Expat guilt

Originally published 9th November 2016
Updated 23rd August 2021

Are you suffering from expat guilt?

Guilt: ‘a feeling of having committed a wrong or failed in an obligation’
Expat-guilt: a feeling of having committed a wrong or failed in an obligation x 100!

Moving abroad is the adventure of a lifetime. It’s scary, exhilarating, intimidating and awe-inspiring in equal measure. There are ups and downs in every moment of the planning, packing and moving.

The decision to move is usually one that suits the immediate family and can be made for a whole host of reasons – job opportunities being a common one – but ultimately it comes down to choosing a better lifestyle for yourself, your partner and your children. The trouble is, there are almost always other people who demand your consideration.

Split responsibility

Living in a different country brings with it a strange sense of split responsibility. Your primary obligation is to your immediate family but you also get to feel responsible for those left behind.  Unless you’ve developed a unique ability to split yourself in half, this is something you’re going to have to face up to.

Let’s be honest about this – moving abroad is essentially a selfish decision. Your parents, siblings and friends are going to miss you horribly and would probably prefer you didn’t go and selfish equals guilty, doesn’t it? Yes, it is the right decision for you, your partner, your children. But those left behind may not agree and this will inevitably cause sadness, distress and in some cases, even conflict. We’re taught as children that being selfish is wrong but let’s take a moment here to look at the alternative.

Stay at home instead?

You stay at home. You miss the amazing opportunities that an expat life offers you and you bend to the will of others. You’ll always be on hand to deal with the everyday family ups and downs, you’ll never miss a birthday or family Christmas, your children will grow up in the bosom of their extended family and you’ll care for your parents as they get older. They will all be happy that you’re there. Initially they’ll congratulate you and be thankful that you ‘made the right decision’ but eventually, as time ticks on, your sacrifice will be forgotten and everyone will go about their lives as if nothing momentous ever happened. Everyone that is, except you. You will be left forever wondering what might have been. You won’t feel guilty – but will you feel fulfilled and happy?

Now who’s being selfish?

Now let’s look at this from another angle. If you’re being selfish for wanting to move, aren’t other people being selfish if they try to hold you back? Oops – that’s the sort of thought that you’re going to feel guilty about later! There it is again – guilt. Completely unavoidable from the moment you even think about relocating. You’re guilty (and selfish!) if you go… but you’ll end up feeling resentful (and guilty!) if you don’t. Unavoidable, soul-destroying and limiting. So, instead of trying to avoid it, let’s look at what we can do to reduce it.


The first thing to do is accept it. Other people don’t want you to move, you do want to move and you are absolutely going to feel guilty about that at some stage. Just add it to the list! Guilt is something that every adult, certainly every parent, experiences at some point – we feel guilty about how we spend our time, how we spend our money, how often we call home or spend time with our loved ones, whether we are ‘good’ parents, whether we eat the right foods, weigh the right amount, lose our temper too readily… the list goes on and on. The thing is, we don’t let guilt get in the way of all those other decisions (I feel guilty about eating chocolate and buying handbags, but I still do it!) so why should this decision be any different?

Take a pragmatic approach

Approach it pragmatically. Why are your family and friends reluctant to see you go? Simply because they’ll miss you. They will go through a grief process, with all the usual stages – denial, anger, sadness… and eventually acceptance. Counteract this and set in place a reassuring schedule of contact. Arrange regular Skype catch-ups, book them tickets for their first trip to see you, buy them beautiful stationery and tell them how excited you are about writing real letters. Get them involved in the everyday decisions; let them help you and make them feel needed. Especially for parents, seeing a child move away from home (even a grown-up child) comes with a feeling of rejection; of being ‘cast aside’. You can minimise that – and you’ll feel good about it; not guilty. Embrace your independence!

You also need to be aware that leaving people behind is not the only source of guilt for expats (sorry!) There’s also anxiety about the effect the move will have on those who are going with you, particularly children. You’ll feel guilty when they struggle to settle in to their new home and their new school. You’ll feel guilty when they cry because they’re missing their extended family and their old friends. You’ll feel guilty when they are confused and upset by the new language and culture and you’ll feel guilty when things don’t quite work the way you planned and you end up feeling a bit homesick, because then you’ll wonder if all the grief and upset was even worth the effort.


Guilt is a useless emotion, and it keeps us from stepping into our full potential. [Source]

Guilt is crippling and it eats away at you. Guilt can ruin your entire experience and make you doubt the wisdom of your move. Guilt can even make you give up and go home with your tail between your legs…but only if you let it.

You made this decision with your eyes wide open. This is an amazing opportunity, a fresh start, a new life. Accept the guilt and be honest about it; talk it through with your nearest and dearest, keep a diary of the ups and downs but don’t let it control the direction of your future.

How to erase expat guilt and reclaim your life

If you’ve landed on this article searching for ways to help you get through these feelings, I hear you. I’ve been hearing you for ages: you are NOT alone in this struggle. Just take a look at the many comments below.

So, in order to help you through this, and to help you find a new perspective on expat guilt, I have created this special resource just for you: a video master class, detailing what guilt is, how it affects you, how to cope with those heavy feelings and how to overcome guilt.

Take a look at the short intro below, and find out more!


expat guilt advice

Listen to my Expatability Chat podcast episode on Expat Guilt

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  1. My husband and I moved overseas for work twice now in the last 13 years. First time was for two years, and our daughter was in middle school. We left our adult sons in Canada. Now we have returned, just hubby and myself, overseas to work for a few years. Next summer is our last. We have definitely felt a disconnect with all of our now adult children, but also expressed anger from two of our sons with their own children. They have made us feel so badly for "missing out on their children's lives". The expat guilt is real. We would like to think our actions of moving over seas hasn't split our family apart, but are we not entitled to live our life to its fullest too?

  2. Interesting article. I have been living with my wife in Australia for 15 years and we now have a 4 year old daughter. And I would have agreed with most points made probably a year ago. But having a child changes your perspective. You are a role model to your children. As such, it comes down to what values you want to live by and teach your children. What value do you put on ‘caring for your parents’ or ‘being there for your extended family’? It sometimes helps to put yourself into your parents shoes… If I grow old, I would love to spend time with my grandkids. And I am simply not that hypocritical or selfish and stay in Australia, denying my parents the experience that I expect my children to grant me when the time comes. So we will be moving back.

      1. Hi Carole, this article is very very helpful to me. Almost a breath of fresh air. My husband and I are both Marines. I’m pregnant and we are thinking about moving to Germany where my husband’s parents live bc they are able to get him a very good govt job. My parents are very upset. They seem angry with me that I’m supporting my husband ultimately. It hurts me that they think I’m being controlled. It’s so hard to talk to them bc they are so stubborn and know how to make me second guess my self, making me feel torn. Ultimately my husband and I are a team. There’s a lot more I’d like to say but I don’t want to take up too much space.

        I am looking for an outsiders opinion… I don’t really have anyone els to talk to that’s not my husband or family about my specific situation maybe I could discuss over email possibly. If not I understand this was very insightful and was so good to read bc it’s very relatable. Thank you so very much for your words.

      2. Hey Hannah,
        Many congratulations on your pregnancy! In a way, I can understand why your parents would be upset about your possible move, but I expect there’s a lot more to this than you’ve posted here.
        If you’d like to talk to me about this – and I am more than happy to advise you, as you can see, this isn’t my first rodeo in the whole Expat Guilt ‘thing’!!
        Please book a call here https://bookme.name/expatability/expat-espresso
        I look forward to helping you as you start this new chapter of your life.

    1. The grief I feel at the loss of my children and grandchildren moving overseas cannot even begin to be expressed. It is like my soul has been ripped out.

      As a child of British immigrants to Australia, I lost my entire family when we moved here. I remember the heartache quite clearly. It seems almost paradoxical that my children moved back to the UK when they grew up. And never came back.

      But one thing I’ve come to realise as I’ve aged is that the parents (generally) love the children way more than children love the parents. So separation means a lot more to the parents than it does the adult child.

      And the other thing I’ve learned is that what goes around, comes around. So be prepared all you adult children seeking new lives in foreign countries, one day it may well be you who will be sitting with your head in your hands, staring blankly out of windows because the lights in your life have up and flown away…..

      People mean more than places. Some of us realise this way too late…..

  3. Hi, my name is Priscila, I’m a Brazilian, married to a New Zealander for 8 y and living in Australia for 6y. We both have our jobs here.
    My elderly parents are in Brazil living near my brother and his family. Dad is 74 and in poor health, mum takes care of him along with my brother who is the one looking after them, taking them to medical appointments and running errands for them. I’ve been able to help them financially from here through this all.
    My brother just texted me saying that he’s broken and might have to move to a different location, inland where it’s cheaper and so he can find a job – he owns a music course school but is not being able to maintain his business. He said we both might have to rethink how we look after our parents from now on. He wishes that I was there to look after them too but said he understands the distance. But I feel that he implied that he wants me to return.
    I’m at work right now, can’t think if anything else…. I fear that my husband won’t agree to the move – he lived there on and off before we got married and after the wedding we lived there for 2 years, and he was never able to find a job even tough he tried. Life in Brazil is very hard for Brazilians already let alone for foreigners, it’s not so hard for Brazilians that go overseas, there are a lot more opportunities. I feel his answer will be a negative one but to be honest with you all, that doesn’t give me any resentments towards him, I really understand the reality of our lives. But at the same time, it would make me relieved if he decided to make this move with me, even tough that would mean financial suicide. We both have stable full time jobs… I feel that if I return to Brazil that would mean a separation for our marriage. I feel torn apart.
    Any advices please…. haven’t talked to anyone about this just yet.

