Empowering Children of Immigrants

 

Young first-generation immigrants and children of immigrants may experience some disconnect with their native culture in Canada. They will be exposed to English throughout their schooling, their favourite television shows, and on the playground with friends, which can heavily influence their identities. It can be difficult for immigrant parents to understand these unique experiences. It is also natural for parents to want their children to be closer to their ethnic or religious culture. For children, it can be confusing since they are unsure of which culture or cultures they belong to as members. Here are some things to consider when connecting with your child:

  • Listen: Actively listen to your child when they speak about their experiences of racism, xenophobia, culture, or identity. Engage with them and ask questions if you are unsure about what something means.
  • Validate: Validating your child’s experiences is important. Let them know how they feel is okay. While some parents may worry that their child will forget their culture, it is valuable to recognize that their context or environment is different. They may require more support or time to understand their culture.
  • Collaborate: Work with your child to determine what they need. Do they wish to understand their culture and participate in special events? Do they also want to share their favourite English shows with you? Collaborate on a plan that helps you mutually share things. You can share your knowledge, and they can share theirs. A mutual system can help both of you relate to each other
    (Song, 2019, p.47-48).
  • Empower: Focus on empowering your child in the way they need. These needs may change over time as they get older, so flexibility and patience are key. Remember that they may feel stuck between two or more cultures, and it is normal for their identities and expressions to change 
    (Song, 2019, p.66-67).

     In the Region of Peel, there is a range of available resources and activities to help you empower your child in culturally relevant ways. Here’s a list to get you started:

  • Big Brothers, Big Sisters: Positive role models within the community can help foster your child’s self-identity, confidence, and development. The Big Brothers, Big Sisters program provides in-person and virtual mentoring by pairing a volunteer role model with your child to guide them.
  • Virtual Playtimes: The EarlyON calendar shares information on online programs for parents and children to attend. These programs include Songs and Story and Chai Ke Saath Baatein, which are hosted in English, Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, and French.
  • Peel Multicultural Council: Youth Services are provided for those between 12-24 years old who have immigrated to Canada and need help with their transition into the new culture.
  • Roots Community Services: Youth Programs for black youth focused on promoting healthy self-esteem, entrepreneurship, education, and art. These programs can allow black children and youth to foster their growth in anti-racist spaces.

     Connecting with children and teenagers can be difficult for any parent. It is important for immigrant parents to recognize that their children may need positive encouragement to get involved with their culture. A safe environment where there is a shared understanding that we have different experiences—and that is okay—is a start.

     For more support, visit infoPeel and use their Community Services directory to find programs. To chat with a representative, click on the “Chat with Us” button on the bottom right. To speak to a representative for assistance, call at 905-890-9432. Interpretive services in your language are also available for free.

 

  References

Song, Cheryl. (2019). “Parenting for Canadian immigrants.” Canadian Immigrant. Retrieved from https://canadianimmigrant.ca/wp-content/uploads/Parenting-booklet-final.pdf