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The Challenge of Christian Parenting in two Cultures Today (Essay Sample)


What is the challenge of Christian parenting in two cultures today? An Eritrean Christian


What is the challenge of Christian parenting in two cultures today? An Eritrean Christian perspective
Although the history of the Horn of Africa is replete with accounts of ambitious migration dating as far back as one thousand years ago, Sweden has distinguished herself by her historic openness to African migrants compared to her European peers (Kleist, 2004). The history of immigration to Sweden is long and illustrious, but that of modern immigration started only in earnest after World War II and culminated in the present Europe-wide crisis (Westin, 2006). Even before this recent immigration crisis, up to 15% of the Swedish population was foreign born and immigrants from Eritrea were a major demographic group within this estimate (Bäärnhielm, Edlund, Ioannou & Dahlin, 2014). Indeed, this statistic is higher than that of the United States at 12.5%, a country largely dominated by and divided on the immigration issue (Lu, 2012). In October 2016, the number of asylum seekers arriving in Sweden reached ten thousand refugees a week despite the ferocity of the winter conditions and the government has already begun making preparations for admitting 190,000 asylum seekers or 2% of the population in a single year (Traub, 2016). The desperation to reach Sweden is testament to the spirit of openness that immigrants anticipate that they will receive from the Swedish society.
Table 1: Foreign-Born Residents in Sweden from Sending Countries (1960-2004) (Source: Westin, 2006)

Table 2: Asylum Seekers by Country (2003-2004)

However, opinions are changing. Fewer foreign-born heads of households and their families are receiving income support (Traub, 2016). By November 2015, an Ipsos poll established that 26% of Swedes wanted the country to take in more refugees, a reduction from 44% just 3 months prior (, 2015). Asylum seekers are also at risk of failing to acculturalize into mainstream Swedish society and this has been documented through various studies and measures of outcome such as unemployment rates, education achievement and family success (Berry, 2005; Gebrekidan, 2010; Ahmed, 2013). This change in public opinion has also begun influencing government immigration policy such as Sweden’s perhaps unprecedented request to have asylum seekers relocated to other countries within the European Union (Traub, 2016). Interestingly, the change mirrors that of the events leading up to restrictive immigration policy in 1993 in response to an influx of citizens from the former Yugoslavia (Westin, 2006).
A large number of the African immigrants arrive from Eritrea, a country with a rich and checkered history. Still struggling to establish independent institutions, Eritrea’s woes have been compounded by the nation’s introduction of the Warsay‐Yikealo  Development Campaign that indefinitely mobilized Eritrean men and a vast number of women for military conscription and unpaid labor. This program has disenfranchised an entire generation of young and ambitious individuals that escape their motherland in pursuit of personal freedom and achievement.
For ethnographic researchers, globalized migration is a predominant research agenda. Ascertaining the effect of cross-border, and even inter-continental migration, on the individual, the family unit and the broad intersection with cultural change is an important and timely endeavor in the fields of cultural anthropology and psycho-sociology. It is due to this that this author has chosen to pursue this analysis in an attempt not only to uncover everyday immigrant narratives, but also to provide applications to the academic and policy communities (Fitzgerald, 2004). It goes without saying that a credible analysis of the challenges that this growing segment of the population faces in acculturation and use of government resources will deeply inform the development and execution of immigration rhetoric, policies, and strategies.
The main objectives of this study are to:
Establish the cultural and psychological challenges of immigrants in a new and unfamiliar culture
The extent of intercultural contact between Eritrean immigranst and Swedish mainstream society
Establish the acculturation strategies and acculturative stress of these immigrants
Explore and document the views of Eritrean immigrant parents of raising their families in Swedish culture while still trying to protect their cultural heritage
Establish the adaptations of immigrant children to learning a new language and interacting with a new culture
Identify how Eritrean immigrants practice and sustain their religion and how exposure to a predominantly Christian society affects their families’ well-being
Identify psycho-cultural effects of acculturation
This study was conducted in three Swedish cities, chosen because Eritrean migrants have cultural and historical ties to the cities in question. The main techniques used were direct face-to-face interviews with telephone and focus group discussions. In total, this author interviewed six parents and two young adults and hosted one group discussion with three participants.
Research Ethics
Some of the participants were initially apprehensive and skeptical about the study; some potential participants did not want to be interviewed as they feared that their identities and residencies may become known to immigration officials. Prior to the interviews, I familiarized myself with Eritrean customs for respect for community gatekeepers and conversational customs. Furthermore, before all interviews and discussions, I expressly disclosed what I would be doing and why I was conducting the research. Where interviewees requested that I stop taking note, I would comply promptly and would anonymize information as requested.
The majority of the respondents admitted to challenges to integrating with the mainstream society due, primarily, to language competence. The respondents claimed to have experienced prejudice and mistrust in their multi-cultural context, particularly in the asylum process. The language and cultural barriers also meant that they could neither fully utilize government services nor fulfill their civic duties. The Eritrean immigrants felt that they were in a state of “limbo”, trapped between the demands of two cultures: one that was acquired and the other that they were born into. They often expressed a mismatch of ideals and expectations between the older and second-generation Eritrean immigrants. As a result, ...
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