peña said that an account officer will immediately contact you through email and guide you through the process.
Peña also suggested that OFWs use BDO’s Auto Finder, a tool that can help you compare vehicles according to price, brand, or model. He said: “They will find details of vehicle specifications along with the prices for each available variant. This is helpful to everyone who wants to check the models available in the market, so they can narrow down their choices and eventually choose the vehicle that is right for their taste and lifestyle.”– Rappler.com
*Based on Saudi Riyal to Philippine Peso exchange rate on March 30, 2016.
Drive your family to more opportunities with BDO Auto Loan. You can use the Loan Calculator, which estimates the right loan package for you, and the Auto Finder which compares different car models you might be interested in. Click or tap here for more details.