Migrant Emotions - Official Book & Website

This book deals with the many unanticipated feelings and challenges that come with immigration. It can be a bedside companion to remind you that, although you may be far away, you are not alone. In its pages you will discover how to:

  • recognise and overcome the frequent emotional challenges of being an immigrant
  • prepare for visits ‘here’ and ‘there’
  • cope with the sense of loss
  • acknowledge the effects of immigration on your career and marriage
  • realise how settled you are in your adopted country

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30 Jul 2017

Surrogate Grandparents

I have previously written about the importance of grandparent/grandchild relationships. As a mother, I missed my children having both of their sets of grandparents around. I have heard adults including my grown children say they feel they missed out from not having both sets of grandparents nearby. Friends, now grandparents themselves have described how they have missed having their grandchild close. It doesn't matter how many toys the grandparents send, and jumpers they knit, not having their grandchildren around is a void in their lives.

Surrogate grand parenting is one way to alleviate the missing for both generations.  Succinctly put by a blog in 
“If grandparents did not exist, children would surely invent them.”

...a line from the book Grandparents/Grandchildren: The Vital Connection (Doubleday) that my husband, Ken Woodward, and Arthur Kornhaber, M.D., wrote more than two decades ago.

"They’re not our grandkids. And we don’t take the place of their grandparents. But we share a very special bond that only these two generations can really understand. It allows us to pour out some grandparenting love and savvy on two adorable kids who really appreciate it.

My grandkids don’t have the need for a substitute grandparent, as they live in cities where they have the real McCoy. And while I know what a help this is to the parents and how much fun it is for the grandkids, there are times when I can’t help but feeling jealous. Especially when they call to tell us about a trip to the aquarium or an overnight with their local grandparents. So this across-the-street relationship we have built with these youngsters is as nice for us as it is for them."

If you are interested in becoming a surrogate grandparents,there are websites that can arrange the connection. By searching in facebook for Surrogate Grandparents in your country or area, you are likely to find a match. Here are some other links that I have found:

On the subject of grandparents, in case you haven't seen this post already...
11+ Ways to improve thegrandparent grandchild relationship

Let us know about how you have overcome missing your grandparents, your children's grandparents or if you are a grandparent, your grandchildren, by writing in the comments below.

13 Jun 2017

Surprise Visits

What would a surprise visit be like? I have never been part of one. In the Visits Home chapter of my book, three women describe their surprise visits. You can read about them here in the free download. 

I was inspired to write about surprise visits as a friend recently had a surprise visit set up for her. Uber had an ad campaign planned for Mothers Day in the northern hemisphere (March). Annie from England, but living in Australia has a daughter, Lily working in England. Lily's friend asked Annie if  she wanted to be part of the ad. Within forty eight hours Annie had crossed the world without telling anyone. A logistical and mental challenge but definitely worth it. Here is the result, enjoy the ride, and keep a hanky nearby. Mothers surprise their children.

If anyone would like to share their surprise visits experiences, I would love to hear about them. Post a comment below and I can contact you.

22 Apr 2017

Are people with brown eyes are more intelligent?

My daughter recommended I watch a documentary "How Racist Are You. Jane Elliots Brown Eye/Blue Eye Excercise." The documentary captured me. I was disappointed that so many of the 'blue eyed/white folk' didn't get or worse, didn't allow the exercise to be completed. The exercise was a chance for the blue eyed people to experience what life was like in a brown eyed world. Many of the participants missed an opportunity of learning and empathising. The video is worth watching, even to see how the group dynamics play out. This particular clip was an experiment carried out in England, if you look on youtube you can find versions of the same exercise in other countries.

I was so intrigued by Jane Elliot's work that I watched more youtube clips. Oprah had Jane as a guest on her show, 'The Racism Discussion 1992'. The dated clothes, hairstyles, and some attitudes aside, the programme is also recommended watching, Three minutes into the clip a guest asks what proof Jane Elliot has that brown eyed people are more intelligent than blue eyed people. Jane Elliot brings to our attention that brown eyed people, people of colour, brought our civilisation the alphabet, our numerical system, our electricity and every major religion on the earth. Jane Elliot went on to say, "we are educated by a racist school system that only teaches us about white contribution." 

If you watch any youtube clips of Jane Elliot, you will see that she is not a voice of gentle persuasion. I admire her determination in making us reflect on how racist we can be, even though racism may not be our intention. As Jane said in Part 2 of The Racism Discussion, racism is a learned response and it can be unlearned, but to unlearn such a response will take a conscious effort.

