Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Humanities and Social Inquiry


International labour migration is occurring at a phenomenal rate, generating global social transformations with unequal effect. Limited consideration has been given to the children navigating transnational parenting arrangements. Existing studies have predominantly relied on adult accounts, or when young people’s accounts are utilised, information has primarily been elicited through survey instruments. Findings have indicated the duration of transnational parenting is often underestimated, visits can be confusing, household roles are altered, while transnational communications can be curtailed by geography, infrastructure, and gendered expectations. Young people in some regions can be at increased risk of poor behavioural and educational outcomes. However, the impact of transnational parenting on young people cannot be universalised and must consider cultural norms. Thus, there is much still to be learned regarding transnational parenting through hearing the voices and views of young people who were experiencing transnational parenting in Tonga.

A theoretical framework utilising social remittances theory, the new sociology of childhood, sociology of emotion and childhood in Tonga was adopted. A critical, quick, ethnographic approach was undertaken using young people’s drawings, semi-structured interviews, time diaries, short surveys, and field-work observations. This facilitated participant-led accounts of their experience of transnational parenting in Tonga.

FoR codes (2020)

440403 Labour, migration and development, 440303 Migration, 440808 International relations, 441009 Sociology of family and relationships



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.