In economics, there is what we call an opportunity cost, which involves a tradeoff to achieve that opportunity. For most OFWs, the primary purpose for leaving is to work for the prospect of a better life. However, while a lot of them hear from others’ experiences what kind of sacrifices must be made, no Filipino is ever quite prepared for the true cost of their departure. Leaving the Philippines means leaving family behind.
Leaving their family can cause a series of positive and negative impacts. The immediate positive return of being an OFW would be the economic benefit of it since they would be able to provide better for their families that result in an improved financial security and greater living conditions for the ones back home.
But there are social costs that come with those benefits, those that we refer to as tradeoffs. The separation anxiety is one of the first things that are noticed when an OFW leaves home, but in the long run, the separation branches out into several other factors that affect the family ties.
For spouses left behind, they bear the burden of being a single parent, especially if an OFW spouse decides to migrate altogether. Of course, the absence of a partner not only leaves them a feeling of loneliness but also makes it all harder to establish the image of a complete family for their children.
Studies show that children who grow up without having any or both parents often feel emotional trauma, depending on the age their parent/s left.
For younger ones, they may develop a feeling of abandonment, where a part of them feel that they were unwanted, making it easier for their parent/s to leave.
For others, they learn to become easily detached from their parent/s, getting accustomed to a life without parental figures, especially since there wasn’t enough time to establish a close tie between one another.
Older children left by OFW parent/s, on the other hand, may be more tolerant since it is easier to help them understand the reason the parent/s need to leave.
However, the adverse effects don’t end with the act of departure. Parents serve as a lifelong guide to their children. Without them, or the absence of a father or mother will have greater effects than often perceived. For one, the values they learn would not be up to both the parents, but to who is raising them, may it be the remaining parent or a guardian. Furthermore, children consistently search for role models, and the absence of solid parent figures can misguide the development of their values, ambitions, and character.
Though it’s true that there are job opportunities abroad that may help make leaving seem like the best possible option, OFWs are often torn when having to weigh the pros and cons of it. Ultimately, even with the best intentions in mind, OFWs find that the seemingly better options still come at a hefty price.