General Parenting Issues — 28 July 2014
The ultimate parental sacrifice

Most parents dedicate themselves to loving, protecting and guiding their children towards maturity and self-sufficiency. The ultimate parental sacrifice is abdicating these responsibilities by sending their unescorted young children on a long and arduous journey to a foreign land – being uncertain about their survival, safety and hoped-for wellbeing.


Recent news reports stated, “Estimates of 57,000 unaccompanied immigrant children are flooding across the border into U.S. Their presence has major political, social, economic and emotional implications.”


U.S. Customs and Border Patrol reported, “Between January 1 and June 15, 2014, more than 52,000 unaccompanied children mainly from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico have been apprehended after crossing the Mexican border into the U.S. Those who enter the U.S. illegally are trying to reunite with family members or are escaping gang violence and poverty.”


Parents in countries where poverty and violence are rampant are faced with making an unbearably painful decision between risking their children’s survival at home or parting with them and sending them on a dangerous, unpredictable and frightening journey toward an uncertain future.


The parting with a child is painful enough but the worry, fears and doubts these parents harbor about their children’s ultimate fate must be agonizing. Not being able to be by their youngster’s side or have another trusted adult do so, as they are cast to the winds of chance, is horrifying. The possibility that they may never reunite again with their offspring must be a torturous thought.


Yet, thousands of loving parents contain their fears and pray that their child will somehow survive, be allowed to enter and stay in the land of opportunity and be given a chance for a better life, even at the possible cost that the parents may never be able to hug and love their child in person again.


Ms. Meissner, a former Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner provided a reassuring statement about the fate of the children who have already arrived, “They’re here, and they’re staying, and whatever else might happen to them is at least a year or more away.” (Referring to the legal full passage or possible deportation). She predicted, “Until people’s experience changes, more are going to continue to come, to achieve safety and reunification with their families.”


Parents who have relatives in the U.S. may only dread the long and treacherous journey until they learn of their youngsters’ safe arrival and unification with the family members who accepted the responsibility of becoming their children’s surrogate parents.


Those who do not have family connections in the U.S. are likely to be beleaguered with ongoing fears and uncertainty about their children’s wellbeing and may suffer interminable agony.


The ultimate sacrifice that these parents make by relinquishing their parental privileges is motivated by pure love for their children and the hope that their youngsters will have a chance for a better, safer and healthier life elsewhere.


May we all unite in embracing the children and honoring their exceptional parents!


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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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