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The Psychological Effects of the Absentee Parents to the Personality Development of College Students

A Research Paper Presented to the Faculty of the Languages and Literature Department College of Liberal Arts De La Salle University Dasmarias

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Course ENGL102 Communication Art and Skills 2

Efellaine M. Castro Jomari del Rosario April Jane Gonzales Josef Paolo Jimenez Kong Tae-Kyu

September 2011

Table of Contents

Introduction ..................................................................................................... 3

Methodology ................................................................................................... 5

Results ............................................................................................................ 6

Discussion ....................................................................................................... 10

References ...................................................................................................... 13


Personality is made up of the characteristic patterns of thoughts, feelings and behaviors that make a person unique. In addition to this, personality arises from within the individual and remains fairly consistent throughout life (Feist & Feist, 2006). There has been much research on the crisis of single parent home and discussion that American families suffer because one or both parents are frequently absent (Lamb, 1990, as cited in Feist & Feist). The primary reason why families suffer is because fathers are absent and their absences have an impact on the critical development of their sons and daughters. They are as much critical to their daughters as well as their mothers too. Obviously, they provided half the genetic material for personality development. The same, too, may be applied to a Southeast Asian country like Philippines, whom people represented by the numbers 8.6 million to 11 million or about 11% of the total population are outside the country, typically heading for work

(en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overseas_Filipino) . Most psychologist including S. Freud, C. Jung, K. Horney and M. Klein believed in the notion that filial neglect or pampering shapes the personality and well-being of a child. (As cited in Feist & Feist, 2006) , according to Bowlbys attachment theory, which resorted to unorthodox psychoanalytic thinking by taking into account the childhood and its proceeding developmental years (that is, adolescence) as its starting point and then extrapolating forwards to adulthood. Bowlby firmly believed that the attachments, bonds and loyalty formed during childhood. Because childhood attachment is crucial to later development, Bowlby argued that investigators should study childhood directly and not rely on distorted retrospective accounts from adult (Bowlby, 1969; 1988, as cited in Feist & Feist). Being in agreement to the Attachment Theory of John Bowlby, the researchers wanted to work under the assumption that early separation of a parent to child makes a wholly complicated scenario when it comes to

psychological growth. The parents must create a secure base for the child and establish a persona that the parents are accessible and dependable for the child to have a secured ego and confidence (en.wikipedia.org/Attachment_Parenting). However, we Filipinos that have been barely touched by Western psychology, some facts may not be applicable to us, or some other effects are still hidden and waiting to be discovered. The values that parents/guardians ascribe to money and adult attention inputs vary according to the conditions facing the household. Families with OFW parent ascribe higher value to money while families with no OFW parent ascribe higher value to adult attention inputs. With respect to families with OFW parent, parents/guardians value money and adult attention inputs differently from their children (Edillon, R., 2008). The study is focused on unearthing the underlying facts and effects of parental absence during the critical stage of a childs up to his/her college years on the personality of college students, which havent been much discussed about nowadays. We are also touching the surface of growing liberalism among mom/dads-away-so-why-the-heck-would-I-care college students and how does it relates to the personality of children left behind that are not like them. How do they bear the social costs of being left behind, ethical dilemma, separation anxiety and stunted psychological growth of students are also addressed in this study.


This study was done at De La Salle University Dasmarias, particularly at the students dormitories inside the school premises and also at the building of the College of Business Administration. The necessary secondary information needed to accomplishing the research was gathered through the aid of the University library and the Electronic Resource Services (ERS), providing various related books, periodicals, journals, articles and On-line sources. The survey was created to suit the needed data to finish the study. The participants were the dormitory boarders living inside the University campus together with some selected students from the College of Business Administration whose parent/s are working overseas. Based on the answers given by the participants, the researchers considered the modal result of the and focused more on the relation of the remittance parallel to the condition of the left-behind youth and their perception of their parents. The researchers showed the percentage of scores to determine the level of dispersion of the answers and how close one college student feels to another. The University Dormitory and College of Administration building was visited by the researchers. Before conducting the survey, the researched asked the matron permission to enter and perform the survey on their own rooms. The survey lasted about 10-15 minutes, though other participants have been hesitant to answer. The behaviors and gestures of the respondents are also kept on track by the researchers.


1. Effects of absentee parents on the personality of the students. Personality of ones individual is based on how they were brought up by their parents; hence it could have a great impact on the development of their characters and its current state.

