Parenting from a Distance: How an OFW Family Keeps Things Together In Spite Being Apart

From my Family to yours Happy Holidays #TBayanHolidays #TeamBayanBeasties #DragonChatter #joeydragonlady #christmas2016

A post shared by Joey TIbayan-Bayan (@joeydragonlady) on

Hello Sweeties!

It is no secret that my husband Rory is an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW). He has been for the for the past 13 years.  He only gets to spend time with my children Raffy who was 4 at the time he left and Jarod 2 years old, 1 month each year since he left.

Parenting is a challenge event when both parents at home; Making our situation more daunting.

My eldest Raffy, was a relatively quiet child, always with her nose in a book, She is shy around people, I was worried because she was not sociable that she would not have any friends once she starts school. Jarod, my youngest was diagnosed with PDD-NOS Pervasive Developmental Disorders at the age of 3, a year after my husband left to work abroad.

We didn’t plan on being separated so early in our marriage,  We were both working but when my husband found himself unemployed for an entire year and with no suitable prospects in sight at least here in Manila. In the end, we agreed that this is a temporary and a hurdle we have to get through.

Our family maybe apart  most of the time but we are constantly in touch, thanks to technology

The first few years, I felt so frustrated, defeated, lost and alone.  But my husband Rory assures me that we are in this together. He will in his capacity would parent via remote.   Thanks to the current technological advancement we made it work.

Although my husband was abroad he made it a point to assure me that he is there for me and we can raise our children together no matter what challenges we face.  His faith in me and in our children gave me strength to focus, to change my point of view.  Instead of spending time worrying about things I can’t change, made it a point to  pour my heart on what is important. My children, who I now collectively call my Beasties.

My husband and I maybe apart but we agreed that we will raise the beasties together. In every decision, for every choice involving the family we do it together.

It was very challenging the first few years  apart but in the end we learned:

To ENCOURAGE our children when they show interest in something.

To LISTEN to what they have to say.

To GIVE quality time to each child  –  a day for Raffy and a separate day for Jarod. My husband returns every year he has a “Date” with each of his beasties. In this way he would get a chance to get to know them better as individuals.

To  try our best  to be CONSISTENT in the things we do and say – and set a good example

To let them FIGHT their own battles – but are on stand by in case they need us

To let them make their own CHOICES – but try to advise them if we feel they are headed to disaster.

To take RESPONSIBILITY for their actions

To make them feel ACCEPTED and LOVED every single day –  by giving them a pat on the back or a hug.

Raffy is 17,  both a bookworm and athlete : Raffy is a Reading Kumon Completer, football player, and but maintained being a book lover.

Every little girl first hero is her Dad.  It was really hard for Raffy the first few years without her Dad but she adjusted and every year when he come home they bond over something she likes to do, the past few years it was football.

Raffy, who was quiet, shy and bookworm,  grew in time to be a confident, adventurous and athletic girl.

Jarod had early intervention therapy  after his diagnosis and is encouraged to express himself verbally.

After Jarod was diagnosed, I did a lot of research and had him undergo occupational and speech therapy.  To be honest, I was still hoping that the diagnosis was a mistake and he will turn out to be a normal boy after a few years of therapy. I was afraid for him, afraid he would be bullied and would be misunderstood and hurt in the process.

Having a Special child is not only physically exhausting but also financially draining. My husband going abroad came at the right time. I am also fortunate enough to have a stable job.

This was the hardest part with my husband so far away, I know he is just a phone call away, but still, being new to having an unconventional child made me feel like a failure. I am glad I had the support of friends, family and my current yaya who took really good care of Jarod while I was also working.

Over the years we have come to accept that Jarod will never be like other boys his own age and raising him would be twice as challenging  compared to that with other children.  He has trouble making himself understood, a lot of people misunderstand him which makes him anxious, frustrated, afraid and prone to angry outburst.

Jarod taught himself how to ride the bike on his own, I was afraid he would hurt himself but my husband told me to be patient and let Jarod work it out himself

Jarod is now 15, studies in a SPED class and can socialize with regular children. He is well liked not just by his teachers, schoolmates but also the adults in our neighborhood.  This is because he has such a very congenial personality, friendly, polite and sweet. Jarod may not be the conventional normal boy but he has bloomed into a well liked young man. It makes me proud that he is willing to try new things and is not easily discouraged.

Raffy and Jarod, like regular sibling have good days and bad days. With certainty they love and support one another

It is a still a tough journey for our family but now we have adjusted, distance is nothing. Time is relative.

When asked what keeps the family together? It is Faith. Faith that we will eventually find a way to be together. Faith that this set up would not be forever. Faith in each other and Faith that everything would work out in the end.

The challenges we face, we face as a family,

#TeamBayan during our staycation 2017

Distance is no hindrance for #TeamBayan. Not all days are good not all days are bad but each and everyday with my beasties are always a learning and fullfilling experience.

Kinda like the togetherness the new McDonald`s TVC.

Until next time!

 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *