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ISFC 2011

“Are you Connected?... Coping Styles to Loneliness and Separation” By: Dr. ROMEL T. PAPA Chief, Behavioral Science Division NBI

GLOBAL MIGRATION   Filipinos working abroad :   ECONOMIC SURVIVAL

  Philippines is the Major Supplier of Labor Migrants in Asia (Yeoh, 2004)   Statistics:   8 million OFWs all over the world   1 out of 7 families have an OFW parent (SWS Study, March 2008)



OUTLINE I.  The Filipino Family II.  The Migrating Spouse/Parent I.  Reaction II.  Coping styles

III. The Non-Migrating Spouse/ Parent I.  Reaction II.  Coping Styles

IV. The Children left Behind I.  Children II.  Adolescent III. Coping styles

The Filipino Family  The Filipino Family is comprised of extended Family members  Filipino families are matriarchal by nature  Filipino mothers – “Ilaw ng Tahanan

ATTACHMENT THEORY   Attachment   Biologically based bond between the child and the caregiver that is designed to ensure safety and survival of the child

  BONDING :   refers to the intense emotional and psychological relationship a mother develops for her baby

ATTACHMENT THEORY  Good attachment (good mother-child relations)

  Develop adequate and mature coping styles in Adulthood


Migrating Spouse/ Parent: The Experience

How does the Migrating Spouse React to the Separation?

 DENIAL   Out of helplessness   Lacks the insight of the psychological impact of the separation on their children

 CONFLICT OF EMOTIONS   Dilemma of wanting to work abroad or returning to the Philippines to be with family

How does the Migrating Spouse React?  UNDOING  “BARREL CHILDREN”  Parent will give expensive gifts to compensate for their absence



Migrating Spouse/ Parent: Coping styles  Rationalization  Father  “as long as I am providing their needs, It’s okay for me to work abroad”


 Mother  “As long I get to talk to them over the phone, it’s okay for me to work abroad”

 Sublimation  To engage in appropriate activities to get rid of the guilt, worry, depression while living abroad

 Close Community Ties  By being involved in

Filipino communities abroad

 Constant communication with the family  Technology : cellphone, Internet  Effect : It Lessens the negative impact of parents working abroad Source : Parrena , 2002

 Other mature coping styles  Humor  Spirituality

  •If

the migrating parent/ spouse is unable to adapt to the demands of working abroad, loneliness and eventually depression may set in

 Manifested by:  Sadness   guilt   anxiety over the separation (Suarez-Orozco, Todorova and Louie, 2002).

Non-Migrating Spouse/Parent THE EXPERIENCE

Non-migrating Spouse   The migration of parents often results in the reorganization of roles within the family

Significant Effects on the Family

LONG TERM ABSENCE OF HUSBAND  EFFECT   Wife has more autonomy and greater decision making power over the children’s welfare (Jolly et al 2003)   Mothers suffer great distress both physically and mentally:  Assumption of having heavier responsibilities  Uncooperative relatives, lack of support  Rumors of husband having extramarital affairs   (Roy and Nangia, 2005)

  negative emotions may be transferred to children   (Srivastava & Sasikumar, 2003)

LONG TERM ABSENCE OF WIFE   When mothers work abroad, fathers have to

take on “care giving” roles

  This may help counteract the negative impact of mother’s absence on children left behind

Miss ko na mahal ko…

  Filipino fathers have difficulties accepting wife’s absence because of the deep sadness he feels   Exhibit drinking, and drug taking habits

Significant effects on the children

Source: “Nawala ang Ilaw ng Tahanan” Carandang et al 2007

COPING STYLES: 1. Being Open to take over the role

of the absentee parent (especially for the father)

2. Drawing strength from one’s Spiritual beliefs (praying) 3. Communicating with one’s spouse constantly and openly

COPING STYLES 4. Positive Thinking   general optimism that “Life is GOOD”

5. Playing with the children   “nakakagaan ng loob makipaglaro”

6. Creating rituals that would strengthen Family Togetherness

IMPORTANT :  Strengthen the Marital Relationship despite the Distance   The success and failure of how OFW family cope depends basically on the relationship of the mother and the father   Couples who maintain regular and open communication with each other handle their situation better

Source: “Nawala ang Ilaw ng Tahanan” Carandang et al 2007


Philippine statistics   Numerous studies have showed that the children are most affected when a parent or both parents migrate to work   9 million or 27% of the total youth population are living apart from one or both parents

Children’s Reaction to Separation   Clinical literature suggests that these children face issues of   Grief   Loss   Attachment

Source : (Glasgow and Ghouse-Shees, 1995; CrawfordBrown and Rattray, 2002)

 Battistella and Conaco (1998) learned that Filipino children with absent mothers showed  Poorer social adjustment  Suffered from impeded social and psychological development

 Children are often left to the care of the non- migrating spouse or the care of the grandparents


Aggressive Disrespectful


Inferior withdrawn

 Despite parents’ effort of remaining in touch via telephone, contact may be irregular and sometimes fall short of meaningful exchange between parent and child Suarez-Orozco et al (2002)

 If inadequately supervised, the child may be exposed to harmful consequences  Poor School performance ( Pottinger , 2005)

 Sexual abuse (Crawford-Brown et al 202)

 Those who cannot simply adjust to the separation from a significant parent may manifest  Various deviant “acting out behaviors” such as : temper tantrums, running away etc.

 Poor self esteem  Depression

(Sharpe and Sogren, 2004)

Factors Associated with Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties 1.  Inadequate preparation prior to the separation 2. Feeling of marginalization in the adoptive home 3. Being shifted from one caregiver to another 4. Lengthy periods of Parental Absence 5. Poor child-parent interaction prior to the separation Source : Leo-Rhynie, 1997

 In a Philippine study (2003), it showed that Filipino children with OFW parents :  Generally adjusted well socially  Have strong social support Filipino families have strong familial networks which helps in giving support to the spouse/ children left behind

  Get along well with other family members Source : Nawalan ng Ilaw ng Tahanan, Carandang et al 2007

 Filipino children are resilient  In tagalog “ Magaling dumiskarte sa problema”

How do Children Cope?  Children :  PLAYING- form of healing  Doing house chores  Going to school, being with playmates  Constantly communicating with the separated parent



  Communication thru cellular phone is efficient but not necessarily effective   Studies have showed that letter writing gives more freedom for the child to express his deepest thoughts and feelings   Letter writing gives more freedom for expression

Adolescents   Teen agers have the ability to see the conflicts in their situation clearly   Creative Expressions: 1.  Music 2.  Art 3.  Dancing 4.  Writing, sports

  Being with peers   Bonding time with non migrating parent

CONCLUSION: THE SUCCESS/FAILURE OF HOW an OFW FAMILY COPE is by Maintaining Marital relationship and Parentchild relationship despite the distance

 By Constant and open communication  By Paying attention not only to the financial needs of family members left behind, but also the EMOTIONAL NEEDS  By Drawing strengths from:  Extended family members  One’s spiritual beliefs (praying


Are you Connected Na Talaga?  

Chief, Behavioral Science Division NBI By: Dr. ROMEL T. PAPA ISFC 2011

Are you Connected Na Talaga?  

Chief, Behavioral Science Division NBI By: Dr. ROMEL T. PAPA ISFC 2011