FAMILY SERVICE BUREAU OF NEWARK
A Help to Immigrant Children & Families
As an immigrant to this country, Laila and her children struggled to adjust to life in a new society. Her four-year-old son, Khalid, and her nine-year-old daughter, Ayesha, had a difficult time adjusting to life in an American school. There were both language and cultural differences. In addition, coming from a predominantly Muslim society, there were specific biases that impacted their assimilation. Khalid soon began to demonstrate some behavioral problems at school and at home. He became more aggressive towards mom and his sister. At school, he began to bite other students. Ayesha struggled with fitting in with her classmates as a Muslim child.
Laila, meanwhile, struggled financially with making ends meet as a single mother. Her husband, Mohammed, was still back home in Morocco waiting to receive his immigration paperwork. Laila quickly found work in a beauty salon in Jersey City. However, adjusting to life in the United Sates proved difficult for her as well. Although she worked a full time job, she found it very difficult to adjust to life as a single mom. In Morocco, she did not have to work, and being thrust into the position of primary provider altered her role as a mother as well.
For the first time in her life, she needed to leave her children in order to support her family. The feelings of guilt were at times, overwhelming for her. In addition, seeing her children struggle made Laila wonder if the transition was worth the changes she was seeing in herself and her children.
The school referred Laila for family therapy with the Family Service Bureau’s Kearny office. Through family counseling, Laila was able to find a support to help her learn new techniques to deal with her children’s behavioral concerns. In addition, Laila was provided with a space to discuss the different cultural roles and conflicts that she was experiencing as a mom and a Muslim woman in a non-Muslim world.
These conflicts, while leading one to feel isolated at times, are very common among Muslim women, especially those in the workplace. From issues of dress to communication and prayer, Muslim women sometimes struggle with handling all of these areas.
If you are an immigrant family needing help, please reach out to FSB at 973 412-2056 (Newark) or 201 246-8077 (Kearny).
Submitted by FSB staff. Names of family members in story were changed to protect their privacy.