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Life, Decisions And Parenting

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous in Parenting' started by SGBV, Oct 15, 2023.

  1. SGBV

    SGBV IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear all,

    I am here with yet another thread, requesting your wisdom to make an important decision in my life.

    After 3 good years, my contract with UN ends in the country where I work right now. It is a first world country, which offers a great lifestyle and my family has greatly adapted to this life in the past 3 years.

    We landed here amidst the peak of covid times in 2021, kids started home school due to health concerns that time. In 2022 we admitted them to a local school, but it took my children a while to mingle and enjoy school life due to language, cultural and other issues.

    It was a UN based School, so I was able to switch my kids to home school whenever my work demanded me to travel. In the past year, I was assigned to oversee MENA (middle east and North Africa) region; hence long travel and relocation to Egypt and Jordan became part and parcel of our journey.

    I had the choice of keeping my family in the country for kids' education and wellbeing. But given the history of conflicts within the family (my mom and H do not gel well and there is a history of unwanted conflicts between the two whenever I am away), I prefer to drag them along. Moreover, my H's freelancing type of work, and the option of homeschooling the kids helped.

    Moreso, the family's priority at that time was to settle in my career to earn, invest and have a cushion to protect the family's future as and when it is possible. Most of you know the unique dynamics of my family, where I can't take chances or trust anyone (including my husband) to run the show.

    Nevertheless, now we are at a stage where I could call myself well settled. Be it financial or at professional level. However, this has come with a price.

    My children, especially the first born (13 yrs old) shows symptoms of OCD, shyness, and lack of social skills. I believe these are the side effects of not enjoying regular schooling at this age.
    The kids are so unfortunate that they had to study on-line for a while when they were in Sri Lanka during early covid times, and then this continued on and off even after Covid due to my career and family situations.

    Now that, they don't have any friends. No physical interaction with their peers. Even if they go to School on and off, they just be themselves, and not mingle. They are shy, and this is coupled with their puberty time where most children will go through this change.

    I tried to send them for extra curricular classes such as music, swimming etc.. But they still require dad to come along, and they don't mingle much with other kids who are already a part of a group, and not ready to mingle voluntarily. I mean, mingling with new children takes an effort. My kids do not see any reason for this, and do not feel comfortable doing it either.

    Their lack of social skills at this growing age is really bothering me. To add fuel to the fire, there are at least 3 children in my extended family that lack social skills (regardless of their situation) and suffer greatly in their early adulthood settling in their lives. I have seen their parents' suffering first hand and this is what comes to my mind whenever I see my kids slipping towards the same issue.

    Having said that, my times in this country ends now. I will be either moving to a country in the MENA region (i) Egypt/Jordan or (ii) Syria/Lebanon or taking a sabbatical for 1 year.
    If I move to Egypt or Jordan, I can take my family along. But starting their schools all over again in a new soil, and mitigating racism (there are significant issues in schools as per the reports) and other problems is not easy. Secondly, I am not sure how long my contract in these places. So, decisions related to kids' school is hard to make at this point.

    If I move to Syria or Lebanon, there is no point in taking my family along given the security and economic situations there. However, I will have the luxury of taking breaks after every 4 weeks for 2-3 weeks; hence I can go to SL compensate the missed family time.
    This way, my kids can return to their favorite School in SL, be comfortable with their peers and friends, and start regular school and from there they can build on their personality.

    Regardless of the decision, I feel like i should take a sabbatical for a while to be with them and help them build their personality at this crucial stage. But this can be viewed insane, given the salary, opportunity that this job can give me. Taking a sabbatical can of course delay my career progress, but as a mother I feel I should weight both personal and professional life at this stage.

    I can also leave the kids in the country where I am now, and enroll them to a regular school. This can help them greatly in the future.
    But it depends on the visa (still checking) and how best my H and mom can gel in my absence. Especially mom at this age (750 won't be comfortable without my presence.
    There is absolutely no support system for them.

    But, things are different in SL. Though the country suffers from political and economical crisis, we still have a great support system, and income from abroad (from my career) that can support the family's wellbeing.

    I would greatly appreciate your comments and suggestions here. Tagging @Rihana @Laks09 @Viswamitra @DDream for your views here
     
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  2. MalStrom

    MalStrom IL Hall of Fame

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    I would try to prioritize getting the children into a stable schooling situation. It is hard to make friends as they get older because its difficult to break into established friend groups. It is also not always easy to cope academically with frequent changes of syllabus even for bright kids.
    I had to go through this a lot due to my dad’s frequent transfers. While I didn’t have an easy time I was at least able to handle it but it affected my brother profoundly and it took him long time to get out of it. Both of us vowed never to put our own kids through this.
     