    1. Hi Priscila,
      I am so sorry you’re being pulled in all directions.

      There is an English saying – “you are between a rock and a hard place”, meaning either choice with be harmful to you, I think.
      Maybe the time to look at getting outside carers in to help, if that is at all possible,

      While I don’t give personal advice on this public website, I do have a Masterclass you may find helpful https://expatchild.com/product/erase-expat-guilt-master-class/
      Or you could book a 1-1 call with me so we can talk this through in private: https://bookme.name/expatability

      I wish you all the best, Carole

  4. to the one person that left your husband and daughter for a job. your a loser. thats just abandonment. thats sad. if you left your parents and siblings, thats a different story. your responsibility to to your spouse and kids. dont be a dead beat.

  5. Thanks for this article! I’m 26 and planning on moving to New Zealand with my partner next year, and I’m so incredibly excited but definitely feeling the “expat guilt” now I’ve started my visa application and set the date!

    It’s difficult reconciling not being there for the “everyday” moments of my family, but as you say, you have to live a little selfishly sometimes to avoid building up resentment – and becoming an expat doesn’t mean you’re choosing to leave people behind!

    If anything, I’m a free holiday home for everyone else….

    1. Hello everyone me (25) and husband(30) got married last year. I’m from a strict Muslim Bengali household and my husband from a pretty relaxed family, he is Vietnamese Australian. Ive known my husband for 10 years online and only last year is when we were able to get married. We’ve been together for 7 months so far due to me being from America and him Australia. One of the reason I was able to get married was my family condition was my husband conferting to Islam and settling in America. At first this condition did cause issues but eventually we came around it. That’s how we were able to marry.

      I live in Niagara Falls NY but two years ago I was in NYC. For me settling in Niagara Falls was a struggle but I was able to get around to it.

      I lived with my sister, her husband and my mom in Niagara Falls. It took me a while to think of the house as my own home since I knew it belong to my brother in law. I knew that once you’re married you have to have your own place and responsibllity. However, because my husband is from another country he came to the U. S for three months so I presume it would be fine to live in the Niagara Falls house. But there were fights happening within two weeks after my wedding from my 2nd sister and her husband. They proposed that the for the three months of my husband place we should move out and have our own place. In that way we can learn about responsibility?? Also for my husband to quickly start immigration process (we didn’t get married using k1 visa). From that fight my understanding came was that my husband was not accepted in that house because my sister felt uncomfortable since another male is present. Mind you I’ve lived with my sister and her husband (whose another male) for ages. I did everything in my power to make sure my sister was comfortable in her house but she still kept proposing this idea. To the point that she and her husband already found an apartment. We had a meeting about all of this and during the meeting she mentioned that if we were to live there one of her conditions is if our mother goes out anywhere or to our eldest sisters house me and my husband would have to go too. Which is an inconvenience for us because I worked so If I had a meeting I would have to drop everything and go?? Her husband at the same time said things like “that’s why I don’t go outside the house when your sister is home, because your husband is there” . Mind you my husband literally only stayed at my room and would go to the bathroom or kitchen with me present. All this just to make my sister feel comfortable in her house.

      Because of this argument there were more disrespectful things that were said. So my mom ended up going to my eldest sister house, which is why I did the same too. Me and my husband ended up staying over at my eldest sister house for the three month of his visit to U.S. During that time my 2nd sister caused more fights with my car and us abandoning her. However we never abandoned her we tried our best to normalize everything but she never changed her mind.

      Because of this treatment I felt like I didn’t have a home anywhere.

      Even tho my older sister let me stay I felt like a burden to her family. Ever since the marriage and the figbt I kept carrying my Luggage around everywhere.

      In early November me and my husband came to Australia. It was my first time here and I truly loved it. I felt like I belonged here and I feel very accepted because my inlaws made me feel right at home. They didn’t make it feel like I have a time limit of moving out the house. They have made it clear to us that when we are rdy we can move out or just settle with them. This is something I didn’t hear at all from my family. I did hear from my eldest sister but even then she would end it with “yes eventually you would have to leave cos you’re married”. My issue is not moving out, my issue is there was no sense of me belonging in a place to call home until I am able to move out once I am more settled with my husband.

      While I was here in Australia my husband and I had to have long discussions of where we should settled. It seemed as if being in the U. S there were more cons than pros. Such as..

      -Getting my drivers licence because I only have a permit.

      -Getting a stable job

      -Moving out as soon as possible when my husband goes to U.S. We won’t have much time to settle at my sisters places.

      -Immigration process

      -husband has to learn how to drive

      -husband has to adjust to the environment (my husband has skin problems and in Niagara Falls it snows heavily)

      -husband has to get a job.

      -facing constant family drama

      So the only pro is..

      -my family.

      Because of the conflict my 2nd sister initially created I had to make the decision of settling In Australia because my husband is already settled. The only things I have to do is find a job, drive and immigration. The benefits I saw was compared to my family my husband and me would have time to settle and eventually move out. Whereas with my family once my husband goes to U. S again I would have to work on everything very fast and not have enough time or money to move out. Don’t get me wrong, these can be done but it will be very much of struggle and hardship for me and my husband.

      I have found relief and peace in Australia with my husband. Growing up in a desi household there’s always drama and family guilt. Which my family is doing to me now. The fCt that I told them I want to settle they are very against it. Even though I told them all my reasonings. They still want me to be in the U. S with them and not leave the country.

      So far I am not in contact with my 2nd sister at all. I’ve only spoken with my mom and eldest sister. My eldest sister is against me staying in Australia too but she still supports me. But my mom was supportive and now she’s angry at me and telling me things like I am being selfish, and because she helped me get married she says I’m done using her. Like what mother says that? My own mother who is so close to my grandma and her familh left Bangladesh with her husband to go to the U. S in order to help them financially and our future. However even tho she moved to U. S she would always fight with my dad to bring her back to Bangladesh. So only difference between me and my mom is I want to live In Australia for my and my husband future. Don’t get me wrong I love my family very much and I care for them a lot. But does that justify them constantly making me feel guilty because my mom got me married to someone I loved? Just to add on both my sisters were arranged married to Bengali husbands. There is shit ton of drama involved in them to the point it seems like there’s no love in their relationship at all.

      now that I am back in the U.S within the 6 days I’m here I have already faced conflicts. ones that came especially from my mom. she has said things such as “you don’t care about me anymore”, “you don’t love me’. along with other comments too. she makes it seem like I have betrayed her and I don’t care about her anymore. I really do care for my mom, but with everything that has happened or will happen she doesn’t seem to understand how I feel at all. My sister made a comment like “we shouldn’t hurt our parents especially if their against this idea”. now I’m just zoned out because I really don’t see any future here besides family. I know that once I go back I would definitely come back every year and keep in touch with them how many times I can. even from distance I would support them. the only thing I won’t be able to do is have my presence. I will say in 2 arguments I initiated it mostly due to what has been happening recently.

      while being here I know I will face ton of fights and battles with my family because of my decision. I just want to know did anyone face the same type of problem or something familiar. If so what did you guys do? Would you guys sacrifice your mental peace and happiness for your families peace or be selfish as they put it and do what you think is right for you?

      1. Hi there,

        This is a very long comment on a very public website. It’s not a forum, so it’s unlikely you’ll find the answers you’re hoping for here.
        May I suggest you either book in a call with me to talk this through, face to face: https://bookme.name/expatability/expat-espresso
        Or if you’d like my MasterClass on beating guilt, please visit the resources here: https://expatchild.com/product/erase-expat-guilt-master-class/

        Perhaps you’d like to join my private, supportive Facebook group where you can copy this question to ask there? https://www.facebook.com/groups/ExpatabilityClub/
        Let me know if you’d like me to remove this, or if you’re happy for it to stay.

        Kind regards

      2. Hello, I am not sure if you are a man but if you are then I am going through a similar conflict. My name is Jeremy and I’m only 24 – born and raised in the US. I’ve been talking to another guy in Lebanon who’s 23 yrs old. He’s never been to the US or any other country for that matter but I have a scheduled trip with him in two weeks. This is not normal for me nor my family. I have only decided to tell my mom who is a black jamaican mom who doesn’t ‘know’ about me as I referred an excuse that ‘my lebanese friend invited me on a trip’ .. Nevertheless, I wanted to have a discussion on what I can tell my family on why I am taking this trip and better understand the risk I am taking to go on this trip. Do you regret finding a guy from another country – instead of finding someone in the US? Do you recommend I give up on this international relationship and just focus on someone in the US? My instagram is jerm_selkow – if your able yo contact me on there.

        I look forward to hearing from you.



  6. Just read your response. I have a 23 year old who prefers to smoke weed and play games. I have spent about $50k in the last 3 yrs trying to help him get on his feet-all to no avail. I’m a dual citizen and at the age of 60 want to move to the EU but didn’t because I didn’t want to leave my son. Last night another argument, he’s going to be evicted at the end of the month. I brought his rent up to date Dec 2021, he hasn’t paid a dollar to it since. So you see, for you it went one way and for me another. Even though my son doesn’t deserve me I still feel guilty to leave him. How sad that your mother left you at 17, knowing the alternative. My heart breaks for you but I believe you’ll do just fine without her as you have a good head on your shoulders. Any women should be proud to call you son. Sending you a big hug from Canada.

  7. Wow. I hope my mom never reads this article, as it would give her a sense of reassurance. She moved away to live in another country than out homeland about three years ago when I was 17 years old. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with exploring our beautiful earth and deciding that the country you’ve lived in for the past 20 years isn’t what you want to wake up to anymore.

    However, my parents are divorced, and my mother made this decision to move when I was underage and I would transfer to living at my dad’s place full-time, and she made this decision knowing the “home” at my dad’s was mentally abusive. She knew what my stepmother was like, and how my dad didn’t really truly protect me from her. I didn’t feel safe in my own room, I was either getting yelled at, or not spoken to, every week. The bathroom door would get banged like there was no tomorrow if I was one minute late from my “pre-scheduled shower”. I had my own shelf in the fridge, one of the smallest ones with my dad having the smallest one, while my stepmother took the largest one, and other shelves, to herself.

