Thoughts

Why do Parents send their Children Abroad?

Sending children abroad should be one of the most irrational, illogical, and foolish things that Indian parents do. I can understand what benefits children (think they) might have by going abroad, but why do parents even agree to send their children abroad, often spending Lakhs of their own money, is beyond me!

Let us first admit that there is some selfishness in everything. Parents are concerned about the well being of their kids, but they also want something back (it can be money or emotional support or pride or whatever) over a period of time. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with it.

But one thing that I find to be irrational, illogical, and foolish on the part of Indian parents is: sending their children abroad. I mean, permanently. And that too, after investing in their kid for so many years. (I am sorry if you are offended by the word ‘investing’, but that’s the truth – high time you accept it.)

Let’s see what motivates parents to send their children abroad –

  • They can brag to everyone that their kid is studying or working ‘abroad’. This imaginary social status is silly considering that so many people are going abroad these days!
  • They can visit US or Europe in the guise of visiting their son/daughter. Seriously? Check some packaged tours from reputed tour operators. You might end up spending less and enjoying more!
  • They can get more money because their children earn in Dollars vs INR. Partially true, but it stops once the children are married/have their own families. (Mostly.)
  • They can get a lot of dowry. And send all that money/jewels abroad too?
  • They can also settle down abroad, along with their children, after a few years. The fallacy of such false hopes will be evident in a few years.

I am not saying that children who settle down in India are sweet pies and gems. But if there is an emergency or an event, children can always reach their parents, even on a short notice. Can children settled abroad do that?

The surprising thing is, parents know the raw deal that they are going to get. Still they do it and quietly suffer in their old age.

I wonder if it’s a result of Karma. Maybe they have ignored their own parents and are now having to face the same game played on them, only from a different location?

Destination Infinity

PS: I know the plight of at least three sets of parents in their 80s left alone in India, even through they have more than one child, all settled abroad. That motivated me to write this. Of course, you may have a different opinion as these issues cannot be generalized.

30 Comments

  • Bikram

    well I would say this is so .. I am settled abroad. I came to uk because I was not getting anywhere in india. no job no prospect.. as you know me I am sure you can say I could not have attained what i have here in india. Well majority of the kids never do that..

    majority of the kids are still living in the house there grand parents built .. I got my own house here ..

    my parents have never taken a single penny from me and neither have I other than the initial plane ticket to london and 300 pounds in my pocket when i landed ..

    they have come to visit me yes almost every year till my dad was alive , stayed for a few weeks and gone back.

    and parents do it because no matter what people say life is much better abroad then in our own nation and millions would do anything t ocome abroad.

    • Rajesh K

      This article is not about whether living abroad is better than living in India. And it is not about children who have gone abroad. It is about what parents have to gain/lose by sending their children abroad.

      Destination Infinity

  • Avada Kedavra

    Even today my parents are not happy. My dad was never ready to send me. Even today he doesnt like/approve it. But this is my life. I always wanted to come here for studies and they had to let me go. They have no say in where I want to live right? But I have no plans to settle here, as I want to be there with them.

    • Avada Kedavra

      I feel “taking care” of parents is this Indian mentality. Some parents don’t save for their future and then pester kids to take care of/live with them. And this taking care is also expected from sons and not from daughters. Even if women are in India, they would be staying with in-laws and not with parents. And how many women get the freedom to visit and take care of their parents, whenever they want to?

      • Rajesh K

        This post is not about staying with parents and taking care of them. Even children in India don’t do that in many cases. It’s about being able to (at least) reach their parents during emergencies and events.

        And I am not blaming either party. I am just wondering the motivations for parents to do what they are doing.

        Destination Infinity

  • Sharath

    Hi Rajesh,

    I agree with you. Living in a different country is definitely not the same as living in a different city or state. Not only the fact that we’re available for emergencies, it’s much easier for both parties to visit regularly.

    Towards the end of our decade-long stay in New Zealand, my parents moved back and I had to live there for a year by myself. After that, I moved to Bangalore and have been living there ever since. (My parents live in Warangal.) We visit each other for ten days or so every couple of months, and the convenience is just unimaginable compared to when I was abroad.

    I suspect this will only become more marked as my parents approach retirement age and grow older. They will need me more and more.

    And I’ve noticed the same phenomenon too, with aged parents living by themselves. I know a few couples who have more than one child living by themselves and managing (barely) on their own. The best case scenario is that their children visit them for three weeks every year for Christmas/New Year.

