Dealing with Third Culture Kids

Some time ago I wrote the post Counselors be curious about the upbringing of third culture kids. I received a comment from Elfie and she wrote about her experiences with therapists: Counseling a TCK. Of all the therapists she had there was not one who knew the term "third culture kids". It's sad that therapists do not know what kind of challenges we face. Luckily there are some that do know! There is an International Therapist Directory. Maybe that can help.

On the Children's Mental Health Network website I came across an interesting article The Trouble with Third Culture Kids. Here's part of what it said:

"Rebecca Grappo, an educational consultant who specializes in the placement of these children, says there are three basic things all children need:  belonging, recognition and connection.  For TCKs, these basic needs are ripped away with each move.  Powerless in the decision to relocate, their many losses are often not acknowledged even by their own parents, and the main problem is unspoken, unrecognized, shunted aside.

It looks like depression, but it’s not.  This is the face of TCK grief.

And, according to Ruth Van Reken, unresolved grief is the most urgent mental health issue facing TCKs -- the children as well as the adults they will become."

So there are many losses that third culture kids go through. There's grief. There's something that looks like depression. Maybe sometimes it is a depression. There's a good article on Denizen "Dealing with depression as a TCK student". The article includes 5 tips on how to stay mentally healthy as a TCK when you are feeling challenged.

This week I read a post by a third culture kid called Hippie in Bloom. A friend of hers who also grew up making international moves as a child wrote: “I don’t like it much. Life would’ve been much easier if I were one of those people who never left the country and didn’t care about stuff.” 

The problem is that we can not change the past, so we need to find a way to deal with it. I think that's one of the challenges that we, (adult) third culture kids have to face.

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Image thanks to grietgriet at Morgue File