Attention: South African Distance Families
South Africa, where emigration is prolific, warrants special attention from the perspective of the left-behind Distance Parents and Distance Grandparents and their resulting kinlessness and uncertainty. The number of Distance Grandparents is high and it’s common for all of their children to have left the country. The impact of emigration and kinlessness has become a significant social problem.
South African Clinical Psychologist Maria Marchetti-Mercer, from the University of Johannesburg, is a specialist in emigration. She explains in a Family Process article that the impact is ‘extensive’ and ‘multi-folded’ in South Africa. What’s more, frequently the departing family has been so busy organising their move they have spent little time preparing their folks for life without them. She goes on to explain the consequences: “Emigration is mostly experienced as a vast loss, almost akin to a death, bringing about significant changes in social networks.” Furthermore, to leave South Africa is considered to be abandoning the family and nation, both of which are of paramount cultural and moral importance, particularly for Afrikaners.
Australian author and distance South African daughter Hendrika Jooste is well-versed in the field of immigration. In a conversation with me she explained the departed family is frequently ex-communicated by the siblings who remain behind and the subsequent resentment hinders future family relationships. New Zealand Anthropologist, Kris Finlayson, who studies the Afrikaner diaspora in New Zealand, goes as far as stating in his master’s thesis that a fair percentage of South African emigrants are considered ‘traitors to the Afrikaner cause’ of helping to fix the country.
Oftentimes the distance son or daughter suggest down the track that their South African parent or parents join them in their new country; however, few take up the offer, as the thought of moving is overwhelming. South Africa, as a home of Distance Parents and Grandparents, is a particularly concerning nation. Uncertainty and physical kinlessness for South African Distance Grandparents is off the scale."
Extract from Being a Distance Grandparent - a Book for ALL Generations
When I learned of Helen's writings I immediately knew South Africans would benefit by her book series".
Hendrika Jooste, The Migrant Whisperer
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