Our Immigrant Fathers: Reflecting on Caregiving

  • Laurens Gordon Van Sluytman Morgan State University
  • Halaevalu Vakalahi Morgan State University, School of Social Work
Keywords: caregiving, immigration, cultural duality, community-based writing, autoethnography, cultural context, Gerontology, Immigration, Tonga, Caribbean


This article explores the experiences of two immigrant fathers. One is from Guyana, geographically in South America, but culturally in the Caribbean. One is from the Pacific, of Tongan ancestry but living in Hawai’i. Each father is an older adult with a chronic condition, who has been primarily cared for by their spouses. The story is told from the perspective of their two social work educator children, one male and one female, who provided support from a distance. Explored in this reflection are the complexities in the intersection of traditional cultural expectations, immigrant experience and cultural duality, and sustaining forces for the spousal caregivers and children who are social work professionals. Practice would benefit from tools that initiate narratives providing deeper awareness of environment and embeddedness within communities, both communities of origin and new communities and the implications for caregiving. Treatment planning must be inclusive of caregiving (shared with all parties) for older adults while striving to keep the family informed and respecting the resilience and lives deeply rooted in a higher.

Author Biographies

Laurens Gordon Van Sluytman, Morgan State University
Assistant Professor
Morgan State University
School of Social Work
Halaevalu Vakalahi, Morgan State University, School of Social Work
Associate Dean & Professor
Morgan State University
School of Social Work