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for Immigrant Parents and Their Children
families to Canada and the United States can face many issues complicating their
adjustment to the new host culture.
unconsidered is the implications for intra-familial culture clash when children
take to the host culture sooner or more wholeheartedly than their parents. Risk
of conflict between children and their parents is heightened on issues of
socialization with opposite gender friends, developing friends of other
cultures, issues of rights and freedoms and expectations for academic
it is important to appreciate that immigrant families come to Canada generally
seeking to provide a better life for their children than what might have been
available in their country of origin. Hence when these parents come up against
conflict with their children owing to adaptation, the conflict can be felt by
the parent as tremendous disrespect by the child who doesn't understand the
parents’ rationale and sacrifice in coming to the new country.
do face cultural imperatives and conflicts too, but the absence of risk of
pregnancy can lessen the scrutiny placed upon them by parents. However, the boys
may be more subject to high expectations for academic excellence, which may or
may not be taken well. If not taken well, boys may come to reject their own
family’s culture, falling prey to the illusions of freedom from authority by
gravitating to counter-culture groups or gangs. This in turn can lead to a risk
of conflict with the law and abject academic failure as well as extreme conflict
with their family.
While not nagging their children, sharing stories as to why parents chose to immigrate and their hopes for their family’s future can inform their children as to their family aspirations. Further, when parents invite their children to engage in a dialogue about the differences between their respective lives non-judgmentally; parents and children may be apprised of their respective experiences and may be in a better position to discuss differences between themselves.
challenge here is for the parents to develop skills that rely more upon
influence than control. This can also be facilitated by participation and
enjoyment of cultural activities and inviting their children’s new friends to
join in. Co-opting children’s friends can serve as a better way of maintaining
family integrity than isolating from friends.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
Call Gary for your next conference and for expert opinion on family matters. Services include counselling, mediation, assessment, assessment critiques and workshops.
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
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