Home Emigrate What is it like when your child emigrates? My parents’ story.
Leaving your parents behind when emigrating

What is it like when your child emigrates? My parents’ story.

by Sabine
Published Last updated on
Languages / Talen

Emigrating is a profound event. Now here on my blog I always write about my experiences of emigrating and living abroad, but in reality there are many more people involved than just myself. My parents, for example, for whom it is (has been) quite difficult. Leaving my parents behind was and is terrible to me, but being left behind while your child emigrates to the other side of the world is even worse. This is one of the disadvantages of emigrating. To highlight this side of the emigration story as well, in this article I let my dear parents have their say. They tell what it is like for them to have a child abroad, how they deal with the situation AND they give some very valuable tips to parents who are in the same situation. They wrote a beautiful story, with two little poems added by my mother. Read about perhaps the most difficult thing about emigrating: being left behind when your child emigrates. My parents’ story.

A life beyond the horizon

Children, who doesn’t know them

Children experience, they have fun sometimes sadness

You grew from child to adult

You were going to adjust your boundaries

Where do I want to live, where do I want to be

What kind of being am I, where do I like it

Like a little bird you frolicked around

Until you stood behind the horizon


The beginning…

You are 20 and tell me that you leave for three months to Ghana . A first long journey. Through an organization that provides volunteer work. It was the beginning of a life of letting go, adventure and developing yourself. Once home, trips to faraway foreign lands followed rapidly. Arranging and organizing everything yourself, backpack on your back and go. Often we say “backpack where are you taking our child!

In between, you studied, worked and prepared to live independently. Everything happened the way you had it in your mind. Backpacking was your biggest hobby, with no realization that there were parents back home who were happy to pick you up from the airport in one piece every time.

And so it became 2013. The year Jimmy came into your life. A beautiful boy from Colombia. And of course paps and moms, said ‘oops’! After that, things moved quickly and how the story develops is well known.

A life without dreams is like a garden without flowers….

Then comes the announcement that you are going to leave the Netherlands behind and go to Colombia to live there permanently. Now you ask us to write a blog about what it’s like when your child goes to live in the other side of the world. We are not people who show the back of our tongues, but we will still try to put things on paper. First, your plan was born. Then we entered a why phase. Why leave what you love, why quit your job, why sell your belongings and your house? And many more whys!

In between was a selfish-phase, after all, we will not, like all the other hundreds of grandparents who walk by every day (suddenly we see the world this way), stand with your children at the schoolyard. And yes, shopping and days out together is no longer there either.

Then came the accept and do phase. We helped to get everything done to get you out of the country, literally and figuratively. Then came the highlight, the departure! It felt like a heavy flu and we did need some time to recover.

Past you have, future you must make….

But we too realize that you are not our property and that you must carve out your own future. In our opinion, we have also already given you the space to develop in that. We took your advice to come to Colombia as soon as possible and see how you live. Your predicted culture shock did not came out (okay, except for 1 thing: the first ride home from the airport). We have to cover a sloppy 8,896.20 km to get to each other for coffee. So we don’t do that very often. Fortunately, we have WhatsApp. This way we still have contact every day, just to hear how things are going. You have a busy life, which also means that you are often sick, so helping out for a while is out of the question. Fortunately, we have Skype. On average once a week we Skype for a while. Just looking each other in the eye. Fortunately we have telephone, calling from a distant country can also be done very cheaply these days via Rynga or WhatsApp. Fortunately, we have Facebook. Yes, with social media we are happy, even if they are all just tools to information about you.

Emigrating is love between parent and child that should not be wasted

Other parents of children who are going to emigrate, we want to pass along the message to support your child, no matter how difficult it may be at times. Sitting in front of the computer screen (Skype) always crying does not help to keep the good connection we have together. Visit son or daughter’s new home as soon as possible: really, it helps. Make every meeting a party! After all, only when you join in the happiness of another can you share in it! We are going to Colombia for the second time soon, we are going to have some fun, even though we are in the knowledge that saying goodbye also has to be done again….


Finally, our greatest wish is that you keep in good touch with your brother and that you are and remain happy and healthy.

Sometimes the horizon is far away, sometimes a little closer

Therefore, with social media, we are very happy

You have developed at breakneck speed into what you are today

We can be proud and are actually spoiled

You’re happy, and that’s what life is all about

That feels good, then the distance is whatever

Behind the horizon the sun shines

There swirls a little bird in a lucky cocoon

Emigrating: boundless love between parents and child.

You can read all about emigrating here.

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