Why Saying “NO” to Families is Healthy for OFWs

In the challenging journey of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), the art of saying “no” emerges as an essential and often overlooked skill. While their immense dedication and hard work to support their families and communities back home is commendable, it is equally vital for OFWs to learn the power of setting boundaries, especially when it comes to the often-sensitive issue of lending money.

In this article, we explore why saying “no” is not only a self-protective measure but also an act of empowerment for OFWs. We delve into the complexities of this subject, shedding light on the importance of safeguarding one’s financial and emotional well-being while maintaining the bonds of love and responsibility that OFWs hold dear.

how to help OFW family responsibly
Disclaimer: The information posted here is based on the personal experiences shared by the OFW in the video below. Please let this post serve as a guide only. If you have specific questions, you may ask the OFW by commenting on their video on their accounts.

Empowering OFWs: The Art of Setting Boundaries with Borrowing Money

The information shared in this article comes from a YouTube video by the channel “Pause Pray Simplify.” This video is a part of their series on Setting Boundaries as Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). The vlogger discusses about which people we should say “No” to, what we should not be giving away, and how to say no properly and help if we can. If you want to watch the full video, then click on the link below:

The subject we’re about to tackle is undeniably sensitive, but it’s one that requires open discussion, particularly for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). We all know that when it comes to seeking assistance or financial help, the first individuals we often turn to are our OFW relatives, family members, or friends. It’s as if being an OFW equates to being a walking bank, especially when it comes to loans. The topic may be a bit touchy, but it’s a conversation that demands attention.

The vlogger, who was once an OFW herself, having worked as a reporter in Dubai for over eight years, understands this issue firsthand. Like many OFWs, she, too, has been approached for help, especially concerning financial matters. If you find yourself struggling to say “no” due to fear, this article is a must-read.

What are the Signs of Enabling?

It’s crucial to distinguish between genuine assistance and enabling behavior. Sometimes, in our eagerness to help, we inadvertently enable someone’s dependency. Recognizing the signs of enabling is the first step in addressing this issue. Here are some common indicators of enabling:

  1. You frequently find yourself doing things for a loved one that they are perfectly capable of doing themselves.
  2. You’re plagued by worry or intense anxiety over your loved one’s actions or inactions.
  3. You resort to lying or making excuses to cover up your loved one’s harmful behaviors or poor choices.
  4. You downplay or deny the existence of problems.
  5. Your loved one’s needs consistently take precedence over your own.
  6. You experience guilt if you refrain from helping.
  7. You feel anxious when you don’t come to their rescue.
  8. You carry a sense of responsibility for your loved one’s life, choices, and problems.
  9. You harbor resentment towards your loved one because you feel you’re working harder than they are.
  10. You sympathize excessively with your loved one due to their challenging life experiences.
  11. You’re afraid to allow your loved one to face the consequences of their actions, even if it means experiencing failure or trouble.

Navigating Boundaries in Offering Support

Being an enabler often means you’re extending a hand to help someone, but unbeknownst to you, you may inadvertently be aiding and abetting their detrimental behavior. For instance, if you’re offering support to someone who is drug-dependent, your intentions to assist can actually perpetuate their addiction. To navigate this delicate terrain, there are three key considerations:

Who We Shouldn’t Help: It’s essential to discern whom to assist and when to refrain. One clear boundary is individuals struggling with addiction, whether it’s substance abuse, excessive gaming, or any other destructive vice. By providing them with financial support, you might unknowingly fuel their harmful habits.

What Should We Not Give Help: It’s paramount to understand that not all forms of assistance are beneficial. If someone is not genuinely trying to improve their situation, if they perpetually see themselves as a victim without taking initiative, it’s a sign that your aid may not be productive.

What Can You Help: When the request for help comes, the knee-jerk reaction shouldn’t always be an automatic “yes.” We need to evaluate the situation and decide whether the aid is genuinely constructive.

