Topic 7: Families Coping with Migration and Disaster {by 10/31}

There are two readings due this week – Text Ch. 11 – Immigration and Saylor, Belter, and Stokes (1997) – Families coping with disaster.  Address the following two discussion points:  (1) There are many perspectives to view immigration and families.  With regard to children (born in the U.S. or arrived at a very young age) of immigrant parents, what are some potential obstacles that may come up between these children and their parents?   (2) The chapter does not really give much for systemic interventions for families coping with disaster.  Specific theoretical approaches aside (e.g., CBT, TF-CBT), what would you prioritize as your treatment goals (i.e., triage goals) working with a family that recently had a shared traumatic experience.  Your original post should be posted by the beginning of class 10/31.  Have your two replies no later than 11/2.  *Please remember to click the “reply” button when posting a reply.  This makes it easier for the reader to follow the blog postings.

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34 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Stacie z.
    Oct 28, 2013 @ 19:14:39

    A primary obstacle that can arise between immigrant parents and their children is a reversal of roles within the family. Children born in the U.S. or who came to the U.S. at a very young age are able to adapt quickly to American customs, language, and cultural rituals. When this occurs, children may have to guide their parents in understanding what societal expectations and challenges are to be expected. Given the other concerns children may need to deal with in their daily lives, the additional responsibility as a “translator” of language and culture for parents, can have a significant impact on the child. Likewise, the parents may feel uncomfortable regarding the reversal of roles and the increased reliance on their child in navigating their new home and culture. When immigrant parents can be connected to support systems and resources that help them to communicate with others in the community some of the reliance on children can be alleviated. In addition, cultures that place great emphasis on doing what is best for all family members, including extended members, can find the American way of valuing individualism and the nuclear family, difficult to adopt. However, the chapter notes that many families from countries emphasizing community and kin networks are able to adopt a dual way of living. In their home these families maintain their original cultural customs and internalized manner of family interactions; out in the larger community they are able to function as mainstream Americans and demonstrate assertiveness, individuality, and other qualities looked up to in our culture.
    In working with a family that has just experienced a traumatic experience I would utilize the stage approach described in the article. This is a stage model that meets individuals and families where they are at, while upholding immediate need for safety as primary. Stage models include addressing immediate safety, short-term interventions appropriate for the individual child or adult, and then examine what longer term services might be needed. Initially I would want to ensure the physical and emotional health and safety of all family members. If it is evident that medical treatment is necessary I would relay this information to the individual. During the immediate stage I would also make sure that each member of the family has been given accurate information about the disaster at a level that is developmentally appropriate. I would encourage the parents to carefully screen media coverage their children may see so that it accurately reflects what happened, and to let their children know they are free to ask questions. It is also helpful for parents to ask their children what they may be hearing. In the next stage, once safety has been established, it becomes important to help restore normalcy. Which efforts will be most effective for restoring normalcy will depend on the individual. For children, it is often returning to a routine of school; for adults it can be the workplace. The hope that is if earlier interventions are effective then the need for long-term interventions, although available, will not be as great. The approach taken in immediate and short term offers the ability to learn effective coping skills such that adjustment is determined in part by “effectiveness of immediate coping efforts” (Saylor, Belter, & Stokes 1997, p. 377).

    Reply

    • Kristina Glaude
      Oct 31, 2013 @ 12:22:19

      Stacie~
      I like how you brought up the point about the child becoming the translator in the family. I think that as the child becomes enmeshed within the new culture often the child picks up things such as language faster than other family members. This ability to speak the local language changes the dynamics in the home. The child may struggle in school as the parent still wants to speak the home countries language at home while the child wants to speak the new countries language. This struggle over language can impact the dynamic within the family.

      Reply

  2. Julianna Aguilar
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 19:22:45

    Immigration and assimilation into a new culture present many challenges for parents and children both individually and together. In particular, some obstacles that may arise between the children and parents pertain to the psychological adjustment of parents as well as language differences. To start, Walsh (2003) notes that parents may be “psychologically absent” after immigration due to losses and hardships experienced as a result of immigration (p. 288). Though children may not have these same direct experiences, they are indirectly affected by being exposed to their parent’s experience. Additionally, one of the most significant obstacles between parents and their children appears to be language barriers. Specifically, many theorize that because children tend to adapt to American culture and learn the language much quicker than their parents, they become interpreters which creates a parent-child role reversal. This role reversal then weakens parents’ authority. However, research has shown that these parent-child conflicts are more prevalent in certain cultures (e.g., white Americans more so than Mexican Americans) due to cultural values such as one’s identity being tied with others as opposed to against others (Walsh, 2003). Therefore, there are many general obstacles between recently-immigrated parents and their children, but differences in those obstacles exist depending on the family’s preexisting values.