    My mother left knowing this. Now, there are lots of other even worse situations out there than mine, I acknowledge that, but it did break me a little. Not fully though. I think I really reached my limit when I told my mother I felt like I wanted to take my own life, and she didn’t do anything about it or feel like she had any motherly need to take care of me. I think that’s when I really didn’t approve of her decision to move abroad.

    She’s visited me only three times in the past three years, even when she claimed to visit me every few months. It has now become clear to me in the past couple of months that I really don’t want a relationship with my mother unless she changes. Why such a drastic decision? Because I, as a 20 year old, would have never done such a thing to my child if I now had a baby. Never, ever. That’s why.

    So yeah. This article is for the person who feels guilty leaving their friends or some other people behind that aren’t dependent of them. Not for a mother who doesn’t feel like being a mother anymore.

    1. This is a heart-breaking read. I’m so sorry you were abandoned by your mother when you most needed her. I hope she does read it, and this comment, so she can see that she was selfish (understatement). Some ,mothers don’t deserve their lovely children. There, I’ve said it.
      My own daughter is a little older than you and I couldn’t leave her, or the country we live in.

      And yes, this article was written for those who feel guilty for moving away, but as you can see from the many, many comments, there are lots of different stories and damages ‘out there’.
      I hope you are able to find your own peace in life, you’ve got a load of fun and adventures ahead of you.
      Sending hugs (you’ve made me quite tearful)

      1. Hey again,

        I apologize for a late reply. Do you really think that she was selfish? if yes, I thank you for your perspective; it helps to hear from another mom that my mother has done wrong. It gives me reassurance that I might not be the “troubled” one here. It also helps so much to hear that some mothers ( pointing to my mother ) don’t deserve their children ( pointing to me, which makes me feel that I am somehow valuable as a child. I didn’t feel like that growing up, thank you, that sentence healed something inside my heart).

        I’m also sorry if I made you tearful, it wasn’t my intention to awaken sad feelings in you. I’m very grateful that you read my comment though, thank you so much. I wish you all the best aswell.

    2. Renesmee,
      I was mortified to read how your mom just left you. Im so sorry. You deserve(d) so much better. I have an 8 and 10 year old and couldn’t under any circumstances just walk away. They are my life. God bless you and I sincerely hope you are living life to the fullest.

    3. I recently moved to Australia from Canada.
      Canada has been going in the tank due to the high cost of living & our prime minister Justin tredau and everything is un affordable, house prices are through the roof. I was living in my mothers basement up until 29 I’ve never even been on a vacation & was never able to get out. I’ve worked many jobs tried my best to save money I even opened up my own auto shop and ran my business for 5 years with no success of being able to move out on my own. I planned to come to Australia my girlfriend and I were very rocky but still hooking up here and there she ended up getting pregnant 1 month before I left for Australia. Im now here in Australia & was offered 100k per year in my industry and I feel guilty not being there for when the baby is born. I suffer from guilt everyday but I feel that without this Job opportunity I won’t be able to survive and back home I know nothing has changed. Not sure what to do. Do I throw away everything I’ve worked so hard for & just to go back to Canada to raise a child in housing, maybe try to make it work with the woman I argued everyday with, or do I continue on this journey ?

      1. Hi Nrad
        I think it’s good for you to reach out for other’s opinions,very hard situation,if your 100% that the relationship with your girlfriend will not work then put your heart at peace,or if you think there could be a chance then you could invite her over & see where life takes you both,maybe she also felt life was hard living back home,I would definitely weight that up as an option,I surgest you stay there & make a decision you can live with,all the luck in the world to you.

  8. Semzi: My husband is feeling guilty for leaving his business and his extended family behind. My children are being bullied and beaten in UK schools. It comes as a middle school shock because our experience in preschool 6 years ago was the opposite. I frequently have arguments with my husband and he makes me feel that I have imposed a decision on him and my 2 children of moving abroad. I don’t miss anything in my home country nor I wish to return. I can’t even listen to the name of that country… I have become so averse to it due to bullying and bad experiences there. What I did was that I did in the best interests of my family! But I feel that I am alone in my struggles! I am not only the sole breadwinner of the family, I have to keep defending the move…sometimes I get extremely depressed! Nobody understands me!

    1. That sounds like whole heap of nightmare which can’t be unpicked on a website comment alone.
      Put a stop to the school bullying now, move them if the school isn’t preventing this.
      Maybe it’s time for marital counselling for you and your husband too.
      I wish you all the best.

  9. I have been offered an amazing job opportunity that would set my family up, make us debt free and give the kids wonderful opportunities and lifestyle. That job offer is in the USA whereas I live in the UK. However I have a 13 year old son from a previous marriage. He has caused so much upset within the family over the years to the point where he and my wife (his step mum) don’t speak. I have 3 other kids to consider, two which are 1 and 3 so at the start of their life. I would love to take this opportunity but I am racked with guilt as to whether I would be abandoning my son. Currently I see him for 1.5 hours once a week and 4 hours every other weekend. He would be able to come over a couple times a year and I’d be able to return to the UK. I have spoken with him hypothetically and he seemed pretty cool with the idea but don’t think he absorbed the reality of it. Would I be the worlds worst dad?

    1. I can’t answer this, nor can I assuage your guilt. It seems you have a lot of work to do within your family relationships. You are the adult. Your wife is an adult. Your son’s mother is an adult.
      Your 13 year old is not.
      Yet you say he has “caused so much upset within the family over the years”.

    2. Hey,

      I know it’s not my place to comment on your situation, or give advice, but because I have a pretty strong opinion about a situation pretty close to the situation of yours, my perspective might be benefitical to you.

      I was that kid that was left alone, the same exact way you’re describing the kid is, that you have. I understand that you want to give your new children a wonderful future, and that that job opportunity would be a sigh of relief from the standpoint of debt, but even if you’ve already proceeded with the plan you wrote about ( because I’m writing this a bit late since your comment was posted last september ) , give it another thought. I know nothing about your child from your previous marriage, but if you care about that child’s feelings even just a bit, give some time to yourself to think about WHY he’s caused a lot of upset in the family. There is ALWAYS a why. Nobody acts mean, disturbing and reckless without a reason. My parents are also divorced, and I didn’t always act like an angel either, due to the feelings hidden inside of me. I was angry and sad about the thought that my parents were divorced for example, just that. I would see families spending time together, and a feeling of emptiness and sadness would swell in my chest. Even with my new stepmother, the feelings didn’t go away ( we were supposed to be a family together, just like you, your new wife and your kids, I presume ) Maybe that’s what your son is experiencing, and seeing you and your new wife, his stepmom, together, makes him hurt inside because in his head, he wishes that you and his own mom were still together. Maybe that’s why he’s causing trouble, because in his head, he wishes you and your new wife would break up. I would like to repeat that I don’t know ANYTHING about your situation more than what you’ve written here, all I’m doing is speaking through my own life experiences. Another thought I have, what things has he experienced growing up? Has he experienced ecouragement, happy memories, support, togetherness… or, has he experienced bullying of some sort, discouragement, fights, anger, sadness… I don’t know what your story is. All I know that we, as humans, are very complex, and our past experiences shape how we see the world now. Even at just 13 years old, your child has already experienced a tough fact growing up, his parents aren’t together. It was hard for me to accept in my own life, I would assume it’s hard for him aswell.

      So, to answer your question, are you abandoning your child in the process of moving to another country with your new family, prioritizing the new family and your own life instead of him? First of all, I would like to congratulate you for feeling the feeling of guilt and noticing it. Not every parent would feel guilty in your situation, it’s a healthy indication that you care about your son. My mother was not like that, she left the country without taking me into consideration, at all. Even when I was crying in front of her as a 17-year old sobbing to her that the “home” at my dad’s place was mentally abusive and neglecting due to my new step mother. So yeah, even with this tough life decision of yours, be proud about yourself that you are EVEN CONSIDERING how your choices are going to affect the child.

      However, you tell here that your son seemed cool with the idea, when you told him about it. Of course he was cool with it, because as you explained, he probably hadn’t fully absorbed the idea of you moving just yet.

      I want to give you a perspective; imagine how your son must be feeling in these situations?

      – His father has a new wife, and two new kids, that get tons of more love and affection than he gets from you, within a week. He might already feel abandoned by that fact alone, even if you’re physically there to see him every week. Any kid wants to have their parents in their life, they NEED them.
      – Now his father is saying that they are moving away, far far away, with their new, much more loved, and important, new family. He might already feel unimportant to you, so now that he hears this news, he may act cool and all, but there is a high chance he’s crying inside without showing it to anyone.

      Sometimes, love is tough. Don’t be like my mother who denied the fact that love goes hand in hand with sacrifice every once in a while. If a parent loves a child, it means sacrifice, in some cases. Just because your marriage fell apart, it doesn’t mean your first child should be ANY LESS IMPORTANT than your new ones. If he’s causing trouble, find the root of the problem, and deal with it. Damn, even I would have been nicer to my mom instead of screaming at her and judging her from head to toe if she would have even just considered me more important than her career. This advice doesn’t mean completely throw away your dreams and hopes for your new family, but rather, find a middle ground, where everyone can be even sort of happy, because sometimes in these cases, the happiness of those around you may mean a little sacrifice from yourself.

      Find a middle ground, take your kid’s feelings into account, and make the choices that feel wise to your heart, not to your mind. Don’t ignore the guilt, it’s there for a reason, but don’t think you’re the worst parent in the world for having the situation you have. Life is life, sometimes it’s hard, but there’s always a silver lining.

      That is my advice to you, as someone who went through something similar to what you describe your child’s experience to be, I want to repeat that I have no idea what your life is like, so it’s hard for me to give advice or say what’s true and what’s not without knowing the whole situation, so please take this text with a grain of salt and understand that I know nothing but my own experiences and am a complete outsider to your life. I hope this text also isn’t hurtful or judgemental in any way, it’s not my job to say what you should and shouldn’t do, all I can do is give you advice based on my own experiences. I apologize if I have somehow been too pushy or somehow done something else wrong, that is no way my goal.

