How to improve and protect against a decline in relationship satisfaction
So to increase relationship satisfaction in couples and to help reduce relationship break down we need to foster skills such as (3);
So how can you practically try to improve your multicultural relationship skills? Well here are a few ideas to start with;
Emotional regulation skills
Self-regulation is like a muscle and it needs to be exercised if you want to improve it. Meditation is a great way to do this and can increase your self-regulatory strength and has many other benefit. Below are a few links to free meditation websites with guides.
Conflict communication skills
Sometimes one of the biggest problems to communication is when you have an elevated emotional response. As soon as one person in the discussion has raised their voice, it is likely that false judgements and assumptions have been made. When you next feel misunderstood in an argument, or if you are discussing a subject that you know you both argue about, try the following and hopefully it will improve your listening and empathising skills within your relationship.
1. The first person states what they want to say
2. The second person repeats their understanding of what the first person said
3. The first person then states if that is a clear representation of what they mean and they are satisfied that the person understands them, if they are not then you go back to step one, if it is then the next person starts at step one.
This process quickly dissipates any emotional arousal and creates improved communication, greater acceptance and less defensiveness and helps empathetic understanding of each other (8).
Relationship Maintenance skills
Relationships can take an incredible amount of work to maintain, and that work is heavily dependant on communication. Research has identified 5 positive behaviours, that are associated with an increase in relationship satisfaction, and 6 negative behaviours that you should try to reduce, that are related to a reduction in relationship satisfaction (9)
1. Assurances, implicitly or explicitly reassuring the partner about the future of the relationship, expressions of love and commitment
2. Openness, direct discussions about one’s own feelings and about the relationship,
3. Positivity, making interactions cheerful and pleasant
4. Social networks is spending time with and gathering support from shared friends, relying on the support and love of family and friends
5. Shared tasks, performing tasks the partners jointly face and sharing equal responsibility within the relationship (10)
1. Jealousy induction, behaviours that create jealousy such as flirting with others to make your partner jealous.
2. Avoidance, avoiding being physically being around or to avoid talking about difficult subjects within your relationship
3. Spying on your partner
4. Infidelity and flirting with someone who is not your partner
5. Destructive conflict, thing such as starting arguments with your partner and trying to control your partner’s behaviour.
6. Allowing control, thing such as dropping responsibilities and enjoyed activities because of your partner (11)
Learn each other’s languages, this can create a greater understanding, empathy and improve deeper communication between you both by discovering hidden meanings of words in the others language. This leads to a deeper understanding of your partner. As a by-product this can also help you to understand your partner’s culture and help with the integration process if you have move to your partner’s country.
Tips for native partner
If supporting your partner feels like it might become too much, before it does seek further support. There are peer support groups available at Familia for both native and foreign partners that provide additional support or if you prefer you can contact a therapist or couples therapist to help further.
There many ways to improve relationships and you need to find one that works for you as individuals and as a family. Relationships and families can be hard work sometimes, and I think there is a need to recognise this and take a moment to think about it. Without work relationships might dwindle and fracture, but if you’re willing to create a cherished relationship they can be the most rewarding aspect of life. The loving relationship that surround you will reward you with happiness and life longevity.
(Timothy Hudd BA)
The author is a BACP registered Counsellor and psychotherapist in the UK, living and practicing in Helsinki, and married to a Finn himself.
3. Romano D. Intercultural marriage: Promises and pitfalls. 2008.
8. Rogers CR, Roethlisberger FJ. Barriers and Gateways to Communication. 1991;
9. Doing the Work of Relationships: A Maintenance Approach | Psychology Today [Internet]. july 19th. 2014 [cited 2018 Jan 11]. Available from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/adventures-in-dating/201407/doing-the-work-relationships-maintenance-approach
10. Stafford L, Dainton M, Haas S. Measuring routine and strategic relational maintenance: Scale revision, sex versus gender roles, and the prediction of relational characteristics. Commun Monogr. 2000 Sep;67(3):306–23.
11. Dainton M, Gross J. The Use of Negative Behaviors to Maintain Relationships. Commun Res Reports. 2008 Aug 18;25(3):179–91.
