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Pinoy Abroad

Overseas migration of mothers takes toll on children left behind

January 15, 2008 11:57pm
The continuing exodus of mothers for jobs overseas affect the behavioral development of children they leave behind, psychiatrists say.

With more than 70 percent of Filipinos working abroad belonging to the female gender, it has become obvious that overseas migration has taken on a woman’s face. This has been the situation in the last four years.

And the country’s top-notch psychiatrists are alarmed that the feminization of labor migration where fathers take the role of mothers is causing a negative effect on children’s behavior.

Dr. Grace Macapagal, in-house psychiatrist of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for crisis intervention rehabilitation, said the trend is also causing a reversal of role where fathers are left to care for children and are normally not prepared to do so.

“I don’t think Filipino men are ready to evolve to that next phase," she said, noting that based on her clinical exposure, there are more OFW children who experience sexual and physical abuse by their male relatives.

“Minsan it’s the eldest daughter who takes up the role of the OFW mother. Sometimes they also take the sexual roles of the mother to some fathers," Macapagal said in Tuesday’s health forum at Annabel’s Restaurant in Quezon City.

According to Dr. Antonio Sison, treasurer of the Philippine Psychiatric Association, many fathers are not ready to take on the role of women in nurturing children.

“It’s not easy for men to accept that. Sometimes their acceptance also depends on how they’ve related to their own father," he said.

Migration of one parent or both is a “very painful time for children" and can cause bad emotions to “stir up," Macapagal said.

“It’s hard for them to express themselves so they go to the internet or other media and develop certain mindsets," she added.

PPA president Dr. Felicitas Soriano reiterated the importance of conducting a study on the behavioral effects of migration on children.

While psychiatrists are willing to do this, funding constraints prevent them from pursuing the objective.

“What will become of our children? We observe that many OFW children are becoming insecure and drug dependents, Soriano said.

Because of the remittances mothers send to their children apparently to compensate for their absence, some OFW children become materialistic by spending more on gadgets and Internet gaming.

Be it the mother or father who leaves for abroad to work, children are affected, psychiatrists said.

For the male children who grow up without the guidance of a father who is working overseas, they normally develop gender identity problems which become more obvious when they grow older.

“But there’s a way to make up for that, that’s the beauty of our extended family," Soriano said, referring to those with other members of the family who could act as surrogate parents to the children left behind. - GMANews.TV