  3. hrastro

    hrastro Platinum IL'ite

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    Every child reacts differently to the same circumstances!

    Like @MalStrom said, I shifted 5 schools - in 5 different states/neighbourhoods/languages through my childhood - but although an introvert and bad at making friends, I was a very helpful student as well as a high scorer, Whether with friends or without, I was always cheerful and confident, so all students from all student groups would gravitate towards me, request help and include me in their groups..... So I was always surrounded by other students who were kind to me... so I boldly changed schools for my son when necessary - and he too had similar experiences...
    My sister did not have the same perception of her childhood - so she refused to change schools for her kids although the kids are very social and would have adjusted to changes....

    @SGBV - If your kids are bad at making friends, and would enjoy their old school at Srilanka as they already have some established relationships, it is a good idea to shift them there with the required support system. If they have cousins or can make friends at extra-curricular activities, they would find it easier to fit in and gain confidence.... Your mom will also be back at home ground and be happier... Then you can decide if/whether you want to take 1 year break or take up the other project & come home every few weeks!

    The other option of leaving the kids/mom/DH at your current country of residence - research all details - your kids are reaching high school - their higher education is hardly 3-4 years away and they can get good college admissions in this current country - evaluate all pros and cons, visa requirements etc - I think your mom's emotions and health would also play a role here - It can be successful ONLY if your DH understands and steps up in his role in your absence ... evaluate the possibilities carefully

    Keep smiling
    HR
     
  4. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra IL Hall of Fame

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    @SGBV,

    I agree with your thought process focusing on your children's education and well-being as one of the most important priorities in life besides income and career. You are such a role model for your children and unfortunately, they had to go through these difficult times despite a mother from whom they can learn and emulate.

    Your family dynamics require you to think through a lot with respect to your elderly mother, past experiences with your husband and your children being at an important growth age that would influence their future. In my view, you have already fulfilled your career ambitions despite such challenging situation at home for many years.

    I would recommend the following considering everything you said in your post:

    1) Definitely move the family back to Sri Lanka where you have a good support system and familiar schools for your children. I think it is important to build back the confidence and social network for your children at their age. It is hard to make new friends in new countries every now and then. I assume your husband can work from anywhere and moving to Sri Lanka will not affect what he does. Moreover, the conflict in that region may have a profound impact as we can never predict how stable that region would be in the near future. Your mother will also feel comfortable at home as she can rely on your brother and other relatives if you were to travel overseas.

    2) I would also suggest you take a sabatical for a year before you take your next assignment. It gives you enough time to spend with your children to set their expectation that you would have 12 months to spend time with them exclusively after which you would travel and come back to spend time with them every now and then. You should communicate that to your children that you are taking a break only for their well-being so that they can appreciate and prepare themselves for your absence after 12 months.

    My best wishes to you.
     
  5. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra IL Hall of Fame

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    I forgot to mention that I thought through higher-eduction of your children as well. They can do all preparatory exams from Sri Lanka for them to educate overseas, if required. They have experienced living in different environments right from their childhood and it won't be a big challenge for them in future.

    It is my honest opinion undergrad degree overseas is like a Salad consist of multiple vegetables, grains, nuts, and dressings but Graduation and Research is worth a lot. Therefore, I feel they can settle down in Sri Lanka not only up to School but up to undergrad.
     
  6. DDream

    DDream Platinum IL'ite

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    Thanks for tagging me @SGBV. You have already got good feedback. It will be great if you can discuss with kids, H and mom on what they prefer. At this stage of kids life, stability is more important. If they are happy being in SL and you have a support system, it will be most beneficial to every one. You can consider taking sabatical or leave for sometime to stabilize the new changes. Each kid is different, but if you feel your son is not happy in current situation and can do better in SL go for this option.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2023
  7. Rihana

    Rihana Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Thank you for the tag, SGBV.

    Your older one needs a few years of stable and predictable school before college. So, Sri Lanka seems to be the safest bet for both kids, all things considered.

    Sabbatical - I would actually advise against this. Spend some weeks settling them in a new place. Setting aside one year to help them build their personality will, in my opinion, mostly backfire. Because of the lost or delayed opportunity career-wise, you might unwittingly put pressure on them to make-up for the past few years and quickly become more social, etc. If I were in your position, I would skip the sabbatical and make the family's financial position even more stronger, such as being able to afford to send kids abroad for bachelor's degree.
     
  8. Laks09

    Laks09 Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    SGBV - This conflicting situation amongst adults while you are not around isn’t good for your children. In fact, it can be detrimental to their well being.
    I know you won’t like my answer but I think your mom should stay with your siblings while you are away. She can always visit when you visit. With all the help available, your husband should be able to manage for 4 weeks and then you will be home for 2/3 weeks.

