immigration

immigration

Growing the Culture Locally

children, culture, immigration, religion No comments

At the core of culture is the child, wrapped in a family and embedded in a community of faith:  Faith, Family and the Child (the future of the world).

My guess is that for the next hundred years or even longer economies will churn a lot as the ever-deeper breakthroughs in physics and biology get harnessed in new technologies, “the process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one” (Schumpeter, 1942).    As a particular source of income dries up many people will likely have to migrate in search of new income.  That migration will upset the stable relationships that make cultural patterns possible.

Migrants feel intensely the need for a welcoming community.  Where are they most likely to find it?  In places where people of their own faith, race, and language live.  And when they cannot find such religious and ethnic compatibility they will seek community among those who share their view of life, who share their faith and who worship as they do. It is there they expect to find those who will welcome them, treat them kindly and make them feel at home despite obvious differences.

These also are the folk they will trust to educate their children: good people who share their values and beliefs.

Such religious locales are the hothouses that grow nurturing micro cultures.  And as the world churns and migrants flow because of war or economics such new micro cultures will continue to sprout and grow into vibrant new communities.  In the United States we are used to seeing this happen in our major cities as this pattern repeats itself again and again with each new wave of immigrants.

However it is now happening across the globe wherever more affluence and work act as magnets to those fleeing violence or poverty.  Thus, even as economies churn, cultures also churn.

And most of us and our children are going to be displaced in some way by the churning of the emerging economic orders.  Migration in the US has always been, not only for new members from the outside, but also within the country, frequently by those whose ancestors came generations ago.  We are a migratory people, increasingly so.

For the world to be a welcoming place for families with children (the families that give us the future) places of worship will be the hub around which the necessary cultural patterns will emerge.

Places of worship will need to be deliberate in their “full family service” if they are to be the community magnet their new members need them to be.  Many Evangelical churches have blazed the trail in taking care of this need.    Catholic families have the same needs.  And in filling them the Church is building, parish by parish, congregation by congregation, the strands of the new culture, the patterns of support and celebration from the cradle to the grave.  Nunc coepi.

Dear Immigrants: Welcome to Your New Home, Especially If You Are from Africa, Asia or the Middle East

family structure, immigration No comments

Though there are many reasons to welcome immigrants to our country you can now add mental health to the list.  Children of immigrants, on average, have better mental health than the children of their new home/destination country.  Within that group, children of intact married families do best.   The largest, multi-nation-of-origin and nation-of-destination study finds that the intact married family whose members are close and supportive of each other has higher mental health than the average mental health of their destination country.  Asians, Africans and Middle Easterners all outscore the population of their new homes (England, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden).  Though Latino children have better mental health, on average, than children of their new home there is strong evidence that family intactness and cohesion is lower in Latino families than in the other immigrant groups.

Given that the US is now, predominantly, a culture of rejection within the family it is to be expected that intact immigrant families are also mentally healthier than the average US family.

It would be good to find out if immigrants to the US from Asia, Africa and the Middle East have greater family intactness than Latinos and if they also have higher mental health scores.

This European study underscores the fragility of the Latino family, which I, like most others, had always thought meant a strong family culture, at least when they first arrived in the US.  If a young teenager does not have confidence in his family he is less likely to have confidence in himself.  For leaders in Latino community the lesson is obvious: strengthen marriage.

Man is made to belong in family and thrives when he does, no matter what the color of his skin or the culture from which he comes.  It is nice to have the social sciences illustrate a universal law of nature.