Everyone knows that moving in general is stressful. What doesn’t get much attention is how stressful it can be to move from one country to another, particularly for children. It is as if their entire world has changed. Everything they learned about and grew accustomed to is no longer. All the rules have changed and it seems just about everything needs to be re-learned. Immigrating affects not only how they view the world around them, but themselves as well.
According to research, children feel the stress more. Parents are more concerned about economic factors. Adapting to a new culture requires societal support that is often non-existent. Sometimes families may already have other families in their new country and are able to get assistance in transitioning. For those that don’t, they are left to find a way to adapt on their own. Of course, there is a correlation between the amount of support, stress, and adaptation. The less support there is, stress is higher, and adaptation is reduced.
There is often a tendency for the parents to want to hold on to their heritage and past as much as possible. This of course must be balanced with integrating to the new culture and perhaps taking on some new customs and rituals. Sometimes, parents aren’t able to balance these different needs and aren’t able to help their children develop a clear sense of what their new life is about and how to transition.