    When working with a family that has recently experienced trauma, there are generally several goals that need to be met before long-term adjustment can be predicted. Based on the various models described, common themes are the importance of helping families meet their basic needs, establish normalcy, and engage with social supports to help combat the development of PTSD and establish a base for effective long-term coping. Specifically, Saylor, Belter, and Stokes (1997) argue that perhaps the single most important goal is to first ensure that the parents needs are being met. As we have discussed in class, the authors compare this need to that of fixing one’s own oxygen mask on an airplane before helping children. Once parents’ needs are met, they are then better able to meet their children’s needs. Next, it is important to help families achieve a sense of normalcy as they uniquely define it (e.g., adhering to similar routines created before the trauma occurred). If families are able to restore normalcy, they are likely to have more effective long-term adjustment than those who do not. Finally, social supports (e.g., schools, peer groups, community, extended family) help facilitate short and long-term coping and reduce the risk of experiencing PTSD symptoms (Saylor et al., 1997). Overall, there are many important factors to consider when assessing and implementing interventions for families who have experienced trauma, but meeting immediate needs, restoring normalcy, and engaging with social supports are important predictors for effective long-term coping with the event(s) and prevention of PTSD symptoms.

    Reply

    • Kristina Glaude
      Oct 31, 2013 @ 12:16:04

      Julianna~
      I think that it is important to remember that every family is different. When addressing the trauma along with ways to create normalcy within a family a one size fits all salutation does not exist. Thus addressing parents concerns first will help to decrease the stress and overall help the children in the home. I think that there will be specific foundation goals need to be addressed first and then as treatment continues goals will be readdressed and new goals created.

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    • Amanda Thomas
      Oct 31, 2013 @ 16:17:12

      Julianna, I also mentioned the hierachal reversal of patents and children. There have been several families i have worked who rely on their child to communicate for them. This becomes very challenging especially when it involves safety or behavioral concerns. It is hard to know whether or not the child is being honest and accurate. I have also see the child be very dismissive and disrespectful to their parent. Parents get frustrated with their children in these situations but they are at a loss because they are at a disadvantage.

      Reply

    • Katrina Mitchell
      Nov 03, 2013 @ 17:22:47

      Julianna,
      I saw that we both listed helping families engage with social supports, combatting the development of PTSD, and establishing coping skills as treatment goals for a family experiencing trauma. I think social support and restoring normalcy are intertwined as being connected to a community of people experiencing trauma and knowing resources among a community can both help a family feel “comforted” that many others are also learning to cope with similar experiences. As you mentioned, both restoring normalcy and having social supports can lead to more effective long-term adjustment as well as coping to reduce experiences of PTSD. It seems having these goals are significant to maintaining mental health versus experiencing signs and symptoms of PTSD.

      Reply

  3. Kristina Glaude
    Oct 31, 2013 @ 12:31:08

    1) As families immigrate to a new location change and adaptation has to occur. If parents are not able to make social and cultural connections outside of the home this can lead to increased obstacles with children. As the children will be leaving the home and going to school they have increased ability to connect with others their own age. The ability for children to make faster social connections in the new environment can lead to increased frustration within the home as parents may want to go back to the original country or incorporate old traditions from the home country. The bringing together the old and the new may lead to challenges for the parents and the children. The connection that children have with other children can lead to other obstacles as well. This could allow the opportunity for the child to learn the new language of the new country faster than the parents leading to conflict and frustration in the home. It could also allow for other cultural events to impact their lives whereas in the home country this may have not occurred. This obstacle can be seen when there are gender differences that are different than the current place they are living. An example of the gender difference could be in the original country the girls helped the mother to clean and the boys did not. This is compared to the new country where the gender roles are more equal. This change with gender roles can increase difficulties within the home between parents and children.
    2) When working with families that have recently experienced disaster it is important to review and prioritize these goals. Some basic goals would be food, clothing and shelter. Other goals would be to locate and obtain care for medical concerns. Such as if there was a family member that was diabetic and insulin dependent how and where to get more insulin for them. Another goal would be to develop a routine both within the family and within the community. This would be location of school, employment and social activities. While working together as family to clean up, rebuild and reestablish themselves within the community. A goal would be to review family members struggle with PTSD. This could be from the traumatic experience of the disaster itself or the loss of a friend or family member within the disaster. However, review of loss needs to be assessed and reviewed. Another goal would be to help the family locate resources in order to assess damage and rebuild if they wanted to. This goal could also become problematic if the family does not have the correct insurance in order to help with funding of this project. Another goal that I would review is ways to implement healthy stress reduction. These methods could help to lower substance use and also anger outbursts within the family. These methods could be done as a family in order to build the strength as both the family members and as a part of the community also. As treatment continues for the family new goals and problems will arise and the goals will need to be adjusted and altered to continue to help the family as needed.

