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by Soki Kaur
Raising children in the Canadian culture can be very challenging for immigrants, refugees, and people of colour. This is largely due to the fact that we learn to parent in the families where we grew up. Moving to a completely different culture and thinking about parenting in a new way can be difficult. Parent Support Circles (PSC) offers help with some of these issues.
Cultural Sharing Day
Photo: Rahnghild Watson Reinartz
In several focus group discussions around parenting in the mainstream culture, some main points were revealed. Many parents, especially immigrants and refugees, have concerns and stresses when it comes to parenting in a culture which holds beliefs and values different from their own. Some parents said that they felt alone, isolated and stressed because their extended families are not here to help them raise their children. Some were distressed that their children were becoming too "Canadianized," losing their cultural heritage and language, making discipline and communication difficult. One parent expressed concern about children being removed from their families for reported abuse. Parenting becomes extremely stressful in a community which has its own definition of abuse and rules on how to discipline its children. Moreover, for collective cultures in which many personal concerns are dealt with by the family, there is fear around being labelled a bad parent if one should decide to seek help/ support elsewhere. Another parent expressed that being in an interracial marriage causes a lot of tension in parenting as well.
Difficulties in raising children in the mainstream culture can be attributed to a number of factors: language barriers, peer pressure, an identity crisis for children being raised in their own culture but being largely socialized in the mainstream culture; being a visible minority, facing racism, discrimination, and/or prejudice, undergoing culture shock, social isolation, etc. PSC wants to extend their services to parents who do not see themselves as part of the mainstream community. In addi-tion, language specific groups will be created to support parents who feel more comfortable speaking in their own language. Confidentiality and anonymity are key to creating a safe environment in which parents can gain support, develop friend-ships with other parents, learn about parenting in this culture, and talk about communicating with their children. A small subsidy is provided for childcare and transportation as needed. The group will meet two hours on a weekly basis.
Currently, PSC is looking for volunteer committee members to sit on its Multicultural Parent Support Circle Committee. It is also looking for volunteer facilitators who speak English and another language such as Punjabi, Spanish, Vietnamese, etc. Volunteer facilitators are trained by the B.C. Parents in Crisis Society and all expenses are paid.
Soki Kaur, a Community Outreach Worker for PSC and 4th year student at the School of Social Work, UVic.
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