In the context of being an OFW, setting boundaries and learning to say “no” is especially critical when dealing with those suffering from addiction or individuals who are continuously taking but not contributing to their own well-being.

For instance, if a person has become a professional beggar, habitually seeking help from others without making any effort to better their own circumstances, it’s perfectly acceptable to decline their requests. This isn’t a matter of guilt or feeling bad; it’s about preserving your own financial health and encouraging self-sufficiency.

There are various reasons why you may decide not to lend your support. Firstly, if you have no personal connection or relation to the individual, it’s reasonable to be cautious. Secondly, if you’re aware that they have a lavish lifestyle and spend recklessly, your help might only perpetuate their financial irresponsibility. Thirdly, if they lack the ability to save or keep their promises – like failing to repay previous loans – it’s a red flag. In such cases, it’s entirely justified to say “no” and protect your own resources.

In essence, knowing when and how to draw the line in lending assistance is essential to maintain healthy boundaries and protect both your own financial well-being and the long-term self-sufficiency of those you intend to help.

  • Being an enabler can unknowingly support detrimental behavior, such as addiction.
  • Consider three key factors when offering help:
    • Who We Shouldn’t Help: Avoid aiding those with destructive habits, such as addiction or excessive vices.
    • What Should We Not Give Help: Refrain from assisting those who don’t actively seek to improve their situation or continuously portray themselves as victims.
    • What Can You Help: Evaluate each situation to determine if your assistance is genuinely constructive.
  • For Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), setting boundaries and saying “no” is crucial, especially when dealing with addiction and professional beggars.
  • Reasons not to lend support include:
    • No personal connection or relation
    • Knowledge of a lavish and reckless lifestyle
    • Inability to save or fulfill promises, such as repaying previous loans
  • Learning to establish boundaries in providing assistance is essential for safeguarding your own financial well-being and encouraging self-sufficiency.

Guidelines for Responsible Financial Assistance

  • Preserve Your Peace: Avoid enabling bad behavior by continually lending money to those who don’t repay. Set personal boundaries to protect your own well-being.
  • Redirecting Help for Addicts: When dealing with someone suffering from addiction, consider referring them to professionals or institutions for assistance rather than offering financial support.
  • Debt vs. Help: Distinguish between offering help as a supportive gesture and accumulating unpaid debts. Be cautious when lending money for business, ensuring the recipient is trustworthy and experienced.
  • Avoid Unnecessary Borrowing: Avoid borrowing money for events like weddings, birthdays, and reunions. Spend within your means and don’t involve others in your financial struggles to prevent future conflicts.
  • Preserve Relationships: Learn from those who choose not to lend money to avoid potential conflicts and strained relationships, prioritizing both financial interests and personal bonds.

Preserve Your Peace: It’s crucial to safeguard your own peace and well-being. If you encounter someone who persistently borrows money but fails to repay, giving them money may not be helpful. In fact, it can enable their irresponsible behavior and lead them further into debt, hindering their personal growth and understanding of social responsibility. Sometimes, the best course of action is to establish personal boundaries and politely decline their requests.

Redirecting Help for Addicts: When someone in your life is suffering from addiction, your assistance shouldn’t necessarily come in the form of money. Instead, consider referring them to a psychiatrist to address their addiction issues. Encourage them to seek help from institutions or programs designed to aid in their recovery. Helping them get sober and address the root causes of their addiction is far more valuable than providing financial aid, which may only exacerbate their problems.

Debt vs. Help: It’s important to distinguish between help and debt. When you offer help, it’s meant to be a supportive gesture, not an opportunity for accumulating unpaid debts. If you lend money to family members for business purposes, be cautious. While it’s reasonable to support a family member’s business venture if they are trustworthy and experienced in that field, it’s another matter if they lack the necessary background and work ethic. Encourage them to find alternative means of financing their business.