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    • Emily B
      Oct 31, 2013 @ 16:57:42

      Kristina-I like how you pointed out the cultural differences that might not be correct when moving to another countries. Every so often I will hear my co-workers discussing families who come from overseas and discuss the differences in gender roles and the roles of each member of the family the family system.

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    • Angela Vizzo
      Oct 31, 2013 @ 18:21:19

      Kristina, you bring up a lot of valid points in your discussion of goals in helping families cope with disaster. I really like how you mention practical issues like insurance and rebuilding that can often times be overlooked in planning for a disaster, yet are very important once a disaster has happened.

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    • Kirsten
      Nov 01, 2013 @ 17:18:53

      Kristina, I thought it was interesting that you mentioned the obstacle of immigrant parents not making social and cultural connections outside of the home and how this can negatively impact their children. As noted in other posts, immigrant parents experience a sense of loss or grief, leaving behind family, friends, familiar language, customs/rituals, food, music, etc. In addition to this loss, these parents also may have to deal with having limited connections to other people around them. This lack of social interactions and connectedness may create a world of loneliness that leads parents to experience sadness and frustration. Without even realizing it, parents may become angry or upset with their children if they have an increased ability to connect with others and learn the customs of the new culture. Its also understandable to some degree that immigrant parents may want to go back to the original country or try their best to re-create the customs and traditions in the home environment from their culture of origin. By teaching their children these customs, immigrant parents may experience a sense of comfort and feel less isolated.

      Reply

    • Anthony Rofino
      Nov 03, 2013 @ 23:11:44

      Kristina, I think the migration loss issue is a very important one. It is true that parents who experience loss through their migration process will impact their children. many people forget that migration is a very large life stressor and that it can impact future development of the children of the parents. It is important for us as therapists to acknowledge this with clients

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  4. Paige Hartmann
    Oct 31, 2013 @ 14:07:19

    Children of immigrant parents experience many obstacles throughout their lives. According to Walsh (2008), some of these obstacles can include developmental problems such as socialization, language acquisition, insertion in peer groups, cultural codes, as well as a sense of national identity. Children of immigrant parents experience migration loss, but not as profoundly as their parents. This may cause parents to become psychologically absent, often leaving the children to deal with their parents’ mixed perceptions and emotions regarding their many losses and current adversities. What I found to be one of the biggest obstacles for children of immigrant parents is the generational conflict that arises from children learning the English language and understanding America much quicker than their parents. This causes a strain on the family relationship as the children are expected to translate the culture and language to their parents.

    Disaster is a different type of trauma, it is a public event that directly impacts multiple individuals as well as families. When working with a family that recently shared a traumatic experience, such as a disaster, I would be sure to focus on supporting the family through all of the stages of the disaster, as well as the aftermath. Research has found that when paying attention to all stages of a disaster when working with a family, it can help minimize possible psychological damage. Saylor et al. (1997) explains that parents often tend to underestimate the level of distress and symptoms of their children. By working closely with both the parents and the children, will result in a better understanding of the family’s overall situation. According to Saylor et al. (1997), by being aware of the child’s pre-disaster functioning, parental and familial post-disaster functioning, and the child’s perceived severity of the exposure to trauma are important factors that all affect the child’s reaction to the disaster. Working with the family to build positive coping mechanisms is important in helping to reduce the severity and longevity of symptoms.

    Reply

    • Amanda Thomas
      Oct 31, 2013 @ 16:10:55

      Paige- you mentioned socialization was an obstacle that children of immigrant families experience. I think that this can be challenging for children if parents are not open to or encouraging of American values. I have observed children isolate themselves and get teased because of their inability to socialize or lack of Americanized social skills. I think part of this is due to language and cultural factors.