    Which ever place you choose, ensure mom and DH are not doing this together. He is not her son, she doesn’t have to put up with him. She’s probably making her feelings known and vice versa. Your kids are in the middle of all of this. Regardless of his relationship with you or your mom, he is their dad and they shouldn’t be exposed to these conflicts.

    They will be ok with their dad alone. It won’t be like you taking care of them but it will have to do. You also should give up on some expectations as to how parenting should happen when you are not around. I honestly used to get very annoyed with my DH when he made comments on parenting decisions while also not being around a lot. Let go and let him deal with the kids.

    I don’t like the idea of the sabbatical. At this age and this juncture, I wouldn’t take it if I were you. This money is important for you in ways more than one. You’ve worked hard to get here. I’m not sure a year with the kids vs 2 weeks every 4 weeks is all that different. Try to be really present when you are with them but also take the 4 weeks as your me time.

    I’ve never had to make such hard choices SGBV, so leave whatever doesn’t feel right completely out is the equation. I admire your determination and can empathize with your situation.
     
  9. ProudIndian

    ProudIndian Gold IL'ite

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    OP

    Can you take your kids to few therapy sessions and have them evaluate and then decide further course of action. I think going back to your home country might be better option for your elderly mother and kids. Kids may have their childhood friends and cousins. You have good support system so you can focus on your career. Sabbatical is also good option since you will not get this time back. Once kids become teenagers they don't need/want you around. I feel sad/guilty now that I couldn't take break from my job when my kids needed me. Although I tried my best as much as I could.
     
  10. SGBV

    SGBV IL Hall of Fame

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    Dears,

    Many thanks for your wonderful suggestions. I was thinking about this for a while, and your response make me feel comfortable now.

    There are two major concerns here:
    1) To move my family back to their comfort zone, so that my growing kids and elderly mom can benefit from the solid support system we have there. Also, it can boost the children's self confidence at this much needed time.

    2) To take a sabbatical from my very busy work life. But sabbatical also means loosing several opportunities down the line.

    As for the first concern;

    Thanks for validating my concern. This is exactly my mind is saying.

    Very true. I had to be in a very similar situation (but within the country) due to my dad's transfer in my childhood. It hasn't affected my life as a whole, but it has certainly affected my tender years. I did not have any friends from Grade 7 to Grade 10; and lost almost all my childhood friends in the process of changing schools.
    My life became stable only after Grade 12, where I found some good friends and started living a normal life like any other peer.
    Our life back in the 90s and 2000s were very different from what it is today. We struggled a lot to come here, and the experiences made us who we are today. However, our kids live in a well protected life, that doesn't give them any experience to navigate life in the future. On top of it, my two children's life in this country is very unique and that is affecting their future.

    Exactly. I have a very strong feeling that this is high time I should focus on this now.
    I had an uncle who was also very busy with his life, career etc while his children missed "normal" life during most part of their childhood. Everyone was concerned about that, but the uncle was concerned about the income and how that is important to settle his children than giving them real life experiences.
    Now that he has enough money to settle his children, but both of his sons in their late 20s did not learn to life 'normally". They are still dependent on their dad.
    This is something I am very concerned about.

    Totally agree. I did the same. I moved to a foreign country for my masters and that helped.

    Of course yes. I have been discussing with them. But to be honest, my kids, mom and even to some extend my H are totally dependent on me when it comes to decisions. They look up to me, and that makes me very much conscious about everything. For now, they are 75% on the side of moving back to SL. Although kids started to enjoy the luxuries and frequent travelling. They are concerned about missing me down the line if I chose to resume my career after settling them down. But these are still under discussion.

    He will be joining Grade 9 next year. I think the next few years will be crucial in his school life, as well as shaping up his personality.
    He used to be a very lively, and talkative kid who did not have any stage fear and used to perform so well on stage in the past. He had lot of friends, who used to visit our home and play together. Since he was the first born in the family, he received everyone's attention and liked it.
    Now at the age of 12+, he became very silent, shy and doesn't like to mingle. He has anxiety issues and OCD too. I think this is because he has been totally cut off from his peers, and the ones here are not really his friends.
    He has ample time in hand (as he is home schooled these days) and lacks self discipline. This also made him a very lazy person.
    laziness, shyness, lack of self discipline and being introvert changing him to a negative person in life. This is not what I wanted out of him, and I feel this is the time I can correct him to be his real self. May be this is his hormones as he attained puberty. In any case, being with stable group of people is important to identify self and build character.
     

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