“This is not what I want for my children”: agency and parenting in Danish asylum centres

Amina Barghadouch*, Morten Skovdal, Marie Louise Nørredam, Kathrine Vitus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Children of asylum-seeking families constitute a particularly vulnerable group, and there is growing interest in understanding how asylum-seeking parents can be supported to safeguard the health, wellbeing and growth of their children. In this study, we examine the capabilities of asylum-seeking parents to act on the support and advice provided by child health nurses in Danish asylum centres.

We draw on semi-structured qualitative interviews with 11 asylum-seeking families (corresponding to 15 parents) living in two asylum centres run by the Danish Red Cross.

The findings illustrate that asylum-seeking parents’ agentic capabilities to take care of their children are tightly constrained by their housing constrictions and living conditions, insufficient money allowances, regular relocations and juridical status as asylum-seekers. These physical and organizational structures and the pervasive uncertainty related to being asylum-seekers inhibited parents from acting on advice from child health nurses, and from providing their children with a safe, healthy and stable environment.

Asylum-seeking parents face the task of taking care of their children within particular physical, organizational and juridical structures, which tightly constrain their ability to parent their children well, or to follow advice provided by child health nurses.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)379-383
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by the Nordic Research Council (NordForsk) (grant no. 74645).

© The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Public Health Association.


  • child
  • psychiatric hospital
  • parent
  • parenting behavior
  • money


Dive into the research topics of '“This is not what I want for my children”: agency and parenting in Danish asylum centres'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this