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    • Brandon Pare
      Oct 31, 2013 @ 21:27:02

      Paige,
      You bring up a great point that the parents of these children have experienced a loss moving from one country to another. No matter what the reason may be for the immigration in the first place, they are losing a sense of self when the no longer are living in a culture they are familiar with. The child, which is typiically more adapted to the new cultures customes, has to cope with the turmoil that their parents are going through as well as finding a place in their new surrounding culture.

      Reply

  5. Amanda Thomas
    Oct 31, 2013 @ 16:05:13

    I would focus my treatment goals using the disaster process and impact stage models. By identifying the stage that the family or children are in the easier it would be to tailor therapy to their specific needs as they cope individually with disaster. If the children/ family were impact stage it would be important to assist them in finding safety for their family, informing them about the disaster, what to expect, and assist them in forming some kind of routine as they transition into the other stages. The short term disaster stage would encompass the aftermath of the disaster. Families are processing the events by observing their enviro enact and how it has changed, assessing the well being of people in the community while experiencing a range of emotions from fear to grief. The short term stage is a means for the family to adapt to long term effects. The long term stage is about 3-9 months post disaster. Families are in the process of rebuilding, recovering and returning to former routines and a sense of normalcy should be settling in. Children have gone back to their school routines. Assisting family members in processing events and accepting is important. Coping with similar experiences to that of the disaster, exposing to stimuli. Assisting parents and children through each stage, depending on where they fall regarding the stages, would determine how to focus treatment. Assisting them to form a preparation plan if another disaster were to occur.

    Some of the potential conflicts that can arise between immigrant parents and their children are generational and influence culture, language whereas , gender based conflicts which are more emotion focused. Generational conflicts involve a gap between parents versus child and their ability to understand the culture and language. Children who were born in their home country and brought to a new country or grew up in the new country at a young age have an advantage of learning the new culture and language easier and faster than parents. This often puts stress on the hierarchal relationship forcing children to parent their parents because they have to translate for them which can strip parents of their authority.
    when children and parents do not share a language this gap widens which mars conflicts difficult to repair. The gap can be lessened with adequate social support from others that share the same background. Gender based conflicts often arise when couples come from traditional countries that have a patriarchal culture. Emotional conflicts may be due to a family that has immigrated separately or in phases. Values of children are often heavily influenced by the culture of their new community which clash with beliefs from the parents home country.

    Reply

    • Emily B
      Oct 31, 2013 @ 16:59:45

      I think that it would be very important for families to come up with a plan to assist them in case another disaster does occur. It would assist the family in bonding together and to discuss the traumatic event in a way that was positive and solution-focused.

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    • Brandon Pare
      Oct 31, 2013 @ 22:00:54

      Amanda,
      I really enjoy how you indentified that therapy and coping for families going through disaster is based on what works from the individual and what stage of the disaster they are at. Each family member plays a role in this which their behavior is compared to how other families are going through, our have gone through such disasters in the past.

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  6. Emily B
    Oct 31, 2013 @ 16:54:33

    Potential obstacles that may come between children and their parents would potentially be that the child who is either born in the US or arrived at a young age is better able to adapt quickly to new cultures. This could be because children are able to gain greater experience with fellow classmates who are American born. Having friendships with children who are not part of their parents culture may also pose an issue. Parents may attempt to find connections and communities that are similar to their own and where many people come from the same country. Children also become the way in which a parent would communicate with the outside world. Children who become translators to their parents often are bystanders in intimate medical appointments, interacting with banks or other providers. This causes children to become more mature than some children can handle.

    If a family has recently experienced a traumatic experience I would first assess the needs of the family. Some traumatic events includes ones in which the family loses their homes, or savings. If that is the case, assisting families in accessing supports in the community that will help them obtain stability for their basic needs (food, water, shelter, medical care) would be the most important task. I feel if basic needs are not addressed then therapeutic interventions will be less or not effective. Also, assisting parents in talking to their children about traumatic event and coming up with a family plan might help the family better cope with the aftermath of a traumatic event.

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    • Sara Grzejszczak
      Oct 31, 2013 @ 18:03:03

      Emily, I like how you point out many of the different ways that children become parentified because they are the only way their parents are able to communicate. Children won’t be able to handle all of the issues that their parents have to deal with and even though they then mature sooner which can cause some problems later on. I also like how you mentioned getting the family to turn to the community for help after a natural disaster. Many times parents feel alone after a traumatic event happens and by having the community help out parents will be able to make new connections with others to help them cope with their losses and establish new routines so parents can then help their children.

