Expat family guilt

Expat life can be AMAZING, but there are times, when expat life can be tough.  I think adding children into that mix can make the highs and lows even more extreme.

Expat family guilt

Without doubt we are really happy with our choice to have and live with our boys abroad; if you’re a regular reader of my blog I think that’s pretty obvious to see.  We love the life that we have here.

Expat Family guilt

We are lucky that we don’t really get external guilt put on to us by our families, its just the guilt we put on ourselves!  I know that some people’s families don’t hide their displeasure or disapproval at the expat life!

But the days when it is hard, it really is hard.  Well often it’s not even days, but moments, when the expat family guilt kicks in.

Moments where the difference in timezones mean I can’t just pick up the call for a chat.

Moments where our restricted internet means I can’t just video call if the boys are doing something fun!

Times where I’d love to send the boys off for an afternoon to spend time with their grandparents (and give me an afternoon off!!)

Times when I feel truly awful for how much our family is missing out on with the boys growing up so fast.

This month I’ve been feeling some serious expat guilt.  I think it comes from Arthur getting older and being able to communicate more.  I’m pretty sure that our upcoming trip to the UK this summer is  having an impact on it too.

It hit me really badly the other day when after a Skype chat with my Mum.  Arthur got really upset and said “see nana please mama.”  I can’t express how awful I felt.  I would have loved more than anything at that moment to be able to pop round to visit her so Arthur could see his Nana.

Arthur really likes planes and so I tell him whenever we send something to the UK or someone has sent something to us how it has been put on a plane.

I think he’s starting to comprehend that our family doesn’t live close by.  That we can’t just go and see them whenever we want.  When he asked to “see nana” the other day, it made me realise that his understanding is more than I had given him credit for.

The moments may be fleeting, often they are just thoughts that are coming to the forefront of my mind.  But it’s undeniable.  Expat family guilt is real.  The best way I have found to deal with it is to take advantage of something that you couldn’t do at ‘home’.  For us that can be something as simple as getting out in the garden and enjoying some sun for instant gratification, or take a walk to the beach or the pool.  Even just looking at some pictures of the boys and appreciating what opportunities they get here that they wouldn’t get elsewhere.

How do you do deal with your expat family guilt?

Seychelles Mama

14 thoughts on “Expat family guilt”

  • Our family are in country but not close by. We see 1 set once a year and the other 4 times max. I’m quite fine with that (long story), but it does make it exhausting. I can’t begin to imagine how great it must be to have drop in visitors who can give you an hour off every week…bliss. The flip side though is we get to live our lives the way we want and get to bring our kids up somewhere pretty amazing. So don’t feel too guilty lovely xx
    Pamela | Life With Munchers recently posted…A Day In Our Lives | March ’16My Profile

  • That feeling is constant I’m afraid, feeling that you are ‘taking the children away’ from what they could otherwise have. We do what we can, when we can. We try to make sure there’s a t least one physical interaction with each set of grandparents each year. We try to find a regular time for Skyping that works so they know when they can speak to Grandma – my oldest at least certainly gets that they’re real people now!!! We will never know if its a different relationship living nearer as we’ve always been overseas – but even my brother and his family who live in Australia but interstate see and visit our parents about as often as we do – some of its a factor of our busy modern lives rather than just expat life.

  • This is one of the hardest parts of being an expat, and I haven’t found the answer, yet. I look at my children, and at times it nearly overwhelms me. My oldest was really close to my parents, and when she looks at me and tells me how much she misses them it absolutely breaks my heart. I look at my other two and get heartbroken. Only one of my other two have met my parents. I’m about to have baby #4, and I have no idea when we will be able to travel to the States for a visit or them come here. I tell myself our life is better here, and it is, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

  • Oh dear I don’t think I ever have that guilt because my parents left me in boarding school when I was 13 🙂 Seriously though they did the same with us as kids, took us abroad and away from their parents (and my granny was on her own – no other children or a partner as her husband was killed when my mum was young) so I know they understand. As a family we are very good at going for a long time with no communication and then pick up wherever we left off – often in the middle of an argument with my brothers! And of course life is so much easier these days with Skype and Facetime and email and facebook and……

  • Ugh, it is just so hard and in all honestly my only answer to “how do you cope with expat guilt” is “I don’t”. I have no idea how to. I feel all the things you describe, and I try to offset them by reminding myself of the advantages I’m giving M: the adventure, multiple languages, open-mindedness, etc. In reality, however, the guilt doesn’t ever really go away. I think I’ve just come to accept it as an inevitable part of the choice we’ve made. x
    Eline @ Emmy + LIEN recently posted…New beginnings and almost finishedsMy Profile

  • Completely understand this one. The guilt never goes away, especially when the kids get upset over missing their grandparents or when something happens that makes you want to be close to them, like when my nan died last year. We actually have the chance to move ‘back home’ but we’re undecided, we’d end up pretty much the same amount of hours away from my parents as we are now in another country so it doesn’t really solve the whole being far away from them issue. I guess we just have to appreciate what we have and try not to let the bad days get us down too much x
    Mum Reinvented recently posted…Slimming World Style Baked OatsMy Profile

  • As The Gran of our beloved Arthur and Freddie, I do a bit the same as Chantelle, and if I get a moment of sadness seeing a grandparent out with their little ones, and remember all the positives for our ex pat family – their health (those boys have got to be the healthiest children on the planet), happiness, all the love in the family and the lack of rat race and thank God for all those things. You do a great job Chantelle x

  • It is so hard isn’t it. Our families try to come and visit us often but this trip to the UK was our first for two years. We are more than making up for it now as the children and I are in our third month here (please, please let our visas for the new place come soon) so seeing lots of friends and family and making sure that Mini EE gets to know them so she will remember them. The new posting is closer than Malaysia at only 6 hours flying time so we will be back more often.
    Ersatz Expat recently posted…Travel At Home 5My Profile

  • I don’t have children, but I know that when/if I do marry and have children some day that being an expat will be more difficult because of the guilt and sadness that I know I will come.

    Blogging has really helped. My family (and anyone else) can see and hear more about my life on a much more regular basis. Skype is GREAT, but everyone has their own lives and of course, there’s the huge time difference to take into account.

    Right now, I’m waiting to for confirmation about my next job in a new country; the job market where I’m from is terrible, and I still have a lot of university debt. I have no choice but to work/live abroad unless I want to wait tables, even with a Master’s degree. I don’t feel a lot of guilt since I have to live abroad, but I still feel some nonetheless.

    Thank you so much for linking up this thought-provoking post for #ExpatTuesday! 😀

  • It also make me feel very said, when my daughter tells me that she misses grandma 🙁 I get what you mean! But then again, any choice we make as parents, we always question ourselves – are we doing a good enough job for our kids? We can only hope that we’re doing our best.
    TinyExpats recently posted…Butterfly Farm in Stratford-upon-AvonMy Profile

  • I guess I think of the long-term…will my kids do better in life by seeing granny everyday, or by experiencing the world and learning different languages? I convince myself that it’s the latter but it’s impossible to know…sometimes people have a greater impact on a life than an experience ever could. It’s the expat trade off, nothing comes for free 🙂

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