“When in Rome, do as the Romans do”.
THIS principle helped Joseph and Gemma Parcon thrive as a family living abroad.
I met the couple in Davao City before they were married and saw them again when they settled as a young couple in Hong Kong. They also hosted our family on one of our trips to Hong Kong in 2012. They generously made accommodation for the five of us in their cozy apartment and went the extra mile in making our stay more convenient for our family. That’s when I saw their family dynamic and how they efficiently worked together as husband and wife. Though both working in different fields, they took turns to send and pick their eldest child from school. The last time I saw them, they already had 2 happy boys: Markus and Max. The hectic life in Hong Kong didn’t seem to limit them from regularly spending quality time together as a family. So, with eagerness to learn from their family, I asked them to briefly share their story. Here’s what the couple wrote about their blessings and challenges in raising a family abroad:
Like any normal parents, we want to provide the best for our family. Living abroad is an upgrade but it could be a double-edged sword. We learn and adapt on many things, but we would like to focus our sharing on three things:
Material things ~ First challenge of living in a tax-free country with all-year round sale, is being tempted to spend more just to get the latest gadget and more. However, living in a small apartment, made us think ten times before getting it because we simply do not have space for it. Nine out of ten we ended up not buying thus saving money and less material attachment.
Medical ~ Our second son was a preemie, so we joined an online group to gain more understanding and for emotional support. However, we ended up frustrated due to huge difference on healthcare policies back home. We feel sorry to parents who lost their newborn because of financial strains and lack of hospital support. With us, after nearly three months of staying at NICU, we only needed to pay for the hospital bed (which was minimal) and our son received a folder containing his future follow up appointments for two years, all for free!
Mental aspect~ Three decades and forward of living abroad and looking back at the old times, we realized that life was simple and easy. Yes, we feel homesick, but never miss the present chaos. Our two kids are born and raised abroad and are daily entertained by an online world now. We connect as a family by being offline and spending time in person together at least on a weekly basis: Pizza meal after Sunday service, experiencing a sunrise on our hike during day off, enjoying ice cream in summertime or visiting an amusement park in winter.
As they say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. Which is true for our family who loves and considers Hong Kong as our second home. – Joseph and Gemma Parcon
As mentioned by the couple, living (and raising a family) abroad can be a double-edged sword. There are blessings to enjoy, and challenges to endure. But reading their story, I could see that, despite challenges, the couple have their eyes more on the blessing. And that, I believe, is another reason behind their success in raising their family even away from their home country.
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