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    • Julianna Aguilar
      Nov 01, 2013 @ 11:48:15

      Emily, I like how you pointed out the importance of helping parents communicate with their children about trauma. As we talked about in class yesterday, it is important for children to have supports in place with people who they have a rapport with and who are part of their routine (e.g., parents, peers, teachers, etc.). Though we as therapists can also be a good resource for helping children cope with trauma, we are likely to have to not already had a strong relationship built with them being that they may be seeing us for the first time due of the traumatic event. Therefore, teaching parents the appropriate skills would seem to be a very effective way to help their children cope in these situations.

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    • Anthony Rofino
      Nov 03, 2013 @ 23:13:53

      Emily, I like that you bring up the “translator children.” Because of all of the scenarios in which the parents will need a translator, these children are learning about certain life stressors that children of their age should not be subject to, and this is a very large problem. Children should instead encourage and help their parents to learn English so that they are not subjected to such scenarios and it is the parent’s job to learn to their best of their abilities

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  7. Brandon Pare
    Oct 31, 2013 @ 17:25:42

    1) The first obstacle that comes into mind is the possibility of the child speaking better English then the parents. This can place strain on the child parent relationship and create friction between the child and their parents. For instance this child may put into the position of having to translate for the parents. This can create a parentification of a young child, putting them into a place to discuss things with adults that one they might not even understand, want to discuss, or should be discussing. This can make the child feel in some cases superior to the parent, special to the parent, or maybe even feel used by the parent. The child also is provided the opportunity to embellish the truth to parents. This plays to the child’s advantage if they get in trouble at school or if he needs to get the parents to buy them something that they may not need or they proclaim to be necessary for children in the culture in this country. This brings me to another potential obstacle that can occur between children and their parents are the clash of cultures. Most children desire to fit in with their peers and the surrounding environment. So it only makes sense that children with immigrant parents want to do the same. The parent’s culture is the one they are used to and are most likely living their lives by. Their child on the other hand is growing up in a different culture with potentially different beliefs and a different identity for its youth. There is a valid possibility that this will place strain in the immigrant parent and child relationship. The values very well will not match. The child will want to be more like their peers while the parents will want them to stick to their culture.
    2) The ultimate goal I think for any family that has experienced group trauma is to return to some level of normalcy for them. What the family will have to come to learn during treatment is that things will never quite be the same as they were before but they should hope for some restoration of structure in their lives. So the ultimate is returning to a ground of normalcy. The first goal that should be accomplished, based on the level of the disaster, is to provide the family with the basic needs required to live. Such as food, water, clean clothes, and a place to live and keep clean. Another goal would be to help each family member define their role and help them develop coping skills through the stages of disaster. This will involve working on disaster plan that will help them through the predisaster, disaster, and post disaster phases. During these stages it is important to evaluate the potential sources of stress the family is experiencing or could experience. This is a good way to evaluate whether or not the family is performing as a family would typically perform given the particular situation. To help the children and the family cope during each of these stages it will be important to have them look at how individuals in the environment and their social settings are also coping with the disaster. This will be influential in how the family copes as well. For children that are showing symptoms of PTSD it can be helpful to engage them in reenactment play. What is important to each stage of the disaster is that the therapist help the family come to terms with the disaster with coping strategies that work for the family and each individual.

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    • Stacie Z.
      Nov 02, 2013 @ 22:12:28

      I thought it interesting you mentioned that when children of immigrant parents have to translate for their parents, they may end up having to discuss issues that they do not understand or are prepared to talk about. Initially when thinking about what issues can arise between immigrant parents and their children, the reversal of roles immediately came to my mind as well. However, you mention aspects that are not always apparent. In addition to the increased likelihood that a child may have to hold discussions that are not age-appropriate, the child also has the potential to control how much and what kind of information his/her parents receive from teachers, coaches, or other authorities about their child. If a child is having serious social or academic problems, his/her parents may not be receiving or understanding all of the information they would if they spoke the language.

