College of Arts and Sciences


International Studies

Faculty Mentor

Felipe Murtinho

Faculty Editor

Serena Cosgrove

Student Editor

Jordan Ayers and Andrea Fox


Extensive research has been conducted about global migration, instigators of certain migrant patterns, and economic impacts from these mass movements. However, there is limited research on the social and psychological impacts on the families that are left waiting for the return of their loved ones. This paper aims to fill this gap by analyzing changes in Nicaraguan family life after a family member migrates, specifically a parent. This study is based on the qualitative research that Universidad Centroamericana and Seattle University students and faculty conducted in Chinandega, Nicaragua, in June 2015 and 2016. Interviews were analyzed to consider how the roles of grandmothers as providers for children of migrants, the responsibilities youth take on within families with absent parents, and the absence of parents affect youth emotionally. Our conclusions show that the migration of parents contributes to a curtailed childhood for children because they tend to take on major parental responsibilities within the household after the parent leaves. Additionally, while under the primary care of grandparents, youth tend to also fill roles that their elderly caregivers are no longer capable of performing. This paper aims to bring attention to how outward migration has restructured Nicaraguan society and nuclear families, and how the absence of one or both parents has long-term effects on youth. In doing so, we hope to suggest ways in which future research may be focused.