With fully 60 percent of Canada’s recent influx of Syrian refugees being under the age of 15, this group is largely composed of children and the adults who care for them. The parents or primary caregivers of these children face both the enormous tasks involved in acclimatizing themselves to a new culture and environment and the strains linked to the financial support, schooling, and care of children. Funded by SSHRC as part of a special call for research into the experiences of the Syrian refugees, research by Professors Melissa Milkie, Neda Maghbouleh and Ito Peng seeks to understand the parenting stress that these new Canadians experience.
The three professors recently presented some of the early findings at the Metropolis conference in Montreal. Reporting on 43 wave 1 interviews, preliminary findings show three major stressors that Syrian refugee mothers experience. First, a major stressor for most Syrian refugee mothers upon resettlement is the crystallization of deep losses – such as the separation from close family members like their own parents, who are unable, unwilling or are not chosen to be resettled in Canada. The extended family is thus not able to support mothers in the ways they may have in the past. Second, school stressors exist for some families, but are relatively minor and most often solved readily; and/or resources to solve school concerns are clear. Finally, although mothers feel a sense of mastery in their successful creation of physical safety for their children, they experience a powerful cultural stressor in their lack of control over their children’s distant but impending adulthood in a new land with different cultural standards and norms.
They will be presenting an invited panel at the Canadian Sociological Association meeting on May 31st.