Somali Families’ Experiences of Parenting in the United States

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The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of first-generation Somali families’ experiences of parenting in the United States to discover potential barriers to effective parenting with the goal to design supportive interventions. Using descriptive phenomenological design, 20 Somali families in Seattle, Washington, were interviewed. Interview transcripts were then analyzed using steps outlined by Colaizzi. The overarching theme that emerged was “Parenting: A Balancing Act,” which represents Somali parents trying to balance traditional cultural values and parenting traditions with dominant cultural expectations. Participants expressed fear of losing their children to American lifestyle choices, such as drugs or gangs, and misuse of the American system to turn on their parents. Parents also acknowledged the benefits of access to education and health care for children. To cope with the stressors of their new life, participants sought to preserve traditional cultural and religious values, thus strengthening their Somali community.

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