      I hope you figure this out and I wish you good luck!

  10. I grew up on the continent but since I had these half-sisters across the Atlantic, came to London for internships to improve my English. This way I could maybe one day start a grown-up relationship with them and make up the lost time. I met my future wife in the weeks that followed my arrival, internships became jobs and so on, the years passed. Ten years later I am now living in her home country with my ageing mother missing out on seeing her grand-daughter at home despite bi-yearly visits on our part. She has occasionally let it slip how difficult it was even tough you wouldn’t necessarily pick up on it from her regular messages. She is also unsure about visiting considering the flight time and the overall stress and hassle involved.

    I wasn’t exactly seeking for an ‘eldorado’ abroad but rather to open the door to one day maybe reconnect with those distant relatives of mine; I mistakenly held them as a potential missing part in my identity at the time; doing so has costed me a lifetime of exile which I cannot satisfyingly solve, lest diminish the predicament that it has become for the last people on earth I would ever want to hurt or disappoint.

  11. I’ve been living abroad for a few years now. My mum has always been okay with it, she saw that I was way happier when I was not home but my dad never agreed to it. I have now started my career, have a partner and I’m so afraid to tell them. My dad keeps shaming me, and asking me why I’m not coming back home as my entire family is living in my hometown and that I’m just ungrateful and selfish. I don’t have the strength to tell him that I will never come back. I see them twice a year, I’m in contact with them everyday but it is not enough for him. Today again he just told me that he just wanted me to be home cause I had nothing to do in this place, and that my place belonged next to my family. It gives me big anxiety. I’ve never been happier since I’ve moved to the UK, but I’m always pressured by my dad and it just destroys my mood every time. He makes me feel like I’m letting everyone down and doesn’t realise that If I’m away it’s for my mental health. Do you have any tips on tackling this?

    1. I definitely can relate with you. What makes my situation more complicated that it’s my uncle (mom’s brother) instead of dad. Long story short, me & my mom were ‘taken care’ of by my uncle after my mom’s divorce and I had always been that good girl under the burden of responsibilities. he did support me in my education and even I also obliged everything that was being told me to do for my own wellbeing. I was definitely given a financially comfortable stay but the mental trauma due to the toxic controlling nature of my uncle was unlimited and something I never let the outer world know. My aunt passed away due to cancer and I was the only one taking care of all the womanly responsibilities of the family even after his own son left the city with his newly married wife to live his independent life. my mom has been a psychological patient and to make matters worse, we were always told that if they would not have taken us in, we would be beggars on the street. It was embedded as a fact in my mind as well till I became 29 and at one stage of life understood I was having a lot of potential to grow and this toxicity is limiting me. I took decision to move abroad to get a masters degree, single handedly worked towards loan and all other formalities with 0 support from the family. Moreover, it was always the shaming comment that you are taking wrong decision and you’ll regret.

      Personally, moving abroad was the best decision I had taken for myself. although I do not claim I have reached the top of my potential in these 3 years, I can definitely say I have grown tremendously and the world is welcoming me with open arms for career growth as well as personal well-being. But the family members do not leave a single chance to make me feel like shit everytime mentioning I should be obliging my ill & mad mother’s ‘responsibility’ which has fallen on uncle’s head. to add to it, my my brother and his wife never talk to me by themselves and when I call they directly or indirectly take me on guilt trips with comments like you should have never gone and you have been the worst. Laughably where was this brother when his wife never bothered to even come home to meet the elders when she used to be in town but chose to be always at her parents’ place and never visit even though our home was just 2km away.

      Now, being newly married, me & my partner are working hard to make it big in this new country and we support each other a lot. My in-laws family back home is also very supportive and know what we have chosen is for growing financially in order to be able to support them monetarily as they are getting older. But this constant rejection and shaming from my family is taking toll of my sanity and it seems there is no way out.

      1. Oh wow, Simran, that is a dreadful story and I am so sorry you went through so much mental trauma. Not only then, but now too. I have many things I could say about the way you have been treated by so-called family, but I’d better not.

        I sincerely congratulate you on getting away from them, for moving abroad and your recent marriage. So happy that your life is finally YOURS to grow as you wish.

        This doesn’t come lightly, but if I were you, I would seriously consider going ‘no contact’, or very low contact with your family. This is your life now, don’t allow them the headspace to drag you down.

        My ‘Expat Guilt Masterclass‘ could be helpful to you, but also I believe you need to talk this through with a professional counsellor. It’s the only way to reclaim your life for you. I wish you all the very, very best. Please consider taking charge of your life with your new partner and grow, grow, grow!

    2. Hi Aidyl
      I feel for you,I would surgest that you tell your father in the nicest possible way the next time he puts pressure on you that you have no plans to return,it’s understandable that he wants you near as his probably feeling a sence of loss but if your happy you stay & don’t put others before yourself & your happiness,live your life to the fullest hunni & good luck in the uk

  12. Hello,
    Thanks for the insightful article and it helped me reading all the comments. I’m from the UK and currently live in New York, where I’ve been for 10 years. My family moved to Germany when I was 10 and we moved back to the UK when I was 18, and from then I desperately wanted to move abroad again. I had the opportunity to move to New York for work and my husband and I moved over. My family were sad but supportive, but my younger sister was very upset and felt abandoned. After my first year, she got mono and became very sick. She went home to be cared for by my parents, and has been there ever since – she has never really got better. During the worst of her illness, she threatened suicide and blamed me for not getting better since I wasn’t there. I visited when I could and called as much as I could; I was studying and trying to build my career. I lived my life with guilt, guilt about taking a vacation, seeing friends, being happy. It drove a wedge between me and my husband and along with other things, eventually he left and we got divorced. I was devastated and it’s taken me a long time to find my feet. I started a new job and have done quite well, I made new friends and realized I could live on my own, I still thought I might move back to the UK. Now, I have a new partner who is American and we moved in, have a dog and are talking about having kids. My sister meanwhile is still ill and living at home. My parents are getting older. I feel so split. I love my partner, we have a caring relationship and I love our life together. He understands I care a lot about my family but is clear about boundaries with my sister – she frequently lashes out at me, saying I am the reason she is still sick, my life is so easy, there’s no point in trying to get better unless I’m there. But we have a life here and I don’t know if I want to move to the UK any time soon. I certainly can’t give up my career to be her full time carer which is what she expects me to do. She hasn’t been able to work or live independently.

    Any advice?

    1. Thank you for reaching out.
      I think it’s your sister that needs help, not you. Has she accessed support for her post-viral/chronic fatigue/ME/mental health? It’s unfair you’re getting the blame for her illness, but I guess you’re the easy target and she’s lashing out. And now, after 10 years, it’s become her default.
      Please try to live your own life. And please consider taking a look at the masterclass linked in this article where I give you tips on conversations to have with your family and dealing with these feelings.

  13. I need help. My mother was hospitalized in the worst possible way a year ago due to covid, now shes doing much better and can function on her own and is healing well but I told them I want to move to Germany with my girlfriend (secretly my fiancée) for my mental health and my happiness and start a new happy life that I’ve been so overly excited for until recently. My sister and my mother don’t want me to move and want me to stay, my sister has been emotionally manipulating me pretty much my whole life and even more so now to stay because my mother could possibly pass away, my mother supports me most of the time but she also is afraid of death and me not being able to see her when before she passes because I’m an undocumented immigrant in the US and I overstayed my visa (not by my choice, my mother moved here with me and my sister when I was 13) so if I leave it would be quite some time before I could come back to the US, a few years for sure. I need to leave soon because my fiancée suffers from deep depression, eating disorder, borderline, and a few other mental illnesses that I was succesfully able to help her with but she needs professional help, she had come to US for her job and needs to go back to Germany. I’ve never seen mental illness this severe in my life, shes suicidal and I’m able to give her enough reason to keep living life but not enough to treat it because I’m no professional and I’ve never dealt with such servere illnesses in my life but I know how much I love her and I want to keep helping because I’ve felt like I’ve done so much more with life and have become much more mature because of it and of her because shes taken care of me above and beyond with my depression and have loved me even more. My sister keeps manipulating me emotionally and its been ripping me apart because I love both my mother and fiancée very much, through all the conflicts I’ve been wishing that someone would just decide for me because its too much for me to handle with work (I work 12 hours a day, 6 days week) and depression. I know I need to leave but I keep questioning too much and need to hear that its going to be okay for me to do whats important for me and my mental health.

    1. So sorry to hear you are going through such a time with family and of course your feelings about leaving. I cannot relate to the whole of it but recently left my 17 year old daughter with my elderly parents to finish school in the UK and took my anxiety to another level. She hits back when angry saying I left her and she has no one when things are not going her way but I do all I can to remain neutral as she is also being a teenager but the guilt leaves me sad and I’m in this glorious wonderful place I should be enjoying. My father once had the opportunity to go to New Zealand when his parents were elderly and sick and he decided to not go for that reason, he said it was the biggest regret of his left he’s now 78. He told us to grab every opportunity as life is too short and they would cope with a teenager in the house til she ventures to university. We left our family and friends because we were unhappy, of course missing them would be very hard but we had to chose a life better for us and our family (we took our 4 year old with us) we speak regularly on the phone and it actually seems no difference other than wanting to pop round for a coffee when feeling lonely. I’m not sure what I’m trying to say but you seem to have done so much for others it’s ok to think of yourself sometimes too. You have to be strong for them but happy in your life too.

      1. My husband and I and our 3 kids have moved quite a bit, when they were in their pre-teen and early teen years we moved to the UK for 5 years. After that was over we moved back to Canada where we are from. We now have another opportunity to move to a different part of the world. Our oldest son has moved away on his own, our youngest son would come with us and our middle child (who is 18) would stay in Canada. But she has the opinion that we were perfectly fine staying in Canada and that she is now being abandoned by us. The guilt that I feel is really overwhelming but I can see myself staying in the place where she wants to stay. What do I do!! It’s different when you feel guilty for leaving your parents behind. What about when you leave your child behind???

