Research into rural family structure in Thailand has found that necessary internal migration is splitting children up from their parents and forcing grandparents to raise the children.
Many people who live in the rural areas of Thailand have to make the move to the cities to find work, for example, as construction workers or as maids. This is having a big impact on families.
Parents have to leave their children in the care of others, often grandparents, as they go off and try to make ends meet. This can put stress on the older generation as they have to re-live the pressures of raising children, usually on a very low income.
The four year study, entitled “The Impact of Internal Migration on Early Childhood Well-Being and Development”, was supported and reported on by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), found that there could be as many as 3 million children in the country who do not live with their parents.
The study has only been running for a year, out of the planned four, but so far it seems that “about 36% of the caretakers, mostly grandparents, are at risk of having mental health problems” said associate Professor Aree Jampaklay. This implies that the structure of the economy in the country is having a direct impact on mental health.
Furthermore, 16% of the children studied were found to have developmental delays due to being separated from their parents.
This suggests that the relationship between parent and child is important for healthy development, and that this relationship is often impaired in developing countries among the poorer areas.