Parents, Children and Borders
written by Carol Castanon, Child Development Specialist and Parent Consultant
NTNC is not a political organization. We are a family business, a non-profit, dedicated to the wellbeing of children. The term child is sometimes used, but in the case of NTNC it is never said or implied without the explicit connection to family. NTNC is in the business of family. There is a reason for this. To support a child, there is a necessary support of the parent, or parenting figure. The heart of a child is in the hands of this parent. The news of children from Central and South America being separated from their parents needs to be spoken about beyond the context of an immigration policy, but rather a moral crisis.
Many families experience hardship, loss and crisis. These experiences are deeply felt by adults and children. In fact, and this is a fact, all the emotional ups and downs of a parenting figure are felt by their child. Even the non-verbal child, infants and tots, feel the emotional landscape of the most important person to them, their grown-up. This grown-up is deeply responsible for this child’s physical and emotional safety. This grown-up is necessary for nourishing a child’s state of secure being in the moment, but also for the future. Children are uniquely vulnerable precisely because they are children.
Healthy attachment is an absolute essential ingredient in childhood. This means a predictable, loving and caring parent or parent figure. Forced and sustained separations from a loving parent create fear and trauma. Trauma is then felt for years and perhaps a lifetime. Actually, it lasts a lifetime and then has a traumatic residue which sticks like glue from one generation to the next generation. It is dangerous and cruel to separate children from their grown-ups. Children need their grown-up. No other adult can take the place of this love attachment.
Home is family. Going home often refers to the family of origin, not just the geographical town where one comes from. Home is where your heart is, and that means family. Home is not defined by ethnicity or religion, although there may be those characteristics. Home is not this side of a border or the other, although that may be true. Home is where your parent can hold you, touch you, and keep you safe. Home is where your heart is tended.
People leave the land they were born in for many reasons. Most Americans don’t have to go back very far to trace their roots to another land. Native Americans are those Americans whose land of origin is America. Most others are immigrants. It’s good to know your story of coming to America. My family came to America from Eastern Europe to escape the Pogroms of Russia who brutalized diverse peoples with a particular vengeance for Jews. My husband’s family came to America from Mexico, leaving their generational lands, escaping during the Mexican Revolution and then later for a society that provided better opportunity.
Today, there are children without their parents, because their parents sought a safer place to be a family. I wonder what experiences these families had in their land of origin that propelled them to take such travels to another land.
Together, us, familia is the seed of who we all are. Each member of family being intrinsically and necessarily linked to the other. Parents carry and swaddle to keep children safe and calm. They cling to each other as they cross streets, or borders. Family is hard, beautiful and defines a moral and healthy humanity! A prosperous and safe society begins with family. Children need their grown-ups.
Keep families together! Si Se Puede!