      2. There comes a point where you have to make a choice. Do you move or don’t you?
        My husband is currently working in a different country while I have stayed in the UK to support my daughter. It’s working for us, and is something many, many people choose to do when their kids get older.
        Exams and education is the main reason many choose this option; it’s important for children, however old they are, to have some kind of stability.
        Whatever you choose to do, you need to be perfectly comfortable with your choice, and own your decision. Then you won’t feel guilty!

    2. Hi Mezba,
      Thank you for reaching out.
      However, I think you need more help than I am able to offer. Many aspects of your comment concern me greatly and think both you and your girlfriend/fiancée need real life, professional mental health support.
      You cannot live your life trying to keep everyone happy, particularly at the expense of your own mental health.
      Please find a therapist / counsellor as soon as possible and don’t finalise any plans until you are confident you’re moving (or staying) for the right reasons, and those reasons must be the right ones for YOU.

    3. Hi Mezba,

      You sound like a wonderful partner to your fiancée. Thank you for what you do to support her. As someone with a mental illness, I know what it means when someone helps get you to next Thursday.

      Maybe an outside perspective on your relationships could help with the decision about going to Germany/how to do it. Just from what you wrote, folks in your family are under chronic stress, beyond other conditions.

      You did not say where in the US you are, so I wanted to share this resource for undocumented mental health counseling from my state, California: https://immigrantsrising.formstack.com/forms/mhc_prospectiveclient

    4. Hi Mezba,
      I’m sorry to hear you are having such a stressful time. I don’t know the situation with your family of origin, but being manipulated is never good. However, it is a serious red flag to move abroad without a support network of your own and community of support established for you and your partner. You could be essentially walking into a very unhealthy setup where you are expecting to support your partner but have no context or resources, much less support of your own. Additionally if you find yourself vulnerable to manipulation by your family of origin, it’s not unlikely that you are also vulnerable to codependency with your partner who is in a very unstable sounding place. At the very least, before you go, make sure to have made connection directly (not just web searches) for mental health resources and support for yourself. Additionally, seeking counseling on this in advance seems essential, especially since you aren’t able to even be honest with your family about the state of the relationship.

  14. Thank you for the article..i am in a very difficult situation i have just recieved my spousal visa to be with my husband in the UK..i have being looking after my mom for the last 15years since my dad passed and we do everything together..My daughter stays in the same town as my mom and so does my brother but they have not looked after her…she is devastated and no matter what i say or do helps..i feel so guilty and sad and dont even know of i should go anymore i am leaving my daughter and grandchildren behind too…I have promised to get my mom her own flat that we will pay for and send money home for groceries..she can not stay with my brother or daughter as they have full houses..My mom keeps on saying she will rather die or that nobody will care for her and she will not be able to go anywhere because she goes every where with me…im stressed and so worried i am 45years old..i just feel that if this continues i rather just stay and give up on leaving..my herat is broken and nobody is even happy for me…i only get to see my husband now for a month once a yea…Please could you help me

    1. I’m sorry you’re going through this.
      Has this come as a shock to your mother? Or has this been planned and discussed for a long time?
      Is there a reason her care comes down to you alone? Why can’t your brother step up?
      I think there needs to be some assertive discussion here.
      Please check out my Masterclass for tips and advice on how to deal with this huge topic https://expatchild.com/product/erase-expat-guilt-master-class/
      Or, for more tailored advice, book a call with me https://bookme.name/expatability/expat-espresso

  15. Thank you for your article. I moved to Japan from the USA two years ago and due to covid restrictions I have not been able to return to visit and my parents have not been able to visit me. When I explained to my mom that I intend to stay in Japan for at least another year, she got very sad. She’s a pretty anxious person and has many concerns like that I’m going to find a foreign partner, have a family, and never return to the USA. I think she’s been doing a lot of research and got her hopes up looking for jobs for me in the USA. Honestly I don’t know what to do. I’ve struggled with her controlling demeanor my entire life, but I love her and want to be there for her. I’ve offered to schedule weekly calls with her, but what else can I do to help her not feel so disappointed and alone? I struggle with the paradox of wanting to please her and knowing that this is where I want to be right now.

      1. The article literally spoke my mind. I’m an Indian doctor, recently cleared a difficult exam, one that took up so much of my time….my life and so many sacrifices….only to get an opportunity of a job in uk….Now that i have it and am planning to relocate,it strikes me so bad. I’m the only daughter,and I can’t bring myself to think I won’t be there to care for my parents when they need me…. I’m desperate, thinking of ways to get them to stay with me….but with Indian parents,they love their roots and they won’t budge… it’s their home after all…. Now it’s on me to accept this, and move on, may be not wanting to think of the future. My husband is pretty determined about the move,and it doesn’t affect him the way it does me….How to convince myself all will be fine, and I will find some way to care for my parents in future?? I’ve seen them taking care of my grandparents, my grandma is still with us…. I’ve grown up with the idea and responsibility to take care of parents…. I don’t know….it just seems so difficult to accept.

  16. Thanks for this article! I have been living in Germany away from my parents in Australia and suffering expat guilt for more than a decade! Things started to get better as I was returning to Australia four times a year to visit but my German husband and I had a daughter in 2019 and such frequent visits will not be possible with our daughter as it is too disruptive for her. I am an only child.

    We have been in Australia all of 2021 due to Covid living with, and supporting, my parents but my husband has to go back to Germany in January for work. My husband doesn’t want to be away from my daughter so he ideally wants us to return with him. My dad is 87yo and has congestive heart failure and is severely movement restricted. He can only walk with a walker and he has been falling a lot lately. At the moment (but not necessarily always) he needs help getting out of bed and going to the toilet etc. My mum is under a lot of pressure looking after him and looking after everything else single-handedly. Ideally I would stay longer to assist my parents. I think that this might delay dad having to go into a home which would be in line with his wishes to live independently at home.

    My husband thinks I am overly close to my parents.

    Of course, with Covid, he can not just fly in and out of Australia to visit our daughter as he wishes so things are even more complicated.

    Just a nightmare. I wish I had never started the international relationship which makes this so difficult.

    1. Thank you so much for this article. I have just told my parents that my partner and I are planning to move to Portugal from the UK. I’m an only child and it’s hit my parents hard. I’ve never seen my dad cry before and he did at this news.

      The amount of guilt I feel is horrendous and I feel caught in the middle. I tried to say there would be regular Skype sessions and I would come for visits as I have a remote job. However my mum looks at it as a rejection of them and being British. I don’t know what to do…

  17. Very beautifully writtne article. It touches upon very sensitive and crucial topic. Many comments provide interesting insights further.

    I am a professional going through very peculiar dilemma. me and my wife have a fantastic opportunity to move Australia from the UK. We are quite well settled here in the UK in a big city, but feel that the Australia has better opportunities and quality of life for us (main consideration- better salary, better work-life balance, more relaxed life, better weather).

    We have two boys. Elder one is now 21 and younger one 15. Younger one is going to move with us, but the Elder one already in a top uni and has very bright job prospects here in the UK, so he is unlikely to move even in future.

    As the things are progressing, I am feeling more and more guilty about leaving my elder behind (my wife’s guilt is even worse). It is making me feel:
    1. Am I making a fatal mistake in leaving my bright elder boy behind, and thus splitting the family between two continents far far apart? Just to pursue my dream, should I make my family suffer this seperation, and thus devoid them of the beautiful moments togather- seeing elder one grow in his career, life, his marriage, grandchildren etc etc?

    2. Assuming that we will have a fantastic material life there, will we (particularly my wife) ever be able to be happy there, without her elder son living close to her/ within few hours drive?

    3. How will my son feel? Will he not feel abandoned and left behind? How will it affect our long term relationship?

    I am really confused, and all of this is making me question my decision.

    Please advise.

    1. Thanks for this article. I’m an expat living in Switzerland and I’m from Ireland. I moved here nearly 3 years ago to be with my partner who is from here after doing a long distance relationship. We have since got married and have a little 2 month old girl. My siblings back in Ireland totally changed towards me. Before I left my sister accused me of abandoning my family by moving away. Bear in mind my 4 siblings all have partners and kids of their own and I didn’t at the time. I found since I moved, all of them have underlying anger towards me. I find nothing I say or do is right. Whenever I go home they make excuses not to spend time with me. I feel like I am always being punished for leaving. They won’t visit me here either. My parents cannot visit me due to health reasons but they seem to cover up for my siblings and if I ever say anything like I miss them or I wish I could see them I get the answer that I chose to move away so what do I expect. Its incredible hurtful and sometimes I feel so lonely. They is underlying hostility directed at me constantly and never check on me if I’m okay. I never did anything bad to them and used to have a great relationship with them but now they can be downright nasty to me and comment on things with underlying digs all the time. I have an amazing husband who supports me and I feel like my family couldn’t care less about ever spending time with him. They never ask about him either. Part of me wonders if they are jealous because I just cannot understand the hostility otherwise. I live in such a beautiful place and I know that they are the kids would love it here. They all have plenty of money so that is no issue. They go on holidays to other countries ad never come here to visit and it always hurts. What do i do? Talking to them will not help as i feel they would only love to have a huge fight with me. And my sisters are NEVER wrong so I know they would take it as me criticising them and they would get defensive. They are so hostile I can’t see a point.

      1. Such a common experience with so many expats, sadly, Claire.
        You’re not playing your part in their life story ‍♀️ You’re making your own path in life, and – for whatever reason – they don’t like it.
        Keep living your life and try not to let yourself be affected by other people’s drama. They’re the ones missing out.

