The impact of migratory separation from parents on the health of adolescents in the Philippines
In the Philippines, as in several other low and middle-income countries in the world, it is usual for parents to leave the country to work abroad in order to improve the situation of their children who remain behind. However, stressful life events such as the separation from a parent are known to have a severe impact on physical and mental health of children. This study, conducted in 2008-2009, explored health consequences of migratory separation for remaining-behind adolescent children, comparing them with those whose parents remained at home. Participants were 205 high school students from the Philippines. It was found that adolescents with a parent abroad, particularly the mother, reported poorer physical health than those with both parents at home, while socioeconomic status did not have impact. The parent-abroad adolescents reported a high level of missing their parent(s) and felt emotionally lonelier than the parent-at-home group. Emotional loneliness and stress due to parental absence were associated with poorer health. Avoidant coping appeared to moderate the parental absence-health relationship. Paradoxically, it seems that, although many parents work abroad to improve the lot of their children, the latter suffer emotional stress and physical health detriments. While Lazarus and Folkman's (1984) cognitive stress model is generally applicable for migratory separation, cultural aspects need attention, both in theoretical implementation and interpretation. Limitations and implications are further discussed. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
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