After the success of my post discussing the problems of being a teen parent, and my recent collection of parenting experiences in academia, it got me thinking about the variety of difficulties other parents may face. Parenting, while an experience many have in common, can often bring with it a whole host of different challenges unique to each person. This new monthly segment - Parenting Stories - provides an insight into the lives of other Mums and Dads and the struggles they encounter while bringing up their children.
|Thanks to Nikki from 'Young Mum Getting Rid of a Bum' for her help with the picture :)|
In this first post, Taufiq explains the decision he made to leave his home country, and the things that have hindered him along the way...
"When me and my wife left Malaysia back in 2014, we left behind our secure, well-paying jobs as senior pharmacists. I left behind my real estate properties, my booming business in the service sector, my house and my cars. All of this in the name of pursuing higher education for better job prospects in the future and be a good example of a father to my children. When we left Malaysia, my eldest daughter was a 2-year old kid and we were expecting our second child. I was ready to leave the good life and throw myself into a very uncomfortable situation with my family in tow, knowing full well that the sacrifices I would have to make would be great.
I have never lived outside Malaysia. Back in my country, when you have a problem, you’d always have your family to turn to. Here in Glasgow, our Malaysian friends have become our surrogate family. They’re the ones that you can turn to when you need any help. Case in point, when my wife was in labour with our baby at 2am, a friend of ours just volunteered to sleep at our flat to take care of our daughter. Having these kind of friends around makes us feel secure in an unfamiliar place, and this is exactly the culture we cultivated back home.
In September last year, we decided to fly back home to attend my sister’s wedding. All was well and fine back home, until I went to collect our baby daughter’s passport in the VFS centre in Kuala Lumpur. The visa application was rejected on the ground that I don’t have enough financial support for my baby daughter, of which they require me to show that I have at least £6,120 (£680 x 9 months) in my account for consecutive 28 days. At this point I sold off one my properties just to gain that amount of money and I flew off back to UK alone, leaving my family in Malaysia to wait for the 28 consecutive days’ period so that we could reapply.
The time away from my family was a horrible experience for me - we were separated by 6,645 miles! FaceTime-ing with my daughters was the highlight of my day at the times. My wife kept saying that my eldest daughter was continually asking for me, apparently she thought I was just around the house and playing hide-and-seek with her the whole time. Admittedly, I’ve fallen into bouts of depression, but I managed to hide it well enough. I kept myself busy all the time and invited my friend David (many thanks) to my flat so it didn’t feel so empty. I pulled through one of the worst times in my life and I have my friends to thank for that!
Living in the UK with £1,012 as a monthly stipend might be more than enough for single people, but for a family with two kids, it can be quite a challenge. Money was never a problem back in Malaysia, but here we need to secure every penny we can get. I secured a part-time job to gain some extra money and the paid demonstration I do in uni helps a bit. The challenge is always to prioritise the research work, saving some energy for my night janitorial job while still having some time and energy to play with my children when I’m home.
I’ve discovered in my life that money is not everything! Being with my family, working and studying to give them the best things I can afford, while being a good father and setting good examples have been, and always will be my priority. Every single second, every single penny and every single Joule of energy that I put towards this end is worth it!"
|Taufiq and some local people at a community outreach programme focusing on the importance of the correct use of medicines|
If you would like to be featured in a future 'Parenting Stories' post, please get in touch with me via firstname.lastname@example.org