Working abroad has made me a stranger to my sons: Help!

By , K24 Digital
On Mon, 5 Jun, 2023 06:00 | 2 mins read

Hi Achokis. I’m married to a wonderful mother of my two boys. My problem is that I have been working out of the country for a long time. I was always in and out when the boys were growing up. Now that they are in their teens, I feel that I need to be there for them. But connecting with them has not been easy. I feel like my wife controls the home and my children. Though I provide everything for them, they still ask their mother for stuff they want. I feel left out and know that I haven’t been there, though I had to work. How can I make it up for them? Will this affect them in their future? Please advise!


Thank you Maina for reaching out. It is encouraging to know that you work hard to provide for your family, something that should not be taken for granted, especially in this day and age. But it is also important to note that your absence as a result of work might have or be affecting the boys. 

It’s the right time

According to child psychologist, Stewart D Friedmanc, children are more likely to show behavioural problems if their fathers are overly involved in their careers. And so, yes this will definitely affect them in their future if the situation is not arrested. All is not lost though. There’s always a second chance, especially now that they are in their teens. In fact, this is the best time for you to come in as this is the time the boys desperately need their father. The earlier years were more important for their mother as women are nurturers. Now what they need is direction for their life and a role model and that’s why this is very timely.

Be intentional

It is good that you now want to connect with your boys. This will take a lot of effort and intentionality on your part. You will need to maximise the little time you have together to intentionally connect with them. As teenagers, there will obviously be a tendency to want to spend more time with their friends and away from home. Their friends mean more to them at this stage and they are also trying to find their own identity and become independent. But this does not mean that they don’t need you. Look for things they enjoy doing and see if you can become a part of that. It could be watching football, playing play station, or watching movies with them. With boys, it’s about doing things together that’s how you bond.

Be vulnerable with your wife and allow her to feel your frustration in this. Let her help in bridging the gap between you and the boys. One of the things she can do is to begin to defer things to you by deliberately pushing them back to you when they ask her for something. She can even start leaving you with them as she busies herself with other things. 

The writers are marriage and relationship coaches

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