Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe
On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
This research focuses on the manner in which parents experience the emigration of their children. Migration of people, both within a country and across borders, is a global phenomenon. South Africa has diverse historical and contemporary migration patterns, and there are various factors underlying emigration; these may be of an economic, social or personal nature. A general theory regarding the causes of migration distinguishes between push and pull factors. Pull factors include personal safety in society, a better standard of living as well as various job opportunities. Push factors in South Africa, among others, include dissatisfaction of the standard of public and commercial services, perceptions of moral decline in society, an unemployment-rate of 25.6% (Statistics SA 2013) and dissatisfaction with affirmative action issues. One of the main push factors in South Africa is the high level of crime. The desire to travel and a sense of adventure also play a part in people 's decision to emigrate. The country 's database and statistics on emigration flows are inadequate; and the impact of emigration on the mental health of the families who have been left behind, especially parents, remains a neglected topic in South Africa. According to media reports, South Africa is suffering from the effects of a "brain-drain", and the country is also exposed to free trade agreements and globalising tendencies. Each person leaving the country leaves behind a family. The effects on those who have to remain in South Africa, particularly the parents, have yet to be sufficiently researched. Part of the parents 'psycho-social support system suddenly falls away when their children emigrate. Some parents lose all their children as a result of emigration. The communication and interaction with their children on different continents become complex. A contributing factor to poor communication is parents ' inability to utilize technology as a means of staying in contact with their children. These parents are usually middle-aged and some of them even older, and are dependent on other people for their daily care. They have to adapt to the new circumstances in this relatively advanced phase in their lives. In previous generations, this used to be a phase in which people slowed down, retired and settled down to enjoy their grandchildren. After their children 's emigration, they are no longer able to see their grandchildren growing up; in a significant way, they are being excluded from their children 's daily life. Some of the parents relied on their children to take care of them in later years and suddenly they have to try and find alternative support systems. A Christian existential paradigm was used, which, in searching to find meaning in life and to make responsible choices, views a person as a whole entity. The framework of the Theory of Health Promotion (Department of Nursing 2010) forms the philosophical and theoretical basis, as the phenomenon of emigration impacts on families as a system; seeing that the abovementioned theory follows a holistic perspective, it should adequately address families ' sense of loss. A qualitative, exploratory, descriptive and contextual study of the experiences of parents whose children had emigrated, was done by using community radio as the medium of interaction. The community radio was used to invite parents whose children had emigrated to participate in this research. The radio medium is a powerful, cost-effective medium with which to reach thousands of people at the same time. It is also ideal for psycho-educational purposes because of the convenience to listen to it in your house, car or while doing something else. The aim was to facilitate the mental health of those parents who had been left behind. Indepth interviews were conducted with 16 parents after broadcasting an invitation to participate in the study by means of a community radio station. The population was Afrikaans-speaking people with a Christian tradition. The average period of their children 's emigration was nine years. All the parents 'children had emigrated longer than one year ago. The following was found: parents whose children emigrate experience a feeling of disillusionment, expressed in the words "we raise them to leave us!" The loss is ambiguous, with a main feeling of helplessness; their affective response painfully fluctuates. The experience is unique and personal and parents apply effective and less effective coping mechanisms in order to deal with the ambiguous loss.
Keywords : psycho-education; parents; children; emigration; radio medium; ambiguous loss; affective response; defense mechanisms.