What most people forget to look at is regardless of the reasons for coming to Canada it is hard to leave everything they have learned and adapt to a whole new culture fluidly. Children and youth especially struggle when they grow up with parents who are immigrants and then they have to integrate into the larger society. The children and youth live in a world where their home life is significantly different from the larger society. The purpose of this paper is to look at what are the impacts for immigrant youth integrating into Canadian culture.
This paper will be focusing on some of the negative and positive aspects of integration into Canadian society due to dual sources of self-identity, language barriers, conflicts of values between home and peer life, educational gaps, mental health, what role gender plays, facing racism and bullying due to the unique differences and what are some things parents and Child and Youth Workers (CYW) can do to assist these youths. Most immigrants come from developing countries, which is non-western cultures. Many cultures reside in one place and every person brings something unique that is solely understandable to them.
Each culture has traditions and brings a form of modernity into the western world and if there had been any education acquired in their country of origin it may not be recognized here in Canada (Halli & Vedanand, 2007).
There is hope that they can reconcile the best qualities of traditional Japanese culture, with its emphasis on the group, with the individualism and voluntarism demanded by information-based societies. 1. 1: Modernization and Youth Culture in Western Europe Modernization, which consists of urbanization, industrialization, and the development of an information-based society, began in British ...
Dual-Self Identity Canada is known as a multi-cultural country and there are many different types of people belonging to different cultures residing in one country with apposing and conflicting views, values, beliefs and traditions. As it would be for anyone who leaves their native land and moving to a foreign country, there can be culture shock and major adjustments that would need to be made.
For children and youth these factors may be even more confusing due to the dual sources of self-identity, they must adopt in order to fit into their native culture and Canadian culture. Regardless of what age they may have left their home countries these children and youth live in a house with a set of rules which comes from their parent’s experiences from back home. The children and youth are then sent to schools in the Western society and this is where the conflict of self comes into play.
Children are caught in the unique position of the parent’s influence of the culture of origin and the peers and schools way of the new society, they are caught between the conflict of the old world and the new world and this then embodies the culturela and self confusion (Montazer & Wheaton, 2011).
Just as the parents are trying to fit into the two worlds in their lives so must the children, they must create an identity that is independent respecting their culture of origin and their society of settlement (Charles, Stainton & Marshall, Reference; Berry, Phinney, Sam, Vedder, 2006).
When these children and youth are trying to acculturate (mix into the culture/society) there are four sectors of dimensions that they fall under when the individuals are seeking to express how they wish to acculturate. According to Berry et, al. , (2006) the four dimensions are Assimilation: there is little to no connection to their native culture and instead they wish to interact with the larger society, Separation: they wish to maintain their culture and so they avoid interactions with others, Marginalization: neither cultural interactions are sought, Integration: There is balance and involvement between both cultures.
Integration is only possible when there is support from the family and peers around the children and youth. In the study conducted by Berry et, al. , (2006) they found that in instances where there was no discriminations and there was support these adolescents where able to use the integration approach in acculturating themselves into the larger society of settlement. As it is common for any child or youth the home is where they learn about who they are and what they do.
The celebrity culture in the modern society has taken a very central position in the lives of people. Celebrities’ lives have become the talk of the day amongst Entertainment magazines, TV shows and internet blogs. They are loaded with information about celebrities. Celebs have been held with esteem in the society as if they are gods. People are keen on following up on every move made by the ...
Adam Ibrahim (2006) states that survival (sur-vivre) is the act in which we live our lives on the borderlines but also that it empowers the immigrant people of their hybrid status. “We live in a time of “universal subjecthood,” where identities and cultures are more than ever “elusive” (Yon as cited by Ibrahim), where sur-vivre—the act of displacement and of living in-between cultures, languages, landscapes, and borderlines—has become a second nature” (Ibrahim, p 43).
Ibrahim speaks of few women whom he refers to as “she” and states that she was forced to flee her native country and that she finds herself torn between “here and now and there and memory” (2006, p 43).
This is true for many a people who immigrate they cannot fully expel their previous memories nor can they completely ignore the current and present situations. This becomes difficult especially for adolescents and youth, because they are neither here nor there yet in both places at the same time. This is the tricky part of trying to adapt both cultures into one single bi-cultural and integration is never easy.