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  8. Sara Grzejszczak
    Oct 31, 2013 @ 17:39:26

    Some potential obstacles that may come up between parents and children who have immigrated to the United States are that the children may learn English faster and better than their parents, which causes the children to become parentified because of the fact that the parents will not be able to communicate with anyone who does not speak their native language. There also could be problems between parents and children if the children acculturate faster than the parents do and adopt new U.S. customs. I find this to be very true, especially with the Asian cultures where parents want their children to act and follow older traditions from their country of origin while the children want to do everything the American way, such as fashion and music. Also, because there is more equality between the genders here in the U.S. fathers and parents of daughters may have a difficult time with them going out with boys unsupervised and going to school for longer periods of time and getting degrees in fields that were normally reserved for men.

    The first things that I would prioritize is making sure that the family had a safe place to stay, food, at least one other full set of clothes, and medicine for those that have a great need for it. These things need to be in place so that parents of the family can focus on other things, such as dealing with the loss of finances and a job, any loved ones that are missing or may have perished, and how to get aid from the government. After that is all set I would want to assess the family for their different needs, such as behavior problems with the children, and work on how the parents can be supportive in this time of need while still dealing with their own feelings. Developing a new routine for parents and children will also help for everyone to cope with the new surroundings and situation by bringing some normalcy back into the picture.

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    • Angela Vizzo
      Oct 31, 2013 @ 18:18:04

      Sara, you do a good job discussing the conflicts that can arise between children of immigrants and their parents. One important factor you mentioned is the gender difference. I was surprised this was not mentioned in the chapter in the gender section, but it is an important issue. Some cultures give women less rights than others and this can be a hard change for immigrants to make upon coming to the U.S. both for males and females. Males may have difficulty giving their wives and daughters more freedom, and wives may have more difficulty taking it. Also, as you mentioned the daughters growing up here now want the same freedoms and their parents can have trouble accepting that.

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    • Julianna Aguilar
      Nov 01, 2013 @ 11:32:57

      Sara, I like how you pointed out not only the language barriers but how that interacts with culture as well. There is likely to be some form of a role reversal created from this situation in every cultural, but depending on the families specific values and traditions, this role reversal can have much different meanings. I thought it was interesting how Walsh (2003) mentioned that this situation does not create as much tension in some cultures due to certain beliefs (e.g., respect for parents and elders in the Mexican-American culture). That is, the child’s respect for their parents allows the parents to retain their authority in the family. However, if respect for elders is a significant part of one’s cultural identity and the family perceives the child’s role as translator as challenging to that identity, it is easy to see how many familial issues could arise.

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    • Kirsten Chirichetti
      Nov 01, 2013 @ 17:27:40

      Sara, I really like how you pointed out that the first treatment goal a family that has experienced a shared trauma should have it to ensure that their basic needs are met. After traumas (especially natural disasters), several of a family’s basic needs such as water, food, shelter, clothes, and medicine are not available. Without these needs, parents and children cannot focus on anything else (i.e., finances, school, employment, etc.). For this reason, in order to implement any other treatment goals, it is important to make sure that this goal is met. It would not be possible to implement a school-based intervention that would help a child return to some level of normalcy or routine, without having his or her basic needs met. The child would be too focused on wondering when he or she is getting food, where he or she is sleeping that night, or if he or she will be safe. Thus, making basic needs a priority is essential in the treatment of families who have experienced a trauma.

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  9. Anthony Rofino
    Oct 31, 2013 @ 17:49:25

    One aspect of a rift between parents and children who are from immigration is the process of assimilation. Youth are more likely to assimilate into the society they are entering, adopting the language and customs of those of their peers and what they see around them. This is difficult for parents who come from a background where they already developed their own customs that match how they were raised in their homeland. This causes a gap between the parents and children where the parents want their children to be more involved in their cultural heritage and the children don’t understand why their parents can’t adapt to the new environment.

    The most important aspect is to address the immediate needs of the family to survive. Providing a family the resources to obtain food, shelter, and other essentials comes above all therapeutic work. Once this has been established., providing emotional support is the next most important task. After a major disaster, there is almost a guarantee of trauma involved. It is best for the therapist to address these traumas accordingly and help the family cope with their new situation. Trauma can lead to many difficult behaviors, but addressing them as soon as possible is the key to trying o eliminate negative behaviors.

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    • Sara Grzejszczak
      Oct 31, 2013 @ 17:58:11

      Anthony, I definitely agree that the type of assimilation and how fast individuals assimilate into the new culture is an important aspect of why parents and children could have problems. Since parents do have a background and customs that are developed they will not be as accepting to the new ideas of their new home while their children are all for the new ideas and despise some of the old customs and traditions. i also have to agree that having the means for a family to survive is the most important aspect that needs to be addressed before any other when a natural disaster happens.