After the child is born the new parents patterns of intimacy and communication change, sexual satisfaction tends to decline, and new parents report an increase in conflict and disagreement. This might lead to a reliable decrease in relationship satisfaction and seems consistent across western cultures and is therefore likely to affect intercultural couples in Finland. The importance and impact of this decrease in relationship satisfaction upon the baby’s development can be seen in the link to depression, attentional and emotional related problems, withdrawal, poor social competence, low self-esteem and conduct related disorders later in life. The environment that is provided by the parents is shaping the way in which the baby’s brain is developing and can inhibit the emotional and intellectual development of the baby. If the parents are experiencing a reduction in their relationship satisfaction then they are likely unable to provide a healthy emotional environment for the baby’s development (1,2). Furthermore, women in the partnership tend to experience a larger change in their relationship satisfaction than men. This can be partially explained by the stereotypes of labour distribution for gender roles within the home, as the mothers are more likely to have disproportional demands on their time over the fathers (1).
This major life change of parenthood, forces the re-examination of the prior arrangements within the relationship and changes the perceptions of imbalances and injustices. The problems that existed in the relationship before parenthood become exacerbated with the additional dynamic of a baby. This new dynamic creates issues common to both mono and intercultural couples alike for example;
• disruption to sleeping patterns
• reduced quality one to one time and agreement on how that time is spent
• reduced physical and emotional intimacy
• conflict and arguments, like the division of labour within parenthood
• a reduction in relationship satisfaction
• a realisation of expectations verses reality
• the time that partners spend together and how it is spent
Intercultural couples additionally suffer from stresses related to their change of circumstances, for example;
• A reduced social support network, as the foreign partners have likely moved away from their family, friends and familiar networks.
• A lack of acceptance and support in the host country, due to discrimination, migration, unemployment and integrational issues.
• The stresses of developing a third culture, this is the way that couples combine their cultures and traditions to create a third culture for their child and themselves to celebrate (3).
• The stresses of differences in cultural communication styles, this is the differences in the implicit values of meaning of what is being communicated within the relationship and difference in the cultural understanding of the concepts being communicated, e.g. such as implied difference in gender roles within a culture (4).
• The stress of cultural bereavement, this is where the foreign partner has to deal with the loss of his or her own culture through the loss of social structure (friends and family), cultural values (traditions and values) and self-identity (sense of belonging). This can create feelings of grief and loss, cultural confusion, feelings of alienation, isolation and depression (5).
• Culture shock, where the foreign partners go through a process of acclimatisation and integration to the new culture e.g. learning a new language and creating a new social network and this can create feelings of cultural confusion, alienation, isolation and depression (5)
• Cross cultural communication, the difficulties in the language of communication that is used within the relationship and the difference in the understandings of that language. This can lead to frequent misunderstandings and lack of depth of connection within the relationship.
These additional stresses, and many more within intercultural relationships are clearly reflected within the per year divorce rates in Finland, being three times higher for intercultural couples than mono-cultural couples (6).
Keys to success
As we now know this worrying statistic, it is important to keep in mind what factors create success in relationships. The key differences that predict a stable or an improvement in relationship satisfaction are for example (Romano, 2008);
• Commitment to the relationship
• The ability to communicate
• Being sensitivity to each other’s needs
• A liking for the others culture
• A positive self-image
• Love as the main marital motive
• Common goals
• Spirit of adventure
During the transition to parenthood any relational problems that are present in the relationship or individual psychologies before the birth of the child can grow to become more of a problem. This can be explained by the couple’s self-regulatory strength depletion. Self-regulatory strength can be understood as the ability for a person to repress, change or regulate their own behaviour. Self-regulatory strength can be temporally weakened by recent exertion and stresses common to new parents such as time pressure, noise, fatigue etc. This can lead to the decline in the relationship satisfaction as the depletion can affect the parents emotional regulation, choice-making, physical persistence, impulse inhibition, and high-level cognitive performance (7).
The couple’s individual psychologies interact with the transitional issues, who we are, the circumstances we encounter, and create the way that we respond. This will define whether there will be a decline in the relationship satisfaction or not (1).
The negative transitional issues that are associated with a decline in relationship satisfaction are;
• A decline in communication and discussing of problems
• The ability to express needs, intimacy and closeness
• Declining feelings of love
• Increasing conflict and increasing feelings of ambivalence
In part 2 we will read more about how to improve and protect against a decline in relationship satisfaction.
(Timothy Hudd BA)
The author is a BACP registered Counsellor and psychotherapist in the UK, living and practicing in Helsinki, and married to a Finn himself.
1. Kluwer ES. From Partnership to Parenthood: A Review of Marital Change Across the Transition to Parenthood. J Fam Theory Rev. 2010;2(2):105–25.