Figure 1.1 : Parent working abroad

Parent working abroad
20 10 0 Series1 mother 13 father 11 both 6

Based on figure 1.1, it shows that 43.33% or 13 out of 30 respondents have mothers going in and out of the country to work overseas.

Figure 1.2 : Personality involvement

Personality involvement
40 30 20 10 0 Series1 O Yes 29 O No O Maybe 1

Figure 1.2 shows that 3.33% or one participant of 30 respondents is uncertain that his/her parent/s has something to do with his personality development

Figure 1.3: Guardian at home

Guardian at home
15 10 5 0 mother Series1 8 father grandpa rent/s 8 11

distant aunt/un relative/ nanny cle s 3 0 0

no one 0

family friend/s 0

As shown in figure1.3, 26.67% or 8 respondents have one of their parents living with them. Moreover 36.67% or 11 out of 30 respondents are living with their grandparents who look after them.

2. Monetary support as a compensation for the time lost while working overseas.

The family left behind is privileged to relish the huge amount of money that is being sent to them every month. They could afford to acquire the things that they would want to have and go to places that they would like to visit.

Figure 2.1: Job Category

Job Category
8 6 4 2 0

Engineeri Office Domestic Marine/ Business Educator employe ng/Techn work Nautical related ical e 6 6 6 1 5 4

Other 2


As shown in figure 2.1 Most of the respondents had parents that are working in a domestic, engineering and nautical jobs. Figure 2.2: Gross Remittance

Gross Remittance
10 8 6 4 2 0

O O O O O O O O above below 20,000- 35,000- 50,000- 65,000- 80,000- 95,000110,000 20,000 35,000 50,000 65,000 80,000 95,000 110,000 1 4 5 3 3 2 3 9


Based on the figure 2.2, 30% or 9 out of the 30 surveyed students have parents who remit above 110,000 every month (in Philippine Peso).

Figure 2.3: Years before coming home Years before coming home
12 10 8 6 4 2 0

O the O parent O O every does O O O every every five not every every three four (5) every 6-12 other have a year (3) (4) years mos. year definit years years or e more arrivi 6 10 8 3 2 1 0


Figure 2.3 shows that 33.33% or 10 among the 30 participants have parents who are regularly coming home every year.

3. Parental authority while being away.

Physical absence and being distant from ones offspring as a parent has never been easy. Working afar from the children could have a great effect on how a child sees their parents as a figure of authority.

Figure 3.0: Authority Acknowledgement

Authority Acknowledgement
30 25 20 15 10 5 0 Series1 O Yes 27 O No 1 O Im not sure 2

As shown in figure 3.0, 90% or 27 respondents still acknowledge their parents authority while being away.


Discussions Parental care and presence are great shapers of a childs personality. The way of they are brought up gives us a pattern on how they interact with other people and the way they deal with circumstances at hand. Psychoanalytic theorists Melanie Klein (1882-1960), John Bowlby (19071990) and Mary Ainsworth (1913-1999), theorized the Object-Relations theory which stemmed out with the Attachment theory that is the dynamics of longterm relationships between humans. Its most important tenet is that an infant needs to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver for social and emotional development to occur normally (en.wikipedia.com/


Now, the primary caregiver herein is the mother, as the

Filipino families are mostly patriarchal. It is the mothers that are left at home to care for the young ones and help them mold their own personality. Effects of absentee parents on the personality of the students. The absence of ones parents during the critical developmental stage of youth may be distressing. Based on the survey conducted by the researchers, most of the participants had mothers going in and out of the country. 19 out of the 30 participants were left to be taken care of by their fathers, grandparents or relatives. According to Jones, L. & Siewart P.s(n.d.) research publication Filipino American women, work and family: an examination of factors affecting high labor force participation , Filipino American women have the highest level of participation in the labor force of any female group including Caucasian women: 68 percent compared to the national rate of 49 percent for all women. Considering this fact published by the Hawaiian government, the researches could safely say that the children left behind due to overseas work are deprived of the precious maternal care. As such, absence of the Good Breast (coined by Melanie Klein) can distort the establishing or well established foundation of a childs personality. Matriarchal care, being lost with the absence of the mother takes toll on the childs personality even when he is already at college. One or


