The Role of A Father, A Mother Cannot Replace

What is it like to parent your child(ren) alone while your spouse has overseas work commitment?

Overseas travel or secondment as part of work, has become common these days. Occasional travelling for work, perhaps, could make the heart grow fonder.  However, if a parent has to be living in a separate land, away from the family most of the time and regular communications are not maintained, do family issues like straining relationship and adverse impact on the well-development of the children surface?

For the spouse

For almost 5 years, I soldiered on parenting two young kids alone while their father was mostly overseas.  Frankly, it was not impossible to manage alone.

I overcome those days when I had to shoulder added responsibilities, having mixed feelings (insecurity, helplessness, loneliness amongst others), accepting the reality that my partner in life was many hours of flight away especially when I needed to turn to him during emergency, and striving to do well at work and contribute double efforts at home.

So, I was the manly figure to replace the faulty lamps, repair the leaking taps, and many other errands which I would have appreciated the presence of the husband. Then, at other times, I had to put on my hero suit to battle the bee/any other unknown invaders while our boys would have run far away and hiding behind closed closets and finally, zooming to their rescue in all cases of emergency.

I admit. It was tough “multi-tasking” without a soul-mate by my side but I managed.

Fearful, lost, stressed I had been in the the process but I survived!

For the children

Surviving is one thing but how well did we survive?

We were incomplete, at least I felt it for the children.  I realised I could never be a perfect fit for a fatherly role and neither will I be able to show them how a boy should behave or explain aspects like boys’ physical developments. Weekends were never as enjoyable without their fatherly figure.  Somehow, it also brings about a feeling of insecurity for the children. Then, the children started asking why their father was not there on important occasions or even festive seasons or even to bring them on overseas vacation during school holidays.

Knowing children, as much as we wish to convey to them that we are working hard for their future, what they value more is still our presence (being there).

In fact, now, we have much regrets for those growing up years of our boys, when Papa was not able to be involved actively and how it might be too late now to reinforce that influence.


In our case, social media platform has facilitated our long distance communications.  We cut birthday cakes as a family behind webcam, chatted behind the PC, shared precious kids’ moments through video.  However, somehow, the absence of physical presence has affected the family completeness.   So, it was not difficult to guess that I felt a heavy stone taken off my chest when Papa Ed made the decision to be stationed in Singapore and spend less time travelling.  Looking back, that decision was made 3 years ago.

Perhaps, Papa Ed’s absence for that number of years, has enabled me to truly cherish his presence today and appreciate how the fatherly figure makes a difference in our boys’ lives.

Now, no matter how busy Papa is in his schedule or even if he is required to travel occasionally, at least being here, our boys are confident of the strong arms they could rely on whenever they fall.

Besides, he is….

…..a close friend whom they can really let their hair down with - in the manly way.

pic6I always enjoy seeing the trio play together

pic8We love all these crazy photos of the family and the regular entertaining activities done as a family.

These were rare opportunities in the past when Papa was based overseas.

(Chosen this “least comical photo” to avoid being bombed by our trio..haha.)

……a soul mate whom they can consult on their physical developments.

……a role model who teaches them how to behave like a man.

……a reliable and loving family member who is present to give the spiritual support.

—–someone whom they joke with, play with, and even argue with but at the end of the day, there is always forgiveness and forbearance.

pic7Used to ride with our boys but still I think Papa is doing a better job in entertaining our boys in this aspect.

By going through, we have discovered the invaluable benefits of both our presence in our children’s lives, as well as, family togetherness.

For families, with a spouse who has frequent overseas work commitment, do share your family challenges too when your counterpart is somewhere out there, in a faraway land)

* This post is dedicated to our boy’s Papa and our way of telling him how much we have always cherished his presence and contribution to the family.”

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