Navigating the Diaspora Void: The Impact of Caribbean Parents Migrating Abroad & Leaving Their Children Behind

Deciding to move abroad while leaving your children behind is often made with the best intentions, but it also has profound effects on the children left behind. Let’s talk about what some of those effects are and the impact it truly has.


The emotional toll of being separated from parents during formative years cannot be overstated. I mean think about it. Whether there is a closeness to your parent or not, the absence of parents during child development can lead to big feelings. Some of which may be feelings of abandonment, anxiety, and low self-esteem. It’s also no surprise that these feelings can last well into adulthood. As adult, the experienced void can lead to issues with trust, intimacy, and forming secure attachments. And where do those issues really play a role in adulthood? – Romantic relationships, business partnerships, and friendships.


Realistically, once parents migrate, there are usually limited visits back home. So now there’s the struggle to maintain a connection across borders. Imagine a parent working abroad to provide a better financial situation and their child still living in the same place they grew up in. This is where culture plays a role and brings challenges of understanding each other's experiences. The differences in experience can result in communication gaps and a sense of alienation. Relatability begins to fade. The absence can lead to a breakdown in safety and trust which make it harder to disclose things such as abuse or feelings of depression. The child may now be burdened with holding onto their own stressors while trying to protect their parent abroad. In order to rebuild the parent-child relationship it’s going to take conscious effort and understanding from both parties.


There are two sides to being noted as resilient. One side can argue that navigating the complexities of having dual identity has its upside. It fosters a unique strength that can be a source of empowerment and pride; allowing for one to develop coping strategies, draw power from cultural roots, and find ways to thrive in the face of adversity. On the other hand, there is a strong reality of navigating dual identity. The reality is more pointed inward and one may face struggles with a sense of self and ultimately questioning who is my real self? And where is my real self accepted?

How does this show up in my life now?
As mentioned there can be long term effects such as anxiety or low self-esteem. The void in one’s upbringing can lead to being self-reliant and dependent on self. This manifests as a struggle to ask for help from others or even your partner. There can be a battle on how to communicate to the ones that care about you most about your feelings or big events, positive or negative.

Parents making the decision to move abroad while their children stay behind is an understandable and often common decision. The economic reasoning behind doing so is commendable. I think it’s important to normalize and discuss the emotional and psychological cost tolerated behind that decision as well. By shedding light on these stories, we aim to foster empathy, understanding, and healing for individuals who have navigated the diaspora void well into their adulthood.

Coming from a Caribbean household myself, I can empathize and help guide you out of the effects of the void into a life that is expressive and trusting. Don’t hesitate to call for your free consultation 954 - 675 – 1936 ext. 2.