Avoid Unnecessary Borrowing: Borrowing money for events like weddings, christenings, birthdays, or reunions can lead to financial strain and unnecessary stress. Instead, it’s advisable to spend within your means. There’s no need to borrow money for occasions you cannot afford. Involving others in your financial struggles is not only impractical but can strain relationships. Borrowing to lend to others can also lead to conflicts. It’s wise to say “no” to such requests, as it may prevent future disputes.

Preserve Relationships: Consider the wisdom of a brother-in-law who chooses not to lend money to avoid potential conflicts and strained relationships. Sometimes, refusing to lend money is a way to protect not only your financial interests but also your personal bonds with others.

How to Set Boundaries

  • Setting Boundaries with Legitimate Needs: Address genuine needs, like medical emergencies or bereavements, by giving money instead of lending it. Consider providing a portion of the needed assistance, rather than the full amount, to maintain your own financial well-being and encourage responsible financial management by the recipient.
  • Avoid Forcing Borrowing for Legitimate Needs: If you’re unable to provide the financial assistance, empathetically suggest borrowing as an option. Offer a grace period for repayment to ease the recipient’s financial burden during challenging times.
  • Conditional Assistance: When assisting someone in need who doesn’t fit into earlier categories, consider setting conditions for the assistance. These conditions should be mutually agreed upon and clearly communicated to protect the interests of both parties.
  • Prayers and Support: Alongside financial assistance, express your support through prayers and well-wishes. Offer to pray for opportunities for the person to increase their income and connect them with relevant charities or institutions. This demonstrates your compassion and commitment to their welfare.

Setting Boundaries with Legitimate Needs: When it comes to setting boundaries, it’s important to remember that genuine needs can still be addressed without compromising your financial well-being. In cases of legitimate needs like medical emergencies or situations where someone has passed away, consider the option of giving money instead of lending it. However, it’s often not advisable to provide the full amount. Offering a portion of the needed assistance can be a compassionate and practical way to help. By providing a portion of the required funds, you ensure that you can continue to support other needs, while the recipient also learns to manage their finances responsibly.

Avoid Forcing Borrowing for Legitimate Needs: If you find yourself in a situation where you cannot provide the needed financial assistance but believe that borrowing is a suitable alternative, it’s crucial to approach this with empathy and understanding. While you may suggest borrowing, it’s equally important to give the individual some breathing room. Offer a grace period for repayment, recognizing that they are already grappling with a challenging situation. This gesture allows them time to recover financially and repay the borrowed amount without added stress.

Conditional Assistance: In cases where you genuinely feel the need to help someone, and they don’t fit into the categories discussed earlier, consider the possibility of setting conditions for the assistance you provide. These conditions should be mutually agreed upon by both parties and clearly communicated. Establishing these conditions is a way to protect the interests of both the giver and the recipient. It ensures that the assistance is used responsibly and that both parties are on the same page regarding expectations and obligations.

Prayers and Support: Beyond financial assistance, showing your support through prayers and well-wishes can be incredibly meaningful. Let the person in need know that you’ll keep them in your prayers, seeking opportunities for them to increase their income or connecting them with charities, churches, or other institutions that can provide further support. By offering your prayers and acting as a bridge to additional resources, you demonstrate your compassion and commitment to their welfare.

Dealing with Guilt and Emotional Challenges

One of the most significant emotional challenges faced by OFWs when it comes to managing financial requests is the burden of guilt. It’s essential to recognize that this guilt is natural, given the strong cultural and familial ties that often define Filipino relationships. Here are some strategies for effectively dealing with guilt and emotional challenges:

  1. Open and Honest Communication: Encourage OFWs to engage in open and honest conversations with their loved ones about their financial boundaries. Communication can help set expectations and reduce misunderstandings, thus alleviating some of the guilt.
  2. Emphasize the Bigger Picture: Remind OFWs that setting financial boundaries doesn’t mean they don’t care. In fact, it’s a responsible approach that ensures they can provide support over the long term. Encourage them to emphasize their bigger goals and the long-term welfare of their families.
  3. Prioritize Self-Care: OFWs should recognize that taking care of themselves, both physically and emotionally, is not selfish but necessary. Emphasize the importance of maintaining their own well-being, which, in turn, enables them to provide more effectively for their loved ones.
  4. Seek Support: Encourage OFWs to seek support from fellow OFWs who have faced similar emotional challenges. Sharing experiences and learning how others have navigated similar situations can provide valuable insights and emotional relief.
  5. Set Realistic Expectations: Remind OFWs that they can’t be the sole financial savior for their entire extended family. It’s crucial to set realistic expectations for what they can and cannot provide. This helps manage the guilt associated with not meeting every financial request.
  6. Financial Education: Advocate for financial education both for OFWs and their families back home. When everyone understands the importance of responsible financial management, it can reduce the need for constant financial assistance and, in turn, ease the emotional burden.
  7. Create a Support System: Encourage OFWs to build a support system in their host countries. This network of friends and fellow OFWs can offer emotional support, guidance, and even practical assistance in times of need.
  8. Professional Help: In cases of overwhelming guilt or emotional distress, suggest seeking professional counseling or therapy. These professionals can help OFWs work through complex emotions and provide strategies for coping with guilt.
  9. Celebrate Achievements: Remind OFWs to celebrate their own achievements and financial milestones. Recognizing their hard work and the progress they’ve made can boost their self-esteem and help them manage guilt more effectively.
  10. Balancing Act: Encourage OFWs to view their role as a balancing act between self-care and helping their families. This perspective can help them strike a healthier emotional equilibrium.

How OFWs Can Help Their Loved Ones

  1. Remittances: OFWs play a crucial role in sending remittances to their families back home. This financial support helps cover essential expenses, including education, healthcare, and daily living costs.
  2. Financial Education: Empowering loved ones with financial knowledge can lead to better financial decision-making. OFWs can guide their families on budgeting, saving, and managing debts effectively.
  3. Setting Financial Goals: Collaboratively setting financial goals as a family can create a sense of purpose and motivation. OFWs can provide guidance on how to achieve these objectives, such as homeownership or education funding.
  4. Emergency Funds: OFWs can advise their families on the importance of creating an emergency fund. This fund can serve as a financial safety net for unexpected expenses, reducing the need for constant financial assistance.
  5. Investment Opportunities: Exploring investment opportunities, both for OFWs and their families, can lead to wealth accumulation. OFWs can share information on investment vehicles and strategies to achieve long-term financial growth.
  6. Business Ventures: OFWs can support their families in starting small businesses or income-generating projects. This involvement can boost their families’ financial independence and self-sufficiency.
  7. Education and Skills Development: Investing in education and skills development is key to improving employability and income potential. OFWs can assist in identifying educational opportunities and providing financial support.
  8. Healthcare and Insurance: OFWs can guide their families in obtaining health insurance coverage to mitigate healthcare costs. This provides financial security and peace of mind during medical emergencies.
  9. Regular Communication: Regular communication fosters a better understanding of loved ones’ needs and aspirations. OFWs can provide emotional support and financial advice more effectively with open and consistent communication.
  10. Sending Gifts: Sending practical gifts or financial assistance during special occasions or festivals can bring joy to families. These gestures strengthen familial bonds and offer tangible support.
  11. Family Meetings: Conducting family meetings or discussions facilitates collaborative financial planning. OFWs can engage their families in making informed decisions about their financial future.
  12. Balancing Priorities: OFWs should help their families strike a balance between their own needs and the financial support they provide. This ensures responsible financial management for all parties involved.
  13. Monitoring and Accountability: Establishing monitoring and accountability systems helps ensure that financial support is used effectively. OFWs can guide their families in tracking expenses and adhering to financial plans.
  14. Legal and Documentation: OFWs can assist their families in understanding the legal aspects of financial matters, ensuring transparency and protection of assets.

Saying “no” to financial requests, especially when circumstances demand it, is never an easy task. However, it’s a necessary one. Through this article, we’ve explored the importance of setting boundaries and understanding the dynamics of responsible financial assistance.