As summer approaches and diaspora briefly returns home, it is normal to feel a disconnect with the family you left behind. We are living in a time where the world has never been smaller and it has never been easier to be able to connect with people from all over the world. Yet, we are more disconnected than before. We have access to such simple communication, yet we still lack the aspect of meaningful connections and bonds, especially with those closest to us. Today, we are raising more disconnected families than in the past. Social media allows us easy access to view people’s lives from the outside by staying updated without actually having to communicate. It’s a great way to keep up without having to be emotionally invested. Practicing such lifestyles can eradicate bonds and weaken family ties.
Raising Diaspora Families
More people live in diaspora now than ever before. A number of countries are experiencing brain-drains and many families all over the world have at least one family member living abroad. Raising children in diaspora can be difficult. They often grow up struggling between two identities: that of their native country and that of the one where their family has put down roots. How do we raise disconnected families? It is difficult to preserve children’s identities when they are disconnected from other family members as well as their native culture / ethnicity. So how do individuals go about raising children in diaspora? This type of family is now tasked with preserving family bonds while also trying to navigate and support their children in a new place, often vastly different from the world they, themselves, grew up in. For those who live very far and can’t see each other often, here are a couple of things you can do and ways you can stay in touch.
Ways to stay connected:
- Keep in touch & do it on purpose. Consciously communicate!
- Set up video call play dates with your family members abroad. It is nice to be able to see your family’s faces and voices in real time. This will help your children establish bonds with their extended families.
- Setting up short weekly or bi-weekly calls to check in with your loved ones goes a long way. When we get used to being away from family, we adapt, grow accustomed to their absence and slowly but surely, cease to communicate as strongly as we once did.
- A conscious effort is needed to stay in touch. Make a commitment to communicating to family and stick to it. Don’t let life take over! At the end of the day, family is the most important aspect of our lives.
- Send love: Reminders that you care
- Send care packages to one another every month (if you have the means to).
- Gives kids something to look forward to
- Gives them tangible sentiments to hold onto that remind them of their family members
- Books, toys, or snacks specific to your native country can ground your children and their identity
- Build intimate bonds
- Send handwritten letters or cards.
- It is a more meaningful way to communicate thoughts/feelings
- A beautiful keepsake
- Allows cousins to be pen-pals
For those lucky enough to live close to their families, cherish your proximity. For those who live far or can’t see each other often, do not let your connections with your loved ones dwindle. Find ways that work best for you to actively communicate, but, nonetheless, communicate. Not only for the sake of your kids, but for yourselves, too. Talking to family and keeping bonds with the places and people you came from helps keep you grounded, as well. Making time for family is never wasted. No matter how short the phone call, letter, or how little the love sent, it goes a long way to sustain a beautiful, more connected family life.
About the Author: Diana Randjelovic is a writer, designer, and artist. With a Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture, Diana’s designs and writing focus on the memory work of people and place. She is behind the online community, mala mgzn which focuses on community care for Serbian women and daughters of immigrants.