With the advent of technology in the modern world today, the global movement has been made easier as compared to the past, which in turn created massive employment opportunities. Furthermore, with the emergence of gender equality in the workforce, there are more mothers working in developed countries, however, most of them cannot juggle between care-taker duties and work. Hence, majority of the working mothers have to employ someone to help them to manage the housework. Currently, there is a huge demand for domestic workers in developed countries and they usually employ employees from developing countries. In this essay, I will focus on the comparison of the impacts of the migrant workers on their children and their employer’s children. We will look at how foreign domestic workers leave a psychological impact on children left-behind and cared for children by migrant workers.
Psychological stress on children left behind by migrant workers
Foreign domestic workers were frequently employed to developed countries to assist working women to take care of their children. Often, mothers who become migrant workers are living in poverty and they have to leave their country to work. This, in turn, caused them to suffer from long-term child separation just so that they can look for better-paying jobs to support their family. After the mother leaves, there is a special arrangement made in the household. According to Ee (2011), either the father or other family members will take over the mother’s role to become the main caretaker of the children left behind by the migrant workers.
However, this will have a detrimental impact on children’s well-being as these children will suffer from psychological stresses due to the sudden long-term separation from their mother who used to take care of them. This left behind children may feel abandoned by their mother, angry and worried. Also, Ee (2011) highlights that these children will suffer from greater isolation and anxiousness. Therefore, these children may disassociate themselves mentally to survive the trauma of separation of the children of the migrant workers. Furthermore, Ee (2011) finds that children left behind by the migrant workers will experience a loss of love and care deficit from their mother and they often envy those children in the developed countries that are being cared for by their mother. Ee (2011) also calls attention to the possible alienation of the children and mother relationship due to the long period of separation where it is difficult to be there for their children and to know everything about their children. Thus, this may cause their relationship to drift which will have an impact on children as children may lose the affection and support they need during childhood. Also, Ee (2011) findings suggest that, although their mother provides stable income, the children do not equate financial gains as the same value for the loss of family time. Similarly, Ee (2011) identifies that migrant workers’ children are able to receive a quality education due to higher pay earned but this does not necessarily translate into good academic results as these left-behind children, especially with the absence of their mother, are more prone to score badly. Hence, this showed a great importance of mother’s role in children early life as the absence of their mother may cause these children left behind by migrant workers to suffer from emotional stresses that may result in them withdraw themselves mentally to deal with the separation from their mother. In addition, there could be a strain in the mother and children relationship in the long run due to the physical distance created between them that disallow mother to connect with children directly. Thus, while the migrant mothers manage to earn a higher income from working at a developed country, she loses precious family time, loses her traditional mother’s role in the family and failed to be there to witness her children’s growth and development.
However, not all children experience the same negative feelings towards their mothers who migrate for work. Ee (2011) notes that some children do not suffer as much psychological stress when they receive significant assistance from other family members, especially when their children understand their family’s poor economic situation and the reason why their mother went overseas to work. Thus, this implied that when the left behind children of the migrant workers showed empathy for their mother, they are able to cope better with the separation from their mother. Furthermore, if the children receive sufficient love and support from other family members, it may mitigate the pain of being away from their mother as well. In addition, with the advancement of technology, the migrant mother can now connect and communicate with her children easily through the use of the internet. Although technology allows for better communication between the mother and children, this does not outweigh the negative impact of the absence of mother during the children’s early childhood as this do not replace physical contact that the children need.
Impact of the left behind children taken care of by their father
The dynamics of the migrant worker family will change completely. Culturally, it has always been the norm for the woman to be the main caretaker of children while the man goes out to work. The possible reason why migrant mothers have to become a domestic worker could be due to her husband who may not be earning enough to support the family or suffered from retrenchment. Furthermore, if the father of the left behind children have a job, he may have to quit to be the main caretaker of the children. This may have an adverse effect on children’s lives and the father’s wellbeing. According to Menaghan (1991), the poor economic situation in the family negatively affect children’s conception of their parents and influence the way they act towards them. Menaghan (1991) also emphasizes that unemployed fathers will lose their family status as breadwinner to mothers and this will greatly affect father’s self-esteem as they may feel a sense of shame and blame it on their incompetence. In addition, if the father views increased interaction between children and themselves as undesired, it may cause him to be emotionally unstable and become aggressive to his children. This, in turn, will affect the relationship between the children and father as this may further exacerbate existing children’s emotional stress from the separation of their mother.
However, not all father feels that way, some fathers take care of their own children as they feel that it is their responsibility while their wife works overseas. These fathers learn to be the main caretaker with the help of their relatives and try to provide the love and affection that the children need to reduce the negative long-term impact of the absence of the mother in children’s lives. Thus, fathers who take care of their children wholeheartedly may be able to mitigate the child’s pain from the separation of their mother.
