Skip to main content

245. Stressors and Supports that Affect Refugee Fathers’ Parenting and their Children’s Development 

Rabia Zahid, Dr. April S. Masarik

Zahid final poster - view poster content on posts page
Select to view full poster image


Last year, the United States resettled 22,419 refugees across the country (Refugee Processing Center, 2019).

Many of these refugees come with experiences of trauma, which can impact their family relationships.
The role of refugee fathers has been overlooked in research involving refugees (Este & Tachble, 2009).

Even though fathers typically play a secondary caretaker role in the family, they significantly influence their children’s development.

The Current Study

This study has two overarching goals:

  1. To identify the stressors and supports of Congolese fathers that impact their parenting styles.
  2. To understand how these influence their children’s educational opportunities and social-emotional development.
collage of fathers with their children


Fathers play an essential role in the development of their children and the wellbeing of the family yet remain an untapped resource in most cases (Engle & Breaux, 1998).

This study will:

  • give fathers an opportunity to have their voices heard.
  • help us identify what resources and motivators help them in their childbearing responsibilities.
  • provide new insight into how these issues influence their children’s educational opportunities and social-emotional development.
  • add to the current minimal literature on understanding fathering in the refugee context.
Infographic about refugee populations
68.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide. 40 million are internally displaced people. 25.4 million are refugees with 19.9 million under UNHCR mandate and 5.4 million Palestinian refugees registered by UNRWA. 3.1 million are asylum seekers.

Research Questions

  • What are the stressors and challenges that affect fathers’ parenting of their adolescent child?
  • What are the strengths and supports that affect fathers’ parenting of their adolescent child?
  • How does father involvement impact children’s development?
  • What aspirations do fathers have for their children’s future?
  • What resources do fathers need to be successful?


This will be a qualitative and quantitative study using previously collected data and a new survey.

  • 10– 20 fathers will complete self-report questionnaires
  • Data collection options: paper survey, paper survey with a translator, and Web-based survey.

Questions on survey

  • Stressors and challenges
  • Strengths and supports
  • Father involvement
  • Aspirations for children
  • Resources for fathers


Our relatively small sample size limits statistical power. The sample consists of fathers mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo and cannot be generalized to all refugee populations.


Special thanks to Dr. April Masarik and Sarah Ritter for their valuable advice and support. This project was sponsored by the McNair Scholars Program.


  1. Este, D. C., & Tachble, A. A. (2009). The perceptions and experiences of Russian immigrant and Sudanese refugee men as fathers in an urban center in Canada. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 624(1), 139–155
  2. Refugee Processing Center. (2019). Cumulative Summary of Refugee Admissions. Retrieved from Admissions by Region since 1975 12-16-19.pdf
  3. Ose, J. (Photographer). (2017.) Fathers Raising Children In The World’s Largest Refugee Camp [Online image]. Retrieved February 8, 2020 from
  4. Rich, S. (Photographer). (2018.) Celebrate the strength of refugee fathers [Online Image]. Retrieved February 8, 2020 from
  5. Pawlowski, A. (2016.) Father’s Day salute [Online Image]. Retrieved February 8, 2020 from

Additional Information

For questions or comments about this research, contact Rabia Zahid at