      2. Hi, I’ve been away from my Family In Australia for 5 years. My sister recently got brain cancer and my mum has been very ill the past 2 years. I am torn on whether going back to support them is the right thing to do. I don’t have a partner or dependent in the country I am living in. Although I know I cant help with the illness, I feel I can offer support that hasn’t been there the past 5 years. Any help is appreciated

      3. What’s stopping you? You say yourself that you feel you can offer support to your family, and nothing is holding you in the country you’re currently in. I’m not seeing the guilt problem here at all, I’m afraid.

  18. Excellent article, thanks for writing and posting. I have a great work opportunity overseas starting late October, and circumstances mean that my partner will stay behind. We have no children, and we have done the long-distance thing before a few times over the past 12 years. Pre-pandemic, she was the one who went overseas for work/business while I stayed behind. Still, I can tell she is a bit sad and apprehensive, and I feel I am going to miss her terribly this time. I do feel guilt and that I am being selfish. I don’t know if it’s because we’re getting on a bit age-wise, not as young as we used to be. At the same time, I feel that things will get better once I get over there, and that this overseas work could open further opportunities for both of us. But there are no guarantees, of course, and there is always financial and other risks. Just thought I would share, as I’m sure everyone reading this and other posts are experiencing similar dilemmas, wishing everoyne all the best.

    1. This article made me feel less alone.When I was 14 my parents seperated.I lived with my father in the US.He sent ne to visit my Mother in Canada one summer.At the end of summer he told me he didnt have enough money to take care of me.So I stayed in Canada.Fast forward 15 years Ive made my life here in Canada have a husband and a child.

      My father was diagnosed with liver cancer about a year ago.My grandmother who is 92 lives with him.I decided to go visit them I went 3 times in 6 months.
      I stayed a month each time away from my husband and daughter.I took care of my dad and grandma.In between all that I also had to get a brain stent and barely got to rest.

      Now Im back home.My Grandmother thinks im mean for not being there with her.My Dad says hes fine with it but always say’s things like “we are fine for the moment,but we might die before you come back.I feel constantly guilty and its affecting my relationship with my husband.

  19. Thanks for this article, reading this article is like talking to some close friend and sharing the thoughts.

    I am 39 and planned to moved to abroad with my 8 year old daughter. My husband will join us later. My in-laws are so close my daughter that they are not able to accept this departure. 10 years ago, my spouse and I returned back from US as they were so upset and even sick because of our thoughts. Now after these many years, we felt sorry for our decision and we would like to be settle in Canada.

    So, their sorrow, health trouble and emotional instability have started again. This is killing me everyday, I am not even able to talk to them. There is no scope for any discussion and mutual understanding as well. It seems that I am responsible for bringing this sadness in their life. They desire to stay with their grand-daughter. My only source of energy is my husband and my mother.

    I understand their sadness, at the same time sometimes I question to myself. Why aren’t they a little happy for us?

    1. As you’ll see from the many comments here, you are not alone in this. It’s so sad that our families can’t accept that we move on. I’m sorry they are putting so much unfair pressure on you; it is a form of emotional blackmail, don’t you think? You say you’re unable to talk to them or discuss this, so you have to make your decision and stand by it.
      As you’ll have seen, I am running a one-off, live workshop on Expat Guilt which you may find useful. It’s on 6th September 2021 and you can book your seat here: RESERVE A SPACE. I do hope you’re able to join me.

  20. Thanks for this great article. After seeing all the comments, it eases me that I am not alone in this. I am an Indian and have been here in USA for last 3 years. Even though I did not come to USA with a long term plan, now my wife isn’t really ready to go back to India. The ‘expat’ guilt within me about leaving my parents in india is holding me down. Typical Indian parents are not like the parents in US, they become so dependent on children and expect their old age to be with sons and grandchildren. I don’t debate if it right or wrong. But the thought of not being able to support them morally and provide the only happiness that they crave for is literally making me confused about decisions and feel guilt. Please share me your words of advise. Thanks

    1. Hey Raj,
      Yeah, I get it. It’s a culturally genetic guilt, I think! You can’t manage their feelings, all you can do is manage your own. Not easy, I know. I think it may be helpful to curtail their expectations of you, by gentle, yet frank and honest discussions. If you have other family in India, perhaps speak to them too. The main thing is to make sure everyone is under no illusion as to your plans; don’t string them along.

  21. Hi! I am 18 now, I´m from Brazil and my college presented a program that allows me to finish the graduation in United States, at a North American university, which would start in 2023 and end in 2025, and, besides, I would have a scholarship there (as I do here), so money wouldn´t be a problem in fact, in this case, it would be an attractive matter, as this is almost a once In a lifetime opportunity. As I have always been so attracted to the idea of living in the USA, that instantly caught my attention. But the moment it became a real possibility, a fear rushed through me. The reason I have always wanted to live abroad is that I don´t like Brazil´s environment. That is: I find the streets very ugly, the poorness bothers me, the lack of freedom associated with the lack of mobility (it´s not easy to move across town, I don´t feel safe walking alone on the streets, etc.) and, also, somehow the social relations/dynamic also bother me (that are somewhat very superficial, especially romantic wise) … So I´m confident that Boston would solve the whole “aesthetic” and freedom issue, but would that be enough to make up for everything I´m leaving behind? Family, grandparents (this is the BIGGEST issue for me as I won´t have them for many more years and I love them very much, although I don´t meet them very often), friends… Am I postponing a romantic possibility of meeting someone here in Brazil? Because I don´t feel very good about not being able to speak my mother language with my significant other, even though I´m fluent in English (my ideal world would be finding a Brazilian guy willing to live there with me…). And there´s also another thing: due to the pandemic, I haven´t been able to experience college the proper way, that is, I haven´t been there and it has been 1 year since I got in! If I leave, I will have very little time to enjoy it and realize if I really want to live abroad (and I think that would happen actually). Also, keep in mind that by staying in my house 90% of the time I am almost forgetting how much I get annoyed/kind of disgusted by the environment. Anyway, I hope you can provide me some enlightenment, regarding what I should do in this situation or how my mindset should be 🙂

    1. There’s a lot going on here Ana!
      Firstly, congratulations on your opportunity!
      Secondly, I think you’re look at the USA through very rose-tinted glasses. Please do more research.
      Hopefully your family want what’s best for you, so guilt shouldn’t be factored in.
      Naturally, I can’t go into everything here as it requires a two way conversation! Here’s my one-to-one booking link to find out more and we will be able to work through it all there.

    2. Hey Ana
      I’m Brazilian too, 29, live in Denmark.
      Been away from home for 9 years now.
      Did you move to Boston?
      If you think I could somehow help you by sharing my experience with you, send me an email with your whatsapp at leonardo.battezini@gmail.com
      I hope you find the best solution for your dilema.
      Abraço, Leonardo.

  22. This is a good article, and the comments are even perhaps more than good food for thought and great insight! I’m a middle aged expat with divorced aging parents. Father and new wife seemingly doing quite well keeping agile and able they have each other). My mother has not remarried and lives alone. Many years previously she helped out a sibling financially in a HUGE way and now that sibling is financially caring for our mom. Recently my mom had to leave her leased home and my sister moved her to live closer to her. It’s been about a month now and it is a strain on my sibling and her partner and on my mom settling in to a new area and home, etc.

    About a year ago, I was planning to return home to be closer to my mom and my sister told me not to come (shared a couple of reasons why I shouldn’t come home) and so I decided to stay put and signed an extended agreement with my employer. I have also currently signed a new lease on a property and am doing some buildout on it.

    I recently received a note from my sister’s partner telling me it is difficult and how much they are doing and asked if I could come home.

    I wrote my sister. She assured me that things will be ok. She said it is stressful and that she could use some help though, too…

    I get it all. I feel the difficulty and pain even at this distance. I also feel that my empathy could be/is perceived as insincere and placating… my commitment here abroad perceived as selfish. There is a tug at my heart, feelings of guilt, though quite honestly I am settling in here and building a life for myself here at this time… and I am happy with it.

    There isn’t an easy answer is what I am realizing… no rationalizing here… just sincerely trying to be honest, straightforward about intentions, and also to be willing and able to do what I can from my side here.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to share ❤ And yes, the other comments here are definitely a glimpse into this eternal matter!
      Sounds like either your sister or her partner aren’t being as straightforward as could be hoped. Someone’s struggling, or ‘playing the martyr’, but until honesty and vulnerability are admitted to, there’s not much can be done.
      And, of course, the pandemic isn’t helping, it it?
      I wish you all the very best.

  23. I’m starting to plan to move to Europe (I’m from South America) with my partner in the mid/long term but I have mixed feelings. I still haven’t said anything to my parents because nothing is certain yet, we just have the idea. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do but I’ve had bad luck with my last jobs and never had enough stability to even save some money. My partner has been thinking it for a while now and it would be possible because he has the means so it started being a joint project. A few months ago I got a better job so I’m feeling better about that but still think about new possibilities. Of course I have fear and anxiety, my brother lives on another state, my dad has health issues and I’m afraid something will happen with any of my parents and I’m too far away.
    Also I love my partner but I keep thinking a lot of things could go wrong, we could break up, it can be difficult to find a new job, etc etc. I even would feel sorry for having to sell all my stuff after all the effort it took me to buy nice things for my apartment
    I also want to focus on my new job and these concerns are very distractng, considering it’s just an idea for the time being. How can I work on it without worrying beforehand and keep living my life here?

  24. I’m leaving in April for a new life abroad. What kills me is the doom and gloom of the family-thanks for the support and encouragement, not a characteristic in my remaining family -making this move all the more easier.
    While I lived a state away they never once came to visit but now they’re gonna miss me, oh get over yourselves.
    I’ll respect the opinions of those who’ve taken the leap however, I’m struggling to see how I’d ever feel guilty given the history.