Psychological stress that cared for children experience
While the left behind children suffers from emotional stress due to their mother’s migration, the children cared for by migrant workers suffer from a different kind of psychological stress. In developed countries, while the state encourages both parents to work, mothers are still expected to be the main caretaker and have more responsibility for the household. According to Ee (2011), working mothers have long working hours and in turn, caused them to have lesser time to look after their children. Hence, these women often employ foreign domestic workers to take care of their children and manage the household duties for them so they can focus on pursuing their career.
These children may feel more connected to their domestic workers who take care of them as they spend more time with them rather than their own parents. This is consistent with Al-Matary ; Ali (2013) finding which show that children have a stronger bond with the migrant worker than with their mother. Furthermore, when parents are busy working, children seek comfort from the foreign domestic worker and may, in turn, see them as their family member. This may lead to an overattachment to the migrant workers and caused undesired consequences for the children especially when the foreign domestic worker leaves. As Al-Matary ; Ali (2013) emphasized that when the migrant worker leaves the family after her contract expired, the children will instantly lose the psychological support that was provided by the foreign domestic worker. Thus, based on Al-Matary ; Ali (2013) report, the sudden loss of attachment with the migrant worker will cause children to suffer from psychological stress which includes, feeling insecure and hinder their psychological development. Also, Ee (2011) argues that these children may suffer from bonding disorder, separation anxiety, personality disorder, social attitude disorder. As Al-Matary ; Ali (2013) continue to elaborate, the lack of affectional bond during childhood may result in the impediment of shaping long-term relationship with others. This consequence will be worsened when the children grow up as there could be an adverse effect on their capabilities to get along with others which may result in a high percentage of divorce and crime rate.
Furthermore, these impacts will aggravate if there are repeated changes of migrant workers during children’s childhood. As Al-Matary & Ali (2013) note that with the new replacement of foreign domestic worker, children must learn to rebuild a new emotional relationship with them, the cycle repeats when the worker leaves. Hence, this caused an irregular pattern of the affectional bond during children’s childhood. In addition, according to Ee (2011), even though the children who are being cared for by the migrant workers receive good education and commodities because of their parents’ financial abilities, it is unknown if these children are in a better position in terms of psychological development and support. Therefore, these cared for children suffer from emotional stresses as well and although they have someone employed specially to look after them, these children may yearn more for parents’ affection and support.
Conversely, Menaghan (1991) argues that long working hours do not affect the children’s quality time with their mothers as much as with their fathers because working mothers tend to prioritize time with their children rather than time with their spouse while working fathers will choose to spend more time with their partner. As Menaghan (1991) continue to elaborate, researchers have theorized that working mothers might not let their spouse join in when they are spending time with their children. Thus, the fathers in a family with both parents working may actually spend lesser time with their children. Hence, this shows that although working mothers strive their best to pursue their career, they still find time to spend with children. Yet, this does not mean that these mothers are spending sufficient quality time with their children and this also shows that there is a diminished father’s role in the family.
Impact of foreign domestic workers on cared for children
Cared for children generally spend a significant amount of time with the migrant workers and this may lead to unforeseen consequences in the long term. As Ee (2011) asserts, these workers do not have the authority to control the employers’ children to listen to them thus rather than controlling them, they usually try to appease the children to stop their uncontrolled outburst of anger as they are afraid of being fired or they simply want to move on to do other housework. Thus, this may result in the cared for children to grow up to become a spoiled kid with behavioral problems as supported by Ee (2011). Ee (2011) also highlights that such worries for children taken care of by migrant worker are very common and children may have more likelihood to grow up to be disrespectful. Hence, this shows that the lack of authority of migrant workers encouraged cared for children to develop behavioral issues as they grow up.
While some foreign domestic workers simply saw their role as the main caretaker for employer’s children as purely work, there are some migrant workers who treat the children as their own. As Ee (2011) claims that, migrant mothers who miss their own children transfer those feelings to the employer’s children to the extent that they take care of the children the same way as their own children. Thus, this may lead to a positive impact on the cared for children as they have someone who can socialize them. Although there is strong foreign domestic worker’s care, it does not replace parents’ love and care for their own children.
Migrant mothers who left their children at a young age to work in overseas tend to create a negative impact during their children’s childhood as these children often suffer from psychological stresses and have to overcome the separation pain by themselves. Yet, left behind children who understand their mother’s intention and the family’s economic situation tend to not suffer as many emotional stresses as they have the support of their relatives. Fathers who stay in the country to take care of the migrant’s children may have a negative impact on children if they do not desire their caretaker role. Furthermore, cared for children suffer from psychological stresses as well when foreign domestic worker leaves, they lose their affectional bond and the situation worsen when there are frequent changes of foreign domestic workers. Also, migrant worker’s affection for children can never replace parent’s affection for their own children. Therefore, both groups of children tend to suffer psychologically throughout their childhood although they have the better economic support they lose the irreplaceable parental care.