Parental Suffering and Resilience Among Recently Displaced Syrian Refugees in Lebanon
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Parents are an essential source of constancy and support, and effectively promote children’s resilience even in adversity. To build on this potential, however, more information is needed about the realities of refugee parents in situations of extreme adversity such as war and displacement.
The present study draws upon data from collaborative family interviews with 46 families (n = 351) who fled Syria and are now living as refugees in Lebanon.
The findings describe the challenges parents faced and the ways they attempted to endure within three temporal dimensions: the past (pre-flight and flight); the present (initial resettlement in the Lebanon); and the future (hopes and aspirations for resettlement). From the start of the war, parents’ foremost priority was protecting their children. Parents spoke about distress caused by family separation, and the loss of the norms, social support, and sense of parental efficacy. Parents also described their own mental health issues related to war and displacement, which influenced their parenting. At the same time, parents’ narratives highlighted how they continued—and even amplified—their caregiving. Parents comforted and distracted their children to help them endure the challenging realties of war and displacement. In Lebanon, parents restricted their children’s mobility to try to keep them safe, provided moral guidance, increased family closeness and communication, and planned for children’s futures, particularly through education.
Programs to support child protection must broaden the focus to include the whole family unit, specifically the mental health of caregivers as a means of supporting family wellbeing. (250/250 words).
KeywordsSyrian refugees parenting War Displacement Family Resilience
This study was funded by Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Grant #430-2015-00650).
BA designed and executed the study, conducted the initial data analysis, co-wrote the first draft, and collaborated in the writing and editing of the final manuscript. CS conducted a secondary data analysis, co-wrote the first draft, and collaborated in the writing and editing of the final manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Wilfrid Laurier University Research Ethics Board (#5013) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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