2. Shapiro AF, Gottman JM. Effects on Marriage of a Psycho-Communicative-Educational Intervention With Couples Undergoing the Transition to Parenthood, Evaluation at 1-Year Post Intervention. J Fam Commun. 2005;5(1):1–24.
3. Romano D. Intercultural marriage: Promises and pitfalls. 2008.
4. Hofstede G. Dimensionalizing Cultures: The Hofstede Model in Context. Online Readings Psychol Cult. 2011;2(1).
5. Bhugra D, Gupta S, Bhui K, Craig T, Dogra N, Ingleby JD, et al. WPA guidance on mental health and mental health care in migrants. World Psychiatry. 2011;10(1):2–10.
6. Lainiala L, Säävälä M. Intercultural marriages and consideration of divorce in Finland: Do value differences matter?
7. Vohs KD, Baumeister RF. Handbook of Self-Regulation, Second Edition: Research, Theory, and Applications. Vol. 35, Vie pédagogique. 2005. 609 p.
Intercultural Municipal Elections 9 April (advance voting 29 March - 4 April)
The point of the municipal elections is to elect councillors to serve in the various municipal councils. The municipalities have a great deal of power and, therefore, so do the elected councillors who make important decisions. Their decisions concern, for example, the environment in which we live and the services needed to prevent exclusion. The municipalities are responsible for providing early care and education, and the elected councillors have multiple opportunities to advance the well-being of intercultural and bilingual families.
Voting is the only way to have influence on the issues that are important to you. Learn about your candidates, contact them and use your vote!
Remember that you don’t need a Finnish passport, because foreign citizens also have the right to vote.
Learn about the candidates!
What are the important issues for you and your family? Do the candidates in your municipality have any personal experience regarding intercultural life? What issues are the candidates promoting and what is important to them?
Make contact and ask questions!
Ask, for example, how the candidates plan to consider intercultural children and families in their decision-making. And how might the municipal services be organised so that they would better meet the needs of all types of families and diverse life situations?
You have a voice, use it and vote!
Your vote in the municipal elections has more of an influence on your life and living environment than any other type of election. Your councilmembers have the ability, for example, to ensure that a child’s language and cultural background is taken into consideration in his/her education and early care.
Who can vote?
Foreign nationals can also vote! You have the right to vote if you are a citizen of Finland, another EU Member State, Norway or Iceland, and you have established a municipality of residence in Finland no later than on 17.2.2017, or if you are a citizen of any other country and you have had a municipality of residence in Finland for an uninterrupted period of at least two years.
When and where can I vote?
ADVANCE VOTING 29 March - 4 April 2017
Advance voting will take place in Finland from 29 March to 4 April and abroad from 29 March to 1 April 2017. You can cast your vote at any of the advance voting stations in Finland and abroad. Finland has a total of 894 general advance voting stations located in, for example, municipal offices, shopping centres, libraries, citizen service offices and post offices.
ELECTION DAY 9 April 2017
Municipal elections are held every four years. The next official election day will be on Sunday, 9 April 2017. On election day, the voting stations are open from 9 am to 8 pm, and you can only cast your vote at the polling station indicated in the polling card that was mailed to your home address in advance. A passport or some other official ID must be presented at the polling station. The notice of right to vote (polling card) may be displayed but voting is possible also without presenting it.
Communications and Training Officer, Senior Expert (contact details)
The number of intercultural couples and families in Finland is increasing steadily. Over the last twenty years, the number international families has more than tripled, and there is little reason to believe that this development will change in the future. Currently, there are about 70 000 intercultural couples living in Finland, about half of which have children (Statistics Finland 2015).
Along with the increasing number of intercultural relationships and marriages, intercultural divorces have become a phenomenon with rising significance. More than 10 000 marriages are dissolved in Finland every year, latest 13 766 in 2013, of which 14% were intercultural marriages (Statistics Finland 2014).
When an intercultural marriage or a relationship comes to an end, “cultural differences” and “culturally based value differences” are sometimes used as a reason or a scapegoat for the break-up. However, the so-called cultural differences are seldom the root cause of a divorce. Indeed, the main reasons behind an intercultural divorce – such as unmet expectations, communication problems, inability to resolve conflicts, different priorities and interests, lack of intimacy, and infidelity – are the same than in “monocultural” relationships. Thus, it can be said that intercultural marriages dissolve for the most part for the very same reasons than monocultural marriages.
However, there are some factors that go some way to explaining the slightly higher divorce rate of intercultural marriages. One such a factor is a rushed marriage between partners who have not had a chance to get to know each other very well before the marriage. Many former long-distance couples only really get to know each other when they get married and move in together, and some realise only then that they have very different expectations or that they are they are “just too different”. Other factors include the stress involved in the immigration and integration processes, which can have a negative impact on both partners and can sometimes be a burden too heavy to bear for the relationship.
