Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in International Perspectives in Psychology: Research, Practice, Consultation 3:3 (2014), pp. 197–214; doi: 10.1037/ipp0000017


Copyright © 2014 American Psychological Association. Used by permission.


The domestic and care labor sector is integral to the economic and social fabric of almost every nation. Although there has been increasing attention to the plight and experiences of international migrant workers within this field, less is known about the experiences of rural-to-urban migrants employed in this same sector. This study focuses on “yayas”—domestic workers caring for children in affluent families in the Philippines and draws from fieldwork and interviews conducted in Quezon City. Participants were female “yayas” caring for young children while they themselves were separated from their own offspring, most of whom were left behind in their rural communities. Interviews evoked themes reflecting a convergence of broad social and economic issues (e.g., rural poverty), gender norms and roles (e.g., the role of women in raising children), and traditional notions regarding family and parenting (e.g., the role of parents in children’s upbringing, obligations of extended family) all together resulting in a heavy personal burden and transformed parenting strategies in light of spatial distance (e.g., remittances, mediated contact). Interviews revealed themes specific to the experience of being a worker in the care sector, including the nature of the relationship between the “yaya” and her charge, and the “yaya” and her employer. Although findings reflect themes that are consistent with the larger body of work on the experiences of transnational parenting among overseas Filipino workers, the current data suggest some unique patterns that reflect access to fewer economic and social resources among internal migrants in this study