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30-11-2019 | Original Paper | Uitgave 5/2020

Journal of Child and Family Studies 5/2020

Parental Suffering and Resilience Among Recently Displaced Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 5/2020
Bree Akesson, Cindy Sousa
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Parents are an essential source of constancy and support, and effectively promote children’s resilience even in adversity. To build on this potential, however, more information is needed about the realities of refugee parents in situations of extreme adversity such as war and displacement.


The present study draws upon data from collaborative family interviews with 46 families (n = 351) who fled Syria and are now living as refugees in Lebanon.


The findings describe the challenges parents faced and the ways they attempted to endure within three temporal dimensions: the past (pre-flight and flight); the present (initial resettlement in the Lebanon); and the future (hopes and aspirations for resettlement). From the start of the war, parents’ foremost priority was protecting their children. Parents spoke about distress caused by family separation, and the loss of the norms, social support, and sense of parental efficacy. Parents also described their own mental health issues related to war and displacement, which influenced their parenting. At the same time, parents’ narratives highlighted how they continued—and even amplified—their caregiving. Parents comforted and distracted their children to help them endure the challenging realties of war and displacement. In Lebanon, parents restricted their children’s mobility to try to keep them safe, provided moral guidance, increased family closeness and communication, and planned for children’s futures, particularly through education.


Programs to support child protection must broaden the focus to include the whole family unit, specifically the mental health of caregivers as a means of supporting family wellbeing. (250/250 words).

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