Moving to a new country, whether it is for work or by choice, involves lots of decision making, planning, research, commitment and sacrifices on all parties involved. It may be new schools for the children, a different language, different weather, new customs, new net working for the stay at home parent, the loss of family support, financial stress etc.
Here are five common challenges that families may face in a new country:
If the country that you are moving to has a similar language or dialect that you speak in your home country, you are lucky. Otherwise, it will be a new experience and challenge for not only yourself, but the whole family.
You will need the new language for everyday living, such as grocery shopping, schooling, banking and just getting along in the community. Otherwise, you may feel very isolated and lonely for not being able to communicate and integrate into the community. Language enables you to seek assistance in your new country and feel belonged.
Generational gap on its own is challenging enough for most parents. However, with the additional challenge of cultural differences, customs and everyday practices in a new country, this will be a new experience for both parents and children.
For example, the difference in disciplining at home or attitude towards manners and rituals can be totally different. In Asian cultures, showing affection towards your family members is not practiced often; however, in Australia, for example, affections are displayed openly.
Also parents normally may not read with their children or play with them, but in other cultures, children are often seen sitting on parents’ laps while being read to.
Family is important. From my experience and the experience shared by most migrants, family support is one of the major challenges when they migrate. When you have extended families around, parents can rely on family support with child raising, and for physical and emotional support.
However when they move to overseas, they will be on their own. Two parents have to deal with the issues with raising the family, and sometimes compounding with their own issues such as language challenges, or being unfamiliar with the schooling system, the parents feel lonely from being far away from family and friends.
Another issue is they are unable to be near or care for their elderly parents. There is always the element of guilt and sadness surrounding that.
We absorb culture differently. For parents, they may be still be learning new cultures and habits; however, for young children, they have the capacity to learn new languages faster and assimilate into new culture more efficiently than their parents.
On top of that, if you happened to move to a community that does not have many people who can speak the same language as you nor share your values or culture /food, you will feel a great sense of loss of identity, feeling isolated and loneliness.
Sometimes, you may be doing well in your home country in terms of your career, but when you migrate to the new country, if your qualification are not recognised or you are not able to find suitable employment, money issue may start. This causes great stress and frustration, not only financially, but emotionally too, in your family.
I would love to hear about your experiences when settling down in your adopted country. Many have learnt ways to overcome these challenges, and we can learn from each other. Talk to friends and families or consult your local council it you need any assistance.
Have a wonderful day with your family.