both parents venture for a job overseas leaves quite a big impression on the side of the children (Scalabrini migration center, 2003) Children left behind are more prone to psychological and emotional stress, feelings of abandonment, and low-self esteem, all of which may ultimately cause damage to the childs overall development and patterns of socialization (De La Garza R., 2010). These emotional stresses are carried by the children until they are adolescent or college students. Question number nine of the survey asked the participants if the parent/s outside the country had a role in their personality development. Only one of the participants said that the absent parent/s had not had any role on his development. Hesitation has been portrayed by the very same participant while answering this question. This implies that he is either unsure of his absent parents role, or uncomfortable with the question. By

criticizing the way they answered their questionnaires, a third of them are careless takers (they did not read the directions which says shade their choice, not mark or check, two of them tried to blacken the circle when he realized he needed to shade them, not encircle it), two-thirds had answered it attentively and readily with pleasure, which only implies they had a good parentage and confident with their own upbringing. Monetary support as a compensation for the time lost while working overseas. Monetary support compensates for the time lost, if the parent/s working abroad is/are coming home regularly. Question number three asked for monthly remittance of their parents. Nine of the participants or 30 percent of them had parents who remit 110,000 pesos monthly. Thirty percent may have had so much material belongings and may have had leisure early in life. Twenty-two or 73 percent had parents coming home within a couple of years (all the parents had a pattern of home coming), which implies that they see their parents regularly. With the growing trend of global parenting, the parents away may have seen their childrens progress and growth through the years by means of communication technologies such as cellular phones, e-mails, videocams (Reyes M., 2008)


Parental authority while being away The parent/s working overseas is/are still seen as figures of authority by their children. Ninety percent or 27 participants said they still see them as figure of authority. Two of them answered they are not sure. The perception of

uncertainty with the parent authority can be related to the attachment they had while they were young. The participants who answered Im not sure in the questionnaire are polar opposites. The first one is a girl who dresses smart enough, while the other (a guy) looks depressed and emotional (also hesitant to answer). The researchers could only assume that the well dressed participant had found a secure attachment on her caregiver or guardian, while the emotional one had a retarded psychological and social growth. College students who had a secure attachment have high self-esteem, enjoys intimate relationships, seeks out social support, and have an ability to share feelings with other people (Cherry K, n.d.). As conclusion to this study, the researchers found out that parents help shape the personality of college students by means of attachment establishment through the formative years. As absentee parent/s go home within two years, they are able to contribute on the rearing of their children. Monetary support compensates to the time lost, although not in every aspect of their college childrens needs. Lastly, the college students still see the parent/s overseas as figure/s of authority, however remote their parent/s can be.


REFERENCES Book Feist J., Feist G. (2006), Theories of personality 6th Ed., Singapore, McGraw-Hill International Online Articles Attachment theory. Date Retrieved: September 1, from: http://en.wikipedia.org /Attachment_Theory Attachment Parenting, Date Retrieved: September 2, 2011, from

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attachment_parenting Cherry K. (n.d.), Attachment Styles, Date Retrieved: September 3, 2011, from

http://psychology.about.com/od/loveandattraction/ss/attachmentstyle4.htm De La Garza R. (2010), Migration, development and children left behind: a multidimensional perspective, Date Retrieved: August 22, 2011, from http://www.unicef.org/socialpolicy/files/Postscript_Formatted__Migration_ Development_and_Children_Left_Behind.pdf Edillon R. (2008), The effect of parent's migration on the rights of children left behind, Date Retrieved: August 25, 2011, from:

http://www.childmigration.net/files/Philippines_The_Effects_of_Parents_Mi gration_on_the_Rights_of_Children_Left_Behind__corrected_8Sep2008.p df Jones, L. & Siewart P.s(n.d.) research publication Filipino american women, work and family: an examination of factors affecting high labor force participation, Date Retrieved: September 8, 2011 from

http://www.hawaii.edu/hivandaids/Filipino-am_Women,_Work_and_Family An_Exam_of_Factors_Aff_Participation.pdf Reyes M. (2008), Migration and filipino children left-behind: a literature review, Date Retrieved: September 7, 2011 from http://www.unicef.org/

philippines/Synthesis_StudyJuly12008.pdf Scalabrini Migration Center (2004), Hearts apart. Date Retrieved: September 10, 2011 from http://www.smc.org.ph/heartsapart/ Overseas Filipino, Date Retrieved: September 7, 2011, from: