Abstract: Fathering Here and Fathering There: A Phenomenological Study of the Impact of the Forced Migration and Resettlement on Syrian Refugee Fathers in Canada (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

Fathering Here and Fathering There: A Phenomenological Study of the Impact of the Forced Migration and Resettlement on Syrian Refugee Fathers in Canada

Thursday, January 13, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 13, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Adnan Al Mhamied, PhD Candidate, McGill University, QC, Canada
Background/ Purpose: Refugee fathers have been largely neglected and overlooked by researchers and service providers. Fathers have a significant impact on both child and family well-being, especially during the resettlement process (Este & Tachble, 2009; Este, 2013). The migration journey of Syrian refugees is a diverse and their settlement in a new society generates many challenges. Yet, fathers experience this journey in their own ways. Framed by phenomenology and symbolic interactionism, this study documents the migration journey of Syrian refugee fathers in Canada and investigates how the meaning associated with fatherhood and its cultural transmission affects their fathering practices.

Methods: Guided by interpretive phenomenology, this study describes the essential experience of the participants’ migration journey and fathering. This research involved semi structure interviews conducted between November 2020 and March 2021 with 18 Syrian refugee fathers. Fathers in this sample resettled in different Canadian cities and came from different Syrian cities and ethnicities. The interviews explored the migration journey, the meaning of fatherhood according to fathers’ culture of origin, and how this meaning has shifted because of the forced migration and resettlement.

Results: Participants defined themselves with being breadwinners, providers, role models, and authority figures. Syrians learn how to be fathers through their customs and traditions according to their religion and cultural believe. Being father is an important role, this role has been impacted and threaten by forced migration and resettlement. Challenges such as employment, language and limited authority over their family can limit fathers’ capacity to practice their fatherhood. Fathers in this study were found to be isolated and have difficulties accessing the social support the need.

Conclusions & Implications: This study revealed that parenting practices of Syrian refugee fathers are influenced by their pre- and post- migration experiences. A better understanding of fathers’ needs is required as Syrian refugees attempt to adapt and integrate across Canadian provinces and cities. Service providers should be aware of the significant impact of migration on refugee fathers, particularly in relation to their lives in transition. Specifically, practitioners need to understand the ways in which Syrian refugee fathers define themselves so they can deepen their understanding of how to better meet the needs of refugee families. The results showed that understanding the roles of the father within the family structure is important, and any intervention should recognize the importance of these roles. Considering these family system factors can facilitate a smoother integration process for the entire family while assisting fathers to overcome barriers and challenges they face in parenting. Our findings suggest that programs and policies should consider the distinct experiences of refugee fathers. Given the importance of language, multi-lingual professionals and/or interpreters are needed to work with Syrian refugee fathers to overcome the language barriers and challenges they face during the resettlement process. Additionally, activities that target children alongside their fathers are needed to promote positive father involvement as well as the health and well-being of the entire family