Syria: the challenges of parenting in refugee situations of immediate displacement
Aala El-Khani, Fiona Ulph, Sarah Peters & Rachel Calam
Aala El-Khani is a Research Associate at the Division of Psychology and Mental Health, School of Health Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fiona Ulph is a Senior Lecturer in psychology at the Division of Psychology and Mental Health, School of Health Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK Sarah Peters is a Senior Lecturer in psychology, Division of Psychology and Mental Health, School of Health Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
Rachel Calamis a Professor of Child and Family Psychology, Division of Psychology and Mental Health, School of Health Sciences,The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
The way parents care for their children during displacement plays a key role in children’s emotional and behavioural outcomes. Yet, sparse literature exists regarding the parenting challenges faced by families seeing conflict in transitional, pre-resettlement stages.This study, therefore, aimed to identify the parenting experiences of Syrian families living in refugee camps, focusing on understanding how their parenting had changed and the impact displacement had had on their parenting. Methods used included: interviews and focus groups discussions with 27 mothers living in refugee contexts, two interviews with professional aid workers, with the data analysed using thematic analysis. Data were structured in three themes; 1) environmental challenges; 2) child specific challenges; and 3) parent specific challenges. Results clearly showed that parents struggled physically and emotionally to support their children. Such challenges could be addressed by parenting interventions to reduce the trauma impact experienced by children
This study identifed the parenting challenges of recently displaced families. It provides a unique insight into parents’ hardships and their motivation to support their children. The realities of refugee life evidently affected parents’ beliefs and ability to meet the new challenges they faced. Focussing on the parenting experience, contributes to the aim of better understanding how to reduce children’s psychological trauma. The majority of the research with refugees has focused on their needs during the resettlement period in a new host country, but with many families spending significant amounts of time (sometimes years) in refugee camps, support must be provided early in the refugee journey. Providing parenting interventions for families in refugee camps could offer a way to help parents better support their children and parent them effectively, thus reducing the impact of the trauma, their current challenges and those they face in the future.This information must be taken into account by those involved in providing policies and interventions for refugee families in pre-resettlement contexts.