Family Dynamics

Family dynamics are the patterns of interactions between family members that influence family structure, hierarchy, roles, values, and behaviours. Moving to a new country can dramatically change a family’s dynamics.

Not all members of a family may migrate together – an immigrant might be separated from a child, spouse, parent, sibling, or extended family members for months, years, or even permanently.

In cases where grandparents or extended family members play a role in the family structure or in caring for children, they are often unrecognized and unsupported by programs geared towards the nuclear family model.

Language barriers can shift the power dynamic within a newcomer family. Children may be asked to translate for their parents in formal or informal situations, reversing the positions of authority and dependence.

Differences, often cultural, between newcomer family values and the Canadian norms on issues like child discipline, gender roles and relations, etc., can lead to embarrassment for the family, and even occasionally to conflict with law enforcement or state intervention.

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