These young people who immigrated to Canada has seen and remembers enough from their previous life to hold onto and yet their current life is also reminding them that they are elsewhere and is surrounded by new experiences that they can enjoy as well. When the past is warring with the present it is hard to recognize what the self is, when there is a struggle with the old self when trying to adapt it is difficult to understand how to adapt let and the self-identity is questioned. Conflicts of Values between Home life and Peer Life
Language difference is the first conflict in intergenerational communication and over cultural values and religious beliefs. Immigrant parents need to be aware of the influence non-immigrant peers have in their children’s lives. Adolescent’s times are spent majority of the time at school and with peers, as it is known peers have quite a lot of influence on what we learn and how we behave. It is normal to want to fit into society but what parents should be aware is what kinds of peers are their children acquainting themselves with.
When foster care parents become discouraged with raising a foster care child it is frequently due to behavioral problems. An adolescent who has experienced a history of maltreatment is most likely to have such difficult behavior problems that lead to the disruption of placement. Many parents have a difficult time dealing with behavioral problems from a teen who has grown up in a healthy, loving ...
The path in which the immigrant youth will fallow greatly depends on the interaction between the peer groups and the social support they receive from them (Vedder, Berry, Sabatier, & Sam, 2008).
The way to breech the gap of the intergenerational values is for the parents to put more effort into teaching their children about their culture because it is not being endorsed by the larger society. According to Chuang & LeMonda (2009) adolescents often felt a disconnection with their parents while they themselves were trying to adjust into a new culture.
Many immigrant youth feel torn between their desire to fit in with their peers and their desire to meet their parents’ expectations. Some families are more traditional and as they migrate to a new land they try to keep their values and cultural traditions. Intergenerational and intercultural conflict is a significant stressor in immigrant families that occurs because of differential acculturation between migrant parents and their children. Pressures on intergeneration relations in immigrant families appear from the faster cultural adjustment of children, as compared to their parents.
Children often learn the official language faster than their parents due to the influence of schools and peers. Parent’s level of educations plays a role in how the adolescents feel about familial obligations because the parents are more lenient in their forms of discipline. The familial obligation lessens not only due to the influence of the greater society but also due to the proportion of life spent in the country of residence (Vedder et, al. , 2008).
Conflicts arise between parents and their offspring due to the conflicting nature of both cultures.
When the adolescents are being influenced by the western culture it is difficult for parents to grasp the fact that what they wish their child to do may not be the same thing they want to do. Immigrant children and youth claim new values, identities and language and as their parents may already be under a lot of financial, cultural and social pressure they cannot accept these dramatic shifts in their children and parental roles as well. Therefore the intergenerational conflicts cause more difficulties and differences in life of an immigrant family.
... , culturally diverse families experience conflict while children reach adolescence and instigate to identify mainly with the values of their American peer culture. On the ... the larger society (Harrison et al. , 1990). Oppression provides the framework of teaching about the assaults of typical culture. Parents teach their children to ...
Although the authors in the above mentioned part of this paper have stated that there are conflicts between parents and adolescents due to the conflict of the old and new world cultural clashes, Montazer and Wheaton (2011) are saying that there may be less conflict in the house hold of the immigrant family then that of the native born family because they share the same value and beliefs. They also say that it will more likely change with the second generation when the conflict of interest will be more noticeable.
Not that Montazer & Wheaton are disagreeing with the other authors they are saying that the first generation children and youth will get along better with the family then that of the generations that will fallow. Gender Roles In most instances gender did play a big role is how children and youth adapt to the larger society. Fathers often found it hard to discipline their children due to the fact that the Canadian society allowed the children to have more rights than they would have had in their country of origin.
A young person, who has been given strict guidelines to follow before they moved to a western country, now has a voice and can stand up for themselves. Which is some cultures, especially the middle eastern cultures believe that speaking back or questioning the parents is a form of disrespect and deserve punishing or in some extreme cases (oustersized) of the offspring. Fathers also say that they have a hard time spending time with their children because they have to work two or more jobs to provide for the family. Chuang et, al. (2009) states that exposure discriminatory varied among girls and boys with boys perceiving it as them being targets for racism then girls. Among the Hmong people the females reported to using higher levels of alcohol as adults due to the conflicts with their parents where as the men had higher education and succeeded. In some cultures females are the caregivers and the males the breadwinners of the family. Such practices still exist and usually the adolescent females are left to care for the younger siblings because the parents have to work.