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    • Stacie Z.
      Nov 02, 2013 @ 22:28:23

      I think class discussion this past week helped to illustrate how important this is when talking about how adults and children need ample time to process the events, prior to even considering therapeutic interventions. For example, interventions such as Critical Incident Stress Debriefing have been shown to sometimes have the exact opposite effect than was intended for individuals. The points you bring up about meeting basic, immediate needs for families following disaster, and then progressing to providing emotional support and identifying what therapeutic interventions may be necessary, would be a successful approach.

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  10. Angela Vizzo
    Oct 31, 2013 @ 18:13:02

    There are many obstacles that can come between children and their immigrant parents, however I think most of these come up when the parents do not acclimate to the new culture and the children do. When this happens there is a culture clash between the parents and the children, where the children want to be a part of American culture and the parents want them to be a part of their culture of origin. In this case, often times the children and parents do not understand where the other party is coming from. This issue extends into many aspects of life such as food, gender roles, activities, schooling, etc. Another issue that is prominent in these circumstances is the language barrier becoming a problem. This can happen when the parents are not fluent in English and their children must take on care-taker roles, speaking for the parent and/or paying bills for the parent. Also, children of immigrants may have a hard time learning English if the only language spoken at home is another language. This can adversely affect children once they reach school-age.

    The main goals I would focus on when helping a family cope with disaster are debriefing and tending to their emergency needs first. This is most important because they may need medical attention, food, shelter, water, etc. and they also need to know what is going on or what has happened. My next goal would be helping the family process and accept what has happened. This leads into the next goal of dealing with long-term problems including teaching new or more adequate coping strategies. Finally, I would help the family come up with a disaster plan, should anything similar ever happen again to help alleviate anxiety.

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  11. Kirsten Chirichetti
    Oct 31, 2013 @ 18:29:03

    The experience of migration can have a significant impact on the family unit, influencing connections between family members, coping skills, and adaptation to every-day life. Within this family unit, there are several different obstacles that may come between children (born in the U.S. or children who have arrived at a young age in the U.S.) and immigrant parents. One potential obstacle that may come between immigrant parents and their children is the loss or grief that is characteristic of the migration experience. Immigrant parents experience migration loss, leaving behind family, friends, a familiar language, customs/rituals, food, music, and the land itself. Even if the children of the immigrant parents were born in the United States, these losses of migration from their parents may influence child development, depending on how their parents are able to effectively cope with the losses. Many immigrant parents experience “ambiguous loss” in which the loss is unclear, incomplete or partial. These individuals are either physically absent but psychologically present (i.e., similar to a child going off to college) or physically present by psychologically absent (i.e., parent who is emotionally unavailable due to stress) (Walsh, 2003). In this way, parents may be emotionally unavailable for their children, not responding to their basic needs or supporting them in the new country. In addition, another potential barrier that may come between immigrant parents and their children involves the uprooting of meanings. As noted above, migration can be very dramatic because of the uprooting of entire systems of meanings (social, physical, cultural). However, immigrant parents may maintain a bit of their original roots by recreating them in their new households in the United States, passing traditions on to their children, the language they speak, the foods they cook, the friendships they form, and the family and social rituals that have evolved over time (Walsh, 2003). While immigrant families maintain these parts of their culture, they also try to assimilate into or open up to the new opportunities presented in their new lives. The children of immigrant parents are therefore at the center of the family’s evolving cultural narrative, mixing continuity with change in their language, values, and identifies. Since children are at the center of this process, a conflict often arises between parents and their children who are learning to speak English and understand American ways much faster. In many studies, children of immigrant parents often act as parents to their parents, creating a hierarchical reversal that strips authority from the parents (Walsh, 2003). In this way, children may have to guide their parents in understanding American customs/expectations and act as interpreters, translating English into their parent’s native language. In addition, children may argue with their immigrant parents about what customs to engage in or values to believe in, leaning towards the American way as opposed to their country-of-origin. These obstacles are important to take into consideration when a counselor is working with an immigrant family towards successful adaptation in a new country.

