The cruelest price of immigration is the forced separation of parents and children. It disrupts the natural bonding process between parent and child, leaving in its place deep doubts about the relationship that take a long time to subside.
As the family reunites again, both parents and children have great hopes that the reunion will seamlessly reestablish the trust and love. Unfortunately, this is not a realistic expectation and both the parents and the child have to struggle to let it go and accept that instead, they have to reconnect slowly, patiently and through the daily acts of trust building that are necessary any time we build an intimate relationship with someone new. If they both are able to accept this new reality and accept and respect their often conflicted feelings and the other person’s often conflicted feelings, then the emotional reconnection and the trust will be there little by little. In order to build more easily such an outcome, there needs to be some emotional quiet in the family and emotional energy available in the psyche of each participant, to start the generous giving and risk taking that creates an intimate relationship of any kind. Unfortunately, there are many possible barriers conspiring against the outcome of building trust, from all the everyday stresses plentiful in the life of the immigrant family, to the times of crises, when the problems are more serious and long lasting, to finally; the stories of failed bonding with their own parents for the adults in the family, which make them vulnerable to closing their hearts prematurely in fear, to protect themselves from further hurt, at the hint of any rejection.
When the reunification seems to be in danger of failing in reconnecting all its actors, the result is great emotional pain for everybody and there is danger of long lasting effects in their lives and emotional well-being. This is the reason why it is so important to try and support the immigrant family in any way we can, to help them go through this difficult passage successfully. Then parents will be able to parent more efficaciously and children will grow in self-regard and will navigate the difficult road of adaptation to a new culture with greater ease.