Food for Thought on Raising Kids Abroad

"I am a TCK, and so no matter where I go, I am always a minority. My culture is not shared by anyone because it was built out of the fragments of so many different pieces of so many different cultural puzzles." 

These words written by James R.Mitchener jumped out of the page at me. He wrote these words on his blog called Third Culture Kid Life. It's true for me too. My culture is not shared by anybody, even my brothers and sister have a different story though we grew up in the same family and partly in the same countries. My culture is built out of fragments of many different cultural puzzles. It was a great puzzle to kind of understand myself and understand my culture. Discovering that I grew up as a third culture kid (TCK) really helped me. The fact that I discovered there was a group of people called third culture kids who had similar experiences, similar strange feelings was one step on the way to coming to terms with my past. As James says other kids who grew up abroad understand me to a certain degree but still each story is unique, different.

Schiphol International Airport in Madurodam by DrieCulturen
Does this mean that I am telling you not to raise your kids abroad? Am I saying that you should not move them from country to country, continent to continent, from one corner of the world to the next? No it's not what I am saying but I do want you to think about what the consequences will be for your children.

  • What challenges will they face? 
  • How can I help my kids while making international moves? 
  • What impact will this lifestyle have on my kids?
  • What's the best age to relocate with kids?
  • What language shall we raise our kids in? Please take time to think about this one because it has so many consequences.

One of the ways of discovering what the consequences might be of raising kids abroad is reading about it. Read books, articles and blogs written by people who have grown up abroad.

Like Clara Wiggins who writes about it in The Story of An Expat Child, Grown up. Here's what she says:
"One of the lasting results of my upbringing has been a wanderlust that has taken me to more corners of the world than I can remember."  

Cecilia Haynes writes about her experiences of growing up abroad in this post An Unsettled but Very Happy Third Culture Kid Part 3."Never think of moving abroad as a deprivation of any sort. It is the greatest gift you can give your child." 

Marina Sofia, an adult third culture kids wrote the poem "Who am I?" "I am all the places in which I’ve left my heart."

I have written about what I think the advantages are and what my 10 disadvantages are of growing up abroad. What do you think? Is raising your child abroad the greatest gift you can give them? Have you considered what the consequences of a global lifestyle will be for your kids?

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