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When Children are Left Behind: Maternal Separation due to Migration

When Children are Left Behind: Maternal Separation due to Migration

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Migration has been an integral part of the history of the West Indies leading to the development of a strong migration culture based on family relations centering on the parent-child tie. The West Indian communities benefit from the financial arrangements made between immigrants and their families. However, there has been increasing concerns about the plight of the children who are left behind while their mothers migrate to the US in search of employment. Some of these children survived harsh and traumatic conditions during the separation. The children's ages at separation ranged from infant to twelve years old, while age at reunion ranged from eight to eighteen years. The years of separation ranged from five and a half to eleven years. The results of this study suggest that the adolescents’ length of separation, their age at separation, experience during separation, quality of childcare during separation, and age at reunion, all affected their ability to adapt to life in the United States and on their long-term relationship with their mothers. The findings also highlight the importance of supportive extended family relationships to the survival of these children.