A divorce is hardly ever an easy decision, especially when children are involved. Worries about one's own future (and the future of the children) come to mind and the question whether the end of one's marriage also means the end of one's time in Finland often arises. Additionally, lack of social and emotional support make it additionally difficult to cope with the many challenges that come with a divorce, and the language barrier and unfamiliar bureaucratic processes stand in the way of making use of all available support options. The need for English and other language services and information is vast, and will probably be even more in the future.
In order to help foreigners in Finland (and maybe also Finnish people divorcing from a foreign partner) to make their way through the labyrinth of laws, services and regulations for a divorce, Duo has developed an Intercultural Divorce information package that contains the most basic starting points. The compact guide provides information on the most pressing questions about divorce process in Finland, including child custody and child care, distribution of assets, residence permit questions, legal support, and counselling services. Every section further includes quotes from people going through or having gone through an intercultural divorce in Finland, as well as useful documents and links to further information and services. Additionally, we created a glossary with the most important divorce terms in Finnish and English.
The Duo Guide to Intercultural Divorce in Finland is available online (web section on Duo's English language website) and in an electronic format (PDF)
(Silke Jungbluth and Hanna Kinnunen)
Duo organised an online lecture "Stress in Expatriate Spouses and Its Reduction" on Tuesday 19 May 2015. The lecture was recorded and can be watched on Perheaikaa.fi.
The lecture video consists of three parts. The first part deals with stress in expatriates and the second with stress reduction. At the end of the lecture there is a short guided meditation (10 minutes):
1. Stress in Expatriates
2. Stress Reduction
3. Guided 10 minutes long meditation
Recently I read an article from a Finnish newspaper (Helsingin Sanomat, 2014) discussing Erasmus students and their love affairs during the study of their exchange programmes. The article mentions that since 1987 up to 3 million students and 350 thousand teachers have become involved in an Erasmus programme.
Leaving for several months on an external study visit is quite common nowadays. Just to draw a comparison, 150 students visited Finland in the year 1992 but seven thousand students study in Finland nowadays. Statistics shows that 27% of the students who left on a foreign study visit initiated a long term relationship during their time abroad. An EU committee estimates that up to a million babies have been born since 1987 to couples that have met thanks to an Erasmus programme.
Because a person during his or her studies at university may also be looking for a life partner it is not rare that he or she finds that partner during the study visit abroad. So many circumstances can contribute to it. He/she leaves for a foreign university alone and everything in the foreign country is new and dressed in a magic to be experienced and recognised. The climate, culture, language and local customs may be magical also. The activities on the foreign and unknown territory take his or her up-to-now solid life assurances away. He or she partially leaves the automatic way of functioning and becomes more attentive to his or her own feelings and to the surroundings. One spends more time alone and maybe for the first time in his or her life gets in deeper touch with oneself. At the same time he or she might suffer from feelings of isolation, loneliness and absence. The need of a deeper and closer relationship and the chance to share one's own life story is especially intensive at this time and so the desire for new experiences with someone else grows.
Although one is fully involved in study he or she is torn away their previous way of life without one's family and social contacts and therefore has plenty of time (and time flows here slower on the subjective level), to devote to many kind of hobbies and social gatherings. The chance to meet someone who enchants us grows with the frequency of social contacts. And many are enchanted by their future life partner. In no time a joyful and enthusiastic period of time arrives during which the couple get to know each other and they share their life experiences. This time is also enriched by the elements of the new culture and language.
Unless the relationship ends up as a momentary flirtation after the end of the study visit and develops despite the physical separation, at the beginning partners build a distance relationship that has a magic of romantic love. Momentary meetings replace long term separations, emotionally stained by desire and missing of the partner, who is hundreds or thousands kilometres away and still virtually easily accessible. After successful handling of the long distance relationship, when partners look for the way to real life together, they often decide to enter into marriage.
And just like a prince takes his princess with him to his kingdom, one of the partners takes the other to his country. The fairy tales often end in this point. At best we get to know, that the prince and the princess lived together happily ever after. I have not come across a fairy tale that describes the life of the princess in a foreign kingdom. It should not probably be a fairy tale any more.
And now back to the initial statistics. A million children means approximately half a million couples (regarding 2 children per couple as an average). One person from a couple is brought by circumstance to a foreign country. Altogether half a million of people have engaged in the life of a foreign country thanks to Erasmus programme up to now.
