Absent parenting

Parents who choose work over staying with their children

I live in a community where it’s common for one or both parents to leave a child or children and move to another country to find job. Recently, I met a man in his late twenties who is a single dad to his four-year-old son because his wife is working in another country.

Long distance parenting

I know of parents who, when a career breakthrough presented itself in another country, had no qualms with enrolling their eight-year-old in a boarding school and jetting off to start a new life in a different country from that of their young son. They would see him on holidays.

These parents have one goal in common- to give their children a good life by providing well for them at all costs.

Absence makes the heart grow… distant?

When I see parents who do not hesitate to be away from their children for months (or even years), I start to wonder if these people were ready for parenthood in the first place: do they love money and their careers more than they love their children?

I live next to a couple, late twenties, who seemed to have the ideal family life. They were raising  a well-adjusted four-year-old daughter when, out of the blue, the couple packed their bags and went to look for greener pastures  in another country. They left the child in the care of the wife’s older sister who moved into the house with her husband.

Within a few weeks of moving in the child’s guardians fired the child’s minder who had been present since the birth of the little girl. They employed another child minder who is rough with the child, and I’m sure the child’s parents would not be happy with the situation. To make it worse, the child’s guardians are having marital problems, thus exposing the child to an unhealthy family environment.

By leaving their child behind in search of more money, the young parents did not take into consideration the effect the abandonment would have on the young child.

The risks of absent parenting

Parents who leave their children under the care of a third party for months or years expose their children to the risk of child abuse as they will not be physically present to assess the welfare of their child.  It is not a good idea to live a child in the care of relatives whose parenting skills you are not aware of. Just because someone is a sibling or a close family member it does not automatically make them the best person to stay with a child.

No, thanks, I’d rather be hands-on

A father, in his mid-thirties, refused a job offer in another country because the new job would entail him being away from his kids for a long period of time.

“My kids have to be with me everywhere I go,” he said. “That’s why I brought them in this world.”

I think every parent should have a similar view of their children.

Read more by Sipho Yanano

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

What about you? Would you move away from your child in order to be a better provider?

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