This paper explores the concepts, meanings and realities of parenting for migrant parents who now live in Ireland. The reflections in this paper are based on the author’s twenty years’ experience of working with migrant parents as well as recent semi- structured interviews with twenty parents from different countries-of- origin.. The paper asks what impact moving to a new country has made on their parenting skills, abilities, values, styles and beliefs.
The paper discusses the importance of education to migrant parents. It reveals a complex set of social relations and ethnic “othering” within the education system and the concerns parents have regarding a sense of belonging.
Being a migrant parent is affected by both legal and economic factors such as financial difficulties, low quality housing and uncertainty about legal status.
The paper discusses socio-cultural considerations such as the absence of extended family networks. the role of religion and how cultural values are negotiated. The role of gender reveals an interesting web of experiences for both men and women and how changing understandings of gender roles has affected them as parents.
The paper contends that Irish society needs a more mature debate on how we respond to the experiences of migrant families. We need to listen to what newer members of our tribe are saying about us. We need to reflect deeply on structures, values, attitudes and mores in Irish society and question familiar and socially acceptable practices which do not take account of the new multi-cultural society of modern Ireland.
(Citation: Cotter, G., Olaniyi Kolawole, 2015. Parenting in a Multicultural Society: Migrants and their Experiences of Parenting in Ireland, in: Learning on the Job: Parenting in Modern Ireland. Oak Tree Press.)