Separation Anxiety...and For Parents Too

By Joel Miller posted 06-19-2018 15:48


We know that separating migrant parents from their children after they enter the United States at the Mexican border is tantamount to child abuse for many children. We know it is an affront to the values that our country was built on.

And by the way, to use the Scripture to justify the actions that have been taken at the border to separate families is a really a sad commentary and state of affairs. I did not know that there was a commandment on the need to separate families seeking asylum.

And forget policy too. It is just dead wrong.

But to get down to it, as mental health professionals, you know what happens when kids are separated from their parents. There is a flood of stress as strong as a Mississippi River current. It is hard to imagine the pain. And let’s face it… we are inflicting pain on kids.

We are wreaking significant and long-term psychological damage. We have learned about the effects of trauma. We have taken safety and health away from children. We are appalled when it happens to one child. But now we are creating mass abuse in the name of immigration policy.

Many articles I have read over the last few days have focused on the devastating plight of kids under our immigration policy, which of course, where a major focus should be due to short-term and long-term mental health effects of family separation on young children.

It is sad enough that we are witnessing this forced separation on children every day on the airwaves, but parents have essentially been forgotten. We have a family unit crisis. These are people who are damned if you do – damned if you don’t. If they stay in their homelands, their kids could be murdered, or forced or recruited to join gangs so they can kill other people. Now, the parents come to the U.S. and lose their kids anyway under this family separation policy. I thought the idea that people seeking asylum should be given shelter and warmth and showed kindness.

The parents are now facing the separation anxiety which will manifest itself in many horrible ways. They are going to need mental health care and health care because there insides are being torn up. Every waking moment must be a nightmare? Where are my children? Will I see them again? Are they safe? Those are the obvious questions and much more that eats away at them every day they are separated from their kids.

There is only one sensible thing to do.

Stop the current policy today and get needed mental health care and other health services to all of these families immediately.

Otherwise, the harm we are causing on these families will take a lifetime to undo.

And long-term damage to our national psyche as well!

1 comment



06-22-2018 17:35

I am confused by your comments. I work as a parent educator and therapist working with parents that have had their children removed from their home because of abuse and neglect here in the US. I see the trauma these children go through and yes it is terrible. But do we blame the government when the government removes these children and do we demand that they stop doing this. No we don't because the child is being abused or neglected. Now we turn to parents that trek their young children countless miles across not just one country but possible two or more just to break the law and enter our country illegally, for what a so called better life. To live off the government as most do as I have seen this first hand. Yes some do go on to better themselves but that is the minority. They come here and live poorly and  then we remove their children from them because they are neglecting them. The Time picture just posted on line with the little girl and President Trump is a wonderful example of a great mother, yes? She trekked across two countries to try and break our laws and enter our country illegally. Did you continue to read the story that states, she left 3 of her other children behind without even telling them she left. If that happened here in the US she would be charged with child abandonment and her children would be taken away from her. These people know what will happen when they try and cross the border illegally as this has been a law since 2008. Obama separated about 40 children a month. So it is okay to separate 40 a month but not separate them all. So who gets to chose who gets separated and who does not? The law was enacted in 2008/2009 and Obama did nothing to stop it. Now everyone is upset because Trump is following the law. If a parent breaks the law and goes to jail they are removed from their children. These people are breaking the law and are going to jail. that means they will be separated from their parents. Don't blame the government enforcing the law that was enacted by our Congress and never changed for the past 10 years. Blame the people breaking the law. If I broke into your home would you accept me into your home or call the police? I feel sorry for the children, but it is their parents that are putting them in harms way, not the US government.

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