The aim of this thesis is to find out what are the concerns that different asylum seeker mothers from different nationalities in the reception centres in Norway hold in relation to their children’s’ needs, particularly, to explore how past and present stressors as asylum seekers affect the mothers’ daily relationship with their children and how they still manage to cope. Also, the thesis aims at exploring if life in reception centres affects mothers’ concerns. Finally, the thesis aims at uncovering if there is any task that reception centres and social services can carry out to help to empower asylum-seeking mothers in their relationship with their children.
In order to achieve these aims subjects have been interviewed in semi-structured qualitative interviews. The interviewees consisted of three asylum seekers mothers from different nationalities who live in reception centres in Norway. In addition, the staff and the head of the same reception centres, two volunteers from Save the Children Norway and two experts from R-BUP have been interviewed.
The thesis is a result of the analysis of those interviews and an investigation of the relevant psychological and cultural theories related to this subject. The main theories used in this thesis have been attachment theory, theories related to parental presence as a key influence in the child’s way of coping, the theory on a “family’s sense of coherence”, social learning theory in relation to the social construction of parenting, Harris’ theory on the importance of peer groups and Seligman et al.'s theory on positive psychology. The findings have shed light on the fact that reception centres are in need of more resources in several areas in order to help mothers and children better. Nevertheless, in spite of their difficulties, the mothers interviewed have shown remarkable resilience in their current situation. Also, their children seem to be well adapted. Nonetheless, it is possible that the effects of their difficult current situation may show in the long term.