Throughout the world, countless children have been left behind by their parents as they struggle for economic security. These children aren’t abandoned, their parents are just in search of a better life for their family. However, for the audience, it can be very hard to understand why a loving mother would leave her child behind. More importantly, it can be even harder for a child to understand why their own mother has traveled thousands of miles away from them. These long term separations often have no definitive separation time. Some kids never see their parents after they left. For many migrant families this can be a very hard choice as there can be complications to their relationship. The separation between children and their parents for extended periods of time can lead to unforeseen conflicts in the family.
In Enrique’s Journey, Sonia Nazario follows an immigrant from Honduras as he makes the treacherous journey to the United States in search of his mom. Lourdes, Enrique’s mom, left him when he was 5 years old so she could get a job in the U.S. and send money back home. Many other parents leave their kids behind for indefinite periods of time. The long term detachment between families can turn sour as time passes. Economic instability along with many other factors can force parents to leave their children behind.
Lejeane Reid, who was just 8 when his dad left him, explained, “His hopes of a father-son relationship or for a reunion with his dad have turned to resentment” (Noel para. 9). Parents hope that their children will someday understand why they were forced to leave them behind. However, for the children it can seem like they were abandoned by their parents. Lejeane gave up on reuniting with his dad who was never there for him growing up. Though not intended, tension builds between split families as time goes on.
On the other hand, children could also glorify the image of their parents. After an extended separation “Children like Enrique dream of finding their mothers and living happily ever after. For weeks, perhaps months, these children and their mothers cling to romanticized notions of how they should feel towards each other. Then reality intrudes” (Nazario 191). After being disconnected for a long period of time, family members can seem like strangers to each other.
As time goes on memories of time spent together can become higher than life. However, when reunited this hopelessly high standard can be broken. In the end they are just human and there are bound to be arguments. But a lot of the time there are lots of arguments. Children remember the feelings of abandonment while their parents were gone. In an argument with Lourdes, Enrique yells, “My mother is my grandmother Maria… you long ago lost the right to tell me what to do” (Nazzario 198).
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