We Left One War and Came to Another: Resource loss, acculturative stress, and caregivers-child relationships in Somali refugee families

Refugee families often encounter a number of acculturative and resettlement stressors as they make lives for themselves in host countries. These difficulties may be compounded by past trauma and violence exposure posing increased risk for mental health problems. Greater knowledge is needed about protective processes contributing to positive development and adjustment in refugee families despite risk (e.g., resilience). The aims of this research were to identify and examine strengths and resources utilized by Somali refugee children and families in the Boston area to overcome resettlement and acculturative stressors.

Drawing from Conservation of Resources Theory (COR), the study identified five forms of resources comprising individual, family and collective/community strengths: religious faith; healthy family communication; support networks and peer support. “Community talk” was identified as a community dynamic having both negative and positive implications for family functioning.

Protective resources among Somali refugee children and families can help to offset acculturative and resettlement stressors. Many of these locally occurring protective resources have the potential to be leveraged by family and community-based interventions. These findings are being used to design preventative interventions that build on local strengths among Somali refugees in the Boston area.

Published 2019-01-14