The more economically advanced country or the country of a person who provides the finance for the family often wins the residence selection procedure. Although it is not a rule the model that a prince takes a princess away to his kingdom still predominates. The partners may also decide for a compromise and to alternate between the two countries that brings other complications especially after children start school. Or if they choose to live in a third country which is fair to both sides it may be a burden for the couple.
And how are those people, who left their own familiar surroundings, back-round, their place in life, culture, language, family, social group and started to create their own life story in an entirely different place? What kind of obstacles do they meet on their life journeys? Have they succeeded to continue their up-to-now smooth functioning life or did they have to start more or less from the beginning?
Those who left to go to a foreign country often live between two worlds. The world they are so familiar with and in which they feel like a fish in water and the other, new world to which they slowly must get used to. And the more sure they feel in the new world, the more distant the old good familiar world might seem to be as it also changes while they are away.
Binnie Kristal-Andersson (B. Kristal-Andersson, 2000) summarized the changes, that life in a foreign country brings and to which a person needs to adapt, in her work about immigrants and refugees. They include: variables in climate, landscape, environment, culture, ethnic/racial differences, religion, language, employment, politics, society, socio-economic conditions, education and the way new country functions.
The adaptation cycle is often complicated and painful. A person compares experiences, especially the lifestyle and values of his own country that he attained during his childhood with the experiences from the new country on a conscious or subconscious level. During the comparison one is often in a highly emotional state of mind, it is difficult to avoid the idealization of one's own country and criticism of the new country.
According to Kristal-Anderson (2000) during the adaptation cycle a person might have to deal with the following states of being: being a stranger, loneliness, missing, longing, feeling quilty, shame, separation and loss, sorrow, language and value degradation, inferiority, sense of non-identity, rootlessness, bitterness, suspicion, prejudice, and scapegoat syndrome.
How therefore to successfully continue my previous life story in the new country, where I know nobody, I do not belong anywhere, I do not basically have a profession, I could hold on the assumption that I have to learn the language from the entire beginning because a chance to find a job, lets say, in universal English is minimal? After the initial enthusiasm often comes disillusion, self-pity, daily dreaming "how it would be if", the feeling of being imprisoned, stuck, frozen, the impossibility of finding a solution, an absence of self-realization and fulfilment. It is not an easy path.
In my opinion, at first the conditions need to be accepted. If I am unable to change them I can try to accept them by myself or by the help of a psychologist. Fighting with the set of circumstances in front of me takes a huge amount of energy and does not bring any constructive ideas or solutions. When I am able to accept the conditions as they are, it is good to consider realistically and objectively the possibilities. The acceptance itself often gives rise to relief and new ideas start to come by themselves.
Familiarity with the local language opens many imaginary doors, doors to social contacts, feelings of autonomy and independence, a sense of belonging, literary and cultural production, and last but not least to fulfilling employment. It is good to define small goals on our path and to feel joy after their achievement.
While trying to learn the language I can for example at the beginning deal with making small purchases, ask for stamps at the post office, ask for directions in the street. It is good to find an intensive language course and add to it self-study, to read the titles of newspapers, to watch simple films with subtitles, to learn from children´s books, from adverts in the metro, to listen to foreign songs and to find out newly recognised words, in other words to involve every information channel. It is useful to speak with mistakes and without fear. On the other hand I would recommend to deal with offices in English where there does not come a feeling of insufficiency when I do not understand or cannot express myself and which easily leads to loss of motivation.
After managing to grasp the language on a conversational level, it is important to speak and listen. Provided that it is still not possible to find a work place I can consider additional education, retraining, or finding an internship programme or even charity help. Achieving mastery of the language will further develop by using it in everyday life. In the case that I am able to find only such a job which does not fulfil my expectations, I should take it as a temporary solution and not give up. I can engage in my hobbies during my free time and look for fulfilment through them. I can find friends with similar life circumstances as mine and we can share our life experiences together and support each other.
The adaptation to a new culture is an individual and unique process for everyone, since everyone comes with entirely different experiences from their own country and immigration may be taking place at a different time of their life. The optimal adaptation ends by integrating one's native culture with the elements of the new culture. The person´s original identity is preserved and it is enriched. The person is able to live a satisfying and fulfilling life in the foreign country. The person maintains the bonds to their original country that he/she visits whenever it is possible. The person passes the culture of their own country in the form of language, cultural heritage - literal and film production, customs and habits to their own children.