  25. My family makes me feel guilty all the time for moving away. They constantly say, ‘So, you’re never coming back?’ We both live in Europe, it’s not like there’s an ocean separating us. They never come and visit me either because they don’t like my partner because he’s from a different culture. They don’t realize that I have a lot more freedom here, I can go anywhere I want without asking anyone to drive me, I can visit new places and meet new people. In my old country I was mostly stuck at home with my parents. Whenever I would tell them I want to go see something new, they were against it. My family has been insisting I move back home into their house and leave my partner behind. They expect me to visit them a lot, but during holidays plane tickets get expensive and I also have to buy gifts, so the whole trip costs me a pretty penny.

    1. I’m sorry your family are doing this. As you can see from all the comments here, it’s a familiar story.
      A couple of thoughts… nobody can make another person feel something without permission. So stop allowing yourself to feel guilty 😉
      How much worse would you feel if you did what they wanted you to do?
      You have to be assertive; stand up for yourself. “So, you’re never coming back?”, you say “No”. And move on to a different topic. That’s it.

      1. Wonderful article, resulting comments are useful too. I am a 53 year old college professor taking a position in the UK, very excited. I’ve had my share of guilt and judgement from others since I am leaving my 16 year old son, wife and aging parents. Just writing that out makes me look awful but we’ve talked about the move for over a year, I suggested we all move (son, wife) but they declined. Keep in mind I helped my wife get a great job here, we have no debt to worry about, and I have a brother that lives 2-hours away from our folks. What’s comical, though, is before this move became “real” with the arrival of a UK work visa no one seemed interested, no one showed an interest in what I was exploring, could hardly get folks to come visit us for dinner (we live 30 minutes away)…. you know the rest of the story. What’s helped me is thinking what would be my response if my wife or adult child did the same thing? I’d tell them “go for it! or let me figure out a way to go too!

  26. Yes so much guilt 🙁 Been living the expat life for 11 years now but now at home the grandparents got into a care home, my mother has mental health issues since many many years, and my sister who was looking after all of them now loses her job thanks to covid. I feel I should go back and support but with covid everything is so unsure with settling back in a different country and finding a job and a place to stay. My life where I am is pretty nice and chill and I love it, even though I was thinking about a change to learn new things.
    I know guilt is a useless emotion but maybe not so useless… maybe its your heart speaking that you are not doing what you are supposed to do?
    I had planned to go back but had a mental breakdown/panic attack because of it and didnt. I feel incredibly guilty knowing my whole family suffers, and I am here living the dream.
    Its a tough one.

    1. Can you perhaps put your needs first for a bit? The fact you had a mental breakdown/panic attack when you considered going back proves that isn’t the right move for you, surely?
      So many people are suffering this year. Would you going back fix it all for everyone else? Your grandparents will sadly still be in a care home (where you may not be able to visit right now, anyway). Your mother’s mental health problems sound to have preceded your move – you didn’t cause them. I’m sorry for your sister, and I’m sure you can support her emotionally from afar.
      You feel guilt because you love them. However, you also didn’t cause their problems and those issues won’t magically resolve if you sacrifice your own happiness for duty.

  27. I am feeling guilty and have mixed emotions since January this year. My partner and I decided to move to Finland (his home country) as the work and life opportunities and balance there seem much more promising then Ireland, where we currently live. I moved here for work almost 5ys ago leaving my single mother in Croatia; 2ys after and she followed me here and has now a good job and a new,better life then back there. The present situation is that my partner and I want to move forward in life and unfortunately the house crisis in Ireland and the fact that I don’t have a stability in my profession (private school teacher a.k.a. self-employed) makes it really hard to plan anything further then what we have now. Therefore we thought a lot about Finland and when my partner got a great work offer we decided to go with it. I’m sad and scared to leave my mother behind, though she says she understands and maybe in 7ys she ll come there too, but still it’s a tough moment for all 3 of us. My partner, who supports me dearly, is already in Finland and because of the covid we can’t see each other until the forseeable future. At times I feel lost, and even tho I’m so looking forward to be reunited with him, I know my heart will cry out the day I’ll have to say goodbye to my mother.

  28. Hi , I have a younger sibling and I choose a person abroad and moved from my home country . But as days are passing I started feeling guilty not because my husband is not caring but most of the time i speak to my mom she says me that she misses me a lot . so listening to her i feel guilty and bad thinking was i selfish of my decision to move abroad with my husband ? I am not able to lead a happy life inspite of my husband being so supportive i always have that fear and I am always worried about my family back home . I speak to them over calls daily i assure them no matter what happens i wont care about budget and will visit you people I try not to reveal my feelings till date that i also miss them and if I say this they will feel emotionally weak . Also i dont want to trouble my partner as this keeps happening and he seems frustrated explaining me.What should i do to overcome my feelings I am married and my husband has his own dreams and responsibilities . I am feeling worthless and depressed of my guilty feeling .did i do anything wrong getting married and moving abroad. Please help?? also its been 8 months i moved from home country after getting married .

  29. Thank you for the article. The guilt is very real, and even when the effort is made to “talk” daily, we are always accused of not doing enough, coming home enough etc. Our families cannot understand that even though we live overseas, we do need vacations that are the immediate family and we cannot come home all the time. That said, no one ever comes to visit us.

  30. After living the entirety of my adult life (over 20 years) in my home state, I had an amazing job opportunity in Southern California. Before accepting the job, we made the decision as a family. We knew it would be challenging. We knew it would be drastically different. We knew we were leaving behind easy access to family, friends and our community. We were entrenched but at the end of the day – the opportunity was too good to pass up. It’s not out of the country but it might as well have been to hear how our families reacted. (It’s a 2.5- hour direct flight home.) I was also the sibling “left behind” to care for our aging parents and I did – for over 10 years and my mother passed away a year ago. So I would be leaving my father behind – which I still struggle with but at the end of the day, I had to be the individual my parents raised me to be – independent and with my own child to think about and her future. This move, while it has been hard at times, is something we are really excited about. Southern California wouldn’t have been my first choice but the opportunity is literally my dream job. My daughter knew what my dream job was. What kind of parent would I be, what kind of example would it set for her if I didn’t take the chance? Even if it “fails.”

    So while I’m trying to work through the guilt, justified or not, I remind myself that the same hopes and dreams I have for my daughter are the same my parents had for me (even if they’ve forgotten) – which was to pursue a life that I loved, work that brought me fulfillment and to leave the world better than I found it. This experience has taught me that I will fully support my daughter in her journey.

  31. I feel this “guilt” too. I got a job offer from outside my country and instead of feeling excited about it. I feel guilty, confused and even sad. I feel guilty because I will be leaving my parents(they’re already old ). My sister also left the country(migrated) for good just this May. I don’t know how to tell my parents and I don’t know if I can bare seeing them sad or worried. They may feel very sad knowing 2 of their kids left them when they’re already old. I’m torn.

      1. Yes, we have raised our precious son to have wings. We aren’t all selfish parents as you imply expat child. Our son is accompanying his partner to the US where her opportunities are boundless. We immediately gave him our blessing because we love him. We currently live 200 miles away and don’t see them as much as we would like due to their work life balance. We see them maybe twice a year, and us doing the visiting, often staying at hotels so as not to impose. We simply cannot manage our son’s expectations of how much he can expect to see of us in the future. If we had good health we wouldn’t be seeing them any less than we do already. We both have cancer, my husband Stage 4, and we won’t be visiting them thousands of miles away. Our son doesn’t enjoy good health himself and we are afraid for his future. Our other son was given the ultimatum to emigrate or face divorce. He emigrated, then she didn’t like it and divorced him anyway.

      2. I certainly do not class ALL parents of expats as selfish; many are not, and gracefully wish their offspring all the best. However, some cause much emotional pain to their children who wish to make a different life for themselves.

        So sorry you are all suffering, and I wish you well.

  32. Guilt. Yes that is an appropriate response for being selfish. Being part of a family means sharing love and support. It is looking out for one another and comes with responsibility to one another. It is one thing to have to leave but choosing to do for excitement? The experience? Those are things one can gain from vacations to far away places, not making a life. When you choose to leave, you neglect your responsibility to everyone—-to your parents who will age and get sick and deny them the joy of grandparenthood— and to your siblings left holding the bag.
    More importantly, why did you have children of your own? It was to create a family. Why bother going through the sacrifices, expense and devotion if it is all just supposed to end because of family members individual desires—-that is selfishness. We all give up certain freedoms to become part of a marriage and so too do we give up certain freedoms to remain part of the whole. So it is, even when we become adults with our own lives. We move on not out. Leaving is moving out. You have hurt many people who made you their priority ( including your own children who must uproot) while you have made yourself the priority. So feel guilty. You deserve it. All the other comments saying otherwise are rationalizations. You have broken up a family and that is what you have taught your children. Expect the same one day.

    1. You sound really jealous and bitter. If the same happens to me someday awesome! I won’t hold them back if they want to leave

      1. I read the article at a time when my heart is heavy with the guilt you’re talking about. I got a job, a very good offer 3 month ago and I decided to take it. We prayed so much about it with my husband because this meant I would have to leave him and out daughter who is almost 3yrs old. We’ll, I left a month ago and I’m at my new workplace. Honestly, I have no problem at work. But my heart is in so much pain for leaving my family behind. I knew this would be the biggest sacrifice I have ever done in my life but the pain is too much. I think of quitting but again, things are not cosy at home. I want to work on a plan of bringing them here but that might take alot of time especially now that covid-19 has brought the world to a stand still. I feel bad. I don’t know what to do. I miss my family. Everytime I video call them I feel better but soon after the call I feel crushed.im in so much pain. I wish this can just pass. I think my performance at my workplace is also not good enough. My heart is breaking. I feel lost.

      2. This is heartbreaking to hear and I’m not at all surprised you’re feeling so sad.
        As you say, there is little you can do right now as COVID19 has closed the world down. Try to focus on the good stuff – your daughter is with a caring father, the internet means you can communicate.
        Is the new job for a set period of time, or open-ended? What can you do now to research and plan to help them move to where you are now? Keep making plans for the future, with the idea of bringing your family to you. It will help you feel in control.
        Good luck, stay positive.