    From a material sense, the person going abroad almost always gets a good deal. But the people left behind almost always get a raw one. But there may not be one answer to the question ‘why’. Necessity, pride and status are probably the top three reasons.

    • Rajesh K

      Mostly it’s wealthy children who go abroad. So, I don’t think necessity is a factor (in most cases). Pride/status, yes – those are factors.

      Destination Infinity

  • KP

    It is not correct to assume that sons living in India take care of parents more than sons living abroad.The old joint family system of parents when both are alive staying with sons is no longer widely prevalent.The sons living abroad are at least able to help financially with parents living in their own houses or senior homes.
    When opportunities are less for some communities to grow less ,the families are willing to send children abroad to study, earn and pay the loan taken.
    There are always merits and demerits in any practice varying from one family to another.No firm decision can be drawn.

    • Rajesh K

      I know some children who are living abroad and still don’t send any money to their parents here. In some cases, the parents have to repeatedly ask, and then it may come!

      I know I cannot generalize this issue, and everything depends on the individuals concerned. But I want to know the motivations for parents to send their children abroad knowing very well that they will mostly be ignored after a few years (in most cases).

      Destination Infinity

  • Rachna Chhabria

    Hi Rajesh, what you are saying is absolutely true. Its become a trend for parents to say that my child is studying abroad or working abroad as though we don’t have good schools and work places here. I feels its the lure of the big bucks that has set off the trend.

      • Avada Kedavra

        what you are talking about is a very selfish way of living DI 🙂 I don’t think parents think about returns when they invest for their children. My parents never asked me to work so that they can enjoy the money that I earned.

        • Rajesh K

          When we enjoyed the money that they earned, over so many years, don’t you think it’s human courtesy to return (some of) it back, irrespective of whether they expect anything or not?

          But you’ll have to give it back anyway – if not to your parents, then to your kids, if you believe in Karma ie.

          Destination Infinity

          • SG

            That is what I tried to do with my parents. They told me “to hell with your money” in a sweet affectionate voice. (They are filthy rich in India.) When they visit here once in a while, they buy their own tickets and do not allow me to buy the tickets.

          • Rajesh K

            It may not always about monetary factors – I agree. But don’t parents expect anything from children, other than money?

            Destination Infinity

  • Jeevan

    Yes, reaching is what regrets much… one can’t share the special moments and give support while lost someone dear. I think it’s the comfort, style and money that don’t want them to come back to India.

  • Locomente

    I completely agree with you… I also know parents who stay alone…
    And the sad part is, always children for settling abroad and abandoning their parents.
    The question is who instilled this idea in them?

    • Rajesh K

      I don’t think anybody instills such ideas in them. Probably it’s their situation that doesn’t allow them to do anything else or some grudge they might be holding against their parents. But then, I have never been in that situation, so I cannot speculate.

      Destination Infinity

  • SG

    Yes Rajesh. They do expect something other than money. They want us (their kids) to be still school boys and be obedient and listen to them. My brothers do that and I am the rebel who refused to do that.

    I love them a lot. But I won’t take their advice which stock I should buy in the New York Stock Exchange.

  • Rajlakshmi

    I am sorry but I would differ in the way you have projected the thinking of parents. As far as I know and have seen, I don’t think parents think of receiving something in return. That would disrespect the sacrifices they have done. They invest in us for our own sake so that we don’t have to depend on anyone, not even them.

  • Jayanthi

    It is so true . The pride and arrogance (especially mothers) with which parents brag about their children living abroad can be irritating and sometimes just outright funny.

    Many young people are itching to go abroad just to make their parents proud. Having seen the best of both worlds I can say India is brimming with opportunities while the western world is decaying. It is time for young people ( now middle aged) to stop making their parents proud, think for themselves and make their own choices.

    Very thought provoking post indeed.

  • Mahathi Ramya

    Even i don’t understand why few parents have craze to send their children abroad.. because, it has become common now to go abroad.
    What i have observed is, students are interested to pursue higher studies abroad, they convince parents somehow, enjoy life there, get job , come here only to get married and settle there. Its becoming a phenomena and mostly parents wont have any say. After settling down there, it is challenging for them to come back leaving their property and convincing their children to move back as they will be reluctant. So, process continues.
    Some parents send their children to study there for their status and above cycle continues there too.
    Atlast, its pity that No one will be there to help these parents in their old age or medical emergencies.

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