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Feeling Pride and Pain for Children Away from Home

Photo: David Croxford

A lot of you have shared this bittersweet moment: Your child is graduating from college (hurray!) and has found a great job (double hurray!), but that job is thousands of miles away.

Sigh.

My son, James, our first child, graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y, on May 25, and next month starts working for GE Capital. He has worked hard and made good choices, and now is reaping the rewards. Hawaii doesn’t fit into his current plans. If you are reading this, James, don’t feel guilty. In your shoes, I probably would have made the same choice.

Many other parents in Hawaii have gone through this mixture of pride and pain. We know that Hawaii does not offer all the opportunities that are available elsewhere, and we know that when we were young, we also wanted to explore the bigger world. So don’t make your children feel guilty, even if they see you crying.

The good news for parents is that many of Hawaii’s children have come home. In our cover story, writer Lavonne Leong – herself an expat who came home – talks with 11 people who began their careers on the mainland but returned here. None of them say it was easy to come back or without tradeoffs, but they all agree it was worth the cost. And, make no mistake, there are costs that make it impossible for many people to come home.

We all know what would make it easier: Lower cost of living, more career opportunities, better public schools and much more. While we are all working on those problems, send your kids a copy of this month’s article so they can start planning and making a realistic assessment. They might not come back this year or next, but maybe someday.

That will be a big day to celebrate.

And if they don’t come home, it will give you an excuse to explore a wider world. After all, new adventures should not be monopolized by the young.

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Hawaii Business,June