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Table 5 Refugees, asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants and parenthood experiences: Integrative themes and description

From: Refugees, asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants and the experience of parenthood: a synthesis of the qualitative literature

Theme Description (Codes)
Experiencing hardship and loss in the context of precarious migration and/or past traumas - Resettlement challenges/hardships affecting families include: under/unemployment or low wage, precarious and exploitive employment, poverty/low income, poor housing conditions, unsafe neighborhoods, and marginalization and discrimination due to social status, education level, race, gender, language and/or migration status
- Consequences of resettlement challenges/hardships: less family time (survival becomes priority), reduced access, eligibility and barriers to services (e.g., healthcare, childcare, education) and resources (food, shelter), compromised parenting (unable to provide as
needed), feelings of stress/overwhelmed, guilt and anxiety, and concern for children’s safety, well-being and upward mobility
- Loss of family and community (no support and help to raise children, isolation and sadness, single parenthood)
- Unfamiliar systems, language barriers, discrimination and different expectations (education, disciplining, child supervision, values, socialization, health)
- Family and community tension and conflict due to changing roles, expectations and power dynamics
- Overcoming and coping with past traumas (war, loss, rape) (difficult interaction, attachment, and communication and intensified concerns about safety and protection of children)
- Living with fear and uncertainty: fear of family separation or being forced to return to country (deportation), fear of accessing services and restricting movement because of fear of deportation and/or fear it will affect future status
Building resilience and strength by bridging language, norms and expectations - Family and community closeness as sources of strength and support
- Faith, church and religion as source of strength and coping
- Pride in nationality (to maintain identity and a positive sense of self in order to resist assimilation and oppression, overcome hardships
and gain upward mobility)
- Importance of maintaining and transmitting language, culture, values and religion to children
(maintenance of identity, social and cultural capital, keeping family connected, protecting children/family, keeping children healthy, and
educating children)
- Children as sources of support for parents and family (to bridge language and culture gaps)
- Altering notions and enactments of parenthood because of circumstances and/or adapting for integration purposes (family size, role,
values and involvement of parents, nutrition and feeding)
- Letting go of culture, language and religion (for integration purposes and also not to carryover negative tensions from country of origin)
- Empowerment due to changing gender roles and dynamics
- Learning new languages, skills and ways of doing (empowerment for women, economic capital, role model for children)
- Wanting children to learn new languages and skills and to be exposed to diversity (social, cultural and economic capital)
- Resettlement assistance and/or government and community programs helpful
- Determination and agency
(seeking information and resources, becoming a resident/citizen, enacting and fighting for rights, overcoming stereotypes)
- Appreciation for safety and access to resources, services and education for children
- Positive interactions with receiving-country population as source of support
(increased sense of belonging, practical support, social capital)
- Laws and policies that provide rights and access to services
- Children’s future as reason for migration
- Motivated to succeed, rebuild life and survive for children
- Children (having a baby) as meaning and purpose
- High (educational) expectations for children (towards better life)
Living transnationally: obligations, challenges and resources - Leaving family, including children, and friends behind for a better life (sadness)
- Hopes to bring children and/or other family members to new country in future
- Distance parenting
- Remittances and providing for family left behind
- Concern and tension between providing for family and children left behind and family in new country
- High (educational) expectations for children towards better life for family left behind, and broader community
- Changing family composition (deportation or reunification of family members) and adjusting relationships
- Maintaining connections with friends and family in home country as source of support (social support, parenting advice)
- Maintaining connections with friends and family in home country as means to transmit values, language and culture to children
- Maintaining connections to resources (employment, access to healthcare, schools) in country of origin
- Developing and fostering in children a sense of transnational identity and sense of belonging (preparing children for potential to return to country)