Translocal care and intergenerational relations among Estonian families living in Finland
Pihla Maria Siim
(University of Tartu)
Paper short abstract:
While doing family translocally, caregiving is one of the central ways to maintain and reaffirm family relations. This paper analyses different care cultures, patterns of gendered care, and the challenges of virtual intimacy in a translocal Estonian-Finnish context.
Paper long abstract:
Care is an important factor while making decisions to move or to stay put. Drawing on fieldwork material gathered during 2013-2018 among Estonian families, this paper aims to analyse the understandings and (changing) patterns of care in a translocal Estonian-Finnish context. Having interviewed both family members living or working in Finland, and those staying in Estonia, I present the multiplicity of the ways translocal care affects the everyday life of different family members. While doing family translocally, caregiving is one of the central ways to maintain and reaffirm family relations. Very often grandparents, especially grandmothers, continue to have an important role in taking care of their grandchildren, either in Finland or in Estonia. The time spend together can, however, be emotionally very loaded and with lot of expectations. Many families relocating claim they do this to guarantee a better life for their children. However, simultaneously there is often a need to rethink and reorganize the care of elderly relatives in Estonia. While doing this, people have to navigate between two cultures of care (Finnish and Estonian) and the possibly contradictory expectations from different family members in need of care. Some aspects of care can be dealt with from the distance, but some require physical presence of the caregiver, often a woman. Interviewees have claimed that virtual intimacy is not always enough - it entails challenges in conveying emotions and keeping up family relations across the distances, especially when it comes to children and elderly relatives.
Ageing, care and transnational mobilities