Parenthood in transition – Somali-born parents’ experiences of and needs for parenting support programmes

Authors: Fatumo Osman,Marie Klingberg-Allvin, Renée Flacking and Ulla-Karin Schön

BMC International health and Human Rights, 2016


Background: Pre- and post-migration trauma due to forced migration may impact negatively on parents’ ability to care for their children. Little qualitative work has examined Somali-born refugees’ experiences. The aim of this study is to explore Somali-born refugees’ experiences and challenges of being parents in Sweden, and the support they need in their parenting.

Methods: A qualitative descriptive study was undertaken. Data were collected from four focus group discussions  (FGDs) among 23 Somali-born mothers and fathers living in a county in central Sweden. Qualitative content analysis has been applied.

Results: A main category, Parenthood in Transition, emerged as a description of a process of parenthood in transition. Two generic categories were identified: Challenges, and Improved parenting. Challenges emerged from leaving the home country and being new and feeling alienated in the new country. In Improved parenting, an awareness of opportunities in the new country and ways to improve their parenting was described, which includes how to improve their communication and relationship with their children. The parents described a need for information on how to culturally adapt their parenting and obtain support from the authorities.

Conclusions: Parents experienced a process of parenthood in transition. They were looking to the future and for ways to improve their parenting. Schools and social services can overcome barriers that prevent lack of knowledge about the new country’s systems related to parenthood. Leaving the home country often means separation from the family and losing the social network. We suggest that staff in schools and social services offer parent training classes for these parents throughout their children’s childhood, with benefits for the child and family.

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