    2. Denise, you said it yourself “Being part of a family means sharing love and support”. So, support your loved one’s decision to explore new opportunities in life. Love and support your grandchildren as they enter an exciting new chapter with a new culture and places and people. Love the opportunity it might bring for yourself to go travelling- perhaps to places you never imagined you would visit! This was not done to personally offend or hurt you, please embrace your family members adventurous spirit… you gave them that! Be proud, see their sacrifice too, see their achievement.

    3. You seem to have missed everything in the article.
      You’re telling me because, let’s say, someone’s mother was born and raised in a small town in the middle of the country where the rest of the family also resides that her child is going to want the same out of life? That her child, who is now grown, should settle to live somewhere they are not happy because the rest of the family settled? You can be a family without seeing each other everyday, every week, or every month. You’re saying excitement is only to be had during a vacation? What type of life are you living if the only way to excitement/experience is found during a vacation? Which is usually only allowed 1-2 weeks worth.
      Ultimately, every person has one life to live and they need to live it the way they choose. Whatever brings someone happiness so be it.

    4. It sounds like you’re a homebody who was or is about to be left behind by someone who wants to live their one and only life as they choose rather than as you choose. The world is here to be explored. There is life beyond the village. I hope whoever it is that leaves you, listens to their own heart and doesn’t stay because of your selfishness.

    5. Thank you Denise. I am a mother in her 60’s who misses her daughter terribly. I am proud of her career accomplishments abroad but now that she is about to become a mother herself, I am heartbroken. My other daughter and husband have decided to not have children. This will be my only chance at grandparenting. Skype isn’t going to do it. This child will never really get to know me or me him. Young children bond by spending time with them–holding, singing, comforting, feeding, etc. I will become a grandmother but won’t ever get to be one. I love my daughter but she recently also asked us for a “contribution” to the purchase of a house. We told her we can’t do both (visit her and pay for flights, hotels and food and help her with a house). However, I try to not impose guilt trips. I feel it will only make things worse. But she is no longer much a part of our family. She has made no room for even one family holiday to be with us. Although she did come here when her sibling was hospitalized following a terrible accident.
      I am torn. I try to be there for her–I flew there following a miscarriage of hers, but sometimes I feel like changing my Will to leave considerably less to her than her siblings. This article is about absolving Guilt but what about parents’ pain of abandonment?

    6. I am sorry Denise, but your comment is so judgemental and full of bitterness that it’s hard to read. You say that family comes with responsibility for one another. Fair enough. The thing is, while our parents chose to bring us to the world and take care for our education and well-being, we (children) did not sign up for this. This is a social contract we’ve never directly accepted – we are only learned to accept this as the “right way”. Obviously, most of people genuinely love their family and wants what is best for them. This naturally leads to the conflict between what we’ve learned is right and what we believe is the best for us. Many parents want their children to be independent. But what parents see as “independence” is usually some kind of path they wish their child would follow (they want it more or less consciously / expressively). As soon as the child doesn’t follow this path, well, this is when troubles can start. So as en expat it’s important to balance these things and choose what is the most important for you. Expatriation doesn’t have to be forever, it might be just a chapter and it’s crucial to be clear with your loved ones on what your plans are. For instance, I love to live abroad and could honestly go on living like these for years. I hate being in homogeneous environment, and even back in my home country I lived in a big city, always close to different international communities. I am not an expat because I thrive for some kind of selfish excitement – this is just the way of living that makes me feel sane. My parents and siblings feel great in our family town – and I think it’s amazing, I would never insist that they leave it. But I know that if I come back to my home town, I would quickly get depressed. Since I remember, I was dreaming about living in a big city and having a career. I’ve also came across a wonderful man who is currently my fiance. Not only he loves living abroad just like me, he’s of a different nationality than mine so we will probably live abroad for extended period of our lives. Do you really think it would be healthy for me to leave the person I love to please my parents? My parents who (sad and brutal but true) will pass away one day or another, leaving me with what? The guilt, loneliness and unsettled live? I feel a lot of guilt for leaving my family behind. Their countless remarks, questions when I will come back and lack of will to come to visit me is not helping. Their reality as young people starting their family was drastically different than mine, so I don’t blame them that they’re sometimes bitter about my decision and don’t really understand it. This is not what they expected, they get older, and they naturally fear for their well-being and who will take care of them when they get sick. I try to reassure them – I know I will be there if they REALLY need me. But the reality is, they don’t need me yet to do their groceries or have a meal together every Sunday. I know it’s nice to be there for birthdays and family reunions and I do my best not to skip the important family events. But what I learn abroad, overcoming cultural differences and my own fears and insecurities, is something I would never ever get if I stay in my country, in my safe place. I literally see myself changing, hopefully becoming more conscious and discovering how much work I still need to do to be stronger and more confident. I also learned to communicate better with my loved ones, be honest about my plans and reassure them that this is not forever and we still have many wonderful moments to live together. Well, that was a long shot, thanks everybody who read that. Good luck to all the expats out there.

      1. Hi- After reading your responses I think you might want to learn bit more abut the history of family so you can understand some of the turmoil expressed. What worked for you may or may not work for others and may not benefit any minor children attached to the situation. The Atlantic did an amazing article on the history of family units you might find interesting. The questions being poised go to the core of what it is to be human and I feel you are bypassing that or at the very least, promoting your choices rather than encouraging a more thorough look at what it means to be a long distance family with both the positives and negatives rather than just the positives of self gratification. Both emotional states and realities will exist and perhaps the best thing to happen is that families sit down and share plans on how to honor the love relationships and connection while allowing for support and fulfillment of emotional and career desires. Your responses are incredibly dismissive of both those suffering from what they perceive as being left behind and those desiring to leave. There is a history behind the questions that has nothing to do with manipulation, selfishness, bitterness or any of the negatives you want to place on others. The history explains the suffering and is to be heard with compassion rather than rhetoric that supports your decision. I would hope anyone considering such a move way from extended family really investigate if the gains outweigh the cost to all those involved by having family discussions so that everyone is respectfully allowed to bare their emotions. Sometimes all those being left behind need to know is that their missing their loved ones is acknowledged as pain and that the ones leaving will cooperate to create continued and weekly connection after the move that allows for thriving connection, albeit different. Ignoring loved ones with a “I’m going to please myself” attitude is similar to what self serving criminals such as child molesters and other criminals do. And before yo ego ape crap own me for using that example, I only put it out there because justification of any behavior that hurts the hearts of loved ones needs to be really considered in light of how that also not only impacts them but impacts us and any minor children long term who have no choice on our decisions. Statistics show that healthy grandparents add considerably to a child’s emotional well being as do there extended family members. The same is true for healthy close sibling and inlay relationships. I think that having loving, respectful family discussion over fears and concerns and hope sis the way to go rather than someone riding rough shod over all those emotions with an attitude of “It’s my life and I’ll do what I want”. Using the excuse that children didn’t ask to be born is weak and almost laughable. No kidding? Duh? Since when does that matter? Most pregnancy is accidental except for the minority higher income earning who might have better access to birth control yet the majority of those parents drop everything to care for their children and create family. You can’t expect those same parents who do want their children to be independent to not have feelings of missing them and trying to keep their loved ones close. what you can do is acknowledge their pain and ask your audience to and to discuss it with them and work out solutions. Here is the family history link: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/03/the-nuclear-family-was-a-mistake/605536/

    7. People want an adventure and imagine a rosy future somewhere else. Some leave because their relationships are already fractured. Statistically, rather than settling after emigrating, more people attempt to return home. A recent TV programme focused on returners who needed the help of their ‘selfish’ families to re-settle. I’m one who is still picking up those pieces.

  33. How about the sibling who has to take care of my family. This is not a fun thing to do… What do u feel if u see ur other sibling being a time zone away from ur family and not doing anything to ur family ?? Ur life is fulfilled but how about ur sibling ??? Have you ever thought of it ? Try being in their shoe. Yes she chose to be that way because it has to be that way. Cant imagine coming bk from somewhere seeing ur parents aged so much or have diseases they secretly hide from you. Not saying ur expat sibling has to come bk and take care the aging parents but please for once ur life isnt about “me,you,yourself”.

  34. hah, i did i quick google after an argument with my brother who is always saying i dumbed all the family, but ironically every time i am contacting him he is the one who desnt want to speak or communicate. I he is being selfish and makes me feel guilty. Soemtimes i dont enjoy my trip, bcs he makes me feel guilty about ti saying that i should have better sent that moeny to family an have less fun. LOL i am living my life and you are as well. I cannot spend all my energy and moeny for you guys, sorry but i have to live as well. It´s so frustrating soemtimes to not to give a fxxx about what they say, but i guess its impossible bcs they are family

  35. Thank you for the article. I think all those things to do for people you left in order to make them feel happy is wrong. I left my country one year ago and my parents and brother drain me like hell. So, i will not feed them. No, they are not part of my life anymore. They have to live their lives. Once im here still living and trying to please them, it feels that i did not leave actually. So, im not living there, or here. It is just horrible.

  36. Thanks for this article, very real and I agree with you that guilt is something that can’t be avoided. But I think that especially in the times we live in now where there is such a variety of choices, we shouldn’t be stopped by these feelings to try new things and look for something we think is better for us. After all we might come back to the place we left as fulfilled and happy individuals. Win win 🙂

    1. I’m someone that never even got to make the move. After the Brexit debacle, combined with how bad things were/are in the NHS my wife asked if we could leave. We researched it and we’d more than enough points to come over with the kids. However by autumn, she completely changed her mind and said she had no intention of even leaving Yorkshire and would absolutely not consider emigrating. It was a really tough time and nearly led to divorce, to be frank! I was absolutely devastated, it still hurts and it was 6 years ago, it’s like it’s killed me off in a weird way. We’re both nurses and there’s options for going abroad, but she just won’t consider it.

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