E1 Explain the needs of families which may require professional support. Families may have a variety of needs, in which they need professional support. Families with a large number of children may not have the required amount of living space, this could mean that children are sharing beds, or parents are not sleeping in a room. Children will lack of sleep are proven to concentrate less and develop ...
Mostly in traditional Middle Eastern countries young people, and particularly girls, have little influence in the family communication and decision making process. In addition as conflict increases between the generations over time as children get drawn into the larger society, language barriers get harder to deny and girls will face more challenges should they choose not to follow their parent’s origin of religious beliefs, values and cultural traditions. Many children and youth learn from their parents and in many households gender division has always been strongly established.
Parents expect their kids to take care of them into their old age and usually the children will not move out of the house but instead live with their parents even after marriage. Many adolescent and Most of these traditional cultures only view two genders; either you are male or female. In the study that was done by Lee & Pacini-Ketchabaw (2011) the girls who have a hand in raising their younger siblings act according to gender specifics. A few of the girls mention that when they handle their younger male siblings they are rougher and tries not to be too “girly” around them. Going back to the dual identity issues when there is a ender specific expectation it becomes impossible to talk to parents about gender queerness or being a part of the LGBQT. There is no room for anything other than the gender “norms” in certain cultures. LGBQT is of course only now in Canada being accepted and even that is slow in coming. Once again because of the conflicting views on sexuality and gender it becomes downright impossible for parents to accept such differences. Mental Health The Canadian Pediatric Society (1999) states that although immigrating to a foreign country is not easy by any means but it does not necessarily mean that mental health issues will arise.
There are some factors that may be a potential such as the refugee status, family stress (death in the family), age of child is greater than 11, language barrier, disabilities, trauma, low socioeconomic status, and/or lack of support, (Canadian Paediatric Society, 1999).
The poem, Little Boy Crying, written by Mervyn Morris is mainly about father and sons relationship. Poet shows the two main themes through this relationship; fathers love towards his child and his effort to lead his child into a right world in life. Mervyn Morris explores the child and parents relationship by using second person narration and language techniques such as allusion and emotive words. ...
All the above mentions factors may be an influence in affecting the adolescent’s mental health but it does not necessarily be true in all cases. When a child’s social, intellectual and/or physical support is not provided to develop normally is called the psychosocial deprivation.
This often is a result of the parent(s) work a lot and cannot keep up with the child’s energy. Mental health may affect immigrant youth who are living in poverty, “economic disadvantage also is linked with in-effective parenting, prenatal psychology interfamilial hostility, and single parent families” (Beiser, Hou, Hyman, & Tousignant, 2002) and these can be independent factors in affecting the mental health. The study conducted by Beiser et,al. , (2002) show that although these factors may influence and impact mental health that was not the case for the immigrant youth used in the study.
The immigrant youth who did live in poverty or single parent households enjoyed good mental health just as much as the Canadian born children. There are chances of developing mental health issues if there is violence in the home, there is no adequate support for the families, less involvement and low achievement in school, increased peer social involvement and exposure to more societal “norm” that will increase conflicts in the home (Montazer & Wheaton, 2006).
These are factors that will increase the likelihood of affecting mental health.
Montazer & Wheaton are saying that with each generation the conflicts will rise and with it the greater chances of acquiring mental health issues. CYW and Parents Support CYW and parents can be a great support to immigrant children and youth. Canadian Paediatric Society (1999) suggests that practitioners should try to support by being active in advocating for variety of health care promotions. These may include: (1) sensitizing family members through media; (2) develop cultural specific programs; (3) developing pamphlets and any other information in the language of origin (Canadian Paediatric Society, 1999).
