"Children of Loneliness": Immigration, Teenagers, and Parents
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"Children of Loneliness": Immigration, Teenagers, and Parents

Lesson Summary:

The experience of immigration, starting life in a new country, brings many challenges. Immigrant families are often subjected to discrimination, culture shock, pressure to assimilate, and poverty. These experiences can hurt both individuals and families, often pulling parents and children apart from each other. In this Go & Learn guide, from Jewish Women's Archive, we feature a short story by immigrant writer Anzia Yezierska, titled Children of Loneliness. The story illustrates how one young woman s struggle to find her own place in American society tears her from her parents and their way of life.

Enduring Understandings:

  1. People react differently to the experience of starting life over in a new and different environment (both physically and culturally). 
  2. Interpersonal relationships are often impacted by the larger context in which they are taking shape.

Essential Questions:

  1. How do immigrants reconcile differences or conflicts between the lifestyles and traditions of their country of origin and those of their new home country? 
  2. How does one's age play a role in how one adapts to major life changes?  
  3. How do children's relationships with/to their parents change over time?

Be Inspired:The ideas included are offered as starting points as you and your students explore, discover and live the lessons. Be sure to elicit and encourage student and parent participation, consistently reinforcing the value being addressed. Allow lessons to authentically develop and change based on engagement and interests.

Lesson Plan Components

For the educatorJewish Thought, Text, and Traditionsmore

Jewish every dayIncorporate Jewish Valuesmore

Materials and resourcesmore


(accessible via link below, in "procedure" section)

  • Copies of "Children of Loneliness" excerpts
  • white board or butcher paper


Explore, Discover, and More Extension and Reinforcement Activitiesmore

Music Connectionsmore

Evidence of Learningmore

  • Students will know what life was like for Jewish immigrants coming to the US in the early 1900s. 
  • Students will be able to describe the view points and motivations of both adults and children in the story "The Children of Loneliness." 
  • Students will be able connect intergenerational struggles between kids and parents in the story to conflicts or tensions they see in their own lives/communities.


Lesson Contributors

The Jewish Women’s Archive is a national public history organization dedicated to telling the stories of Jewish women and inspiring change and inclusivity in communities everywhere. The collections and encyclopedia on jwa.org invite learners of all ages to connect with role models from history and today. Nearly 100 lesson plans for kids, families, and adults help Jewish educators weave stories about identity and activism into programs about Jewish values, holidays, and ritual. And, JWA’s professional development programs and trainings encourage educators to connect with one another to create new ways of engaging the communities they serve. As we say at JWA, “You cannot be what you cannot see,” so check us out anytime, anywhere, at jwa.org.