    Families who experience natural disasters and other forms of trauma need interventions that will help them effectively cope, work through, and adapt to life post-trauma. For this reason, it is important that counselors develop specific treatment goals that are tailored to each individual family’s unique needs. When developing treatments goals for a family that has recently experienced a traumatic experience, a therapist should consider the context of the disaster stage and the context of the systems surrounding the family, such as peers, school systems, and communities. In regards to the context of the disaster stage, counselors should determine what trauma/disaster stage the family is in and then select a treatment goal and intervention that targets problems that occur during this stage. According to this NOVA disaster model, the four stages of a natural disaster/trauma include the impact stage, short-term adjustment period, extended adjustment period, and long-term adjustment period (Saylor et al., 1997). In this way, if a family is in the short-term adjustment period, the counselor may recommend interventions that restore the family normalcy, including having children return to school and providing resources in this environment (i.e., administrative staff support, in-school screening, and treatment teams). Moreover, therapists should also consider the context of the systems surrounding the family and include these various support resources in the development and implementation of interventions. Families that have several support resources, including other family members, schools, peers, community links (outpatient, support groups, inpatient, hospital etc.) are able to more effectively cope with the various stressors related to the trauma and experience a reduction of PTSD-related symptoms (Saylor et al., 1997). In addition, Saylor et al., (1997) has also identified other treatments goals that would be considered high priority when working with a family who has recently experienced a trauma. One treatment goal that is particularly relevant for counselors working with children and families is to ensure that the child’s parents’ needs are being met. Similar to the analogy in which adults during an airplane crash should place oxygen masks over their own faces before assisting their children, parents of children who have experienced trauma must be able to understand and cope with their own stressors in order to help their children (Saylor et al., 1997). It is critical that children have this support system when developing emotion-regulating strategies and combating other PTSD symptoms related to trauma. As noted above, another treatment goal that would be considered a priority when working with a family who has recently experienced a trauma is to make attempts to restore some sense of normalcy in the midst of destruction. By helping children and parents return to settings that make them the most comfortable (i.e., schools, work environment, etc.), these individuals can fall back into some of their old patterns and routines, bringing a sense of comfort and consistency back into their lives. Overall, it is important that researchers continue to develop unique interventions for families experiencing trauma and to identify patterns of support and coping that may be linked to successful recovery from disaster.

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  12. Katrina Mitchell
    Oct 31, 2013 @ 18:50:42

    Potential obstacles that may come up between children and their immigrant parents include generational conflicts and gender-based conflicts as identified by Walsh (2003). Children of immigrants may not experience the direct effects of loss and hardship as their parents did however they are exposed to mixed perceptions as well as mixed emotions as a result of their parents’ loss and hardship which may lead to psychological absence in children’s lives. As a result, conflict occurs between generations and genders. Generational conflicts happen when children learn and understand the American culture faster than their parents, such as with language. This leads to a kind of parentification of children with immigrant parents who often translate between the American culture and their parents’ culture. Parentification may then lead to an acculturation gap creating further conflict. The separation between children and immigrant parents due to culture has been labeled dissonant acculturation. Selective acculturation, on the other hand, defines both children and immigrant parents maintaining their culture of origin in some areas of life. In the extreme, consonant acculturation occurs when both parents and children abandon their culture of origin. The way children and their immigrant parents integrate nurturance and control within a new culture explains parenting behavior and the support or lack thereof towards potential obstacles.

    Treatment goals working with a family that recently had a shared traumatic experience regarding disaster include increasing coping and resource supports and decreasing PTSD signs and symptoms using coping strategies and resources supports. Coping occurs within a social context and is influenced by family circumstances and social systems. Such resources may have the capacity to provide effective coping resources as well as the application of coping skills for children who experience disaster. Coping strategies for children of disaster include reenactment play to gain mastery over and discharge emotions related to the disaster. Reenactment play has been said to shown an increase in children’s resilience. Other coping strategies for children include distraction, cognitive restructuring, and social support.

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  13. Katrina Mitchell
    Nov 03, 2013 @ 17:14:13

    Stacie,
    I noticed the “reversal of rolls” conflict you discussed is the same as my idea of “parentification” behaviors typical of children with immigrant parents. I agree that this is a major obstacle. I’m glad you pointed out that while this is an obstacle for children, immigrant parents may feel uncomfortable by relying on their children to translate between them and this new culture. Immigrant parents may also experience frustration and depression from being unable to assume this responsibility. You also pointed out that with support systems and connection to resources, immigrant parents can still learn this role to alleviate the responsibility from their children.

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Adam M. Volungis, PhD, LMHC

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