When families include members with no immigration status, this can create psychological stress. This article can help parents understand children’s reactions to the fear of separation due to immigration and provide some suggestions for strategies to help manage behaviors and emotions.
Parent´s Reactions Related To Immigration
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Parents may have conflicting emotions about their migration and potential family separation. Separation often produces grief, guilt, and loneliness for the parents. This can result in physical symptoms, isolation, sadness, depression, and anxiety. This fear of detection limits families from participating in enriching activities, social connections, and resources.
Strategies For Managing Parent´s Stress Due To Immigration Issues
Children are attuned to parents and caregivers emotional states. Set a good example of how to manage stress. Practice self care.
- Stay informed about current immigration issues from credible sources. Fear and anxiety can significantly be reduced by staying informed about legal rights and by attending community informational workshops.
- Become familiar with your local resource center to get reliable information about immigration issues and get legal immigration assistance if needed.
- Create a family preparedness plan. Maintain legal documents, birth, medical, and school records and give a copy to a trusted adult including the adults designated to care for your children in case of separation. See resource section for more information.
- Know your rights. Always carry an emergency card stating your rights and with contact information.
When faced with the fear of separation due to immigration, it is common for children as well as their parents to experience a range of emotions and behaviors. These key steps may help you:
- Routines help children feel safe and secure. Maintain consistent and predictable routines.
- Have an open conversation at the child’s level of understanding. Listen to your children and what they are asking, not giving them more information than necessary. Encourage them to answer their own questions.
- Avoid parent traps. Focus on positive behavior. Have realistic expectations.
- Limit adult discussion and media exposure about immigration to when children are not around.
- Create a Family Plan and assure children that you are making plans to provide a safe environment.
- Become well informed about immigration issues from reliable resources
- Practice coping skills for yourself and with your children.
- Take care of yourself. Children do better when their parents are healthy and calm.
Information provided by Child Parent Institute