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Children need parents, not dollars

I am a 30 year mother with two children (one 8 and one 6).  I don’t have any real problems at home, but I feel bored with daily chores and I am fed up with my office job, and so want to go overseas with my husband to study and work. I think it is important for everyone to live their dreams and so I want to go to Australia for five or six years. Many of my friends are already there and are telling me to come. My mother-in-law lives alone in the village and so she can take care of our children, and I can send money home for their living costs. Anyway, when I told my husband about my idea he was furious and has stopped is not talking with me. Please advise me.    

TZ, Thimphu

You don’t say why your husband was angry, but I am guessing that it is because you want to leave your kids behind or perhaps because you want to leave them with his mother.  Anyway, I agree that people should follow their dreams, but, at the same time, our quest for personal fulfillment should not be a cause of distress for others – in your case your own offspring or your mother-in-law.

If you were single or without children, I would definitely encourage you to go overseas alone or with your husband and explore the planet. However, you made a decision to get married and give birth, and so you now have a shared future and a responsibility to your children. In this respect, you should consider that your life is not just about you and your personal happiness. Actually, not only you, but all of us need to remember that we are part of a family, a community, and a planet and that our decisions affect those around us. We do not live in isolation.

Unfortunately, your situation is not uncommon these days, and there are many youth who have got lost because one or both of their parents decided to live their dream, and, sadly, that dream did not include their children. Sometimes there was a desire to move overseas. At other times there was a wish to take a new wife or husband or to simply have an affair. Irrespective of the nature of the dreams, they were all done for personal reasons and without full consideration of the effects on their children. As a result, young minds were badly hurt.

Actually, life will naturally have ups and downs and times of excitement and boredom. Like mountains and valleys, one cannot exist without the other. Instead of trying to escape the tedious parts, I suggest you learn to try and find the magic in all aspects of life – whether it is taking a vacation in Thailand or washing the dishes. In reality, if you are only happy when shopping in MBK Mall, then you will only be happy for very short periods of times. However, if you can find the magic in cleaning your house, working in your office, cooking for your children etc then you will be content most of the time, right?

Furthermore, it is important to know that the excitement that we initially feel when we move overseas and embark on a new career won’t last. The newness soon wears off and again the boredom sets in. Then what will you do – abandon your friends and quit your job?

You might like to think about the moral of this ancient tale: There was once a fox who had a disease that caused his skin to itch. At first he thought that the sun was the problem, and so he stayed in the shade. As the itching persisted, he blamed the shade. He even tried sitting in water, but the problem never went away. He spent his entire life blaming his circumstances and so never discovered the cause of his problem and never found peace. When we jump from one relationship or job to another are we not like the fox? Instead of looking at ourselves for a solution, we blame our family or our job. Likewise, we never find peace. I’m not saying that your desire to move overseas is similar to the fox’s wish to alleviate his skin disease, but still the tale is worth considering.

In reality, it is a mistake to think of responsibility as a destroyer of freedom, but instead try to understand it as a means to help you find joy and to develop stability in your daily life. Once you fully commit yourself to your family, your relationship with them will change. Instead of dreaming of life elsewhere, you will begin to find ways to make your present situation work. Basically, you will learn to enjoy the fun times but know that they will end. Likewise, you will learn to accept the boring times and also know they will not last. You will see them as equally part of life.

Still, if you genuinely feel that you would like to experience life overseas, then that is perfectly fine. Actually, it is really good to experience a new culture and to gain exposure. However, I strongly suggest that you go together with your children and not leave them behind. Six years is a long time, and at a young age children need parents to guide them and to be at their side when they are hurt and feeling sad. Basically, your children need you, not Australian dollars.

Shenphen Zangpo was born in Swansea, UK, but spent more than 28 years practicing and studying Buddhism in Taiwan and Japan. Currently, he works with the youth and substance abusers in Bhutan, teaching meditation and organising drug outreach programmes.

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