Also CYW’s can support the families by listening and researching what the culture is about and what they specific values and beliefs are in order to provide maximum support. It is easy to judge another culture based on the fact that they are doing everything opposite to what the Canadian culture’s laws and beliefs are. What these adolescents and families need understands. Once the CYW understands how and why the culture functions then and only then can they be able to develop appropriate interventions to aid in the smooth integration into the larger society.
Child and youth workers can provide basic support groups by simply even referring the family to a good nutritionist. Many cultures that were not raised in the Western society often times have a different understanding of what nutritional values consists of in meals. For example in the Middle Eastern rice is the main preferred method of eating and fruits are not really considered into the equations and that may be partly due to the costs of buying them in their country of origin.
Anthropologists Monaghan & Just (2000) state that social identities and roles we have are finite and we tend to blame all our problems on “society” as if it were a separate entity; society is what we humans have created not something that exists on its own. In this case then, we must take the imitative to change the “society” that we are quick to point our fingers at which is easier said then done. As CYW it is our job to advocate for the minority groups and so we can go out into the communities and schools to bring awareness of what programs exists out there to aid the immigrant youths.
Let us not forget that due to language barriers some of the existing programs may not even be known by the immigrant youth or their parents. My Thoughts As an immigrant person living in Canada there are indisputable facts relating to how one feels and acts in this culture while struggling to adapt in the larger society. Speaking from experience it is also hard to know one’s self when there is an internal struggle to fit into not just one culture but at times both cultures. Living in Canada as a bi-cultural person can have its ups and downs regardless of how educated or wealthy a person is.
There are times when one must choose to adapt both cultures and make a choice to create and forge a unique person in life to fit into the both worlds and yet neither of the worlds. It can be extremely difficult not to mentions tiring when sometimes it feels as if regardless of everything that has been done to create one’s self you simply cannot fit into both cultures at all. When speaking in the native tongue sometimes there is a pronounced accent and when speaking in English there is also a pronounced accent at times.
As hard as it may be to easily fallow both cultures often time’s children and youth are pressured into choosing either their native cultural ways of living of the larger societal ways. Being able to embrace the both cultures is scary and confusing especially when the values, beliefs, traditions contradict, but it is possible to take bits and pieces of both cultures and making it work to fit the moral, social, emotional, mental needs of the individual so they will be able to live in both worlds. Children and youth have to face numerous amounts of struggles when immigrating to a foreign country.
There is so much potential immigrant youth have that are sometimes not supported enough or realized for it to flourish. Many youths have great potential and yet due to constant bullying and discrimination fall through the cracks and get into things such as drugs, gangs, and they steal and fight. With the right types of interventions they could have gotten out of that sort of life style but instead they slipped through. The struggles to get by day after day after day can be very tiring especially for youth who just want to belong to a group.
They are already struggling with their identity and to add social alienation on top of that is just disaster waiting to happen. Racism is never a pleasant experience especially when a child is walking down the street and someone throws trash at them and yells obscenities at them. They cannot even walk down the street without someone calling out derogatory names at them. Hearing and seeing such negativity can be heart breaking but also cause mistrust, withdrawal and it can have lasting long terms effects. Some things no matter how far away a person goes will always stay with them, this especially true for children.
What they see and hear stays with them as they grown up and if all they face are insults and decimations for the way they look, speak, walk or dress then eventually all these things that is uniquely them just becomes something to hate and dislike. It may take a long time to get over such experiences and as we know children are very resilient but it takes time before things become more stable. Children who have been bullied and discriminated against can possibly act out as adolescents because they do not trust anyone else to not hurt them eventually.
As adolescents they may start acting out, misbehaving, hanging out with the wrong crowd or even criminal behaviors. All this can be avoided if they get the right support and have an easy transitioning period. Conclusion In conclusion immigrant youth are impacted by their attempt to integrate into the Canadian culture but at the same time it is not an impossible life style. They merely need the understanding, support and care in order to transition into the foreign culture. They need to develop their identity and simply belong.
Battling with dual-identity, with parents and peer life, language barriers, bullying and discrimination all combined with the culture shock and adapting can be very difficult. CYW and parents can be a great support in helping make the transition smooth. There are many factors that may be a hindrance and create issues for the immigrant youth but they are not all impossible situations and can readily and easily be overcome. With the right support at the right time can be detrimental in making significant differences in immigrant population.