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03-05-2017 | Original Paper | Uitgave 9/2017

Journal of Child and Family Studies 9/2017

Prolonged Separation and Reunification among Chinese Immigrant Children and Families: An Exploratory Study

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 9/2017
Kenny Kwong, Qing Yu Yu


The present study explored the lived experiences of Chinese immigrant parents in New York City who went through prolonged separation and faced challenges after reunification in the United States. The study assessed their attitudes, perceptions, and reactions to the separation and reunification process to gain better understanding of the ways prolonged separation and reunification impact on child development and family wellbeing. A phenomenological research approach was used to study qualitatively the narrative data from in-depth interviews. The analytical process was based on data immersion, coding, sorting codes into themes, and comparing the themes across interviews. The sample included 18 Chinese immigrant families who had sent their American-born children to China for rearing and reunited with their children within the past 5 years. Data analyses revealed specific themes that included reasons for separation, parenting methods, child’s initial adjustment, behavior, and family relationship, child’s social, emotional, and academic challenges, parental stress and challenges, and recommendations for services. This study contributed to our knowledge of prolonged separation, a common practice among a vulnerable, hard-to-reach immigrant population. It shed light on specific needs of Chinese immigrant families by examining closely the unique circumstances pertaining to prolonged separation, parenting practice, and related family challenges. An understanding of the approaches these families adopt to cope with life challenges may help inform practitioners in formulating service strategies for these families. Specific assessments in child-care, education, and health care settings are essential to prompt immediate follow-up and intervention when needed.

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