Elderly’s Children Emigration

We decide to emigrate to the United Kingdom next year but will not bring our parents to go. When and how would I inform them about our emigration to alleviate the impact on them?

If you decide to emigrate, it is recommended that your "notice period" to your elderly parents should not be too short because it is difficult for them to accept your emigration in a short period of time. They may perceive their children as unwilling to communicate with them, feel being abandoned, feel angry and uncomfortable. This may be due to the fact that elderly value family members and when significant others emigrate, it is natural that the elderly parents may feel anxious. Besides, some elderly may go through the following stages before accepting important change of their family.  First, they deny the fact or feel that their children are joking; then they will feel angry. They may bargain with their children on their emigration like "Don't go that far, go to Taiwan where is closer to Hong Kong" or "Leave Hong Kong later" and etc. However, when their children finally emigrate, they feel a sense of loss and frustrated. Finally, they accept this iron fact of life. Hence, it is recommended that you inform your elderly parents at least 6 months before your emigration to allow them to prepare.

How to kick start this conversation? It is not recommended to announce your emigration and their future arrangements in “one-go”. Give them some time to digest the news and articulate their concerns.  It is better to have someone close to your elderly parents to offer support when you inform them.  If your parents feel unhappy and refuse to talk to you, they may offer concern and listen to your parents’ concerns.  Besides, you have to be serious when discussing this topic, not appeared to be a joke.  It is encouraged that family members may share their thoughts, considerations and struggles in emigration. If feasible, you shall allow elderly parents to participate in your discussion, instead of “informing” your decision and leaving the parents left behind.

No matter how whether elderly parents emigrate with the family or stay behind, it is common to have struggles.  It is suggested that you may discuss and plan with your parents.  You may also seek your elderly parents’ advice, invite them to share their experience when emigrated to Hong Kong and listen to their struggles, adjustment and experience, explore the pros and cons of emigration.  Don't let your elderly parents feel that you have already made the decision until they are being informed.

On the other hand, if your parents do not know how to find social resources and lack social support, feel stressful, they may be emotionally disturbed.  Family members shall listen more to their concerns, understand their worries and explore solutions. For example, they may need help from other their family members in daily care or medical visits, who will share these responsibilities? If you plan to hire a domestic helper to assist, make such arrangement as soon as possible to allow time for both sides to adapt to each other to understand your parents’ personality and lifestyle.

Source: Ms. Yip, Elderly Services Social Worker, Hong Kong Family Welfare Society