parachute kids
(PAIR.uh.shoot kidz) n. Children sent to a new country to live alone or with a caregiver while their parents remain in their home country. Also: parachute children.

Example Citation:
Some Chinese immigrant women from Hong Kong have become "astronaut" wives, ... staying in Canada with their children while their husbands returned to Hong Kong to work. However, their stories of isolation and loneliness were harrowing. Although not found in my study, some women from Hong Kong who were discouraged by their underemployment and unemployment in Canada resolved to return to Hong Kong to find work along with their husbands, leaving their children alone in Canada. While outside of the scope of my research, the long-term effects of "parachute children" warrants serious investigation.
—Guida Man, "Globalization and the erosion of the welfare state," Canadian Woman Studies, March 2002

Earliest Citation:
Craig, a high school senior, lives a fantasy most teen-agers only dream. He and his sister Zoe, 14, live in a sprawling San Marino ranch house, their one chaperon an elderly servant who speaks no English...Craig and Zoe are examples of a phenomenon so familiar in the Chinese community that there is a nickname for it: "parachute kids" — dropped off to live in the United States while their wealthy parents remain in Asia.

The parents, mostly from Taiwan, want their children in more open, less cutthroat U.S. school systems, in which the chances of getting into college are much greater.

Parents may place their children with distant relatives or paid caretakers, or simply buy a house for them and have them stay alone. Under these scenarios, the youngsters often live much as adults would, deciding when to go to sleep or attend school and whether dinner will consist of leafy greens or potato chips.

A 1990 UCLA study, using numbers from visa applications, estimated that there are 40,000 Taiwanese parachute kids ages 8 to 18 in the United States; smaller numbers come from Hong Kong and South Korea.
—Denise Hamilton, "A house, cash — and no parents," Los Angeles Times, June 24, 1993

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