Maybe people with brown eyes are more intelligent. The issue is not intelligence, but the treatment of others. I have blue eyes. I have been brought up in a country where whites had more advantages. I am living in a country where whites have more advantages. The Jane Elliot youtube clips I watched made me more aware of how presumptuous I have been. I may have thought I knew how it was for people with brown eyes, but I became aware that I hadn't spent much time thinking how it was for people with brown eyes. I hope I can be open minded and aware of the racism I have. I hope I can keep working on neutralising it. I hope others will too.

Let me know your reaction to this blog or the brown eye/blue eye exercise?

14 Mar 2017

Time for a laugh. Why migrant comedians get us thinking and laughing.

Laughing is healthy and fun. I have been to many standup comedy shows. I'm sure the comedians are nervous before they come on stage, I know I am tense as part of the audience. Will I find this funny? Will my fellow guests laugh out loud? I hope so. I dread the comedian 'bombing,' and I hope they are resilient enough to laugh a bad night off. I am eager to laugh with them because I have come to the venue for a laugh, and because I admire their bravery.

Why would migrants make good comedians? With all jokes, the humour comes from 'laughing at someone else's expense.' Much of the humour from migrants is based on their experiences. They are laughing at what has happened to them, and or ridiculing the circumstances responsible for those laughable situations.

Migrants can observe because they have two perspectives of the country or society they are living in. In a previous post, some of the 12 reasons why migrants make good artists are also valid for comedians. For example, show host and comedian Graham Norton said that being an outsider, helped him to be an observer asking the questions, rather than having to be included in the group.

14 Feb 2017

Dual citizenship issues

The recent ban by Trump on the travel of migrants with dual citizenship of seven countries has highlighted one of the pitfalls of having dual citizenship status. By living in a country and maintaining 'ownership' of another country, you subject yourself to issues of both your country of origin and your host country.

I feel for all the migrants of the seven countries 'travel ban.' Migrants will have to put on hold, cancel or adjust trips home to visit, and visiting sick parents.  The ban has caused a worldwide gasp. It has inspired many people to increase their knowledge of world politics, from having zero political interest to some, or from some to taking action such as protesting.

The melting pot of the world certainly seems to have been stirred and heated up. I hope the suddenness of this ban continues to be considered as unreasonable, and that action continues to stop the ban. I hope that the outcome is that migrants and refugees are perceived more as individuals motivated to have the best life they can. The article below tells the story of two individuals.

“Australia has kindly given us a new life and after only two years of learning English, my brother has recently made the news when graduating as a dux of his school and currently studying to be a doctor. I am also halfway through my business degree. Why would someone ban people like us from being citizens of this country?”
More on Dual Citizenship from a previous Newsletter (March 2014.) Read more here.
There is a great real-life story in there too of what can happen when you lose your passport.

8 Jan 2017

101 support for migrants

Support networks can help make staying easier.
    Last year I  spoke to an immigrant cluster support network group, Wings.
    Wings has been running for nearly ten years and is a great example of a support network for immigrants, especially new immigrants and people new to the district. The group stood out as being warm, welcoming and with a variety of activities at different times of the day, caters for an extensive pool of interests.
    I spoke to this support group about the lifecycle of an immigrant and touched on some emotional challenges of immigration. Issues such as the difficulties when your loved ones are elderly or sick seemed timely to discuss, because before the talk one member had related that she had just returned from four months in California looking after her sick father. She was now on “stand by” waiting to hear of news that would need decisions and action.  Another member related that she had just found out that her brother-in-law had died that day. Tears exuded her fragility and I thought of the frustration she would probably be feeling from not being among those who loved him and so be able to share the grief together.
    In the question time, we talked abut connection with grandchildren or lack of it. One woman said, “You come here. You learn English. You let English be your main language at home so that your children will get the best out of school. Then when your parents come over, your children can’t communicate with their grandparents because they don’t have the same first language.”  The comment reminded me that language differences are a strong barrier when trying to keep connected with your loved ones and those in your adopted country.
    It was good to know that there was a place where these immigrants had a place to air their frustrations and challenges. Well done Wings.

There are times when you need help
You can read more about support networks from the free pdf chapter of my book, The Emotional Challenges of Immigration, download the chapter by clicking here.

17 Dec 2016

Christmas help

Celebration time in some parts of the world. Holiday time in others. Here is a useful resource from my book, chapter 14 on Surviving Christmas and other cultural celebrations. Read the chapter as a PDF here.

Here are some of my previous blogs for help with Christmas

Nine Strategies for a happier Christmas

If you are about to fly with children, you may find this useful
How to reduce fear of flying with children

And if that isn't enough here are another couple of helpful links from other bloggers.

Wishing you a wonderful festive season with love laughter and hope for a great year ahead.