Intercultural love then and today - from Cleopatra and Marcus Antonius to Pekka Haavisto and Nexar Antonio Flores
Intercultural relationships are by no means a new phenomenon. The names and stories of intercultural couples can be read from the pages of magazines and novels, the Bible, history books, plays and poems: Cleopatra and Marcus Antonius, Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, Othello and Desdemona. What is a new phenomenon, however, is that the number of intercultural couples is rising rapidly worldwide.
For a long time intercultural relationship was mainly reserved for the elite: the well-off and famous, and the royalty. Today, intercultural unions have become almost commonplace and in rich countries alone international marriages number at least 10 million. (The Economist, 2011) Famous modern day examples of intercultural couples include Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president of France and Italian-born singer Carla Bruni, and Carl XVI Gustaf, the king of Sweden and German-born Queen Silvia. Famous Finnish examples from the field of politics include the current Prime Minister, Alexander Stubb and the current Minister for International Development, Pekka Haavisto whose partners are the British-born lawyer Suzanne Innes-Stubb and Ecuadorian-born entrepreneur Nexar Antonio Flores respectively.
The children of intercultural couples are also increasingly showing in publicity and it is fair to say that intercultural families and intercultural people are a permanent and enriching part of Finnish society. Famous examples of grown-up children of intercultural families who have made their mark in the fields of entertainment, sports, culture and politics include Finnish-Spanish entrepreneur Laila Snellman, Finnish-Estonian author Sofi Oksanen, Finnish-American basketball player Gerald Lee Jr., Finnish-Kenyan Member of Parliament Jani Toivola, and Finnish-Portuguese singer Anna Abreu.
It would be impossible to describe a “typical” intercultural couple or a “typical” expatriate spouse. Intercultural couples and expatriate spouses are not a homogeneous category of people. Expatriate spouses, however, have one thing in common: they have all followed their hearts to a new country, and, by doing so, embarked on a journey that will change their lives forever. With that change comes opportunity, but also strain and worry, because migration is stressful no matter what the circumstances. The effects of migration are felt mostly by the expatriate spouse, but the home spouse and the couple’s relationship are also affected. Therefore, the success – or the failure as it may be – of the adjustment process of the expatriate spouse has an impact on her or his life as well as the life of the home spouse and the possible children of the couple.
Intercultural families living outside of their home countries: choosing which languages to speak with the child
Having a child ranks among the most life-changing events you will ever experience, and quite rightly. This process and all the different adjustments that come with this life-changing event can be uprooting enough for people from the same country, but when the term ‘intercultural couple’ is added a wave of new questions, negotiations and readjustment appears. However, this is not to say that it is by any means a less positive or rewarding experience – in fact, the complete opposite is often true. But, people involved in intercultural relationships need to be ready to discuss and resolves issues related to parenthood, such as bilingualism, the combining of cultures and cultural differences, in a way that suits both them and their child.
Duo, therefore, came up with the idea of establishing a unique self-study course which expectant parents could go through at their own pace while learning about the many aspects that make up intercultural parenthood. The project received clearance in early 2014 and a team was then put in place in order to get the project off the ground. What has emerged is an interactive course which combines expert advice with background information, self-study assignments and external links to articles and blogs written on the subject. By taking part in this course, parents will be offered the information and tools necessary to make the most informed decisions when it comes to not only their child but the relationship they have with their partner. Furthermore, a number of interviews with parents who have gone through the process themselves will be embedded throughout, in order to lend a degree of real-life experience to the course.
The major issues, such as bilingualism, the third culture and gender roles are, of course, covered within the course, but there are a number of themes dedicated to issues which people perhaps hadn’t considered beforehand. For example, the impact of integration on the family’s well-being is discussed, alongside support networks, potential downfalls and the very concept of culture and what it entails. The idea is to give couples who are expecting a baby, as well as those who are already parents, a rounded view of the special characteristics of intercultural parenthood and child-raising.
The course has been made possible thanks to funding from Väestöliitto's Perhenetti Project and Duo, which is a four-year project administered by Familia Club. Both projects are financed by RAY. Duo was set up to focus on intercultural couples living in Finland, given they have tripled in number over the past twenty years to more than 65 000. Duo offers its services, which include peer groups, family training and advice services, throughout the country and keeps in touch with both its past and present members through Facebook, regular newsletters and a comprehensive website.
The course is currently being compiled and will be ready by the end of October. Please do keep an eye on our website and our Facebook page for more information about content and the final publication date.
(Craig Houston, Duo)
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